An Honest Review of Dave Chapelle’s Sticks and Stones

“Comedian Dave Chapelle’s newest comedy routine Sticks and Stones is a mixed bag of some underwhelming/underdeveloped concepts and some genuinely hilarious jokes and social commentary. He depends a bit too much on the meta-commentary of the state of ‘offensive comedy’ in 2019, but–given the internet outrage machine’s reaction to it–I guess he’s not wrong. It starts off slow but eventually ramps up into something consistently insightful and entertaining, and it’s worth a watch.”

That’s my elevator pitch review. If you don’t want to read any further, that above is all you need to know. For more details, though, read on!


So, I don’t really like Dave Chapelle. If I were to make a list of my favorite comedians, his name would be no where near it. That’s not to say I dislike him. He’s just up there with Lenny Bruce and Seinfeld and Richard Pryor as people who I understand the immense importance of but who I personally don’t find all that funny. That’s just not what my sense of humor is. His early stand-up and The Chapelle Show are pretty okay, as far as I’m concerned. I feel the need to bring that up because I was totally ready and willing to jump aboard the “This stand-up sucks,” train if it was warranted. But I really, genuinely do not understand all the hate Sticks and Stones as been getting. I’m not invested in Dave’s career. I didn’t know he was doing a new show. I wasn’t looking forward to it. When I saw it was getting bad ratings, I didn’t feel any kind of way about it. So I say this as someone who very firmly cannot be considered a “fangirl” of Dave Chapelle: I don’t get why people are so mad at this.

I watched this stand-up specifically because of the negative press it’s been getting. Like I said, I didn’t like Dave enough to seek out his stand-up on my own without reason. When I clicked on it, I still didn’t expect it to be good. I’m still subscribed to a few YouTubers in the “red pill” community, and they seemed to like Sticks and Stones, and that was not something I saw as a sign of quality. The last time I tried watching an hour-long comedy special that they liked for “sticking it to the SJWs,” I got about half-way through before turning it off. It was nothing but:

1.) Mention a left-leaning talking point

2.) Say it’s stupid and that people who believe it are pussies

3.) Call them snowflakes for getting mad at you

4.) Repeat until the end of time

Supposedly, something about that above set-up was supposed to contain jokes and be funny. I didn’t catch any. And before I’m accused on just not finding it funny because the comedian was a conservative making fun of liberals, I don’t like Trevor Noah or Samantha Bee’s left-wing “comedy” for literally the exact same reason. Call me crazy, but I like my comedy to contain jokes, not just smarmy condescension and the weird idea that mentioning the existence of dissenting opinions is funny. So, I was expecting Sticks and Stones to just be another under-inspired and unfunny whine-fest about how SJWs suck performed by a comedian who I didn’t find funny even back when he was in his prime, just based off of the attention it was getting. But it’s not. It’s actually really funny. And what’s more, I don’t even understand why the left-o-sphere is offended.

The “journalists” who’ve been reviewing this will insist they’re not offended, but it’s all said with the embarrassing, obvious air of something who just face-planted into the mud and who gets up and says, “I meant to do that, so by laughing at my embarrassment, you’re actually making me feel good! So there!” They’re offended. That much is obvious. As far as I can see, it’s yet another example of liberal gatekeeping and their slowly atrophying sense of humor. Because this is a very liberal stand-up special.

The fact that so many red-pillers like it confuses me, because the overwhelming majority of its jokes are about topics a lesser comedian would be called a snowflake for even bringing up. And the “offensive” jokes in question are just making fun of things that the left-o-sphere itself has brought up and critiqued before. One of the main things they’re totally not offended by, guys, are the jokes about the LGBTQ+ community. To be fun and ironic, I’m going to make a list of the things he joked about in that bit, and provide a link to a liberal media publication talking about the exact same thing:

But, for some reason, Dave Chapelle is being homophobic/transphobic for joking about those very real dynamics that they themselves want to discuss. I even saw one “review” that said he was making fun of bisexual and trans people even though bisexual and trans people were the ones he was defending in the joke. It very much just comes across as the “only we’re allowed to mention our problems with in-fighting” kind of outrage. I agree the following joke about transgender people where he joked about being a Chinese man trapped in a black man’s body wasn’t that funny, but that’s only because it was underdeveloped/underwritten. I think that people also missed that that particular joke wasn’t at the expense of transgender people, it was at the expense of his wife. He flat out says, “I wrote this joke because my wife is Asian and it annoys her, and I like annoying her.” So even though I didn’t think it was funny, even I can acknowledge that it was tongue-and-cheek and not meant to talk down to anyone.

