Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Prrrrrrrrr! Prrrrrrrrrrrrr!

The blacks keep getting smacked in the face this morning.

First, on TV, there was the ad for Green Dot, the pre-paid Mastercard. It featured "man-on-the-street" interviews testifying to the intrinsic importance of having a credit card, and then to the particular magic of Green Dot, which is available at Walgreens. With two momentary exceptions, every single person interviewed was black, including the cut-to Green Dot representative, who was basically the black Snapple Lady. It should be noted that there were two white people interviewed, but they were not allowed to finish their sentences, and they were clearly thrown in so that no one would complain that the advertisers were unfairly characterizing the black population as hopelessly debt ridden, etc. I think one of the white guys said "If you go to a hotel--" and then was cut off so that this man in Mobb Deep circa 1998 wear could shout "You gots to get you a credit card, baby!" Now, I'm not necessarily opposed to Green Dot on its surface. It certainly can't be any more predatory on the poor than the financiers of extended-credit credit cards who routinely encourage those already mired in debt to apply for new cards with wider limits to reap interest off of. At the same time, I did find the totally not veiled at all implication that this was a card for the ghetto to be distasteful. Moreover, I'm sure there must be some kind of catch to Green Dot that was not mentioned in the ad, like a 50 percent commission taken off the top of each card, for example. Anyhow, my favorite part was when the same Mobb Deep guy said "My time is too valuable to spend half the day paying bills." First of all, this man was not convincing me of the value of his time, as his interview gave the impression that he wasn't stopped on his way to or from anywhere, so much as he figured he'd kick it with the cameraman because he was going to be on that corner all day anyhow. But what I really liked about it was the use of the definite article "the," which implied that he spends half of every single day paying bills, as opposed to either the possessive pronoun "my" or the indefinite article "a" which would allow for some milder interpretations. In any case, this man has a lot of bills.

Then, on the NPRs, they talked about this new medicine coming out this month, which is the first medication ever created for one specific race, in this case, the race of black. It's a heart medication, and apparently "black cardiologists" support its release. What bothered me about this story was that rather than being some kind of ground-breaking phenomenon that does something crazy to black hearts that no one knew about, it's just the combination of two generic drugs. The two generic drugs cost about $0.25 each, while the new Tropicana Twister drug will cost $1.80 each, and you need anywhere from three to five a day. The drug company tried to temper the obvious outrageousness of their new product's price point by claiming that they will be giving the drug to poor people for free, but I'm quite certain that buried deep in the legalese of this social contract is the stipulation that the definition of poor is "an annual salary of no higher than $3.75."


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