The Wackness Hall of Fame

I read this on Wednesday at the end of  #GetSomeJoy: A Blackstravaganza for Mental Health Awareness at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Given the night's theme, I initially intended to read something reflecting on my journey with lupus and depression and all that jazz, but decided to go the upbeat route, and so here we are.

You know it when you see it. It is a bulbous cyst on the tip of humanity’s nose. It is overwhelming, ruthless, unmistakeable, and unoverlookable. Like powerful morning mustiness in a crowded subway car. It’s been devastating for people wearing Tyler Perry-owned wigs and rabid, rapping Australian goat-ladies alike. Sometimes we fall short and the execution just...isn’t quite there, like the need for a Diddy remix here in post-Ed Hardy America. It happens. And other times, the cause is far more dastardly, and it’s time we start talking about it: wackness.

For the approval of the midnight society, I call this story, “The Wackness Hall of Fame.”

1. Meet Lil Mama. She sings, dances, and hops on stages, whether you want her there or not. Professional mark-misser and Apollo Legend with a flair for the ill-advised, you can always count on her for a hearty unintended chuckle. But she really means well, but like the rhythm, that wackness is gonna get you. Bless her heart.

2. Behind every wretched Miley rap hand and misguided twerk is a group of enabling Blacks who’ll sell their culture for some Yeezys and a pack of Black n Milds. Enter Migos, who cosigned Katy Perry’s stint as Cornball Barbie on SNL. If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky. It was the finest of trashtainment. We gotta pull our ho-ass turncoat brethren aside and beseech unto them: stop giving the tacky scoundrels all the secret handshakes and shea butter concoctions for a quick buck.

3. It's sad, really, that watching such a gorgeous couple in action is as entertaining as watching the Olsen twins battle Kellyanne Conjunctivitis in an anti-aging contest. Not even light skin and great faces could counteract the nap-inducing gamma rays emitted from the screen during Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker's short-lived daytime lovefest. No matter how much my inner pervert runs wild watching them on mute, I could never muster a reaction stronger than, "Aww, that's cute. They probably bootyscoot across the kitchen floor to Ashanti a capellas as foreplay."

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4. Though Lil Bow Wow used to skillfully spit his bars, ghostwritten or not, alongside Janet Jackson’s rough patch and Da Brat, his present-day self, Shad Moss is a peculiar, angry little chipmunk. Ages after he helped Destiny’s Child get the tween club jumpin jumpin, he appears to have missed the memo that he doesn’t have to lie to kick it and, sadly, has fallen into a life of fronting for the ‘gram and overestimating his relevance all the livelong day. Chronic wackness is a cancer, y’all, and light eyes are no match for its metastasizing wrath. A pity.

5. The Petty Movement. Everybody needs a thing, something for which to be remembered for after they go to that eternal Homeboys In Outer Space-themed pajama party in the sky. Some carve cute little Jim Crow-era Negro jazz musician figurines to live on dusty mantles and inside grandma’s china cabinet across Black America while others take to rappity rap. Others splice commas for a living and some, in the absence of ambition and useful abilities, turn to professional shitbaggery as a means of gaining clout, followers, and a growing list of so-called haters. Are you a savage, or are you an emotionally unavailable grown child who doesn't clearly communicate their intentions at the onset? Are you petty or a shitbag with a social media following? Who are me to judge?

6. Man in the Mirror, Flex Alexander’s white-faced shitshow masquerading as a Michael Jackson biopic is what happens when a misguided actor and a gaggle of clueless, indubitably white Yes-men gather in a conference room with their unchecked egos, recycled cocaine, and a copy of The Jackson: An American Dream with access to a VH1 budget. No.


7. The Vanessa Huxtable of the Wayans clan, Shawn Wayans.

8. People who find something I’ve written and send me emails that start with, “I don’t want to sound racist but…”

9. Crotch holes. The damn devil.

10. When she wanted to kick off her Black Friends Phase, Christina Aguilera called Redman to help her get dirrrrty. The following year, Britney hit The Ying Yang Twins on their Motorola two-way pager to contribute some street cred and rhythmic grunts to “I Got That (Boom Boom).” I don’t know why, either. Almost a decade and a half later, your friend is following the path of pop stars past as he demonstrates the effects of having no new friends and too much nerve on one’s discernment, and we have to talk about it.

Look, I’m all for reinvention, exploration, and appreciation for other cultures, this new Dollar Store fautoix Drake found for his More Life album makes my spirit itch. Sure, a new album from everybody’s favorite Canadian Caribbean HoustAtlantaFaker means emotional unavailability and eschewing self-awareness over a catchy beat are in season yet again. But ever since he went to London and learned about the world “ting,” the khaki-colored culture vulture has been absolutely insufferable and must be stopped.  


11. That time Nicki teamed up with Wayne and Drake like Wackness Voltron on “No Frauds.” 

12. Nobody becomes the Grand Wizard of Wackness without hard work I don’t have much new to say here, but your cousin Ashanti's legendary booty scoot across Queen Latifah's stage is one of the wackest, most misguided choices I’ve ever seen, next to hiring Rita Ora to do stuff on American television and surrendering thousands of dollar to party at a festival in the Bahamas the man who was the 22 Savage to DMX's 21 Savage. I rebuke it. 

And so I say all of that to say, friends, we have to talk more openly and honestly about difficult things, like depression, suicidal ideations, dementia...and wackness, which, untreated, can cause great damage to one’s joy, quality of life, or bank account. As it is important to ask directly when necessary: “Are you planning to kill yourself?” or “Do you have a plan?” so, too, is it key to muster the courage when the moment arrives to ask, without flinching: 

“Are you about to do something wack?”

Wackness kills, folks. With just a bit of strength and discernment, you, too, can save a life, career, or reputation, and prevent an act of wackness.

(I read "Close Encounters of The Macaroni and Cheese Kind" at last year's event, Colored Boy and Friends: Mental Health Awareness Edition.)

Alexander Hardy

New York City-based food-lover Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson’s royal army and co-host of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. He is an essayist, freelance copywriter, cultural critic, chicken enthusiast, lupus survivor, mental health advocate and educator who has written for, Eater, Courvoisier, Esquire, The Root, CNN, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Saint Heron, and Very Smart Brothas, among other wonderful outlets. When not writing on, he enjoys cheese grits, power naps, sweet tea, and all things chicken-related. Alexander does not believe in snow or Delaware.