April 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s the whispered “fashhhhion shaaaaack” that gets me.
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.
January 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My girl’s at it again! Via the Daily Troll.
In unrelated white people news…
January 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Also, yes, “shit [category of people] say” has been around for YEARS in internet time (a month), and I’ve not posted any because most of the early ones weren’t very funny plus would have made Richard Dyer eat his own face (“shit girls say” should have been “shit upper middle class white asshole girls say”). But this one wins because of HOLLER.
November 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
Once upon a time some shit happens and as a result this scowling teenager named Bella decides to marry the ghost of Cedric Diggory. Their wedding is presented in real time and is as boring and overdone as weddings are in real life, which is a nice touch. Then this werewolf shows up and gets real mad because Bella is going to make sweet love to her messianic corpse, probably that night! Even though they’re married now, this is still very upsetting, because of Repression. The wolf runs away and the two happy lovebirds (not really, Bella seems constipated) leave for their honeymoon.
When they arrive in the SECRET LOCATION (Brazil) there are brown people dancing all around, which is how we know it’s sexy there (foreshadowing)! But that’s a PSYCH you guys, the ghost of Cedric Diggory has another plan, they’re actually going to this island! On the island there is a house, and in the house there is a bed, and that’s where Cedric does it so hard to Bella that she nearly dies! He vows never to make rough animal whoopie to her ever again, and for the rest of the honeymoon they awkwardly play chess and occasionally blink at each other. This goes on for nearly twenty minutes of screen time! But OOPS, I forgot this is a Mormon fairy tale, so of course Bella is pregnant! That’s what consensual sex in the missionary position is for, when you’re married. DOUBLE OOPS, the baby is a demon, which the housekeeper can sense because BROWN PEOPLE ARE SO INTUITIVE.
Unsurprisingly, the demon child starts to eat Bella from the inside. Somehow the werewolf finds out, and even though his family keeps telling him to get over it, Bella is Cedric Diggory’s wife now, just find a new girl to imprint on already, jesus, which apparently is how werewolves mate (this will be important later; see :45 mark above), the werewolf doesn’t care. He’s like, “no Bella needs me,” because as far as I can tell Bella ALWAYS needs someone. So he shows up, and this pisses off the rest of his pack I guess, and also pisses off Cedric Diggory’s family aka the ashen-faced housemates from Real World: Three Forks, since historically vampires are all totally racist against Native Americans/dogs (in this movie they are the same thing!). At first Cedric Diggory is weirded out when the werewolf goes full whiteknight, but then he changes his mind because there’s just no talking to Bella when she gets like this, you know??
Eventually the vampire king feeds Bella some human blood, and this makes her start dying a bit slower. Everyone is still super worried about her unborn fetus though, or as her Pro-Life vampire roommates call it, “the baby.” Haha it’s not a baby it’s an abomination! At least that’s what the werewolf’s family thinks, and they come to kill everyone, but the werewolf –they tell me his name is Jacob– is like NOT ON MY WATCH! And while he’s defending the castle, the vampire king is able to sneak out and get more blood for everybody, especially Bella who just takes takes takes.
And as soon as the house is under siege, Bella goes into labor because DRAMA QUEEN. The plan is to wait till the demon child is delivered, then turn her into a vampire so she doesn’t die from the strain. “The baby” is taking forever to shit out though, and Bella is fading fast, so Cedric Diggory has to gnaw his wicked progeny out of her womb, with his teeth! It’s a real mess. But real men love their women every day of the month, so good for him. But then Bella dies, which is sad. At least everyone thinks she’s dead, and while Edward is busy injecting her with his “venom,” Jacob goes to kill the baby that killed the love of his life! AND THEN IT HAPPENS, he takes one look at the baby (whose name is “Renesmee?” WHY), decides he should take a seat, and BOOM he’s mated for life! Which is fortuitous because werewolves can’t kill the future wives of their brethren, even if they’re only 20 minutes old. That sure was close! And then Edward’s all like, hey Jake, thanks for looking past all the afterbirth and blood that’s still caked to my infant daughter’s head, she has a great personality!
Around this same time Edward’s ”venom” finally starts working and ugly old Bella morphs into the most beautiful white person on God’s blessed earth. She opens her eyes and they’re all red and wizened and THE END, see you kids next time!
November 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Here is a video of white people (possibly) pretending to (possibly) pretend to emulate what is assumed (facetiously?) to be coded as black, which begs the question of where exactly the joke is hiding, and/or if the joke itself is the joke, or one layer of the joke, because who exactly is under this microscope, white people for being/seen as stereotypically white or black people for being/seen as stereotypically black, or white people for thinking black people are funny, or white people for thinking white people who think black people are funny, are funny? Who can even tell these days, on the internet!
Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet (2002)
The Internet is dead long live the Internet! In this post-Internet world (“post-Internet” = annoying PoMo way of referencing the 90s dot-com bubble), it is important to consider the racial contours of the ongoing cultural transformation ushered in by CYBERSPACE NETWEB. It is possible to explore these questions through the examination of cybertypes, images and performances of racial identity necessitated by the digital medium. i.e. the human layer interacting with the machine layer, i.e. how race emerges where there are no (physical) bodies (in the representations themselves).
This book explores the various rhetorical and technological spaces where this process unfolds, and posits a kind of neo-liberal Dyer-ing ideological effect (the default avatar is presumed white; everything else is Other; this Other can be exotic, but never the norm). You’ve got your bourgie lamer identity tourism and/or explicitly racialized avatars on LambdaMOO & graphic chat textholes like Club Connect! Your marginalization of brown and black bodies in the fictions of/about/surrounding cyberspace! Your weird contradictory messages about how awesome it is that the Internet collapses racial and national boundaries, except there’s actually no such thing as either, because it’s the Internet! Your check-box-for-phenotype auto-racing interfaces, complete with clever niche marketing strategies! In conclusion, race happens online, whether or not you’re looking for it! So what do we do? The territory is fraught, people! Due to! CAN THE MASTER’S TOOLS EVER DESTROY THE MASTER’S HOUSE? This, ultimately, is the question. And the answer is…maybe?
August 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
Lipsitz opens with a brief rundown of what it means to be white in America. Whiteness, he argues, is about options and access. It means being part of a system that works, and is designed to work, for you, or at least is weighted heavily in your favor. It means that the Man –embodied by the legal system, the housing market, accepted employment and educational practices– is, ultimately, on your side. In itself this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that the more whitey gets the less is available to others; white supremacy is thus defined as the willful allocation of resources, the depletion of which has a direct and directly negative impact on those who weren’t born into the same strata of privilege — a far cry from the hood-wearing racism of yore, which was as conspicuous as it was destructive. Indeed, this so-called possessive investment in whiteness isn’t necessarily a mean-spirited or even a conscious act, making it all the more insidious. Lipsitz goes on to describe the murder of white civil rights advocate Bill Moore. A postman, Moore somewhat cutely decided to “deliver a letter” to Mississippi’s Governor Barnett, who had just refused a court injunction demanding the desegregation of Ole Miss. Moore planned to walk from Chattanooga to Jackson and really give Barnett a strongly-worded piece of his mind, but didn’t make it past Alabama. Because of course he didn’t, jesus. Moore became a martyr for the cause, and had a huge influence on the then 15 year-old Georgie Lipsitz. In fact he describes his own book as an effort to “deliver Moore’s letter” after all these years (annoying). The rest of the chapter chronicles the aftermath of Moore’s death, and argues that more white people need to choose not to be racist — the implication being that it’s as simple as flipping off a light switch.
There’s something kind of odd to me about this selection. For one thing I’m writing this at 4:30 in the morning, but it’s more than just that. I suppose if I had to pin it down, really barf up a nutshell version, I’d say that this introduction emits the slightest whiff of liberal white knight bullshit. It’s pretty clearly addressed to a white audience, and feels more than just a little self-congratulatory — it’s as if the reader (not to mention the author) is prefigured as some kind of culture hero just for thinking that racism is bad. I’m reminded here of Walter Benn Michaels, who argues in The Trouble with Diversity that the neoliberal and entirely well-intentioned equality fallacy –which posits that race is only skin deep and that ultimately all people are created equal – sure sounds great (I mean what self-respecting liberal would be caught dead claiming the contrary) but has the unfortunate side-effect of equating perceived inequalities with a failure of imagination. Unlearning prejudice thus becomes synonymous with eliminating prejudice, making the solution to inequality thought, not action — an outlook that tends to distract people from actual, material inequality (not a criticism I’d necessarily apply to Lipsitz, since he does address a number of structural issues).
More significantly in the context of this work, especially given Lipsitz’ weird assertion that racism and/or white supremacy-slash-privilege is something one can choose to cast off, just like that, the equality fallacy results in the –again, well-intentioned– belief that thinking nice things about them, whatever form this “them” might take, is a political action in itself. It’s not not a political action, but as Benn Michaels argues, thinking nice things about minorities is as far as most white liberals take their liberalism. This is the danger of the equality fallacy — not due to the sentiment it expresses, but because the sentiment it expresses is, more often than not, all it ever manages to accomplish. Status quo thus maintained, white people can go about their business convinced they’ve done their racially-sensitive deed for the week. Which isn’t to condemn Lipsitz, not exactly. More a recognition of the slight wariness I feel whenever I encounter white people giving themselves a big thumbs up for having the courage to read books.
August 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Update: also the Rick Santorum gif (NSF life). And all the rest of the implicit Republican dick jokes. This is literally the only funny thing the internet has produced in two days, ice soap be damned.
More like, stay off the BLUEgrass amirite. inb4 an hero.
