503160-dr-elmo-santa-617-409[1]

The Twenty-Fourth Day of Mellowmas: Dr. Elmo Gets Racist

Jeff: Well, well, well.

Mellowmas Eve.

Jason: ohthankgod

Jeff: It’s the most special night of the year!

A crackling fire…a plate of cookies for Santa and his elves…and only two more songs to get through.

Jason: I’m raising my glass of non-alcoholic eggnog to you, sir.

Jeff: Hey, just curious — is that a plastic tumbler you’re drinking out of? Like, it isn’t actual glass, right?

Jason: My mom says only big boys get to use glasses.

Jeff: Okay, good. Because you may want to throw something when I tell you what’s on tap for today.

Jason: concerned stare

Jeff: Well, it’s like this.

Jason: That’s never a good way to start explaining yourself.

Jeff: We cover a lot of songs every year, and I think you and I both try and make a concerted effort to avoid repeating ourselves too often.

Jason: That’s true.

Jeff: So when I started thinking about what we should cover this Mellowmas Eve, my thoughts turned to genres, artists, and topics we either hadn’t covered in awhile or had never covered before.

Jason: I didn’t know there were any left, but okay.

Jeff: Well, one of the first things I realized was that it’s been years — years! — since we listened to a Kwanzaa song.

Jason: That’s right! That was what, 2007?

Jeff: …And another one of the first things I realized was that we’ve never, ever listened to a song by Dr. Elmo.

Jason: You make it sound like there’s more than one.

Jeff: Perhaps you’re thinking “There’s no way in hell the ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ guy recorded a Kwanzaa song.” I can understand why you’d think that. Everyone should think that, starting with Dr. Elmo.

Jason: I’m actually thinking, “There’s no way in hell the ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ guy recorded anything else at all.” But are you serious? A KWANZAA song?

Jeff: Yes, Jason. It’s from one of Dr. Elmo’s ELEVEN GODDAMN ALBUMS.

Jason: I admit to not doing much research on Dr. Elmo. But isn’t he….an old white guy?

Jeff:  He’s a 75-year-old veterinarian.

Jason: Seriously? I avoid that song like the plague every year.

Jeff: Most recently, Dr. Elmo released Dr. Elmo Bluegrass Christmas.

Jason: NO.

Jeff: Yes. But good news: today’s track is not from that album. It’s from 2005’s Grandma Got Remixed by a Reindeer.

Jason: Grandma Got WHAT?

Oh no.

Was this done by Rappy McRapperson?

Jeff: You might as well go ahead and throw that plastic cup now.

Jason: Actually, I just asked my mom where we keep the brandy.

Jeff: Under ‘References’ on Dr. Elmo’s Wikipedia page, there’s a link that says “‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer’ singer is sued.” Reading that made me happier than I can explain.

Did I mention Dr. Elmo is a multimillionaire? And that he’s played with the Roots?

Jason: I believe the multimillionaire part. You’re just making up the part about the Roots.

Jeff: It’s all true. Look at his fucking face.

Second news item on his site: “Grandma on your iPhone? Yep, there’s App for that!” Truth and beauty are an illusion, Jason.

Jason: I don’t know what to think.

Jeff: I think we’ve reached a low enough point to listen to Dr. Elmo’s “Night Before Kwanzaa.”

Jason: I don’t think this is a good idea, Jeff. Actually, I know this is not a good idea, Jeff. I feel like nothing good can come of this.

Jeff: I’m not disputing anything you’re saying.

And yet.

Jason: sigh

Jeff: Are you ready for some really bad shit to happen?

Jason: Hang on, I need to say goodbye to any chance of getting presents this year. I feel like they’re all going to be returned between now and tomorrow morning.

Jeff: Oh, look, it’s another link: “Visit Dr. Elmo’s YouTube Channel”

Jason: No thank you.

Jeff: “A one-page PDF with pictures and facts regarding ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.'” JASON THIS MAN IS A MEDIA KINGPIN

Jason: This is worse than the time you disappeared into Dolly’s website.

Jeff: Dr. Elmo could buy us and have us spayed.

Nothing about the world makes sense.

Hold on, I’m buying you a copy of Dr. Elmo Halloween.

Jason: JEFF DON’T

Let’s just do this. I still have presents to wrap.

Jeff: Hold on, I’m punching myself about the head and neck.

Okay, now I’m ready. Beaten physically and emotionally.

Jason: sigh

Jeff: Let’s hear what happened to Dr. Elmo on the night before Kwanzaa.

