The first time I encountered Petey Greene it was probably on a party tape – a sort of video mix tape of wild clips pulled from strange movies, public access shows, and various ephemeral films. Such tapes were traded amongst odd video enthusiasts and often played at parties. I remember being in college, just at the dawn of the Internet. There was no You Tube, there was not even Wikipedia or Google. So, watching something like Petey Greene was rare, understanding just what you were watching was even harder.
Petey Greene’s political talk show played for years on Washington D.C. television and later on the early days of BET, but this was well before most of America had cable. Even if they would have had the opportunity to see Petey Greene I don’t think America would be ready for him.
Petey Greene on Eating Watermelon
Unfiltered, out-spoken, and perhaps most shocking of all, African-American, Petey Greene’s shocked viewers with its statements and messages. Greene was not one to shy away from tackling issues of race, stereotyping, even the justification of domestic violence. Sometimes it was hard to tell if Green was speaking from his heart or simply playing devil’s advocate.
No matter what he was talking about, Petery Greene was always entertaining. His over-the-top, extremely dramatic, and often hilarious commentary was electrifying. It’s no wonder clips from his show would show up on party tapes and later on You Tube. Unfortunately, these wilder moments overshadowed the real political and social impact he had during his career.
Petey Greene on Hustlin’ Backwards
Adjust Your Color is a documentary that works to paint a fuller picture Petey Greene. While the talking heads that populate this film and help explain Petey’s history do a decent enough of a job, they are not electrifying, especially when set against the wonderful and plentiful archival footage from Petey’s show. Sadly, Howard Stern, who was one of Greene’s biggest fans and an early guest on Greene’s show is not in this documentary. Knowing of Stern’s affinity for Greene one can truly see that the shock jock learned a lot from Greene, especially when it comes to mixing politically incorrect humor with political commentary.
Watch it here: