Skip to comments.ESPN's Berman: "Feets Don't Fail Me Now"
Posted on 12/31/2005 5:11:20 PM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
by Mark Finkelstein
December 31, 2005 - 19:48.
When a few years ago Rush Limbaugh suggested that the media, hoping for a black-quarterback success story, had over-rated Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, ESPN fired him from its Sunday night football show.
Can you imagine what the media would have done to Rush had he dared to employ the classically racial "feets don't fail me now" line?
Yet that is exactly what major ESPN personality Chris Berman did a few minutes ago in introducing coverage of this afternoon's Denver Broncos game.
He apparently said it vis a vis white Denver Broncos QB Jake Plummer.
Berman's co-host, black former Denver linebacker Tom Jackson, gave what seemed a rather forced laugh in response.
Odds that Berman, who has described himself as a "New England Democrat," will face any discipline? Slim, IMO.
I think his point is: had a conservative said it - all hell would have broken loose...
Don't be so sanctimonious.
I'm well aware of other cultures and well aware of the history of stereotypes and how hurtful they were. This is simply one that, in my opinion, has been virtually stripped of its original connotations. Most people wouldn't be able to tell you if it originated with Stepin Fetchit, Abbott and Costello or Bugs Bunny. And that is not necessarily a sign of historical ignorance but is a sign of how coopted the phrase has become. I can picture all three characters saying it. Lou Costello looked just as foolish when he cowered, stammered and ran away from ghosts.
When said in 2005 about a white guy, and after all the years of being used in different contexts, there is simply no racial connotation intended.
And you knew it was racist ... when?
Stupid knee-jerk reactions to a statement that was learned from Saturday morning cartoons, as a funny thing said by a talking animal, cannot be understood as racist, nor meant as racist. To suggest otherwise is worse than useless: it makes you look stupid and petty.
I would suggest that the only people making this a "racist" issue are the ones who are pounding the table about it being racist.
I am certainly not going to accept your "racist" tag, because I am not a racist, and the statement isn't either. Sorry, but perhaps you should give your knee a rest.
You're not. But there are also many who understand that history doesn't stand still and phrases that were once meant in a racist context can be coopted by the larger culture and stripped of their original racist meaning. That certainly hasn't happened with many or most stereotypes or phrases but I believe it has happened with this particular one.
Berman is 50, plenty old enough to be well aware of the racist overtone of the phrase.
I'm not saying Berman is racist, but I am saying that if Rush had said the same thing he would have been excoriated by the MSM.
Do you disagree? Do you really think Rush Limbaugh could use the phrase "feets don't fail me now" and the liberal media would look the other way?
I'll bet anything you are under 40.
Methinks you doth protest too much. LOL
Another racial controversy. Well, zzzz........
Sorry, I fell asleep.
A conservative (apparently) did say it -- and he is a fool for making the comparison. It's a dumbass comment, and his "point," such as it is, is a stupid one. This is just another lamentable example of "conservative pundits" trying to manufacture a controversy about something idiotic. It just makes him -- and by extension, us -- look silly.
My sole point is that if Rush ever used the expression "feets don't fail me now", the MSM would come down on him like a ton of bricks.
Is there anyone here who doubts it?
Hmm, sanctimonious... Sorry buddy, I am not feigning piety or righteousness - just stating a fact - and since you stooped to insults it further proves my point youre an insensitive, uninformed cretin who doesnt know black culture or history do me a favor go to a black club walk in and shout out the phrase PLEASE? Then I wont have to listen to your closed minded drivel.
True, but it was meant tongue-in-cheek. I might have been a yuppie once, but I'm surely not one now.
I'm betting he won't be doing that. ;O)
Not at all -- I'm just very irritated by folks who attempt to mine racial issues out of everything, especially for really stupid reasons (as Finklestein has done here).
Here's your test - do me a favor go to a black club walk in and shout out the phrase - I will promise it will get very uncomfortable.
I wish he would... I know personally that this phrase is a bit touchy to some black folks - believe me!
You know what - I agree with you - there's too much of that.
You're the one who made assumptions about me you have no right to make.
And you have a clear lack of understanding of context and nuance.
"go to a black club walk in and shout out the phrase"? Yeah, sure that makes sense. Like I said, no understanding of context. I wouldn't go into the same club and shout "fire" either, though I admit to being guilty to saying the word "fire" now and then.
I've bent over backwards to be fair and acknowledge the phrase's racist origins while also trying to point out how these things change over time. Go back and read all my posts. Did I insult you? Did I not acknowledge the racist origins? Would you like to engage me in a polite discussion of what I think were some very fair points I made? Your inflexibility and touchiness will convince no one of anything. And neither will your unwarranted insults.
Please continue your argument with someone else.
"Feets don't Fail Me Now" may seem like a parody of an old "Amos and Andy" show. But how many remember that this grammatical absurdity is exactly what Bill Cosby was admonishing blacks to reject. By the way, in our "bi-lingual" courses in public schools we are turning out what Bill Buckley rightly refers to as "semi-literates in two languages". Before anyone presumes to laugh at endemic black grammar gaffes he should listen (or read, if possible) to many young whites whose grammer and diction are not up to the level of the Hottentots. The fact is that we are becoming a thoroughly non-bigoted, class-free,
non-racial, democratric, public-educated mass of linguistic cretins.