Jason: I still think this is a terrible idea. For the record.

Dr. Elmo, “The Night Before Kwanzaa” (download)

Jeff: What?

Who was that?

What’s happening here?

This does not sound like the Dr. Elmo I’ve strenuously avoided all these…oh, there he is.

Jason, I’m in pain. So far, he’s rapped “hood,” “Gucci,” and “Yanni.”

Jason: Are we in Bel-Air?

Jeff: Oh no!

Jason: “Two loves of white bread on a shelf of whole wheat…”

Wait.

Jeff: He’s rapping about homicide!

Jason: Is he saying black people are whole wheat?

Jeff: DARKER COMPLEXION JASON HE JUST RAPPED DARKER COMPLEXION

Jason: I….can’t.

Jeff: “Yo, got a problem?”

Wait, was he just kidnapped by a man in a full-length fur coat?

Jason: I wish you could see my face right now. This guy should run for the Republican nomination.

Jeff: Oh, but wait, here’s the heartwarming final verse. Complete with what sounded like Dr. Elmo’s version of a brief tribal Kwanzaa chant.

Oh no.

Jason: My mouth is wide open.

Jeff: Now he’s rapping “black” names.

Vittles! He fucking said vittles! AND HOMIES

Jason: speechless

WHAT THE HELL

Jeff: That was amazing.

Jason: I think that might be the most racist thing I have ever heard.

Jeff: I don’t know why, but I’m stunned that it exists. My wife was silent throughout the song, and when it ended, she said only “that’s horrible.”

Jason: So this track is about how he met some black people, he was visibly afraid he was going to get killed, but instead he was surprised to be invited to a Kwanzaa celebration?

Jeff: That’s exactly what this song is about.

Jason: I am ashamed. I am ashamed for Dr. Elmo.

Jeff: He and his wife were at home, minding their own business, when a black man in a full-length fur coat came and took them to the hood. And he fed them vittles and introduced them to his family, and when it was over they were all homies.

I kind of think this is Glenn Beck’s idea of how racial harmony happens.

Jason: Oh look, Santa just gave me the finger and left with my presents.

Jeff: I was going to make a joke about that possibly being Dr. Elmo’s fur-coated Kwanzaa Man, but I’m too sad.

Jason: Who told Dr. Elmo this was a good idea?

Jeff: The animals?

Jason: He must live in an all-white town. But I’m not going to his website to find out.

Jeff: Dr. Elmo lives in Novato. It’s a small California town. And yes, as of the 2010 census, it’s 76 percent white.

Jason: hangs head in shame

What’s even worse is that YOU bought this track. You gave Dr. Elmo 99 cents.

Jeff: In my exteremely limited defense, once I saw the words “Dr. Elmo” and “Kwanzaa,” I assumed it would be perfect for Mellowmas — and casting aside the awful music and worse lyrics, it kind of is.

Jason: I can’t imagine a single listener feels good right now.

Jeff: I mean, what’s more Mellowmas than an old man desperately clinging to his little bit of fame by regurgitating old ideas for the holidays?

Jason: I don’t know, but I can get Lifton on the phone to find out.

Jeff: ZING!

Jason: Well, folks. There you have it.

Jeff: Yeah, um…there it is.

It’s Dr. Elmo.

Jason: Not much else to say, is there?

Jeff: Words fail me, old friend.

Jason: I feel empty inside.

Sad.

Ashamed.

Regretful.

Jeff: It’s always darkest before the Mellowmas dawn, Jason. I sense redemption on the horizon.

Jason: This is the part where the entire Peanuts cast comes out and yells, “HAPPY MELLOWMAS EVE, JASON HARE!” And then Bob Dylan’s version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” plays?

Jeff: Except Charles Schulz is dead and DR. ELMO IS STILL MAKING RECORDS.

Jason: There is no God.

There is no Santa.

There is only Mellowmas.

Jeff: This is our “Han Solo in carbonite” moment, folks. Tomorrow: Ewoks.

Jason: I have to go to sleep now. I’m going to pull the covers up over my head and hope against all hopes that something awesome happens tomorrow.

Jeff: Ooh, that makes me wonder if the Ewoks ever recorded a Christmas album.

Jason: GOODNIGHT JEFF




  • Blerdy Claus

    I got about 20 seconds in before I said (out loud) “You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!” I am now speechless.

  • http://www.wingsforwheels.net dslifton

    This song is the musical equivalent of Bill O’Reilly’s dinner in Harlem with Al Sharpton.

    http://mediamatters.org/research/200709210007 

    Also, ME!!!

