7/19/2004

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

Evangelical Outpost has a very interesting discussion highlighting some concerns about the use of the word "pimp" as verb or an adjective without negative connotations.  Later some potential alternatives are offered.   Child molester – n. slang term used to refer to an older person who attempts to pander to the tastes of children and teenagers in order to make a quick buck. "I have to give the executives at Columbia Pictures their due credit. Those guys are the biggest group of child molesters in the business."
Rapist – n. a male who possess a broad sexual appeal to women who have a weaknessess for misogynistic losers "Yo, dude, I caught Snoop Dog’s concert last night. Man, that guy is the biggest rapist in the game! Stalker n. – term used to denote a person who often associates with celebrities. Busted for public lewdness– caught associating with famous Democratic celebrities such as Barbara Streisand or Whoopi Goldberg. "Did you hear about the head of MTV’s programming? I read in People magazine that stalker was busted for public lewdness."
   This is interesting, but I think a pimp is different from those other characters in some substantial ways.  Now, what follows is not a veneration of pimps, nor is it a justification for what they do.  It's just an analysis of why "pimp" has taken the linguistic turn that it has, and why other sexual predator terms cannot.   [autobiographical] For about 3 weeks when I was in 11th grade, I actually thought I wanted to be a pimp.  Not for any malicious reasons, but just because I wondered what it must be like to have that much game.  What in the world could you possibly say that would make a woman have sex and then give YOU the money?  The whole prospect of that was just mind-boggling to me, especially since I had ZERO game in high school.  That ended when my fool behind actually TOLD MY MOTHER. [/autobiographical]   The biggest difference between the pimp and other sexual predators, the main element that allows the pimp to be viewed as an anti-hero is the thing that fascinated me:  a pimp cannot be a pimp if he has no game.  For the uninitiated, game is simply the ability to get somebody to do what you want them to do, primarily through persuasive means.  It usually includes some measure of deception, but that's not necessarily the case.  Don't get caught up on the deception, because that's not the point.  The fact that a man lies to a woman or uses circumlocution doesn't make him a pimp. Game is part message, but just as much delivery.  It's not what he says, it's how he says it.  Even when the pimp says things that make no sense in the real world, it sounds fly. "I told the ho you better get in where you fit in before you get a check-up from the neck up."  No real substance there, and both of those phrases are pretty much clich├ęs now, but when the first pimp spat that line, it was literally unheard of.   In a way, the inverse of the pimp is the preacher.  Not the degreed, college educated, lecturing-type minister.  He may deliver the Word, but he ain't no preacher. It's not just what's being said, it's the style in which it's being delivered.  In the Black church tradition, there are certain stylistic elements that go along with delivering a sermon.  Furthermore, there is a school of thought which disdains the use of prepared notes, preferring that the minister "freesermon" to borrow a phrase I've seen elsewhere.  The preacher who can freesermon (rapping off the top of the head (coherently, for an extended period of time.  Making up a three-line cat-hat-mat rhyme does not qualify) is called freestyling, so the preacher is freestyling a sermon.) is the flip side of a pimp in the verbal sense. (There are probably some other elements I could go into, but I'm not trying to write a dissertation here, just make a couple points.)   The other thing that a pimp has to have is style.  Actually, game would probably come under the heading of having style, but I've heard of pimps who wear t-shirts and baseball caps.  They don't have style, but they have game.   Anyway, style.  No pimping with out style.  Now saying that a pimp has style does not necessarily mean that I think what he's doing is stylish, but it is an acknowledgement that there is a degree of preparation and flair that a "square" does not put into his clothing choices.  For instance, just about everybody has a mental image of what a pimp's outfit would look like.  Whether it's fashionable or not, it's ostentatious.  That's the point.  In the animal kingdom, the male is always more adorned than females.  Think peacocks.  The whole point for the pimp is to "get chose," or have a ho decide that she's going to give him her money.  The more prosperous the pimp, the better his chances of getting "chose."  So even in the parody I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, when Fly Guy came out of jail with the stacks with goldfish in the heels, the point was that at one point, he was at the top of the pile.  Goldfish in his shoes?  Are you kidding?  That's big pimpin', baby.   But a pimp's clothing style was only penultimate.  The real deal was his ride.  It wasn't enough for a pimp to have an expensive car, he had to have it tricked out something fierce.  Again, think of the stereotypes:  ain't no pimp driving a hooptie.  That "diamond in the back, sunroof top…" that's a pimp-mobile, baby.  So when MTV talks calls their show "Pimp My Ride," they mean "take my car and floss it out like a pimp would do his Caddy."   Like I said at the beginning, I'm not trying to make pimping legitimate in any way, shape, or form, but I do think that in order to look at the ways the use of the word "pimp" has changed, it's necessary to understand the elements of game and style.  In all honesty, I think much of the use of the term has actually gotten it twisted.  Some people think that a person is pimping if he's successfully (?) juggling several women.  In that respect, they're using it to signify having a degree of "control" over women.  But like a good friend of mine broke it down for me, "You ain't pimpin unless you gettin paid."  So in one sense, most of the people talkin' about pimpin' ain't doin' it.  .