Talking Heads were one of the funkiest bands ever to walk the planet, and as such they contradicted certain paleolithic notions about musicality, intellect and race. Gender also. Tina Weymouth was one of the first to prove that a woman could pick up and play an instrument without having her little arms fall off, which is now considered an incontestable truth. The other great curveball Talking Heads threw was showing that nerdy white people could be funky. (I apologize for repeatedly referring to David Byrne as a ‘nerdy white guy’ but that is very much his persona.) The baseless and rather racist conventional wisdom is that a)black people are naturally funky, presumably because they keep their brains in the vicinity of their pelvis; therefore they are not naturally intellectual because those two things are mutually exclusive; and b)white people are naturally intellectual and have great big heads but can’t dance, because intellect and funkiness cannot coexist; c) the more intellectual (i.e. nerdy) a white person is, the less they can dance, or make funky music, or even be allowed to appreciate funky music from a safe distance. Now obviously, the part about black people not being intellectually inclined is racist thinking and there may be a certain President who would beg to differ. But the idea that white people can’t dance is also racist, and stubbornly persistent, despite the continued existence of Mick Jagger. Note here, I’m not subscribing to the dumb and self-serving idea that white people are somehow being unfairly maligned – we’re still the dominant majority and as such should shut the fuck up about our stupid imaginary problems. ‘White people can’t dance’ is racist not because it maligns white people, but because it presupposes that the opposite is true – the aforementioned notion that ‘blacks = funky and dumb, whites = not-funky and brainy,’ which is still a deeply held and insidiously oppressive belief that our culture clings to. It may seem that a popular rock band can’t do much towards influencing an entire culture’s racial notions, but the seemingly innocuous field of entertainment can make a huge difference, just because people are absorbing their entertainment with open minds. It’s clear when you see girls today playing in bands like never before, partly because of their mothers’ and grandmothers’ fight for equal rights and suffrage on the political stage, and partly because they grew up seeing Tina Weymouth rock out on MTV. Nobody is brainier that David Byrne, just look at his great big brainy white head. At the same time, he’s one of the funkiest guys around, and Talking Heads not only made some of the funkiest music ever, they helped bring Afro-rhythms to a wider audience in the 70′s and 80′s. Hopefully, a childhood spent watching Stop Making Sense led today’s youth to get up and be funky together regardless of race, perceived intellect or levels of nerdiness. Way to represent.