“Before its death, the coon developed into the most blatantly degrading of all black stereotypes. The pure coons emerged as unreliable, crazy, lazy, subhuman creatures good for nothing more than eating watermelons, stealing chickens, shooting crap, or butchering the English language”. – Donald Boogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies, and Bucks
The channel formerly known as The Learning Channel (TLC) once again added The Best Funeral Ever to its long list of educative shows such as The Sisterhood, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and Toddlers & Tiaras. The show follows employees at Dallas’ Golden Gate Funeral Home who pride themselves in doing over the top “home going” ceremonies.
When the show first premiered earlier this year Clinton Yates of the Washington Post provided this over view:
In one show scenario, the original singer of the Chili’s Baby Back Ribs song is being celebrated. The funeral features a BBQ-sauce fountain, a casket that looks like a smoking pit and a Flinstones-sized prop of a side of ribs. There is a ceremonial dipping of a rib into the barbecue sauce as some sort of commemoration.
Another is a Christmas-themed event, complete with double-digit farm animals as part of some sort of Nativity scene. Lastly, there’s one service in which Golden Gate holds a funeral at the Texas State Fair. They bring the urn to the fair and let the family ride the rides with it. The cause is noble enough: the deceased lived with a physical condition that prevented him from ever enjoying such a pleasure while he was alive.
Needless to say there was a fair amount of negative criticism directed at this show when it first premiered, so much so that it was essentially canceled, or so we thought.
The tom-foolery recently returned when a Hollywood-theme funeral is planned by one woman’s children and a casket is dipped in chocolate to honor a man who loved candy. In the most recent episode employees at the funeral home turn into zombies to celebrate the life of a horror fan and plan a game show theme funeral for another.
Rand Duren of the Dallas News compiled a list of some of the most scandalous moments, thus far (http://popcultureblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/dallas-filmed-best-funeral-ever-is-back-here-are-6-scandalous-moments.html/):
A funeral wedding? Yes. A husband and wife who died within a year of each other were celebrated by their son in a very unusual way. How unusual? Two of the funeral home workers went on a search for a very tiny wedding dress and a very tiny tuxedo, so they could dress the two urns with the ashes of the deceased couple as bride and groom.
Two become one… again. The funeral wedding didn’t end there, two large screens projected a bride and a groom who shared a symbolic kiss as part of the ceremony. The ashes were then combined in a single urn, sending them off as one. Romantic.
Bowling with the deceased. This one is quite literal. A family who lost their mom wanted to celebrate her love for bowling by having the ceremony at their bowling alley. And no, it wasn’t just a location thing. The casket was placed on one of the lanes with a contraption that held a bowling ball. The family then pushed the casket down the lane for a full-speed last strike.
People dressed as eggs and bacon. So, how do you celebrate the life of someone who loved breakfast? With a full-on breakfast celebration, of course. Funeral home workers dressed as strips of bacon and fried eggs as they facilitated the family with a full on breakfast bar. To be completely honest, the pancakes served looked delicious.
One last “Olympic” run. The family of Olympian gold medalist Ronnie Ray Smith wanted to celebrate him as the champion he once was. So Golden Gate’s idea of a track-and-field-themed funeral quickly started taking shape. There was one problem: How do you get the deceased to win one last race? After several failed attempts, which included sliding a casket over plastic covered in oil, they found a great solution. The coffin was placed over a go-kart and off it went, winning first place against three other live contenders. A champion indeed, the coffin-kart was going so fast that it went for another full lap as quick as lightning.
Trendard the Great. Listen, every reality show has someone that shines over the rest of the cast, and I’m thinking Best Funeral Ever has found its star in Trendard. On the previous show he helped the candy cane girls with fabulous choreography for a Christmas-themed funeral dance. This season he has already outdone himself by not only wearing some stunning golden tights, he also completely transformed into a golden Greek Olympian to carry the torch for Ronnie Ray Smith’s funeral.
This show is another stain on the reputation of African-Americans. Negative stereotypes have followed African-Americans since our first existence in this country. African-Americans are lazy, angry, gangsters, promiscuous and uneducated. Unfortunately, those stereotypes have been re-enforced by popular culture. Music videos portray African-Americans as over-sexed and drug dealers, the leading roles in movies rarely go to capable African-American men and women, and television shows such as The Bad Girls Club, Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Love & Hip-Hop portray a culture of “baby-mamas”, “baby daddies”, and violence.
The stereotypes of African-Americans portrayed in popular culture may have something to do with an Associated Press survey that came out last year that found a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks.
In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.
Which brings me back to The Best Funeral Ever, this show highlights everything wrong within the African-American community while turning a private event like a funeral into a 21st Century Minstrel show with professional mourners filling the roll of modern day coons. If TLC had any decency they would take this show off of television and if African-Americans have any pride left they would not watch.