Friday, February 24, 2006

Trademark the term "Nigga"


Hot off the press:

The actor Damon Wayans has been engaged in a 14-month fight to trademark the term "Nigga" for a clothing line and retail store, a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online database reveals.

Wayans wants to dress customers in 14 kinds of attire from tops to bottoms, and use the con­tro­ver­sial mark on "cloth­ing, books, music and general mer­chand­is­e," as well as movies, TV and the internet, according to his ap­plic­a­tion­s.

But, so far, his ap­plic­a­tions have been un­suc­cess­ful. Trademark examiner Kelly Boulton rejected the re­gis­tra­tion dated Dec. 22, citing a law that prohibits marks that are "immoral or scan­dal­ous." A previous attempt by Wayans was turned down on identical grounds six months earlier.

"While debate exists about in-group uses of the term, 'nigga' is almost uni­ver­sally un­der­stood to be derog­at­ory," Boulton wrote to Wayans' attorney, William H. Cox, according to the ap­plic­a­tion.

Cox and other rep­res­ent­at­ives of the actor did not respond to interview requests about the re­gis­tra­tion.

Wayans can appeal the re­jec­tion, but experts in trademark law differ on his chances for success.

I'm still pulling my thoughts together on this one. He's got to be getting at a deeper issue in doing all this, right?

Doesn't the work of many black comedians rely on a veiled sense of double-consciousness? If agreed, perhaps he's tackling a larger social issue by trademarking the term.

I mean, this is the same brother that starred in Spike Lee's Bamboozled, so he's got some proven history of social consciousness, right?

Perhaps I'm wrong in assuming consciousness by association. Call me optimistic if you like.

But haven't "we" taken the N-bomb and turned it's meaning on it's head, using it interchangeably as a term of endearment and a verbal jab? Can't Wayans add a third dimension to this interchange and milk it for any potential financial gain? Right or wrong, he's raised some very fresh issues that go beyond a simple utterance of the word.

Read on.

4 comments:

qwerty said...

He's got to be getting at a deeper issue in doing all this, right?

I just had a feeling that somehow, somewhere, if I was really good and read on there'd be a comment about how there must be some "deeper" meaning to all of this. When did nigga turn into the word of the enlightened? Pryor, McGrudder, Chappelle.... and now Damon Wayans? Why can't people who utter the word just be... well, nigge..., I mean, the n-word.

Controversy sells. This whole "Nigga" trademark thing is so sad it's highlarious!

Mr. Wayans wants folks to wear Nigga Brand doo rags, listen to Nigga Records recording artists, read books by Nigga Publishing House writers, watch Nigga Motions Pictures films and Nigga TV sitcoms, and post on Nigga Online blogs but... there must be something deep in this.

But something troubles me. What about the blaccent talkin', FUBU wearing, owns-every-Tupac-CD-that's-been-released-since-his-death listening, "white chocolate" nicknamed, Black Card carryin' middle class white kid from the subur.. er, I mean Da Hood? What about him? Sure, he's got his overpriced "Old Navy" and "Gap" t-shirts but will he be able to wear his "Nigga" t-shirt sans fearing a beat-down? It's not like he's sayin' it. I mean, this isn't some random black guy sellin' shirts out of his car. This is a mainstream, ABC-sitcom- havin', black actor. He's white-friendly. Maybe he's tryin' to make it alright for Whites to say nigga?

Better still, will there be "Nigga" and "Black Person" line? Y'all know how them comedian luhvs to 'splain the difference between black folks and niggas! Now you can wear a shirt and proudly proclaim what side of the park next to the pj's you're from.

HE COULD BE A MAVERICK AND START A LINE JUST FOR THE LIQUOR STORES! Cuz e'ryone know that's where they be at! Holla! I'm a genius!

Personally, I think Mr. Wayans would do well to concentrate on us degreed black folks with an "Uppity-Negro" line that makes business suits, 'cause we all know that no matter how good or how smart we are we "just a nigga in suit!" and we've got the money and the desire to fit in corporate America. And if he would incorporate some Kente cloth in the design... I'M SO THERE!

The line to invest in his company and support his getting a patent and trademark starts right outside the Kansas Fried Chicken on Utica, aight?

I suspect Mr. Wayans is just a product of the C.R.E.A.M. mentality. This man is related to the people who brought us White Chicks... C'MON NOW!

Plus, I don't understand how starring in a movie qualifies as "some proven history of social consciousness." Did he help write it? Aside from his showing up at the set to recite his lines infront of a camera I'm not aware of any other contributions.

Maybe he was only "conscious" about the fact that just starring in, or being associated with, a "Spike Lee Joint" brings credibility to your career whether or not you have any real acting skill or talent (See: Rappaport, Michael).

Speaking of Bamboozled, why did Wayans's character speak in that... idiotic manner? I haven't managed to get past the first 10 minutes due to it. And I really wanted to see this movie.

Lamo said...

"Maybe he's tryin' to make it alright for Whites to say nigga?"

My response: Isn't it already acceptable for whites to say nigga?

After the impact the Wayans have made to American culture, I think they can have the benefit of the doubt. They are very creative, and not gratuitous in their exploitation of blacks such as comics like Martin Lawrence, D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, and other blacks who go over the top.

The nigga trademark may be a cash cow, but the government wants to have the steak for themselves without letting any niggas get a piece of their filet mignon.

Brother Afrocan said...

Do you blame the pimp or the jon? And though pimpin ain't easy, it can make you dollars. Damon is just trying to sell what people are looking to buy. Should we care? Should we be appalled? Do our emotions matter? I may be the ultra-jaded, but to echo Da Brat's sentiments when she was 'sittin on top of the world', before she became washed up on VH1 and doing back up for Dem Franchise Boyz "If it don't make no f@$#ing dollars, it don't make no f@$#ing sense."

Regardless of how socially conscious spike lee may claim to be, or how despicable we view Damon Wayans, next time you see them with floor seats at the garden - remember they are in the same racial pimpin hustle, though they are using different approaches, they share the same goals. Making money off the racial climate in the country(world?).

Anonymous said...

Homey wouldn't play that!

This is almost as idiotic as the rap musik apologist Michael Eric Dyson's self-hating, intellectual mastabation at last years State of the Black McDonalds, opps i mean Union fest in Atl, when he called himself and the audience that slave language.
Just 15 years ago, Homey the clown would have been going all upside the head of any fool who would've suggested some ignorant foolishness like this. These dumb negroes are doing the work of white supremist and assisting in commiting mentacide on their own people. Doing the work of sumner redstone, mel karzimen, edgar bronfman jr, clear channel, those 5 corporations that control most of what the masses hear.

Only two things responds to names given to them by their masters- slaves and pets.

We are not the N-word. Until we realize this, the condition of the masses of our people will not improve