Rapper Too Short, who came under a hip hop feminist firestorm for giving explicit instructions to middle school boys on how to finger rape and pimp out girls in a series of “fatherly advice” videos on XXL, is doing damage control by insisting the videos were “a bad joke gone terrible.”
In an interview on HipHopDX, Too Short says the videos stemmed from an XXL on-camera interview in which the raunchy rapper was asked to give “bad advice” to kids—a segment meant to give a comedic nod to a popular rap song in which a lyricist claims Too Short was his father figure. Too Short adds that he never saw the XXL videos—in one, he encourages middle school boys to push middle school girls up against walls and push their spit-covered fingers into their vaginas, and a in a second, he schools boys on how to convince girls to give up their lunch and money to boys—and only learned about the videos after he woke up to a barrage of criticism and a petition calling for the firing of XXL editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten for authorizing the videos. Said Too Short:
I don’t know what had happened, but the shit gets out of control and I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” and I talked to some very responsible females, some very important females, and they’re like, “We know you, we love you, we know the deal, but these are very negative words, it’s just very damaging, it does not look good, it’s not cool, period.” I agree, totally. When I look at it and I read it I’m like, “Damn, this is really not cool.” So, I’m trying to keep it on the up-and-up. It ain’t about some politician stepping up to the podium with some political apology, it’s just like, Damn, it’s a fuckin’ bad joke gone terrible.
And all I can do is say the truth, [which] is like, whoa, I’m about to really check myself dealing with the media and dealing with statements I’m releasing now. ‘Cause its like, 20 years ago we wouldn’t have had a social media frenzy over any little statement of the day from entertainers. Where right now that’s what it is, that’s what it’s gonna be. And it’s a new level of responsibility that needs to be taken by people like me and people in my position: that you can’t really just blurt out things without thinking about the context it may be taken in. This has happened a few times [and] I feel like this is going to continue to happen from now on. This is what it is now: if you make a statement that has a potential way to be twisted or – just like the politicians when they run the smear campaigns. It’s the same thing.”
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like Too Short threw XXL completely under the bus on this one by suggesting the editors there took a quickie interview and turned it into an “advice” column without his knowledge and with piss poor packaging—that the editors neglected to stamp it as a satirical look at what a controversial, X-rated rapper would say to his sons if they came to him looking for tips on how to score with the ladies.
Which, of course, falls right in line with exactly why feminist hip hop writers like Dream Hampton, Kierna Mayo and Joan Morgan are calling for the firing of Vanessa Satten, who should have had enough control over her staff to: A) make sure that everybody under her watch understands that it’s never okay to encourage a 45-year-old, gray-haired, X-rated rapper to lean into a microphone and suggest boys molest and pimp little girls, even in jest; B) hire writers who know that X-rated rappers have no business talking about or to kids about anything, much less sex, and; C) know what’s being written, videotaped and slapped up on the pages of her magazine and its web property at all times.
I know this much for sure: It’s hard out here for a journalist and nobody needs a paycheck taken away. But damn—where does the responsibility lie when Too Short—my God, Too Short, of all people—is given a video platform to say wholly inappropriate crap to boys on a website frequented by a bunch of boys? In a culture in which, as Hampton, Mayo and Morgan’s petition points out, 44% of rape victims are under the age of 18, someone is assaulted every two minutes, 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone known by the victim, 38 percent of rapists are either friends or acquaintances of the victims and 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail? Sorry, but Satten’s half-assed apology, no doubt penned by a publicist, just wasn’t enough, particularly for this mother of a middle school girl, another girl only two years away from 7th grade, and a teenage boy who is being raised with fatherly advice much more responsible than that which found its way onto Satten’s XXL site. I’m not expecting XXL, Too Short or Satten to raise my children, mind you. But damn—at least try to be responsible about what you feed to your young audience, and be ready to answer to a gang of angry parents (and adults with sense) if you fall down on that job.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.