There are a few jokes like that in the special that I just don’t think were written as well as they could have been because Chapelle was overtly relying on the meta-commentary about “people taking offense to what I just said” to be the punchline of the joke. One of the reviews said that it was “unnecessarily offensive,” and I don’t agree with that. I don’t think anything in this was overly offensive. I think Chapelle did unnecessarily bring up how supposedly offensive he was being too much, though. Especially in the first 20 or so minutes of the special, he relied a lot on the Big Joke(TM) being him pointing out that he just said something that would make someone mad. He wasn’t even wrong, given the totally-not-offended-but-I-still-hate-it response he’s been getting; I just think he wasted valuable minutes on meta-commentary that could have gone to fleshing the actual jokes out more.

He gets over that pretty quickly, however, and the special really hits the ground running. Once he says the line “I’m not a nigger either” (which is a fucking great punchline to the joke in context, in addition to being a very poignant commentary on “the n-word” debate) every joke becomes incredibly well-written and well-thought out. The majority of the special’s back half was him discussing the opioid epidemic in Middle America and how he alternatively sympathizes with poor white people, gives no fucks about them, and is afraid of them because he’s a black man living in poor, white Ohio and he’s prepping for him or his kids getting shot by some discontented white kid. That’s why the left-o-sphere hating this confuses me a lot, because I don’t think you’ll find better commentary on a black man living in White America(TM) than the last 30 minutes of Sticks and Stones by Dave Chapelle.

The bit about him going to K-Mart to buy a gun to defend his house from white heroin junkies is 5 minutes of hilarity. He managed to be very funny while simultaneously having reflective observations about what is happening to other people and his own emotional reactions to it. He points out it’s a lot like the crack epidemic, and is very honest about how his knee-jerk reaction is to give no fucks about their community being ravaged by opioids the same way white communities gave no fucks about black communities being ravaged by crack. He then flips things around by talking about his own background growing up poor and how it helps him empathize with the situation more. The final line/joke is a perfect ending that wraps up the entire show in a bit of reincorporation that was very well done.

All in all, the longer Sticks and Stones went on, the more I enjoyed it. It takes some time for Dave to get over the hump of tiring meta-commentary, but once he does, he’s pretty damn great. It’s a very back-loaded special, to be sure, but I can’t hold that against him too much. As I’ve already pointed out, Chapelle was apparently right to have so many asides about the state of “offensive comedy” seeing as how people responded to his relatively inoffensive jokes the exact way he said they would. I guess I’m happy the “red pillers” got tricked into watching a stand-up that makes fun of gun nuts and talks about race issues from the POV of a black person, and I’m sad that “progressives” couldn’t get over one underwritten gay joke and 1 minute of him making fun of internet feminists enough to appreciate the rest of the very well-done social commentary. I was very pleasantly surprised by this and am definitely going to go back to it again, although I’m probably going to click around to the best parts instead of watching it front-to-back.

Drag Queen Story Hour Exists: Pearl Clutching Commenced

I think we can all agree that the golden age of anti-SJW content is good and over with. That’s not to say that toxically shallow “progressive” outrage and talking points aren’t still a thing. They very much are. But, a lot like the atheism boom in the early days of YouTube, what can be said about the topic has been said 20 times over, and the prominent voices in the anti-SJW sphere have largely moved on and started producing a larger variety of content. More relevant to this post, though: the anti-SJW sphere, like all the other niche internet spaces before it, became over-saturated. What was once 10 people with quality content eventually turned into 1000 people with middling content. For the anti-SJW crowd, in particular, this over-saturation largely seemed to be caused by an influx of people–both internally and externally–who equated “the intellectual dark web” with conservatism.

Remember when Paul Joseph Watson said that conservatism was the new punk rock? We’re cool! We’re the new party of freedom and self-expression! Yeah . . . As it turns out, a large portion of the anti-SJW crowd disintegrated because it became reactionary and opposed to anything deemed to be “progressive” on principle. That is not counter culture.


