By Baba Brinkman. With Jamie Simmonds. A Dovetail Productions Inc. production presented by the Cultch. At the Cultch’s Historic Theatre on Tuesday, October 29. Continues until November 10
Smart writer. Handsome production. But no. Just no.
In The Rap Guide to Evolution, writer and performer Baba Brinkman spends an hour and 40 minutes lecturing his audience.
He starts out by defending Darwin’s theory of evolution from creationist attacks. Yes, religiosity is an increasing threat, but let’s face it: those folks are nuts and what are the chances of them showing up at a show with “evolution” in the title? So what’s the point? Where’s the challenge?
Well, as Brinkman went further, Rap Guide not only challenged me, it pissed me off. It’s self-serving for starters. A rapper and long-time rap fan, Brinkman engages evolutionary theory to contextualize the violent posturing that’s part of rap culture. He uses projected charts to illustrate how, in situations in which life expectancy is short and the income gap between rich and poor is high, the incidence of homicides committed by young men goes up. The aggression in rap, he argues, is a kind of deterrent display, an imitation of murderous poses, that has evolved to deal with a modern-day equivalent of predation: the high level of stress in urban ghettos. Okay.
In the next breath, he starts to preach about the evolution of groups, about how helping one another out is adaptive. Again, fair enough. But there’s a link missing here: the one in which Brinkman holds his fellow rappers accountable for the social destructiveness of the sexism, homophobia, and violence in their shared industry. Yes, you can give all of that shit a context. You can also man up.
Speaking of homophobia, Brinkman’s take on the evolutionary psychology of homosexuality is a joke. He essentially argues that, in queer couples, one of the lesbians is mannish and one of the gay men is womanly. If you were unfamiliar with the meaning of heteronormative, this is it.
In “Don’t Sleep with Mean People”, Brinkman encourages women to avoid reproducing with nasty guys, in order to advance social evolution and make the world a more peaceful place. My 15-year-old female companion pointed out that placing all of the responsibility on women is unfair. Brinkman acknowledges this, but according to him, when it comes to sex, men can’t help themselves.
Same old shit, with beats.