While browsing YouTube, I stumbled across a channel called Thug Notes. Every week, viewers are treated to interpretation and analysis of classic literatures by Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. If it sounds hilarious, that’s because it is.
Sweets is often seen wearing a T-shirt or tank top and shorts, while providing a plot synopsis of the piece using modern slang and street talk to communicate to the modern student.
Sweets’ take on the Greek tale “Oedipus” had him exclaiming, “That means ‘Oedipus’ been boning his mama. HIS MAMA. Ugh!”
While his manner of speech differs greatly from your average college professor, Sweets presents literary analysis that is undeniably first rate. While discussing George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” he explains how it’s an allegory for the rise and fall of communism and the Soviet Union.
For Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” he spends quite a lot of time discussing the subtitle of the text and how the story really is a modern version of “Prometheus.” His interpretations of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” really made me want to reread the novel, because he brought a lot of stuff up that I totally missed.
My only real complaint about Thug Notes so far is that Sweets is not really a Ph.D. He’s a comedian by the name of Greg Edwards. I would have liked it more, I think, if he were the “real deal,” but the work that the writers put into the show is no less thought-provoking by having Edwards do the talking.
So, now the big question: is Thug Notes a good thing, or a bad thing? Some might see this as perpetuating negative stereotypes, and at first I wondered about that, too. However, after watching several videos, I believe I understand what’s really going on.
The idea most people have is that a man can’t look and speak the way he does while still being educated and literary-savvy. By “keeping it real” with viewers, Sweets shows that people’s perceptions and ideals are not always realistic. He is both challenging the stereotypes, as well as satirizing them.
Furthermore, while Sweets might speak crudely and is often swigging a drink in his videos, he is also nearly always seen with a book in hand and finishes his videos with a positive message, reminding people to keep reading and educating themselves.
Even the curse words have been bleeped out, which means his videos should be safe for anybody to view at work or school. I think it would be awesome if a professor showed one of his videos in class.
Finally, I’d like to point out that Sweets takes literary analysis, something that is notoriously dry and boring (even for someone like me who enjoys reading), and makes it into something funny and enjoyable.
Thug Notes makes me think about the text more deeply while making me laugh, and this results in me wanting to read more. In other words, he makes learning fun, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Check out Thug Notes on YouTube. New episodes come out every Tuesday.
Karen Ingram is a senior in English. Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.