More on the Natural Man

In “Be a Clown! Black Entertainment and the Myth of the Natural Man” I explored the relationship that whites have with black entertainers and athletes. I’m right now watching a PBS special on the banjo, narrated by comedian and banjo player Steve Martin.

The banjo was featured in the original blackface entertainment, which started before the Civil War. This was the portrayal of black entertainers by whites, not blacks, but clearly whites were looking to blacks for something. The blackface entertainer portrayed the black man as childish and foolish, but with the idea that being more primitive, was able to express heartfelt emotions of joy and sadness more deeply and genuinely.

So the myth of the natural man is very old; it dawned right with the dawning of modern mass entertainment. Maybe it’s the nature of mass culture and mass entertainment itself to need new myths. But again, we have seen the myth of the African as the natural man is dangerous, destructive, and worst of all false, and has to be dispensed with.

About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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3 Responses to More on the Natural Man

  1. I thought Rousseau was supposed to get all the credit for popularizing the Natural Man.

    • Rousseau made the first intellectual exposition of the idea. But it was around before then. A lot of Europeans were enamored of the American Indians, which is what the Noble Savage was based on I think. The Natural Man is somewhat different, in that he is under the control of civilization.

  2. whorefinder says:

    So Steve Martin wasted more of my money making a documentary on an instrument he likes?

    Must be nice to be a fucking celebrity in with the heads of PBS. Get to spend the public’s money on your own personal vanity projects. Fucking fascist scum.

    In other news, the mythical “natural man” has been around as long as civilization. The Desert Fathers sought to strip themselves of civilized restraints and meet God in the wilderness. Confuscious drew from nature lessons on how civilization corrupts man. Etc. Find me any civilization, and you’ll find philosophers trying to reconcile “naturalness” within their civilization—or escaping it.

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