Media Hype 101: The Knockout Game

Know this. Media outlets are desperate to go viral. The internet has been punching them in the guts. It’s been putting newspapers out of business and forcing local TV stations to search their souls. It must be tough to put thousands into a broadcast, and then break even with that dude on youtube who uploads video of himself building slingshots or getting punched in the scrotum.
But bad journalism has been around since before Birth of a Nation. Fear gets people’s attention. It makes you click links and comment.
So, let’s break this segment down a little bit.

1. Who is that dude? The brother that shows up about nine seconds into the segment. He looks like he’s thinking very hard. Is he an authority on the game? A victim? Does he have a doctorate in Criminal Justice from Temple University, and is he here to tell us what we can do to keep from getting knocked out by Black kids? Perhaps he could recommend a helmet for us to wear… Or, is he just the first guy that they saw after they left the studio in their big stupid news van.
That’s kind of important, especially since he is the only one whose face isn’t totally blurred out.

2. Why is everyone else’s face blurred out? Is it a snitch thing? It can’t be. They aren’t snitching on anyone. They are talking about something that anyone who has ever clicked on Worldstar Hiphop already knows. And they aren’t saying anything, really. But something miraculous happens when you blur out the faces of about a dozen teens. They all look like they are trying to hide something. They look suspect… Like, if you saw them, maybe you would wish you were wearing that helmet that the other dude never got around to recommending.

3. Watching the segment, I got the impression that those city streets were especially dangerous. I mean, four people were knocked the hell out. One was killed. I felt like screaming, “Dude! Where’s your helmet!”
But how many of the attacks they showed actually took place in Jersey City? The girl who ended up sprawled on the concrete was in London. The teacher was in Pittsburgh. If the “one hitter quitter” guy was in Jersey City, they would have interviewed him. “When you go around Black kids,” they’d ask him, “Do you prefer motorcycle helmets or Football helmets?”
That’s pretty important too, especially if you are suggesting that this thing is any more than an isolated incident, which they clearly are. A quick google search will lead to a few incidents in Brooklyn that they police are calling, “Knock out the Jew.” But just because the police have named it, doesn’t make it so. Remember the Central Park Five?

4. The segment clearly implies that Black kids are hyper violent. It does so by only interviewing Black kids with blurred out faces and asking them general questions which test their knowledge common ratchetness.
The message is clear. White people… get your helmets; or worse, your Kel-Tec nine millimeters. But it isn’t hard to find pictures of white kids being violent assholes. Years ago, there were videos of white kids running up and launching flying kicks at the backs of strangers in London. That, too, had a stupid name. Moments ago I typed in “sucker punch” on youtube and found a kid in Spokane Washington, “one hitter quitter”-ing a dude outside of a bar. Cops are doing it too, by the way. But no men in blue were interviewed concerning the Knockout Game, either as participants or experts.

This isn’t a comment on the dudes that think it’s cool to throw punches at random people. I wouldn’t lose sleep if someone beat the hell out of one of them. But I do have a problem with sloppy, sensationalist journalism. This story about a made up phenomena, with no attributable comments, supported by a bunch of unattributed footage from hundreds of or even thousands miles away, should never have made the air. It’s not journalism. It’s not even satire. At best, it’s racist propaganda.