The Difference Between Chuck and Flav

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & huck D and Flavor Flav have always made up Public Enemy's extremes. Chuck is political to the point of being personless, while Flav, probably the original hype man, is all personality -- a stuttery, manic, usually amoral persona. There was no question Chuck D was the major force behind Public Enemy's militant message, but when the group was riding high (and even after they'd crested), it was Flav we saw on MTV's Rock 'n' Jock specials.

Flav has continued to take the limelight anyway he can get it, staring in a variety of reality television shows, beginning with VH1's crassly popular boondoggle The Surreal Life. His relationship on that show with Brigitte Nielsen was spun off into another, Strange Love, which was seen by several black leaders as highly offensive for its portrayals of Flav quarreling with some of his children and their various mothers (none of whom Flav supports). Reverend Paul Scott called Strange Love a "coon act." The other members of Public Enemy, led by Chuck D, issued a statement condemning the show: "We'd like to offer an apology for some of the actions that many considered offensive to Black people, and especially Black women and children, by our brother Flavor Flav."

The press release showed the tension this created within the group. Chuck said, "I would be lying if I said that the side of Flav shown on Strange Love doesn't affect what I've wanted our collective to stand for, because it does and many have told us how deeply they are bothered by this."

Flav's on-screen behavior has only continued, albeit not directly with members of his family. His raucously popular VH1 series Flavor of Love is, at best debauched, at worst one of the more exploitative shows on television. In a Bachelor-type setup, a group of women fight, backstab one other, sleep with Flav and lap-dance entire rap crews to win Flav's (highly temporary) affections.

Meanwhile, in late October at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Chuck spoke on his desire to get women represented more positively in hip-hop. "There's a new 'fight the power,' the fight for women in entertainment. I plan on making it my mission for the next two years to try and do something to fight the power," he said, according to Seattle P-I blogger Travis Hay.

Whether or not Chuck will succeed in his cause remains to be seen, but Flav's already conquered his: The second season finale of Flavor of Love set a one-night basic cable ratings record.

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