Hardly a day goes by that some conservative with a website doesn't work themselves into a tizzy over some benign or obscure cultural item. It wouldn't be worth anybody's time to mock each such episode, but this one struck close to my heart. You see, by happenstance the otherday I stumbled across NEPALibWatch.com (That's North Eastern Pennsylvania Liberal Watch) attacking something near and dear to me: Rob and Big!
The proprietor of NEPALibWatch is upset that MTV would pollute young minds by "Promot[ing] decay and degeneration by bringing inner city thug values to kids who don’t live the thug life."
" I found myself sitting there watching this show called “Rob and Big”. Today’s episode was about this guy Big Black who was training to escape via speeding vehical from the “5″ “0″ (AKA the Police). WOW, what great programming and a fabulous idea for young minds. Because you know, according to Mr. Black somebody dies every 13 seconds. Instead of flying bullets he should be more worried about cholesterol."
I guess Mr. Lib Watcher isn't familiar with the show, so I'm happy to explain it to him. The basic premise is that Rob Dyrdek is a professional skateboarder, and Christopher "Big Black" Boykins is his live in bodyguard and BFF.
The show is delightfully clever, far more so than Mr. Lib Watcher apparently appreciates. At first glance it appears just another silly reality show, but upon closer inspection it's actually a giant satire of the genre. Most "reality" television is just a bunch of stupid and self absorbed people competing in ridiculous and pointless challenges to win quistionable prizes. Or, it's a bunch of cameramen following pseudo-celebrities (Brooke Hogan? Kim Kardashian?) go through transparently artificial drama. Both types are as tedious as they are ubiquitous.
Rob and Big manages to satirize both sublty and hilariously. The show revolves around Rob and Big tackling silly accomplishments with goofy sincerity. For instance, in season three when Rob and Big go to a bar with turtle racing, they "decide it's time to find a turtle from the streets and train it for glory." Complete with a Final Countdown turtle training montage.
Or when they were reading the Guiness Book of World Records and decide to break some? Rob manages to break 21 skateboarding records and Big Black breaks two (Eating powdered donuts and bananas, I think). The absurdity of the whole thing makes it funny- Rob and Big are just sitting around and say "Hey, I remember this book. We should break some records." So they do.
The silly determination with which they go about their quests mocks those shows where people scarf down animal genitalia, or break down weaping because a stranger doesn't love them, more effectively than anything else I've seen on TV.
To more directly ease Mr. Lib Watchers concerns, however, I should point out that Rob and Big is hardly an infomercial for "inner city thug values." My suspicion is that what Mr. Lib Watcher means by "inner city thug values" is just black people, loose clothes, and men wearing jewlery. But in so much as "inner city thug values" isn't just cultural distaste, I would submit that it is marked not by aesthetics, but by viciousness and hostility. The "thug life" is a hard life, and one must be hard to survive (ask my friends, I'm an expert on thug life...).
Rob and Big is the opposite. They are comically gentle souls living virtually without external pressures. The only time I've ever seen any hostility was when a man in a spiderman costume threw a soda at their SUV, and Big Black threatened (comically, as it was pretty clearly staged) to "beat him with his damn fanny pack."
Just breeze through the descriptions of the episodes for a sense of the comic absurdity. Some of my favorites:
Season 3: Ep 24-A charitable ice cream man inspires Rob and Big Black to begin their own altruistic crusade, ranging from handouts at skid row to spending time with frisky seniors at an old folks home. Also, Rob and Big Black challenge their 6'9" friend, Zeus, to hop on a BMX and take a disastrous ride down a local mini ramp.
Season 1: Ep 8- After Rob has a nightmare about dying, Big Black decides to brush up on his security skills to ensure that Rob feels safe. Big Black practices evasive driving, works on his Martial Arts moves and even shows his combat maneuvers on the paintball field. [This is the episode that upset the wingnut]
Season 2: Ep 1- Life in the Rob and Big household changes dramatically when the guys discover that their bulldog, Meaty, needs a little buddy. After a little research, Rob finds the perfect companion for his favorite puppy: a Mini-Horse. Owning miniature livestock turns out to be a little more than the guys bargained for, and drastic measures become necessary to accommodate the tiny horse.
Season 3: Ep 18- When Rob and Big Black discover a "mystery poop" floating in the pool, they turn into amateur crime-solvers, eyeing Drama, Rob's cousin/assistant, as the prime-suspect. The guys decide to beef up security at the house and hire a polygraphical expert to question Drama Queen. Making the best of a nasty situation, Rob and Big Black hire a muralist, to give their newly - drained pool some extra flair.
Rob and Big is just about the only show on MTV that I'll watch, besides True Life. I don't know how whether they set out to satirize pop culture or just make a goofy TV show, but it doesn't really matter. What they ended up making was pretty clever, and hella funny.