According the the website:

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Now, this is very cringely phrased and laden with buzzwords, as can be expected at this point. But once you peel back the veneer of Buzzfeed pandering, this is just a bunch of drag queens reading books to help expose kids to a diverse range of people before they age into being assholes to anyone who’s different. If you look more into the typical DQSH, the institution they’re visiting picks the books they read. They also train the reader beforehand. As someone who’s helped with these kind of guest programs before, I imagine the rules boil down to: no topics or language above PG rating, no politics, no religion, keep physical contact to a minimum, here’s how to handle a fire drill. From what I’ve seen, some story hours use “progressive” books where a prince is saving another prince from the dragon’s keep or some shit, but most of them seem to go for the classics. Dr. Seuss. The Hungry Caterpillar. That kind of thing.

This is apparently the worst thing ever, and horrible indoctrination, and propaganda. Here’s some quotes I pulled from people who got offended. You know, like you do:

  • What is happening to a child s ,childhood,days of innocence,fun ,role playing,politics should be left out until more mature
  • Those kids are too young. You can just teach them not to hate people who are different than them ffs.
  • Disgusting. Can we just start bring gimps into schools now as well then?
  • Normalizing deviancy into our kids’ brains instead of bringing on actual role models that contribute to society and the advancement of the human race
  • Why are they trying to expose children to drag? Adults, fine, let them do as they wish within reason but come on, there’s no way this is going to end well for children.

No, those are not from an angry Christian parenting Facebook page. Those are pulled from various “anti-SJW” sources. Oh joy. I guess I did miss the olden days of taking the piss out of social traditionalists who always wanted you to “think of the children.” I just wish it wasn’t people who I am implicitly associated with, but the world’s not perfect, and I take what I can get. We’re the new counter culture, guys! That’s why we’re pearl clutchin’ harder than Phil Donahue “interviewing” Marylin Manson about how he is toxic and destroying the poor, impressionable minds of the youth, and how he’s an affront to American values.

Marylin Manson is “counter cultural,” by the way. When your behavior is more reminiscent of the old man bitching about “our values,” you do not get to say you’re counter-anything. For the record, I don’t think Drag Queen Story Hour is counter culture either. This is literally two groups who both think they’re “underground” fighting over who is the most nonconformist when, in reality, they’re both fairly mainstream. Being accepting of LGBT people is not rare (at least in the countries where DQSHs take place). Being squicked out by the concept of gender non-conformity is not rare. Neither of you are representing an underdog in this situation.

All of those above quotes pull the classic move of associating anything that isn’t the norm with deviancy. More specifically, they see anything having to do with gender non-conformity or LGBT representation as something inherently sexual and therefore “inappropriate” to expose children to. These are the same people who hear the word “gay” and can only think of butt stuff, or who hear that someone is trans and become fixated on genitals and how having sex with them would work. The idea that there are other things involved besides sex is apparently a difficult one to wrap the mind around. The idea that gender expression is a social act having to do with far more than who you’re fucking at any given moment just boggles the mind!

Using this logic, we should get rid of “[Insert Guest Here] Story Hours” in general, because all of them are, to some extent, based around exposing young kids to people they wouldn’t otherwise see or hear from. Which is propaganda, I guess. My elementary school had soldier story hours where current or former US military members read books. And this was the fucking early 2000s, right after 9/11, when military fervor and rhetoric about how “you need to support our troops, and if you don’t, you hate America!” were at an all time high. Now, if people were consistent, they would have nearly identical complaints about how you need to keep politics away from our kids and stop conditioning them to be accepting of X. Something tells me they’d be alright with that, though. Just call it a hunch. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for the DQSH’s goal of having kids see people who “defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish,” that is perfectly fine by me. Child development psychologists refer to pre-school/kindergarten age children as “gender investigators.” This is because children at that age are actively observing the men and women around them to figure out “what boys do” or “what girls do,” so that they can incorporate those “right” behaviors into their own behavior. They do this because children at that age are oftentimes very insecure in their gender identity: They literally think they will stop being a boy if they do something “that girls do” or vice versa.

Their “gender investigations” typically lead to really arbitrary conclusions like, “I saw my mom drink orange juice and my dad drink milk, so orange juice is for just for girls and milk is just for boys.” When I worked with kids that age, I saw it a lot. One kid was flabbergasted by seeing one of the female teachers use a hammer to fix a clock and asked if she was a man “because only boys like my dad fix things.” This arbitrary gendering of literally everything is something most people grow out of by elementary school age, but it is what forms the basis of our understanding of our own gender.

