I admit it — I’ve chuckled at Saturday Night Live’s recurring set called “The Rock Obama” where the white guy who normally plays Barack Obama gets angry and turns into a character something like the Hulk but played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Because yeah, who doesn’t want to see Obama give Max Baucus and Mitch McConnell (or someone — anyone) the beatdown they deserve.

I had to sit down and figure out what bothered me about this skit. Here’s what I’ve come down on. Watch the latest one above and then read my take. Then — let me know what you think.

The thing about “The Rock Obama” is that it feels like a white fantasy. It’s intended to be a send-up of Obama’s perceived weakness — that’s he too soft on his critics and those who don’t have America’s best interests at heart. Yet, it smells a little like, boy, what if that incredibly elegant, cultured, compassionate, rational, intelligent man really — deep deep down — was hiding his true Mandingo spirit from us all. What would a hunky, half literate savage Obama dressed like a dangerous escaped slave whose answer to injustice was as simple as throwing someone out of a window or ripping off their arm — a man whose vocabulary if he didn’t get what he wanted was only violence — be like? Would it be hot? Does Michelle ever get a piece of that action?

Oh Lordy — pardon me if I swoon…NOT.

See, this is what’s messed up about racism. Even when someone is trying hard not to be — the old archetypes we’ve been fed show up to mess with our minds again. Now Dwayne is half-black and half Samoan so I’m guessing he wouldn’t do this skit if he truly understood the deeply layered, historically based racism behind it. I’d encourage SNL to re-think this skit a bit and make it just a tiny bit less racism-perpetuating. I’d suggest picking up a copy of Claude Levi-Strauss’ The Savage Mind to help you work through your issues. Thanks in advance.

Also — hold up, wait a minute: violence is never the answer. Not from Obama and not from anyone. I think Tyson and Holyfield sitting down on Oprah was a true example of real black men in action — how powerful, moving and transformative nonviolence can be. These aren’t the black men you see in the movies (yet). These were real men who didn’t have to shoot each other to express themselves. I hope the young bloods watch and learn. What Holyfield and Tyson did that day was braver, tougher and more dramatic than any fight you’ll ever see.

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