  • DT

    When he started rapping out all the “black” names, the whole thing went from here to HERE.

    I was in the grocery store earlier today and the Christmas music playing started to skip on the “Everybody knows…” part of The Christmas Song. And it stayed that way for at least 7 minutes – it was still skipping when I left the store. So anyways I thought that would be the musical lowpoint of this Christmas Eve.

    I. Was. Wrong.

    Thank you, Jeff and Jason. I will see you both in hell. For vittles. :-)

  • http://www.bullz-eye.com Anonymous

    I was embarrassed for mankind while listening to this.

  • MVMusic

    Guys, Guys–You totally missed the point.  Let me explain–I wrote this song with Dr. Elmo, who is the world’s most wonderful guy–I’ve been collaborating with him for 26 years.  You have just embodied how misleading the media can be–even the liberal media, which is my media.  You, Jeff and Jason, are HILARIOUS and brilliant, unlike the other side.  But you missed that our Kwanzaa song is poking fun at the WHITE couple and THEIR racial stereotypes and language.  You won’t buy this, but it’s true. Try taking another listen with that in mind. By the way, Elmo’s wife warned us not to record this, exactly because of reactions like yours.  But a lot more people (of all colors) love it. I repeat–Elmo Shropshire is the world’s sweetest, kindest, most generous, and LEAST RACIST guy on the planet.  So don’t waste any more of your withering wit on him.  Keep spending it on the ones who deserve it.
    Merry Chrisnukah.  Rita Abrams

  • MVMusic

    Guys, Guys–You totally missed the point.  Let me explain–I wrote this song with Dr. Elmo, who is the world’s most wonderful guy–I’ve been collaborating with him for 26 years.  You have just embodied how misleading the media can be–even the liberal media, which is my media.  You, Jeff and Jason, are HILARIOUS and brilliant, unlike the other side.  But you missed that our Kwanzaa song is poking fun at the WHITE couple and THEIR racial stereotypes and language.  You won’t buy this, but it’s true. Try taking another listen with that in mind. By the way, Elmo’s wife warned us not to record this, exactly because of reactions like yours.  But a lot more people (of all colors) love it. I repeat–Elmo Shropshire is the world’s sweetest, kindest, most generous, and LEAST RACIST guy on the planet.  So don’t waste any more of your withering wit on him.  Keep spending it on the ones who deserve it.
    Merry Chrisnukah.  Rita Abrams

  • MVMusic

    Guys, Guys–You totally missed the point.  Let me explain–I wrote this song with Dr. Elmo, who is the world’s most wonderful guy–I’ve been collaborating with him for 26 years.  You have just embodied how misleading the media can be–even the liberal media, which is my media.  You, Jeff and Jason, are HILARIOUS and brilliant, unlike the other side.  But you missed that our Kwanzaa song is poking fun at the WHITE couple and THEIR racial stereotypes and language.  You won’t buy this, but it’s true. Try taking another listen with that in mind. By the way, Elmo’s wife warned us not to record this, exactly because of reactions like yours.  But a lot more people (of all colors) love it. I repeat–Elmo Shropshire is the world’s sweetest, kindest, most generous, and LEAST RACIST guy on the planet.  So don’t waste any more of your withering wit on him.  Keep spending it on the ones who deserve it.
    Merry Chrisnukah.  Rita Abrams

  • http://sportsmyriad.com Beau

    If you search for “Night Before Kwanzaa” lyrics, you find some reallllly interesting stuff.

  • http://www.interbridge.com/lineups.html Anonymous

    I actually live just a few miles from Novato in case you want me to drop off a Christmas “present” to Dr. Elmo.

  • Ian Lozada

    I think if I keep listening to Santa On A Helicopter by Wing long enough, I’ll forget I ever heard this one.

  • Blerdy Claus

    As a black person, I don’t find this song funny in the least. I would love Elmo and/or the writers of the song to sit in a room full of black people and try to explain the humor with which the song was allegedly made. Somehow, I don’t see that going so well,.

  • JonCummings

    It’s one thing to completely believe you, Ms. Abrans — I’m quite sure Dr. Elmo is a prince (and hopefully refers to himself in the third person and giggles maniacally on a regular basis). But that doesn’t mean that this song was a good idea, or that it’s not terribly offensive. If you have to resort to the “but don’t you see? It’s a parody on the WHITE people!” defense, you’ve already lost the argument — because, no, we don’t see. Not when the stereotypes you’re trading in are all targeted at those with a “darker complexion,” from the fur coat to “Shaniqua” to that awful tribal yelp at the end. And not when all those stereotypes are tossed off so casually, as though your little “Bonfire of the Vanities” scenario couldn’t play out any other way than the couple feeling they’d be mauled. The fact that it’s so cliche adds insult to injury.

