Shame Day: Your Fave Is Problematic

Writing “Shame Days” is harder than it looks. You gotta find a subject that’s extensive enough to merit an entire post of ranting without it being so reprehensible as to leave you speechless (Scott Lively, you satanic **********er, I’m looking at you). With that in mind, and as it’s rapidly approaching 9:00 PM as I write these words, we’re going to revisit an old subject that I personally don’t think got the lashing they deserve.

So who’s being drawn and quartered today?

It was in the title of this piece, so I guess the question’s pretty dang redundant.

“Your Fave is Problematic” is a Tumblr blog devoted, much like these Shame Day posts, to calling out celebrities and artists who the authors view as having committed bigotry in some form or another. Evan and I have both briefly touched on these guys, with us generally concluding that while noble in intent, they tend to be a bit extreme in their measures of what is and isn’t acceptable. Evan specifically stated that “I truly believe that Your Fave Is Problematic is doing a good thing”, however, after myself digging through their blog a bit more, I really just can’t say the same.

These guys are *******es.

Let me break it down here.

I. The Dreaded Dreadlocks

Among the sins which can land you on this blog is sporting dreadlocks without being black.

Really.

I’m not even sure where to start here, but let’s try around 600 BC. Now this picture on the right is one of the oldest Greek statues in existence, and what’s that hairstyle he’s sporting? I’m no barber, but those sure look like some dreads to me. Why, readers? Why would the ancient Greeks attempt to cruelly appropriate something that belongs to black individuals? I mean, the only other conceivable possibility is that this is actually a fairly common hairstyle across races and has nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with the style and customs of the time…

But that’d be craaaazy, right?

That’s just to give a taste of the mentality these folks have. Certain things are “inherent” to certain people, and shouldn’t be used by anyone else. Because apparently you can just segregate entire groups like that into neat little piles. There’s no such thing as overlap, eh?

Sorry kiddo, but YFIP says that only black people can have ‘fro-style hair, and seeing as how you’re half white…

II. They Don’t Understand History or Culture

See, for people acting as the self-appointed guardians of culture, they seem to know **** all about it. In their tirade on South African rap group Die Antwoord, they reference “homophobia” in their song “Evil Boy”.

Here’s the truth people: the supposedly “homophobic” reference in that song had nothing to do with gays and everything to do with a highly controversial practice of circumcision as a rite of manhood. For ****’s sake, if the authors had even looked at the song’s Wikipedia page, they could’ve heard it straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Ninja [the group’s lead singer] described a particular ritual for males over 19 that involved having ‘your penis chopped up with a kitchen knife. No disinfectants; no pain killers…

We’ve known Wanga since he was a street kid. He lives in this house in Cape Town and squats on a farm. This year, Wanga was supposed to go to one of these rituals because he wasn’t circumcised. We thought maybe he just shouldn’t go because 60 kids fucking died this year because their penises didn’t work properly afterward and shit. So I asked him what would happen if he didn’t go to the bush, and he said that he wouldn’t be a man and he wouldn’t be able to speak to the other men.'”

And yes, they even have a problem with the lead singer using “Ninja” as his rap name. And with having a guy in a ninja suit in one of the videos. Even though actual ninjas didn’t dress like that and they’re getting pissy about an appropriation of an appropriation, because again, actual historical and cultural understanding doesn’t seem to be these people’s strong suit.

III. The Don’t Understand Satire (And Don’t Care)

I could spend all day and night picking apart their idiotic accusations leveled against Stephen Colbert (the character he plays), but that would be equal parts infuriating and exhausting.

Also: Johnathan Swift wasn’t actually advocating eating Irish children.

These people simply don’t comprehend satire 90% of the time, and when they do get that something is being said to make a point or show the hypocrisy or moral bankruptcy in someone else, they just don’t give a ****. Take for example, their statement on the use of blackface, even when used as a joke for how awful racism is:

“Blackface is blackface, regardless of the reason it’s being done it is still blackface and blackface is wrong. If an actor is playing a slave owner, to keep with the example you gave, that’ may or may not be problematic depending on how it’s done.

Is this actor using racial slurs in their part? Slurs can be blanked out of a show/movie, there really is no reason for a non-Black actor to use anti-Black slurs…

It would also help if the person who created this hypothetical movie was actually Black.”

Why? Why would the hypothetical writer/director need to be black? Does one’s melanin count somehow magically make one more qualified to portray the horrors of the past?

Now specifically referenced throughout the blog was an episode of Mad Men, in which a character is portrayed participating in black face. Repeatedly, the authors of the blog have condemned this, stating that appearing in black face for the purposes of the show is just as offensive and wrong as if it were used for an actual minstrel show.

