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TV TATTLE

It's easier to watch Dave realizing it doesn't redeem Lil Dicky

  • When Tom Ley started watching, Dave "Lil Dicky" Burd's FXX comedy, he found himself annoyed. "The cause for my annoyance is pretty straightforward," he says. "I happen to think that Burd’s rap career was one of the most damaging cultural forces of the 2010s. If you’ve never heard a Lil Dicky song, that’s probably because you somehow managed to make it from 2013 to 2018 without ever being in a room with three or more white guys for more than 15 minutes. Scientists are still examining the data, but it is believed that the words 'Yo, have you seen that new Lil Dicky video?' were at some point spoken in 99 percent of all frat houses in America during that time period. The problem with Burd becoming massively popular with upper- and middle-class white kids across the country wasn’t the mere fact that he is white, but that he was one of those white rappers whose artistic vision didn’t extend beyond repeatedly pointing out that he was a white guy who was rapping, and wasn’t it so crazy and funny that a white guy was doing raps??? He was a comedy rapper who could only make jokes at either his own expense or the culture onto which he’d successfully latched himself...So you can imagine my surprise at discovering that much of Dave‘s 20 episodes are concerned with advancing exactly the sort of critiques that I have long held against Burd’s music. The show, which tells a lightly fictionalized story of Burd’s attempts to become a rap superstar, often holds its title character and his talents as a rapper in utter contempt. The show is not at all shy about advancing the theory that Lil Dicky was never much more than an offensive persona invented by an artistically bankrupt narcissist who had to fall back on cheap and grotesque humor in order to avoid grappling with what it actually means to be a white artist in a predominantly black art form. Multiple episodes shine an unkind light on Dave’s self-absorption and skill for cultural appropriation—at one point in Season 2, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (playing himself) is brought on to call out Dave’s blaccent and unrestrained self-regard. Throughout the show, Dave treats his friends and collaborators like sh*t, has universally awful fans, and can’t make any music that doesn’t suck...This all left me viewing the show as something of a tragic tale. I didn’t get the sense that Burd was just attempting to score points with critics through self-criticism, or hoodwink audiences into thinking that Lil Dicky wasn’t as bad of a cultural figure as he once appeared. If he was attempting to do those things, I don’t think he succeeded. Because the feeling that two seasons of Dave ultimately left me with was something like pity. That’s a credit to the artistic vision that Burd managed to execute with Dave, which I think was not only an honest attempt by him to grapple with mistakes he made in crafting the Lil Dicky character over the years, but a reimagining of the character into something Burd now wishes it could have been rather than what it actually was."

    TOPICS: Dave, FXX, Dave "Lil Dicky" Burd




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