    Just because all those stereotypes are cooking at a nice “comic” simmer, rather than a full George Wallace boil, doesn’t make them any less pernicious. And if hearing their stereotypes reflected so casually helps racists to comfortably perpetuate their awful belief system (or, worse, share it with their kids), then the song has caused damage that will be difficult to undo. It’s a very short step from this sort of pop-culture backwardness to the race-based nastiness we’ve seen at Tea Party rallies the last three years.

    I just realized I should have tried to be funnier while writing this. Jeff and Jason, you guys said all this better with your withering wit than I have with this pabulum. Can’t wait to see what the Ewoks bring tomorrow.

  • JonCummings

    It’s one thing to completely believe you, Ms. Abrans — I’m quite sure Dr. Elmo is a prince (and hopefully refers to himself in the third person and giggles maniacally on a regular basis). But that doesn’t mean that this song was a good idea, or that it’s not terribly offensive. If you have to resort to the “but don’t you see? It’s a parody on the WHITE people!” defense, you’ve already lost the argument — because, no, we don’t see. Not when the stereotypes you’re trading in are all targeted at those with a “darker complexion,” from the fur coat to “Shaniqua” to that awful tribal yelp at the end. And not when all those stereotypes are tossed off so casually, as though your little “Bonfire of the Vanities” scenario couldn’t play out any other way than the couple feeling they’d be mauled. The fact that it’s so cliche adds insult to injury.

    Just because all those stereotypes are cooking at a nice “comic” simmer, rather than a full George Wallace boil, doesn’t make them any less pernicious. And if hearing their stereotypes reflected so casually helps racists to comfortably perpetuate their awful belief system (or, worse, share it with their kids), then the song has caused damage that will be difficult to undo. It’s a very short step from this sort of pop-culture backwardness to the race-based nastiness we’ve seen at Tea Party rallies the last three years.

    I just realized I should have tried to be funnier while writing this. Jeff and Jason, you guys said all this better with your withering wit than I have with this pabulum. Can’t wait to see what the Ewoks bring tomorrow.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see this featured next year in a Mix Six with any Shirley Q. Liquor Kwanzaa cut and Mel Blanc’s “The Hat I Got for Christmas Is Too Beeg”. Word?

  • http://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_songs-Power-Pop.html Brett Alan

    I think you’ve got it just right, Jon. It’s clear that Elmo isn’t saying that black people are bad, or anything so nasty. But it’s still associating all these stereotypes with black people, and the narrator doesn’t seem to learn anything from his experience. And, you know, they could have recorded a song that really does put Kwanzaa and/or African-Americans in general in a very different light, and didn’t.

    OK, enough of that serious stuff! Just have to mention that when he lists all the black names, his voice is going from one speaker to the other! So random!

    Also, when the white couple is surprised that the brothers and sisters are digging each other…well, you can interpret that as racist, or you can take it a WHOLE different way.

  • http://www.wingsforwheels.net dslifton

    I simply can’t believe that someone would admit to writing this song, no less defend it.

  • http://sportsmyriad.com Beau

    I actually DID hear it as parody. But I just don’t think it works.

  • Michael Burke

    This is staggering, and easily the worst thing you have covered.  This is a musical war crime.

  • Michael Burke

    This is staggering, and easily the worst thing you have covered.  This is a musical war crime.

  • Old_Davy

    I agree with DT.  The black name part took it to a whole new level of offensiveness. 

    I was expecting there to be something in the lyrics where the narrator’s Christmas wish was to put all these “homies” on a boat sailing back to where they came from.

  • Sfaustin3

    Hi Miss Abrams – sorry this one turned out so badly, but I still enjoy your music from the ’70s, including “Mill Valley” with the kids in your class.  Best wishes.

  • MB

    You guys need to lighten up and not take yourselves so seriously.  This song is essentially harmless.  If it was recorded in the 1960s or 1970s, no one would have given it a second thought.

  • Anonymous

    Hi All
    I haven’t had this much attention since the Gray Panthers picketed me for recording ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” back in 1980. Love you all, Happy New Year, and, above all, Happy Kwanzaa!