Thursday, April 5, 2018

Racism at the "service" of gender politics

I haven’t been to a movie theater for what must be 20 years now; these days, it is cheaper to wait for the video release than spend a small fortune on tickets and whatever is needed to get through sitting for two hours with a crowd of people you don’t know. I must have a collection approaching 2,000 films and television shows in my personal collection, although my “taste” skews toward the “classical” periods of those mediums, meaning not so much from recent times. I’m not really “into” today’s brand of films, which seem to me to mostly range from improbably violent comic book action to highly personalized victim mythology, with very little in the way of sentiment or intellectual and political engagement (do I miss the 1970s). When it comes to today’s films, I prefer to wait for them to show-up on television (by which means I discovered that 2013’s The Lone Ranger was actually a lot better than the savagery inflicted on it by critics at the time), or “investigate” recent releases via the Internet, either taking the time to download a film, or taking a chance if it seems like something I can get into. 

It was by the latter method that I recently decided to purchase the Blu-Ray/DVD of the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water. During the course of my investigation of this film I discovered that it was not the early “favorite” to win the best picture award, but something rather bizarrely entitled Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, concerning a working-class mother (Frances McDormand) who was so frustrated that local law enforcement was not doing enough to find her daughter’s killer that she instigated the installing of three billboards about the crime in an attempt to “shame” them into action. But the film had fallen out of “favor,” despite the fact that its subject matter was ripe to take advantage of the “MeToo” and “silence-breaker” movements, let alone today’s rampant gender victimology.

It seems that Three Billboards just couldn’t let a good thing alone—it had to add what white gender advocates seem to do so “well”: show their complete insensitivity to racial issues (since it includes males as victims), and opening themselves up to accusations of racism--and this film isn’t the worst recent example of this; that would go to the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, and more on that piece of self-obsessed gender deception later. The problem with Billboards pre-dated its numerous pre-Oscar victories, but it was its success at these early awards that was its “downfall,” at least for Best Picture; it did win McDormand Best Actress (I have previously commented on the self-serving mendacity of her “victory” speech), but what all these awards did do was cause people to ask why white critics so blatantly overlooked the film’s blasé attitude toward the brutal racism of one the film’s “heroes.”

The problem, it seems, is that the principle male character in the film, a police officer played by Sam Rockwell, was your typical Southern racist who unfortunately had the power to kill, maim or torture black people whenever the mood suited him, and for white people in the town, it was just another day in the park. He eventually loses his job, but not for his racist proclivities, but for assaulting another white man. He must “redeem” himself. How? By the expected Hollywood trope of “evolving” his racist views and doing something “nice” to the people he has victimized? Not in a movie about gender victimology; there is no “space” for that. We live in the Law & Order “special victims” universe after all, and to “qualify” for “special attention” you have to be white, female and preferably “attractive”—which I suppose is “appropriate” to define a person who belongs to that exclusive club of being least victimized by violent crime demographic. It seems that the media feasts like starving animals on what “game” is out there, making it appear that (attractive) white females are the only “victims”  worth reporting.

There are other “issues” with this movie, of course; the chief female protagonist (McDormand) is not particularly sympathetic (although her “motives” are supposed to be), and ultimately the rapist/murderer is not identified, although Rockwell’s ex-police officer and McDormand’s grieving mother go off to find and kill a man who they now know is not guilty of the crime (his DNA didn’t match, and he was overseas in the military when it occurred), but he “must be” guilty of other such crimes. But the racial denial issue was clearly the most divisive feature of the film, for it established a clear “hierarchy” of societal crimes in which that perpetrated against white females was clearly the most “important.” If the film had not hypocritically added the racial element and then refused to “resolve” it, this would not have been an issue, and we could have just taken the film for what it was intended to be. Instead, in this film, one crime against one white female “trumped” all those committed by a Southern racist society that benefited these women as much as it allegedly “victimized” them. 