I watched that scene.

It was horrifying.

Seriously.

It showed me first hand what was a commonplace activity even in the recent past and I gained an appreciation for the achievements of struggles for equality and understanding, both past and present. Had I not witnessed that scene, I would not have been as affected as I was- yet these people would rather it never have been created.

IV. They’re ****ing Racist

The issue with “White Guilt” is that it, in and of itself, is racist. It presumes responsibility and connection across history based purely on DNA. The idea that I should be ashamed for the actions of my ancestors is just as ridiculous as the idea that I should be proud of ’em. Yet the authors are insistent that readers (specifically Native Americans) get in touch with their heritage. The authors wrote “Hear hear!” in response to the statement:

“…FIND YOUR HERITAGE […] If you have the heritage, you belong to a nation, and a tribe, and a band. Find that information, help your culture preserve itself.”

Deconstruct that statement. “You don’t know what your racial or ethnic background is. You must find out what it is and preserve that culture on the basis of your racial/ethnic background.”

Somehow that sounds eerily similar to some other comments about racial pride…

These authors seem to be living in some sort of strange, fantastical world where cultural purity is paramount. Change, subgroups, mixing across race and cultures- these things apparently don’t exist. I mean, they’ll bash you for being white and having a yin-yang tattoo, but what about people from mixed backgrounds? Where do they fit in? And for the crackers, does someone from an German background really have the right to wear a kilt, no matter how comfortable it might be?

And what about me?

I’m a white guy who spent his entire life growing up in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I wear a keffiyeh.

My racial and ethnic heritage goes back through North Carolina and Sweden, neither of which I’ve ever set foot in. Where do I fit in? Am I not allowed to wear a gallibeyah or shahata? If I get a tattoo, am I forbidden to get a phrase written in anything but English? Do I have to take down the Palestinian flag I have over my desk?

For ****’s sake, people- culture is created by conflict, by things getting messy. Much of the Latino culture we celebrate today was the result of mixture between Spanish settlers (once the genocide died down) and Native Americans. South and Central America as we know it would not exist if these people followed your absurdly fascist rules. Tea, something inseparable from British culture, was obtained through the appropriation of the customs from India and China. Our own government is a mash-up of Greek and Iroquois policies, and our buildings are heavily influenced by Greek and Gothic architecture. The word “internet” is a combination of Latin and Proto-German.

Tell ya what I will do: let me try to communicate a message I think transcends cultural and ethnic boundaries.

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8 responses to “Shame Day: Your Fave Is Problematic

  1. Agree with you hear. This stuff:

    “…FIND YOUR HERITAGE […] If you have the heritage, you belong to a nation, and a tribe, and a band. Find that information, help your culture preserve itself.”

    You’d find the same sort of thing among the racists on a white power site like Stormfront.

    My own racial cultural mix is probably as whacky as yours, with my physical looks not matching the rest of my family (due to adoption).

    I think there’s far too much nationalism in the world and far too much worship of specific cultures.

    I sympathize with minority groups who are angry at things like “cultural appropriation” – but I don’t agree with them one bit.

    The entire history of the damn world is of groups taking ideas, good and bad, and running with it. Take this whole thing too far and you’ll start saying that we can’t eat or cook “ethnic” food (not authentic!!!) or that Elvis or the Beatles or whatever should never have played rock music (appropriating black music and denying t hem the chance to get rich).

    – Or that Judaism shouldn’t exist because it appropriated concepts like the Flood from earlier mythologies.
    – Or that Christianity shouldn’t exist because it “appropriated” Judaism.
    – Or that Islam shouldn’t exist because it appropriated Christianity and Judaism’s god and some of its prophets.

    To hell with that shit.

    Incidentally, it’s actually not impossible that the Greeks did borrow dreads, though. There was a lot more trade and commerce n the ancient world than many people think, and Greeks weren’t shy about lifting mythological ideas, fashions and other stuff from Egypt, and the Egyptians often borrowed from other neighboring cultures in Africa. If so, more power to them!

    I’m happy if other cultures lift stuff from ours. I’ll keep on borrowing from them.

    .

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  3. They also are incredibly rude to everyone who sends in polite questions as to why such and such is considered “problematic.” One person had a few questions about some things and whoever responded sarcastically linked them to various search engines. To be blunt, they are a bunch of dumb fucking cunts (a problematic slur I am proud to use in this case, they can go take it and shove it up their collective anal glands).

  4. Allison Marble

    Fucking thank you. What a good read.

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  6. These people are like children who have just learned that swearing is bad, but haven’t learned WHY swearing is bad.

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