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This was an interesting, but confusing week. On the international front, Nelson Mandela’s funeral and memorial service was Tuesday, yet the focus seemed to be on a series of ‘gates’ or mini-scandals, rather than his life and legacy. On the domestic front, Marco Rubio signed his family up for Obamacare while Michigan women are being urged to buy ‘rape insurance’. Also an epidemic of non-epidemics continue to capture the public imagination – the knockout game, the war against Christmas, and the Stalinization of the Pope. In the sports/entertainment world, aside from random trivia like Tila Tequila’s embrace of white supremacy and a strange beef between Jim Brown and Kobe Bryant, two albums vied for the public’s attention. One is by a man who seems to revel in his status as an outlaw and pedophile. The other is by Beyonce. Let’s take another look at the week.


Robert Sylvester Kelly (R.Kelly/the R/the man who put the R in R&B) released his latest album entitled ‘Black Panties’ this week, to  moderate praise, but someone on his team thought it was a good idea to use Twitter to spread his message and interact with ‘fans’, by urging them to ask him questions. This is how ‘#askrkelly’ was born, but rather than being showered with praise and softball questions, R&B’s Pied Piper found himself the victim of a Twitter blitzkrieg (Twitzkrieg?) . Here are a few highlights:

“Gimme the location of your new favorite place to prey on underage girls so I can alert the cops?

“I thought she reminded you of your JEEP, why did it turn out she reminded you of your Power Wheel (pow pow power wheel)?

“Do you realize the phrase “robbing the cradle” isn’t a pick-up strategy? @rkelly”

Neither Robert, nor his publicist, issued a reply but then what can you say to a question like:

 Do you write love letters in the form of permission slips?

(There were many more. Feel free to post your favorite in the comments section.)

The biggest entertainment story this week was Beyonce’s release of her latest album ‘Beyonce’, which is – if nothing else – an achievement in organizational discipline. Somehow in the era of Instagram, Facebook and Mission Impossible style papparazism Beyonce accomplished something that continues to elude institutions ranging from the federal government to multinational corporations: secrecy. I’m the last person to review a Beyonce album (I still use the word album and I’m a dude), but kudos to her for adding a dose of positivity and sanity to an R&B week dominated by… well…depravity.

International News

On Tuesday the world paid its respects to Nelson Mandela, but the media became obsessed with President Obama’s interaction with the Danish Prime Minster Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Based on a series of photographs a narrative emerged in which the President takes selfies and flirts with the Danish PM  and is then rebuked and reseated by the First Lady – all very ‘Scandalesque’, but according to the photographer there was no there ‘there’. Later during the ceremony, the official sign language interpreter supposedly had a ‘schizophrenic’ attack that made his sign language – not sign language. It turns out that he is either a career criminal or genuinely mentally ill or both. Regardless, my suspicion is that he is someone’s cousin, that someone got him a backstage pass and he just sort of went for broke. The subtext of all of the Mandela coverage was the whitewashing of his legacy and consequently the absolving of his many oppressors of any guilt. Mandela experienced the same kind of ‘Santa Clausification’ that could make him another familiar face – like King or Gandhi – with a tragically unfamiliar legacy.

Meanwhile the war on terror rages. Thirteen Yemeni people on their way to a wedding were killed by a predator drone last week. We haven’t declared war on Yemen. To my knowledge the UN made no statement about this incident, yet they did admonish Uruguay for having the temerity to legalize marijuana without their approval.

Domestic News

On the domestic front, pseudo-hoaxes and odd realizations continue to crop up. Herman “The Hermanator” Cain realized that the GOP’s got a diversity problem. Marco Rubio realized that Obamacare, while not good enough for ‘grandma’ and ‘democracy’, is good enough for his own family, so he signed up. And John Boehner, realized – in a Groundhog’s Day sense – that the Conservative Industrial Political Media Complex (CIPMC, pronounced ‘chipmunk’)  is not concerned with governing. So after a week of criticizing the Tea Party and being attacked himself by radio/tv/political hacks, Boehner helped get the 2014 budget bill approved by the House.

Meanwhile, Americans continue to flail at imaginary demons like Cuba Gooding Jr in Boyz N the Hood. The Pope has supposedly taken a communist turn by arguing for Christian charity. The knockout game continues to sweep America without actually occurring. And a War on Christmas rages, in which secular-humanist-pinko-liberals attack the Christmas tradition and ‘Christ’ himself. On an odder note Santa Claus himself was the target of a kind of ‘reverse Santa Clausification’ in which his racial purity was defended by Megyn Kelly of Fox News, making Santa a poster boy for white nationalism rather than… I don’t know… warmth, gifts, charity. Megyn made a statement today accusing her critics of being ‘humorless race-baiters’, which is sort of like the pot calling the kettle black – but she might prefer a lighter colored object for that metaphor. She also made interesting use of the ‘Affluenza Defense’ arguing that its Fox News’ wealth and power makes them the target of critics not their racial fear-mongering.

While all of this was going on, Michigan passed what’s being called the ‘rape insurance bill‘, which prohibits private and public insurers from offering abortion coverage, even for victims of rape and incest. For that coverage, Michigan women will need to buy a supplemental policy (i.e. rape insurance). So, while the fictional War on Christmas distracts the public, the very real War on Women continues.


South Africa’s rogue interpreter, Thamsanqa Jentinji, seemed to be the star of last week’s news cycle which is of course part of the problem, but he was also one of the week’s more transparent actors. If Fox News, R.Kelly, and the political establishment’s b.s. was as obvious as Jentinji the world would be a much simpler place. That’s all I’ve got for now. Feel free to post comments if I missed anything.


I am a writer, filmmaker, and founder of Production Portal, Inc. an accounting and consulting firm specializing in film, tv and event management. I blog here about history, politics, and culture. I live in NJ and work in NY.


  1. Brother I appreciate your analysis. This was a quite a peculiar news cycle week. I found your commentary about Mandela and his role in absolving his oppressors interesting. I did not think of it in this way but your statement is striking. I wonder if Mandela understood history in terms of transitioning from white to black power and possibility of destabiliza-tion because of possibilities of white/brain flight. Zimbabwe formally Rhodesia had this happen in 1980s. Did he make the choice to not pursue, kill, or imprison others due to the difficulty to truly achieve justice and retribution in healthy and effective manner? I’m not sure but I know when I visited South Africa two years after Mandela became president I traveled throughout South Africa for four months and experience a peaceful place. It felt like traveling in California or Northeast. I think this was so remarkable.

    Shawn I appreciate your sharp reflection and historical thinking. Also I appreciate the humor of the absurdity you point out in a very matter way fact manner.

    • Shawn Hamilton Reply

      Good points Fred and I agree with you about the wisdom of Mandela’s approach considering the challenges of decolonization. My problem is with the way so much of his story is glossed over in an effort to create a kind of safe consensus. So, I think the record needs to be clear, no matter what people plan to do with that knowledge.

  2. Good observation on the weekly events but mine main concern is what your model on journalism? is it going to be the quick sensationalism or in depth objective reporting? Or in other words, do you favor Aljeezara America where in mine opinion shows good journalism as oppose to CNN/FOX News shows sensationalism.

    • Shawn Hamilton Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Jean. The recaps are intended to be weekly summaries with added insights and some humor. They’re not a substitute for reading in-depth stories covered by news outlets, so I try to include links.

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