When everyone’s phone is also an HD camera, racists have far fewer places to hide. Worldstarhiphop.com is a video blog that features rap music, but more relevantly, public fights caught on tape. Most of these fights involve racism, sexism, or anti-gay slurs and a disturbing view of America that the major news organizations don’t want to publicize. Worldstar was founded by Lee O’Denat, a hip hop fan from Cleveland, he refers to his website as the, “CNN of the ghetto.” Similar to websites such as LiveLeak, WorldStar does not have any of the content restrictions that keep YouTube relatively clean. Because of this, the website is now the online hub for street fights, acts of vandalism, and public sex acts, averaging 1.1 unique visitors a day. All of the videos that are uploaded are stamped with a Worldstarhiphop.com watermark, and not only just one logo, but five or six that bounce around the screen while people in the video throw plates at one another in the middle of an Oakland Denny’s. This site is so integral the public fighting culture, the bystanders to fights now frequently shout “Worldstarhiphop.com” while they film those involved. I find it kind of disturbing that these people had become so dissociated with the violence they are witnessing, that their first thought is about how many views they will get on Worldstar.
“Because of its African-American identity, it has the potential to be sued by some viewers to create or fueled stereotypes of urban America as an out-of-control, chaotic space dominated by young, violent, african american men.” – David Zurawick, The Baltimore Sun
What David says is somewhat true, people associate Worldstar with black youth and culture. However, this is mainly because of the website’s name. If you actually look at the site, you will find videos of people from all races acting like idiots. Ironically, despite its reputation, Worldstar shows no signs of discrimination. Now, I can’t defend the comments on these videos that spout racism, but it seems like everyone on the internet turns into a racist when they have the protection of anonymity, regardless of what site they are on.
I agree that there isn’t as much racism in America as there was in the past, but to be honest, it’s not like past generations set the bar too high. There is still much work to be done, not just in America, but worldwide. The explosion of social media and prominence of cameras everywhere now allow for violent acts of racism to be caught on tape and shared publicly. Last week an Australian man berated a French woman on a bus for speaking in French. Other people on the bus heard what he said and vocalized their support for his racism. Any other time in history, these people would have suffered no consequences for their actions. But now, their faces have been seen by millions and I imagine that will have some effect on their lives. While this wasn’t a case of vigilante justice, it is the sign of the changing times. In the past, the Klan had their hoods to hide behind, but today racists have fewer places to hide in the ever shrinking shadows.