April 21, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday I wrote about HBO’s Girls, a show for and about white people that is either very smart or very dumb. Maybe both, but not for the reasons people might think. Here is the crux of that argument:
So far, the vast majority of commentators have taken Girls seriously. That is, they assume that the show was produced in good faith, and that Dunham’s intention was to create sympathetic characters and relatable situations. If this is true, she and her writers deserve every ounce of criticism they’ve received. If on the other hand the show is actually satire, then suddenly the premise—dull white characters played by actors with famous parents—suddenly takes on new significance. From the casting choices (both racially and in terms of nepotism) to the undeserved self-importance of the main characters to their banal chatter about nothing in particular, which apparently the white writers think is important enough to memorialize on a high-budget television show—Girls may in fact be much smarter than people have given it credit for. Not because it’s ultimately redeemable, but precisely because it’s not.
Full article here.
February 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Every time I have dinner at my advisor’s house, I come away with some new joke or video or something NSFW that makes my life worth living. This week my parting gift was unusually G-rated, but no less awesome. For those of you in the audience who are unfamiliar with the genre, please consult the following:
August 1, 2011 § 3 Comments
Yesterday I read White, Richard Dyer’s totally boss examination of media/cultural representations of white people in Western culture. It’s one of those books that everyone (especially whites) should read, as it addresses head on –and more interestingly, provides an heroic historical account of and for– the way in which “whiteness” somehow became “colorless” (as in, only non-whites have a color, and as I have heard many people lament, a culture), resulting in this weird association of whiteness with universality. White (skin, culture, behavior) is unmarked, while everything else demands adjectives; white is the rule, everything else is the exception. It’s a beautifully and engagingly written book, and/but I’m not saying much about it here because I wrote so much in the margins — connections to Mary Douglas, especially, since whiteness is (historically, politically) associated with purity and therefore has built-in protective mechanisms against anything which threatens to sully the proverbial britches. That is, whiteness can exist only in relation to “dirt,” making racism, or at least racial hierarchization, not just inevitable but that which actually sustains (and, ironically, threatens to destroy) the very category.
There’s also quite a bit in Dyer’s argument which I’ll be using in my dissertation, though I won’t say how or in which sections because I don’t like sharing half-baked ideas. Suffice it to say, this is One of Those Books whose reach extends far beyond these stupid exams. The next few books I’m reading will be like that, actually, since as a human I like to get awful/perfunctory/business things out of the way first. Por ejemplo on this list I initially tackled a) the selections I already owned b) the selections I have no interest in ever thinking about again and c) the selections I suspected would frame the actual exam question. I saved the best and most enjoyable for last, and may just indulge myself with less obsessive liveblogging of those, on account of this shit is starting to give me an ulcer.