Thug Notes Be All Up In Y’alls Librizzle. Word.

Yo. This here Sparky Sweets, PhD. Join me as I drop some of da illest classical literature summary and analysis that yo ass ever heard. Educate yo self, son.

~ Thug Notes Facebook Page

Gentle readers, this week it is my pleasure to introduce to you a charming and insightful program devoted to bringing classic literature to the masses, aptly entitled Thug Notes.

Promo for review of The Hobbit. Image via Facebook.

Each episode of this webseries opens with a stately, elegant theme reminiscent of Masterpiece Theater. We join Sparky Sweets, PhD (played by co-writer Greg Edwards) in an elegant library filled with timeless literary classics. In the first half of the episode, Dr. Sweets summarizes the selected volume for his gentle viewers. In the second half, he delivers a brief yet impressively thorough analysis of the book’s themes and literary background, highlighting key quotes from the book and sometimes its literary influences onscreen. All of this is accompanied by delightful stick figure composite animated illustrations. The highlight, of course, is that with the exception of verbatim quotes, Dr, Sweets’ reviews are conducted entirely in the vernacular commonly associated with organized crime in urban America, i.e. “gangsta.”

Selected volumes may include  classic fantasy like The Hobbit, in which dwarves enlist the aid of Bilbo Baggins because “some dragon be shackin’ on their turf,”

Greek epics like Homer’s Odyssey, in which “[Bleep] be gettin’ real up in the kingdom of Ithica,”

Or even romances like Pride and Prejudice, in which Dr. Sweets says of Mrs. Bennet, “I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but Bingley sure as hell ain’t no broke [bleep].”

You may recall me mentioning that the stereotyping of persons of Latin American ancestry as “thug” or “ghetto” is a cause of exceeding great displeasure to me. Such stereotyping is no less displeasing when applied to Americans of African ancestry. However, when a negative stereotype is satirized and subverted by a skilled comedian, that is quite another matter. Edwards and his co-writers are evidently people of excellent intellect, education, and refinement, a fact made all the more prominent by Sweets’ exaggerated thuggish persona. While the language and at times the subject matter of these reviews are unsuited for the workplace, Thug Notes are a worthy pursuit if one wishes to combine education with entertainment. Click here to peruse them at your leisure.

Concerning (Girl) Hobbits: 5 Gender-Flipped Classics

“Book” by Sam Howzit. Image via Flickr.

Last month, Slate writer Michelle Nijhuis wrote about reading The Hobbit aloud to her 5-year-old daughter and, at her daughter’s request, making Bilbo a she instead of a he. Nijhuis had some interesting observations and insight about the way male and female leads are often portrayed in fiction, and about how imagining the same character with a gender reassignment can provide some balance.

I found out about the Slate piece this past weekend because of this article in Barnes and Noble’s blog, in which Kat Rosenfeld speculates about gender-flips in other classic novels. Since I’m bored and I can’t think of anything else to write about this week it struck me as a thought-provoking writing exercise, I’ll play along.  Here are five literary classics I’ve reimagined with some switches in preferred pronouns. Unlike Rosenfeld’s list, I’m imagining these stories with absolutely nothing changed except the gender of one or more major characters.

1. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Who gets flipped? The whole cast

Continue reading “Concerning (Girl) Hobbits: 5 Gender-Flipped Classics”