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Why Is Antoine Dodson A Celebrity & What Does It Mean?

Submitted by on August 6, 2010 – 9:01 am12 Comments

Antoine Dodson has become the latest internet phenom after Huntsville, AL news station WAFF captured Dodson describing a failed rape attempt on his sister. Dodson’s delivery of lines such as “They rapin’ everyone out here” has thrust him into the national spotlight. The video has been shared on social networking sites and blasted off to numerous email addresses.  But while Dodson’s delivery is laugh inducing, you have to wonder what this means on a broader scale.

Aside from the fact that many have completely overlooked the fact a rapist nearly claimed his prey, what we have here is yet another situation where an individual gets notoriety by doing something utterly clownish—intentionally or unintentionally. Although I’m quite sure he never anticipated garnering this kind of attention, we as a society have found Dodson’s anger to be humorous. Dodson now has a Web site dedicated to him and fresh MySpace and Facebook pages in his honor. He even has a t-shirt line and a ring tone as a result of this video. A YouTube clip surfaced where Dodson was signing autographs for “fans.” Really?

But here’s the scary thing: We are the ones who made Dodson a star. We are the ones who made rape secondary in favor one man’s unintentionally funny plea to “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife.” The media surely could have optioned to leave Dodson out of their broadcast. Perhaps they didn’t find it to be as humorous as everyone else did? I doubt the Alabama news station had no clue what it was about to air.

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t about Dodson as a person. We don’t know him or his situation and I’m quite sure he didn’t ask for this attention. This is also not about race—even though many African-American’s can attest to being sick of black folks looking like fools on television. This is about is what we deem important in our day-to-day lives. This is about how we create celebrities out of individuals who act outrageous or ludicrous. We made a star out of Latarian Milton (the little boy who stole his grandmother’s car) and we are doing the same for Dodson. But why we do it is downright baffling.

Dodson may not even know we are laughing at him. His sister may not understand how her almost being raped made her brother a star. All they know is that they’re getting more attention than they ever have before—for better or worse. All I know is this attention has nothing to do with the severity of the situation. We make stars out of ignorance rather than intelligence, and that is a scary thing.

Who knows what will become of Dodson after this video. When the joke is over and the shock value is gone, where do we go from here? I guess we’ll have to wait for the next act of unintentional humor to be broadcast over the internet to see. Just know, the time we as a society—or our media—spend focused on the Dodson’s of the world, there is a more important story—like somebody being raped—getting pushed to the wayside.

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