But not in this case.
Wow, you reading the same posts as me? Making me the villian is a slick touch - "context and nuance? HA-HA" Go back and read what YOU said - it's pretty clear what lead me to be upset with you.
"Continue your argument with someone else."
Yea, because he'll get a pass on it, that's what really yanks my chain...
I may be a cretin - I had to read the post twice - ;-) - but it is a great post; very true.
I'm glad to hear Stepin Fetchit did well for himself in his later years.
But I've yet to hear any of my critics on this thread take up my challenge.
Does anyone think that if Rush Limbaugh used the phrase "feets don't fail me now" the MSM would not rake him over the coals?
First, Rush wasn't on the Sunday Night Show, it was "NFL Countdown" pre-game show.
Second, it's "Step AND Fetch it" as in a "Go-fer" racial at it's core, but not hardly in this case.
It really is a racist expression. I grew up watching many movies from the 30s and 40s (and I'm not that old). Black men were almost always depicted as frightened simpletons. The agenda of the time was that blacks were not to be treated seriously. A serious black character (especially a black man) would have been too threatening. That is how things were for many years. The fact that some rock band that no one has heard of used a stereotypical expression in a song no one remembers means nothing.
Im 38, my knowledge of the expression comes from Little Feat's "Waitng for Columbus" album, which was recorded live in 1979. IIRC, the song doesnt have racial overtones. At any rate, I dont seek out things to be offended by, and I doubt if Berman made the comment in a racial manner, either. He was probably using his signature use of song lyrics in his broadcast, and I at least, wouldnt have noticed it as anything other that-song lyrics. Its a shame people need to seek ways to be offended..
Happy New Year:)
Berman is 50. He is very surely aware of the phrase's racial background. My point in the post was not to accuse Berman of racism, but to say that if Rush Limbaugh had ever used such a phrase, the MSM would have raked him over the coals, whereas I doubt ESPN will discipline the self-described Democrat Berman in any way.
rush would be taken to task for just about anything he could say, racial or not. it already happened once with ESPN. the second time would take less of a potentially offensive phrase to get the MSM's ire up, thanks to "past history."
Berman isn't going to be taken to task for this because this is part of his schtick. he makes up lame phrases and nicknames for 90% of the people in the sports world, white or black. He and tom jackson (a black former pro NFL player) used to sing a cab calloway song when a certain receiver for the NY Giants would score, a black man named calloway. would that be considered racist as well? Or how about when former NY Giant/NE Patriot Dave Meggett used to run back punts for long gains and he'd say "Look at that little Meggett run!!!" All potentially offensive to some.
No prob. To the contrary, I admire your willingness to acknowledge it. There is so much misinformation flying around this thread, with people too young to know better standing pat on their ignorance.
I don't get it. Thanks for the info though.
Berman and Jackson seem like true friends, and I remember their corny "Heidi-heidi-heido-ho" Cab Calloway shtick.
But there's a huge difference between that and "feets do your duty." Again, I'm not by any means saying Berman is a racist. I don't think he is. My point was only to predict that he will skate on this one, whereas Rush would have been raked over the coals for saying the same thing.
A better attitude would be a willingness to learn from those who are older than you and who perhaps have seen or experienced things that make them more knowledgeable about racism than you seem to be.
Sure Berman is unwatchable, but has the Right REALLY gotten to the point that it's tit for tat for stuff like this?
Besides, no one will see what Berman said as racial. I was watching it and I didn't think it was either.
As for the "forced laugh", if you have worked with a guy who says the same crap for nearly 12 years now, you wouldn't find any of it funny either.
LOL! Apparently it does, I have never heard the expression in any other context except Lowell George's, and Im approaching 40. This article is a "lets see what I can find to offend me today so I can be outraged" effort. Im just surprised to see so many falling for it..
This sincerely wasn't meant as tit for tat. I was not seeking to make trouble for Berman. Though I find him to be a bit of a blowhard [and his nickname after all is "Boomer'] I sense he's a pretty good guy.
I was simply trying to point out the double-standard - that if Rush had said the same thing, his "racial statement" would undoubtedly, IMO, have become front-page MSM news.
Fair enough in your case, but I'd guess you're under 40. For people 50 and over [including Berman], the phrase has undeniable racial connotations.
I don't mind being corrected, I actually am glad when it happens. It makes me feel like an ass, walking around with incorrect information.
Some things I know well, some I know a little. When I'm wrong I like to be informed of it early in the game.
Whoops, I see you're retired. So if you're under 40 you must have retired at age 2 ;-) OK, I was wrong about that. Still, the racial background of the phrase is well-known to millions, and I have no doubt that if Rush had ever used it the MSM would have made it a cause celebre.
I am well over 18, and although I have heard the phrase, did not connect it to either a racial slur, or a song. I had no idea of the context at all.
This has got to be the most bizarre and surreal thread I've seen on FR in a long, long time.
A white ESPN announcer says "feets don't fail me now" about a white NFL quarterback.
Somebody from the Hypersensitivity Police not only labels the phrase as "racist" but then goes on to complain about how Limbaugh could never say it and get away with it.
Then the Hypersensitivity Police Auxiliary jumps in to . . . what? Bowdlerize the phrase from the English language?