Cooning – a complete definition
Cooning – Using buffoonery to satirize stereotypical characteristics of ANY race or ethnic group for purposes of entertainment.
Historically, white actors would dress in shabby clothing, paint their faces black, speak with slow, slang filled speech, and portray ape-like mannerisms. Today, most cases of cooning involves a person satirizing his/her own race for personal gain i.e. musicians, comedians, actors. [See movies Hollywood Shuffle and Bamboozled]
How can you decipher between slapstick comedy and cooning when a comedian, musician, or actor is an African American? Just ask yourself if this person’s actions would be entertaining if it was done by a Caucasian person. If the answer is no, then the person is cooning. For example, most reasonable people would be offended if a white person in the same age group behaved, dressed and spoke like Soulja Boy or T-Pain. However, if a white person in the same age group behaved, dressed and spoke like Drake or Kanye most people would not be offended. Musicians like Plies‘ and Lil’ Jon’s natural speak voice and mannerisms are completely different from the characters they portray in the media. Why is this?
So is the “interview voice” cooning? Somewhat. The interview voice is satirizing stereotypical characteristics of the inflections and tone of an educated suburban Caucasian person for purposes of the interviewer identifying with you; i.e. lessening the natural bass in ones voice or hiding ones regional accent. In this case, you are not using buffoonery, however you are hiding your true self in order to entertain the biased beliefs of the interviewer.
Inversely, a Caucasian person using unnecessary (and usually outdated) slang or “fist-bumping” to identify with you is also cooning. See my Boycott list for examples of companies that have used cooning in their commercials in an effort to identify with Black People.