This week on the “Tonight Show” actor and rapper Ice-T talked about his foray into the virtual world industry when he discussed his partnership with IMVU, a website where users can adopt virtual personas in a virtual world and buy virtual things from virtual vendors. Users never actually get the things they pay real money for. (Even Ice-T had to remark on the ignorance of the users who utilize that feature.) Ice-T is one of these virtual vendors, having set up (no shocker here), a tattoo parlor and a gun store. (No surprise from a grown man from the hood who proudly recounted his days wearing rollers and house–shoes…to school!) It is what it is, but it’s nothing to brag about. And neither is Ice-T’s “Twitter gang”.
Ice-T explained how he encourages his Twitter followers to gang-up on fellow Tweeters if they express disagreement/discontent with something he Tweets. Ice-T commands that his “Twitter gang” intimidate the dissenting Tweeter until s/he surrenders or closes the account. The need for this kind of control is pathetic, and only perpetuates the stereotypes of the frightening Black man.
One of the sad things about the Hip-Hop culture is that it doesn’t encourage its community to grow up. Grown men are walking around with their pants to their knees and sporting t-shirts and hoodies like honor badges letting everyone know they’re part of a sub-culture that promotes the immature attitudes of misguided youth, not to mention the ever present violence.
You can take the boy out of the hood and you can actually take the hood out of the boy-if you chose. The fact that Ice-T has created a longstanding career as an entertainer and surpassed the circumstances of his childhood environment is a pretty outstanding achievement; one that should come with some sense of responsibility, and some basic common sense.
Too many young Black men are still dying-being murdered by each other with guns. Just this week here in New York Brian Scott, a Black eighteen year-old high school senior was gunned down after school while hanging out with his friends over nothing. With great opportunity comes great accountability. A Black man in the public eye should feel compelled to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Okay, it’s just a virtual game but it promotes a violent attitude and lifestyle. In fairness, Ice-T does his share of charity work, but if he in fact has a level of commitment to youth, then can’t the commitment and consciousness be carried over into his money making ventures? There are plenty of ways to make money that don’t further contribute to the crisis of violence among young people and society as a whole. Does Ice-T need money that badly? (How many outfits from Frederick’s of Hollywood does Coco really need?)
Again, it’s time to redefine “keeping it real”. It should no longer mean being illiterate, insolent and hostile. We shouldn’t need to use the fact that a Black man is President to motivate other Black men in or out of the spotlight to step it up-period. We’re not asking Ice-T to turn into Hill Harper, but to think of the real ramifications of his choices. A Black man selling virtual guns is an actual shame.
What do you think of Ice-T's new venture?