The other major aspect of the humour is the centrality and cognitive dissonance of Ali G's imperfect adoption of a hip hop image derived from successful artists who either come from or pretend to come from predominantly working class African American communities. The paradox is that global youth - whether Tokyo trendies, Stockholm stockbrokers, bishops' sons in Britain, or Ethiopian immigrants in Israel - is imitating and idealizing the cultural tropes of systemically impoverished, racially segregated, drug-ridden and dangerously violent neighbourhoods. It's one thing to theorize that white, suburban kids imitate their dangerous and exotic neighbours for a vicarious (and safe) walk on the wild side, but it's quite another to notice that kids around the world, often in cultures with no connection to African Americans, are so determinedly acting "black." The greater this distance, the funnier the attempts to copy Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, and Snoop. Ali G's insistence that his 'hood in Staines - a leafy, sleepy, distant western suburb of London - is Europe's answer to South Central LA is part and parcel of the delusional nature of global celebrity worship in particular and hip hop wannabe-ism in particular.
This gap between the reality of the circumstance and the daydreams that Ali G inhabits is where the real satirical and comedic power comes from. Like some strange mixture of Walter Mitty and P Diddy, the G man totally believes that he is living, or about to live, the superstar gangsta lifestyle. This allows him to ask questions based entirely on the assumption that his own particular almost incoherent brand of misunderstood appropriations from gangsta culture are unimpeachable. As far as he is concerned, everyone on the planet is clearly intent on getting paid without working, on smoking as much spliff as possible, and on having an amazing stereo and getting to sleep with as many beautiful women as possible. This blindness, ironically, allows him to question authority - quite literally, in the case of his interviews. Since, to Ali G, every part of hip hop culture is desirable, he is able to deny the foundations of authority without ever appearing to have a clue.
Because it's part of the same lifestyle, Ali G is also convinced that he is black. This delusion that he is a black gangsta rapper allows him to skate blithely through the register of normal social markers of 'blackness' - language, name, family set up, music, livelihood, location - and treat his own anomalous situation as exemplary for gangstahood. Moreover, and here the comedy takes on an entirely new dimension, despite his gross inauthenticity, he often manages to pass - in real life. As if playing some part in a vast cultural studies experiment, most of the people he interviews accept that he is, in fact, black, or, as Naomi Wolf put it in her recent, petulant article for the Times, a 'basketball player.'
So, Da Ali G show presents us with a fictional character (Ali G, a character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor) who is himself lost in a fiction ("Ali G, the Staines gangsta") and who nonetheless manages to convince many real people that he is, in fact, a black hip hop icon -- albeit a minor one.
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