But as mentioned, the more “reality-based” version of the Margaret Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was recently aired on Hulu, but its version of “reality” is open to debate. It concerns an allegedly “dystopian” society that is basically “religious-fundamentalist-totalitarian,” which I suppose is supposed to mean something like certain Muslim countries but has no actual historical “precedent” in Western society; not even dressing up the “handmaids” in “Pilgrim” garb makes it “factual.” Anyways, it is a world where most women are “sterile,” and the ones who are still “fertile” are all collected-up and serve as “sex slaves” in order to re-populate the planet, or some shit like that. Talk about self-obsessive gender victimology gone haywire. 

Not only is the premise ridiculous and misandrist, it does something even worse: it pretends that the society we live in today that worships and protects white females—especially in the Trump world of white entitlement—will suddenly become “post-racial” and race will not be an “issue” in the “future.”  See what I mean? White female gender victim advocates must deny not just racism generally, but their own racism in order to establish a world order in which they are the only “victims.” Oh sure, they self-servingly throw in a few minority “handmaids,” and a few of the male “studs” are minorities, but that is an entire “rewrite” of Atwood’s original novel and the film version, where she at least had the “honesty” to have minorities collected in concentration camps and never heard from again. Isn’t that closer to the truth? That in some distant future of little, that white people will be the “haves” living in sheltered enclaves, while minorities are shuttered-up in distant ghetto scenes?

In this “updated” version of Tale, questions of race are not allowed to interfere with self-serving gender politics. The hypocrisy is evident by the fact that claims that we live in a “post-racial” society died the day after Barack Obama was elected, with the rise of the racist Tea Party “movement,” variations of which had always existed, but this time came to fore when white racists’ worst “nightmare” came true and a black man became president of "their" country. Just two years later  in the mid-term elections, the “post-racial” myth was dead and buried, and the election of Trump merely confirms that. And now we have these white feminists and assorted other gender victim types who brazenly display their own racism by pretending it doesn’t exist. You want to know “real world” facts? This is from a recent story in The Guardian:

Black and Latino representation has declined in Silicon Valley and although Asians are the most likely to be hired, they are the least likely to be promoted, according to a new study exposing persistent racial prejudice in the tech industry.

The research from not-for-profit organization Ascend Foundation, which examined official employment data from 2007 to 2015, suggests that people of color are widely marginalized and denied career opportunities in tech – and that the millennial generation is unlikely to crack the glass ceiling for minorities.

“There have been no changes for Asians or any other minority over time – men or women,” said Buck Gee, the study’s co-author and an executive adviser to Ascend, a US-based research group that advocates for Asian representation in businesses. For some groups, he added, “It’s actually worse.” 

“There is a gap in role models,” said Denise Peck, co-author and Ascend executive advisor. “There are just so few Asian executives.” 

White men and women were twice as likely to become executives compared with Asians, according to the report.

The study found that white women, however, are substantially more successful in reaching the executive level than both men and women of color.  

“White women have been able to break through, but minority women haven’t,” said Peck. 

Why do white women persist in portraying themselves as “victims” when they are much less so than most minorities in this country--and not even less so when compared to "oppressor" males in most other societies? It isn’t enough for them to accuse their white men of being roadblocks to their narcissism. Many of them to a certain degree believe in the "entitlement" that the concept of  “white supremacy” allows them—see my previous post—which not surprisingly many refuse to acknowledge because it puts a rather different “spin” on their politics, such as being accused of simply being another version of “oppressor.” There is still the problematic issue of being justifiably called “victims,” so they must “cleanse” themselves from any moral taint, and to do this, even many so-called “progressive” white women join forces with those on the extremist fringes on the right not only to deny the existence of racism, but to portray non-whites as “victimizers” in society as well. 

This is a matter of trust, I think. When I see white women acting as if they are the “least” prejudice people on earth with their minority “sisters,” I wonder “They feel ‘good’ about themselves now, but when the ‘shit’ hits the fan, will they still be your ‘friends’?” After all, that Italian high-end purse store employee didn’t give a damn who Oprah Winfrey thought she was; to her, she was just some “African” with an attitude.

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