Salon: Stop Turning Poor Blacks Into Viral Stars

Though some of the "stars" may not agree.

Salon is asking for an end to Internet memes and auto-tuned songs that feature poor black people.

The progressive outlet made the plea on Facebook:



Will the memeification and autotuning of poor and working-class people of color ever end?

Posted by Salon on Friday, January 15, 2016


Salon is complaining that people sharing these videos are part of "the disturbing trend of using working-class and poor people of color as entertainment" and are actually playing on "harmful and racist stereotypes."

"So stop the gawking, memeification and autotuning of people who are giving honest accounts of news," goes the request.

But Antoine Dodson probably doesn't agree. He became famous in 2010 after appearing on local news talking about a rapist on the loose. He urged everyone to hide their children, their wives, AND their husbands "because they're raping everybody around here." 

In a recent interview, Dodson sits with a gold and platinum record displayed on his wall; a testament to his popularity. Now, he isn't raking in the dough -- only puts him at $50,000 -- but it's clear that he isn't living in the same rundown apartments he was outside of in the video. Plus, he has since done voiceover work for the Cartoon Network. Not a bad jumpstart to a future by anyone's account.

Other viral stars enjoy the fame, even if briefly, with visits to late-night talk shows and other appearances and opportunities they would have otherwise never had.

Who could forget the homeless man from Ohio who was hooked on crack for 17 years, Ted Williams? His rich, radio-quality voice was captured as he begged for money on the streets and sent his video to millions of views, earning him the nickname "the homeless man with the golden voice." Soon after, he was signing six-figure book deals and voiceover deals with brands like Kraft. More recently, he has admitted to struggling some financially based on bad deals and trusting bad people, but he is far better off than he was on the streets. (Not to mention getting off of crack.)

It is obvious that not every viral star is going to have the same levels of success, but if there is a chance at bettering one's life even if through a viral meme, isn't it worse that Salon wants to deny them that opportunity?