it’s amazing to me that Amanda Palmer, out of everything in 12 Years A Slave, somehow zeroed in on a nonexistent theme of oppressors being vital to helping the oppressed overcome oppression. How do you watch that movie and pick up that? I know I shouldn’t be surprised but I am still PRETTY SURPRISED that someone can be so indebted to their own weird pseudo-caring liberal idea of social justice as to see THAT in 12 Years A Slave. That is some serious self-centered privilege, like impressively so.
(For those of you surprised about something like this appearing on your dash, I’ve decided that in 2014 I need to give less fucks about who might see what. I came to Tumblr because I couldn’t express myself freely elsewhere, and I need to stop being so gorram skittish.
This is a perfect example of how privileged people enter the spaces and movements of non privileged/oppressed groups and make the narrative all about the privileged person.
One of the best things about 12 Years a Slave was that when Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt) appears and decides to help Solomon, the focus stays on Solomon. The film doesn’t say “OH LOOK AT THIS WONDERFUL WHITE SAVIOR WHO’S DOING THE RIGHT THING™ LET’S MAKE THIS ALL ABOUT HIM NOW.” No. It acknowledges that Samuel did a thing, and then we’re right back to Solomon, because this story is about HIM, not Samuel Bass.
I have seen this shit too many times in media about the (African/)African-American experience. Glory is supposed to be the story of the 54th Massachusetts regiment, but really it’s all about how Robert Shaw was a Good Guy White Guy™ at a time when African-Americans weren’t well-regarded, North or South (and FYI Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the racial progressive many people think he was). The Help's primary focus should've been the town's maids, but they all play second fiddle to Good Girl White Girl™ Skeeter and all her problems. I was hoping the The Last King of Scotland would be about the very real (and legitimately revolting) Idi Amin, but it’s about a fucking fictional Good Guy White Guy™ who is dumb enough to sleep with one of Amin’s wives and get her killed as a result (and then we’re supposed to feel sorry for him). I thought 42 for all its faults was going to subvert this particular narrative, but nope it also falls back on the Good Guy White Guy™ narrative. Even something as brilliant as Orange is the New Black (not without its problems, but brilliant) has to use the Good Girl White Girl™ as a backdoor to tell stories about women of color, though the show’s more ensemble nature and the deconstruction of Piper’s character alleviates it somewhat.
So let me make something perfectly clear:
It’s cool for privileged people to ally with oppressed groups - by all means, the more the merrier.
But when you start making the narrative about YOU - YOU, the person who already has power, the person who is NOT being oppressed - when YOU make the story about how you’re being such a GOOD PERSON™ and all progressive and shit -
YOU ARE PERPETUATING THE SAME SHIT THAT YOU CLAIM TO BE FIGHTING AGAINST, WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT. YOU ARE ERASING THE STORIES AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PEOPLE AT THE HEART OF THE STRUGGLE.
If we call you out, stop, listen to what we have to say - and this is hard for me to say, because I hate being confrontation myself - no matter how angrily we might be saying it. All too often privileged groups will use the “oh why don’t you all just calm down and articulate your point in a nice way” to try and silence us. There is a big difference between being angry at someone and being a dick to someone. Don’t (intentionally) confuse the two. Besides, you can’t deny that we have perfectly legitimate reasons to be angry.
So get your heads out of your asses and actually stop to think. If you don’t understand, just say so, and we will be more than happy to explain things in greater detail. If you still don’t understand, then just nod and stay silent on that particular aspect of the issue, because remember - this is not about YOU.
P.S. The Macklemore thing isn’t (just) because he’s a white rapper, but because many people objectively think that The Heist was a much weaker LP than good kid, m.A.A.d city (myself included). What people are angry about is that apparently Macklemore’s white privilege (which has probably helped his commercial success whether he wants to acknowledge it or not), gave Macklemore the edge over Kendrick in a contest where the latter trounced the former in terms of artistic output (which ideally is what the Grammys are supposed to be about).
…okay, I’m done now.