Oh my god, white people ever.
August 2, 2011 § 5 Comments
The above image pretty much summarizes the tone and content of Guyland, which irritated me more than anything I’ve read all summer. There are four “guys” of indeterminate age (late teens? early twenties? who can tell, all white people look alike) guffawing at something –BROS BEFORE HOS LOL LOL– and probably giving each other handjobs just out of frame. Well maybe not that last part, per Kimmel’s emphasis the ostensibly straight homosociality (as opposed to, say, actual queer desire) that exists between the Peter Pans among us. But boy howdy, they sure are having a great time! And with good reason — “boys being boys” is the subject of this book, and while I do appreciate the sentiment behind its writing, Kimmel does a spectacular job re-inscribing precisely the problematic racial (that is to say, insistently non-racialized) discourses described by Richard Dyer in White – throughout the book Kimmel equivocates between white boys and males generally, arguing that all menchildren, no matter their class, geographical origins, sexual orientation, or whatever, must navigate the same semen-frothed waters known as Guyland, which, despite his assertions to the contrary, seems primarily concerned with the behavioral practices of straight, white middle-class boys from “good” families. And not just any straight, white middle-class boys from “good” families, straight, white, middle-class dudebros from “good” families, specifically of the jock and frat-boy variety.
Hypothetically, then, if the book had been titled “Dudebros: The Perilous World Where Douchebags Become Dickheads,” I’d be much less critical, since really, that’s what Kimmel is describing — even then, though, I’d take issue with Kimmel’s methodology, (and/or lack thereof). After all he’s not looking at the behavior of one particular frat or one sports team or one school, but “Guys” generally, with the one caveat that they fall between the ages of 16 and 26. Kimmel gives no indication exactly who his informants are and how/where/when there is or might be deviation from the apparently Universal Norm of “Guyland,” a term so presumptuous I could wear it as a hat and be the best-dressed woman at the Kentucky Fucking Derby. He does at one point suggest that whether or not “guys” (a term he uses to designate all males of a certain age, but as I said pretty clearly refers to a very particularly raced, classed, and gendered body) deliberately embody the expectations of Guyland, their rejection of Guyland still takes Guyland seriously. Which, sure, ok, there are certain tropes of masculinity that can be mapped historically and politically and with which modern men must contend, either positively or negatively. But those tropes are hardly static; by equating “Guys” with everyman, and positing “Guyland” as the only arena for (legitimate/recognized) masculine expression, Kimmel seems to suggest that modern masculinity couldn’t be otherwise — an assertion that veers awfully close to essentialism. Granted, throughout the book he proposes a number of solutions to the myriad problems posed by Guyland, suggesting that we’re not totally doomed, that something can and should be done. But his simultaneous insistence that guys are just that, Guys, all uniformly characterized by the same pathologies (so “Guy” as predicate nominative as opposed to the fatalistic and adjectival claim that “boys will be boys” i.e. boys will behave like assholes and there’s nothing we can do about it so why bother), suggests that males can be reduced to, and therefore equated with, their “Guyness” — which again, flattens the individual subject to some universal/ized/izing object, precisely what white privilege does to and for white people.
But that’s not all that pissed me off about this book. For one thing, Kimmel devotes maybe a paragraph or two –cobbled together throughout the whole book– to teh homosexuality, which apparently doesn’t fit into the essential nature of “Guyness.” The fear of being/seen as gay is a huge part of Guyland, but this fear is just that, concern for what others might (erroneously) think, not embodied queer desire, not even closeted queer desire. Again, if Kimmel had confined his analysis to straight-identifying boys, then fine. But he doesn’t confine his argument; all guys are the same Guys, and apparently being a Guy in Guyland means acting and being straight. His take on women –who have no choice but to live in and abide by the rules of this monolithic Dickville– is just as problematic, at one point actually suggesting that that the only reason girls would haze/harass/”cyber bully” other girls would be to garner favor with “The Guys.” It is certainly the case that many girls and many women reinforce and re-inscribe misogynist stereotypes, and in so doing help reify heterosexist power. But it would be a stretch, if not outright laughable, to say that all young women are solely motivated by some innate desire to be accepted/desired by Guys. Of course, it does help (somewhat) to consider exactly which young women he’s referring to — just as he collapses the category of “male” into that of a specific raced/classed/gendered “Guy,” he’s citing the behaviors of a handful of sorority girls and universalizes those experiences, or to be as charitable as possible, frames them as being instructive beyond basic anecdote.
To reiterate: it’s not that there aren’t massively important questions buried beneath Kimmel’s mounds of mouldering dudebro. It’s that he lumps an entire sex together and calls it “gender.” But sex is not gender. Gender isn’t even always gender, at least, isn’t stable, isn’t a fixed category, isn’t a thing. It’s a process of being in the world as a body. I could not possibly express the appropriate degree of facepalm, the end.