John Mayer: The N Word the Least of the Problem

This got me out of retirement, kids.

Recently, the internets have been abuzz with talk of John Mayer, Gen Y’s Billy Joel, about a recent interview he did for Playboy magazine. People have been up in arms because he used the N word during the interview.

“Someone asked me the other day, ‘What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?’ And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass.”

There’s nothing worse than a white dude who is so comfortable with their racism, clearly because they have black friends, to try to let people know how down they are by trying to use the N word just like “the natives” would. This is the thing that he got in trouble for, and why he later issued a litany of apologies via Twitter, about.

But I find his later statements in the interview about actresses Holly Robinson Peete, Karyn Parsons and Kerry Washington, and black women as a whole, much more disturbing.

PLAYBOY: “Do black women throw themselves at you?”

MAYER: “I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.”

PLAYBOY: Let’s put some names out there. Let’s get specific.

MAYER: I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” That’s what “Heartbreak Warfare” is all about, when a girl uses jealousy as a tactic.

Now, let me say that he also discusses his sex life with his former girlfriend Jessica Simpson in detail, which is also repulsive, and with no regard for what that might mean for her. But for now, I am talking about the black women who found themselves in this story. It’s clear that he associates all these black actresses as some nearly-white enough in class, hair texture or affect as to be “white enough for his David Duke dick”  to fuck, but clearly also views them, based on his description of his imagined Washington, as sexually as loose and irreverent as the white women he normally fucks. All of this is every kind of wrong.

What’s interesting is that Mayer felt compelled to apologize about the “Nigger Pass” comment, but not at all to the specific black women he demeaned in this article, nor the millions of other who are implicated in his disgusting little brain of his.

Here’s his whack-ass apology the other night from a show in Nashville, where he basically sums up these statements to his need to be clever and witty, and not on some deep-seated racism and white supremacy. Fuck you, John.

Now, I’m back. Anybody else got something to say?

8 thoughts on “John Mayer: The N Word the Least of the Problem

  1. Pingback: dear john mayer, « starbravado's spur of jargon.

  2. You know, i’m not as mad about this as everybody else. I think it’s possible he was attempting to call people out who use “hood” as a euphemism for “nigger” not nec. using it that way himself. He’s being criticized for trying to “be down” but I get the feeling he was actually intending to criticize people who do that. I guess in a post-modern way criticizing other white people for trying to be down = trying to be down, but it’s a distinction that bears mentioning imho.

    And personally, When I was dating, I felt the same way about white women that Mayer does about black women — many are awesome and beautiful but I’m just not attracted. I know this is because I don’t feel safe with white women because of racism, and I know that John Mayer doesn’t have that excuse.

    But to me, even though his tone was flip (it seems he was extremely drunk during the interview), it did seem like he was asking himself questions about that. For me “I need to start dating separately from my dick” though crass, could mean “I need to think about why my intellectual desires are so different from my physical ones.” I think dude is kind of thoughtful.

    Also, just like with most of these incidents, I think a continued discussion rather than an immediate shutting down and blanket apology would be much more beneficial to the project of racial healing and understanding at large. If John Mayer isn’t going to be allowed to be open about what could be interpreted as a struggle with his own racism, who is?

    I have A HUGE amount of respect for you Kenyon — I’ve posted links to this blog soooo many times to direct people on what is always a smart, well rendered and well supported opinion. This entry is no different, I just see things differently than you this time.

  3. Thanks for posting, but we clearly disagree on this one. Feministing raised a good point today when they asked why are people so eager to give him the benfit of the doubt, and why Kanye West was nearly banned from the planet for interfering in Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech?

    And furthermore, I think he feels bad, from watching the segment of his concert where he apologized. But I think he feels bad for the wrong reasons. His attempts to be snarky, if you ask me, only uncovered such deep-seated racism, rather than his just being caught in a verbal quip with a reporter. He doesn’t apologize for the substance of what he said, but only for his intentions (to appear snarky) and the hurt feelings it caused his background singers.

  4. Agreed on the problem of giving John Mayer more understanding than Kanye West. Our media and society have a clear and documented practice of a racial double standard for accountability, and Kanye has been on the losing side of it every time.

  5. i’m a little late to this. but, i agree with you kenyon. i can sorta see what carriemartha is saying. i think it is likely that mayor is just trying to be cute or whatever, but he’s trying to be cute about racism, as a way of glossing over his own and not looking at it with a truly critical eye, which shows a fundamental prejudice and a lack of respect and love. i totally agree that the rest of what he said was just as problematic. but, the platform is equally problematic. playboy. the questions disgusting. the answers, not surprisingly, disgusting.

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