By Brentin Mock
(Updated October 27, 2010) Ever since Antoine Dodson's TV news interview from Huntsville, Ala., when he sounded off about an intruder who broke into his sister's apartment and allegedly attempted to rape her, he has become a media spectacle, if not a celebrity. His televised rant has been remixed and Auto-Tuned in music videos viewed millions of times online. It's even the basis of an online commercial he did for a Sex Offender Tracker iPhone and Android app.
On Oct. 2, Dodson performed at the BET Hip Hop Awards show, which aired Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. on BET. The Root caught up with him beforehand to gather his thoughts on his newfound fame as well as homophobia, minstrelsy and Bishop Eddie Long.
The Root: Did BET reach out to you to do the performance, or did you reach out to them?
Antoine Dodson: I am not desperate at all. I don't call people and say, 'Hey, I want to be on your show.' They reached out to me and said, 'You are the hot topic right now, so we want you to be on the show.' I thought I was just presenting. I did not know what I was doing until I got there. So I was like, 'Oh, I’m performing? OK.' That was my first performance ever.
TR: Do you think your performance obscures the serious issue of the alleged sex-crime attempt?
AD: I hate that people might feel that way, but all I can say is, 'What if you were in my shoes?' So what people are saying is crazy. I'm performing the song because it's such a serious situation. Not only am I performing the song, but I feel that if I keep performing it, it will keep the situation fresh. It won't die down. People really need to stop and think before they make these crazy comments and these dumb opinions. I'm not trying to make this into a joke. If y'all can make the video viral, then you can make the message viral. You think a bunch of rumors and opinions are going to make me hide in the closet? If anything, I'm going to be on the camera even more.
TR: African Americans have a particular, sensitive history with minstrel shows, which made a mockery of the conditions of black folk. Do you think people will connect your performance with minstrelsy?
AD: Of course they will connect it with that. The media is just going try to bring you down, but the whole thing about it is, I'm going to try my best not to be another Britney Spears and not let it take me down. I won't go through it like she did, but she came out of it. People have jobs where they just dig up stuff, so you better count on it.
TR: Did the perpetrator ever get caught?
AD: No, he did not get caught, and the crimes are still happening in Lincoln Park. He must think that this is a hit around the world now and that he's just going to keep going around breaking into people's houses, thinking he can capitalize on it.
TR: What do you plan to do with the fame?
AD: I plan to do a lot of things. I want to be everywhere. I want to get into the music industry. I want to be the voice of the people. Most of my fans are rape victims who are scared to talk about it. I want them to speak about it and do it aggressively — not trying to make a joke out of it and become a celebrity, but to let it flow from their hearts. When it comes to serious situations like this, you should really speak out.
TR: So what are your goals with this?
AD: I'm just going into it as deep as I can. I want to talk about rape victims all over the world, and also my lifestyle. I’m an African-American gay man. Coming from Chicago [like I do], you will struggle with that lifestyle because people fear what they don't understand, so I need to speak for them as well.
I'm sorry if people may hate me, but I feel like something is not adding up. From the look of it, I saw some of the boys' interviews, and one of them is well-spoken and intelligent. Maybe they were scared to speak out all of these years. I don't know, but I smell money.
TR: I understand you want to advocate for victims to speak out, but can you understand why people might be afraid?
AD: Yeah, and I'm not trying to be stereotypical, but it's different from males in the black community. It's more women and white males that are scared to speak out about rapists. I believe in speaking out. I'm glad that they are speaking out, if the situation is true.
TR: How do you feel about how homophobia and sexual crimes are handled in black communities?
AD: They feel like — especially bourgie black people — they don't want to air it on the news because they feel it reflects poorly on the black community. So in order to make them look bourgie, even though they're in the hood, they just don’t speak about it. But a person like me, I'm going to air you out. I’m going to call every media outlet I can and get it in. And I expect somebody to air me out, especially if I'm doing something I ain't got no business doing.
Brentin Mock is a regular contributor to The Root.