On Antoine Dodson and Memes.

Coming in on the tail end of a meme is always interesting. Sometimes it’s just as hilarious as everyone who was on it from the beginning said it was. Sometimes it’s not hilarious, and rather, just pretty effed up.

Case in point: Antoine Dodson, also known as the “Bed Intruder” dude.

I was vaguely aware of the meme in its early stages — someone asked me about it. But I was distracted and had a negative reaction to the combination of the words “rape” and “autotune.” I promptly forgot about it.

However, today on Twitter, Monica shared a post by Loryn Wilson who tracked the meme from start to end:

By now most of you have seen the story about the woman in Lincoln Park projects who had a male intruder come into her bedroom. The video featured Antoine Dodson, the woman’s brother, who had a colorful message for the attempted rapist (see the above video if you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past two weeks).

Antoine Dodson has gone from an everyday Black man who lives in the projects to an internet superstar overnight. But what I was worried about is that people would be so busy lol’ing, lollerskating, and lmbao-ing over Antoine Dodson’s colorful monologue that they’d miss the entire point: the Antoine Dodson was a man who was protecting his family from a rapist, and that they felt as though they did not have protection under the law.

The video and the remix are below:

Wilson is right: as amusing as Dodson’s statements seem, look a little closer, and his frustration is evident. And shouldn’t he have been? A strange man climbed into his sister’s bed and tried to rape her. That’s no laughing matter.

The good news, of course, is that Dodson is trying to leverage his internet celebrity to pull himself and his family out of the projects. He says he gets some of the profits from the song being on iTunes, and he’s selling merchandise. I think that’s great. But I can’t help but be uncomfortable with the genesis of this meme: two white men making a “hilarious” song using footage of a black man outraged at the attempted rape of his sister.

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  • Good for him for cashing in and getting something out of being the butt of the joke and I hope all the buzz helped his sister’s case. But I can’t help but be furious thinking about the amount of play this thing got in the cubicles and what people were laughing at. Its not funny at all. Antoine is what life in the projects can do to people.

  • acn

    “But I can’t help but be uncomfortable with the genesis of this meme: two white men making a “hilarious” song using footage of a black man outraged at the attempted rape of his sister.”

    this is how I felt.i avoided watching the video for weeks and when I finally did and saw the accompanying “music video” i was a bit put back because it was an attempted rape. and i couldn’t find much critical commentary on the antione dodson situation, which shocked me. i keep asking myself, if she actually was raped,would it have even made the news and if she was white, would these video makers find it amusing. i know the intrigue of this story is antione’s reaction, but it was an honest reaction, but the point of antione dodson’s reaction is rape. he just ain’t overreacting for fun on tv… very sad

  • April

    I will admit that I saw the video on Facebook (one of my friends had posted it), laughed heartily, and passed it on. Ditto for the video. It wasn’t lost on me that the story itself–attempted rape–was no laughing matter, but I do think Antoine Dodson, even with his justified anger, was unintentionally hilarious. Now, some people were laughing for really troubling reasons, related to Antoine Dodson’s speculated sexuality and how gay males supposedly act. It also strikes me that this might have not even made it on the news had it not been for Antoine Dodson’s comments and their anticipated entertainment value. As for the “Bed Intruder Song”: I couldn’t believe someone had actually taken the time to put together a (remarkably coherent) song out of the news clip. You’re right that the racial and class dynamics behind the meme are somewhat problematic, but I really could not help but laugh. I did feel better when I found that half of the proceeds were going to the Dodsons.

    • April

      Oops, I meant “Ditto for the song video.”

  • I have similarly…erm…complex feelings about this whole meme, but I guess I don’t understand why everyone is so quick to poo-poo the idea that there could have been an element of ‘performance’ in these interviews. That’s NOT to say that I believe Antoine Dodson was “acting out”—I don’t think he was…well, any more than he would normally (nothing wrong with being an extrovert). And that’s NOT to say that Mr. Dodson and his sister, Kelly, were not genuine in their feelings about this terrible attack and the inaction of their local authorities. That’s also NOT to say that those of us who laughed when we watched weren’t possibly all kinds of wrong for it.

    It’s just to say that we live in a time when we’ve all grown up seeing The TV News Interview, to the point where it is a basis for jokes and comedy sketches that have become cultural references in and of themselves. And being of that culture, it’s just very likely that if any of us regular folk were put on camera in that context, that we’d ‘perform’ in one way or another because we’re informed by what we’ve come to know as the TV News Interview. And given their ages especially, I don’t believe the Dodsons are exceptions.

    Just another factor to consider for those of use inclined to dissect the roles of race, class, gender and the other factors that inform our “gazes” almost all the time.

  • Gerald

    This brother did an interview and said that he believes this story has people talking about rape in the urban communities. he said a lot of rape victoms are contacting his facebook page and this young man opened up about being a rape victom himself. Wow! I can’t imagine what that must be like so i wont judge him. He said he’s moving his sister out the projects. Good for him…

  • Trackstre

    ” I can’t help but be uncomfortable with the genesis of this meme: two white men making a “hilarious” song using footage of a black man outraged at the attempted rape of his sister.”

    I completely agree. I never sat right with me.