He does recaps of television shows, or whatever, but also he’s brilliant.
Here’s the thing. You’re reading this, so probably you already know it, but one thing that is very hard to explain is why this kind of thing gets on my nerves. We are not conditioned to question things that feel good. So if you are a straight person, for example, who does not actively hate gay people, that feels good. You are not one of the bad guys, you are one of the good guys. Or, to look at another form of privilege (without necessarily equating them), if you’re not a racist — if you’ve given yourself the admissions test to Not Being A Racist and passed — then pretty much whatever you do is okay. If you do not harbor malice in your heart, it is true that you are doing pretty good.
But empires do not continue based on malice, they are built on and subside on privilege. The overlooked ways in which we all contribute to keeping the status quo in place. The Human Centipede that has us fat Americans at the front of it and everybody else on Earth supplying the blood and misery that keeps our lives fun and frisky and full of iPads. Institutionalized racism is baked into the cake, misogyny and sexism are baked into the cake. And anybody who tells you that things are fair, that we have Obama now in the post-racial era, that the Paul Ryan budget gives everybody a fair shot at bootstrapping themselves or whatever it is, they’re benefiting. Which is why it looks fair to them. Because they’re not bad people — they’re not lynching black guys or bashing fags, they’re not physically abusing women — so when you question their privilege, what they hear is you accusing them of something they are not actually guilty of.
Because certain self-victimhood factions, both online and in real life, have turned these discussions and definitions of privilege into a dog whistle — a way of calling somebody a racist without actually doing it — which is the opposite of healthy, or contributing to meaningful change. Privilege isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be aware of. You have to understand the part you play in the world, and that means understanding that gravity pulls down on each and every one of us — Rihanna and Chris Brown and you and me and Rush Limbaugh and these rich gay white dudes — and that each and every one of us is given different tools to relieve that pressure. Straight white rich dudes, they have the most. Birth control moved (white) ladies nearer to the top, for the first time in all of human history, then ever before. Everybody fights over who has the least, because at some point we got sold the idea that being a victim is glamorous and bitching is the new bragging.
None of that shit matters. At all. In fact, you can leave out racists and homophobes and actual misogynists altogether, because their opinions don’t matter. They are not part of this conversation. They are not invited to this conversation. And once you’ve gotten rid of them, what’s left? The privilege. Skinny people telling fat people how to diet. “They can say the n-word all they want, but…” Male feminists offering women advice on feminism. Straight people telling me how to be a gay man, straight people having discussions about my personhood right in front of me. White people who don’t “see race.” White people who feel screwed by Affirmative Action. Saying that calling somebody a racist or bigot or homophobe or bully is every bit as hateful and hurtful as actually being those things, that’s a favorite of mine. That boycotting Chik-Fil-A is essentially committing financial terrorism against Christianity, remember that?
Or the ones that come to bear here, which can be the trickiest ones: Straight girls who think they’re “basically” gay guys, which entitles them to a vacation in my exotic life and a ticket out any time they want to go home. Straight men who presume that every gay guy is sizing them up, or secretly wants to be a girl, or thinks gay dudes are adorably prissy, or emotionally volatile, or incredibly negative behind people’s backs, or obsessed with appearances, or any of the other things in the Bitchy Gay Bundle they try to fool us into thinking is a viable personality. Or, you know: Straight people who think writing an entire episode of a usually fantastic TV show that mentions DOMA more times than Veronica does vaginas entitles them to throw around clichés about gay men’s infidelity and promiscuity, because they’re “keeping it real” and because they balanced it out with Sad Gay Owen fuckin’ crying in the corner of the screen the entire time.
These are the things that keep empires in place: Not the bad guys, but the good guys. The decent folks who are so convinced of their unerring ethical upper hand that they get to overlook the million ways they are still working, passively or actively, to keep themselves on top. You are never going to find the Bond villain that is keeping people in poverty, that is keeping the glass ceiling over our heads. You can try, you can go after Madoff or Bain Capital or whoever the monster is this week, but you’ll never actually find the supervillain pulling the strings. Because he’s in the mirror, and he’s looking right back at you.
And nobody wants to hear that, because it sounds like you’re being called an asshole — that you should be ashamed, not simply aware — which is what keeps the empire in place: you shut your ears and go lalala, because you don’t want to be confronted with your privilege. (In fact, a lot of you reading this will either gloss over this part, as a rant, or detect a mean and hateful tone, when neither of those things are accurate.) There is a finite and precious amount of victimhood to go around, and nobody is going to take away your share — the War on Christmas, the persecution of Christians, the evils of Affirmative Action, all that blind and self-serving bullshit just to get in on the complaint conversation; that weird, mean-eyed moronic jealousy of minorities and “entitlements” and whatever they’re bitching about now — because that would mean you’re a bad person.
But you’re not a bad person. You are not an asshole. Chances are you’re pretty great. Shit like this drives me insane because they have us trained to always have somebody to blame, to always find the bad guy in every situation, to join Team Aniston or Team Jolie, to join Team Riri or Team Breezy, that everything is even and there’s always one person to love and one person to hate, one person to identify with and one person to demonize, and that whole thing is childish and stupid. It keeps you in the mindset of being owed, of being a victim, of being powerless, when none of those things are true. It works against you.
You, working overtime to make sure somebody else is the bad guy, so nobody can ever call you the bad guy. How about for one day you stop trying to identify the bad guy, and operate on the assumption that there’s no such thing? Just one day without a single finger pointed. Could change your life.