“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
The Cuck Zone Looks Pretty Chill: Why the American Right Wing Can't Be Satirized
Poe's Law strikes again.
In 2005, while debating creationism in a thread on christianforums.com, a writer named Nathan Poe accidentally engineered one of the Internet's most prevailing theorems:
"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article."
Now known as "Poe's Law," the definition has grown to encapsulate all extremist ideologies. Essentially, Poe's Law states that it is impossible to parody extremism online without first stating authorial intent, as no matter how absurd the parody, some readers will mistaken it as genuine.
So on that note, welcome to the Cuck Zone.
Popularly named after the Cuck Zone bar at the image's top-center, "Cuck Zone" is a Where's Waldo-esque illustration depicting the absurdity of liberal colleges. Along with the titular bar where, presumably, everyone is a cuckhold, there are actual Oppression Olympics, a pronoun police van, a white tears livestream, and of course, free weed.
It's a funny image no matter how you look at it, but it's especially funny when shared unironically by right-wingers who don't realize that they're the butt of the joke. Because, as it turns out, the Cuck Zone is satirical.
In fact, it was drawn for our magazine by a left-wing Black woman, to parody the right's ludicrous vision of what c… https://t.co/HPdez7rYye— Current Affairs (@Current Affairs) 1589206928.0
The image originated in Current Affairs magazine with the title "The Campus Seen Through The Eyes of US Conservatives." This means that, at some point, someone photoshopped out the bulk of the title and re-shared it as a genuine reflection of their views. Then, left-wing people found the image being shared unironically and began sharing it ironically without realizing that they were sharing it as it was intended to be shared in the first place.
All of which is to say, Poe's Law prevails once again.
Poe's Law in action. Somebody took this parody image, removed "as it exists in the mind of a U.S. conservative," an… https://t.co/Ics8dUYGLy— Stan Patton (@Stan Patton) 1589219086.0
The sad truth is that America's Overton Window has moved so far right over the past few decades (but especially during the past few years) that even baseline right-wing ideology is indistinguishable from extremism. We're reached a point where the majority of American Republicans believe that college education is bad. To be clear, the mainstream American right-wing platform has congealed around the criminally inept Trump administration and a rejection of education in favor of willful ignorance. This is truly beyond the pale.
But at least as we wait for the inevitable destruction of America, we can take solace in the "Cuck Zone," a left-wing interpretation of a right-wing fantasy that actually would be really cool because who doesn't love free weed?