So, with all of that background given as to what we know about developmental psychology and gender roles, I am personally of the opinion that seeing a drag queen would be helpful to a kid that age. These are kids who are in the process of creating a gender role schema in their own minds, a schema regarding how not only they are “supposed to act,” but how everyone else is. Being exposed to someone with very atypical gender presentation who preaches self-expression even if it goes against the norm, seems like it would be genuinely helpful. It’d be helpful for kids who will grow up to not be stereotypically masculine or stereotypically feminine. And it’d be helpful for the kids around them who, fingers crossed, would find a better, more solid reason to mercilessly bully one of their classmates instead of the half-assed, “Sally wears baggy clothes, let’s bully her for being a dyke, haha!”

Do better.

Gillette’s Marketing Team is Drinking Golden Champagne Out of Diamond Flutes Right Now

This is going to be a very brief commentary on the “controversial” Gillette ad campaign called “We Believe: The Best a Man Can Be.”

It calls itself a “short film,” which is insulting. Paying Idris Elba 500k to show up in 30 frames of your razor commercial does not make it a film. That’s not to say commercials can’t be incredibly well done art pieces. They can. But The Best a Man Can Be is art the same way YouTube Rewind is art. Read: It’s not. It is very well-produced, shallow, pandery bullshit though! So it has that going for it.

A while ago, I wrote a post called Rebel Culture Prostitution and Pro-Capitalism Anti-Capitalists, and this new razor commercial is essentially part of that very same trend. I honestly do not understand why anyone is reacting to this, positively or negatively. Can people honestly not tell when something exists for shallow pandering and that the giant faceless company doesn’t actually care about social politics one way or the other as long as they continue selling their totally unrelated product? The Gillette marketing team deserves a collective raise and a golden plaque, because they managed to wring months of free, mainstream advertising out of media and the public when, one month ago, you probably couldn’t name a single razor company off the top of your head. By virtue of writing this post, I am giving them free marketing.

To progressives: One year ago, you fucking hated companies like Gillette because of them charging more for products marketed to women. Their razor prices have not changed since then, by the way. Also, Gillette is a company that works exclusively within the realm of profiting off of strictly gendered insecurities. Hey, women, buy our pink razors to shave your legs and this extra attachment for the armpits and bikini line–you don’t want to be a hairy beast, do you? Hey, men, buy our specialty grooming razors that constantly need to be refilled because women love a man who looks sharp! And I’m supposed to buy that anyone at Gillette gives two fucks about subverting gender norms?

To everyone being butthurt over the video: Gillette cares about toxic masculinity and #MeToo about as much as 1970’s Coco-Cola cared about racial harmony or 1980’s Apple cared about not being an evil technocracy (that’s hilarious in retrospect). Read: It doesn’t, and they didn’t. This is a calculated marketing move designed to associate the Gillette brand with certain ideas and feelings. They had a guy who’s sole purpose in the board meeting was to crunch the numbers and make sure that you being butthurt wasn’t going to effect their bottom line. You throwing away razors that you already bought does nothing. You refusing to buy Gillette razors ever again was leveled out by stupid liberals who now buy Gillette on principle. You making videos about how butthurt you are is giving them more money and more attention and more name recognition, which is what they wanted. Congrats.


As for the contents of the actual video–I actually don’t see anything as all that offensive. Yeah, its self-aggrandizing, overly serious tone is really cringey, but so is every car commercial that uses the exact same formula of “insert: imagery and voice over about something ‘important’ totally unrelated to what we’re peddling.” The thing it reminds me of the most is that one awful Justin Timberlake music video from his horrible last album. Humorless, superficially “woke,” and totally un-self aware.

Some of the stuff just doesn’t make much sense. The bullying segment, for instance, puts a huge spotlight on youth social media bullying, which we now know is something perpetrated by and victimizing mainly tween/teen girls, not boys. I’m fine with pointing out that bullying is wrong, but acting like that specific kind of bullying is a sign of toxic masculinity is kinda losing the plot. It also features “sexist” sit-com antics that haven’t been common tropes in mainstream media since the 1980s, so I’m not sure why that was focused on so much like it’s in any way relevant or up-to-date social commentary.

There’s a quick shot of general spring break-style debauchery, which I would actually agree perpetuates “toxically masculine” behavior. Lonely Island made this social commentary far more effectively and far more entertainingly six years ago, though. A bit late to the party on that one, Gillette. There’s a pretty hilarious shot of a woman thousand-yard staring at the camera like she’s seen war because some guy in a business meeting interrupted her. That is a dick move, and people who monopolize meetings need to learn basic teamwork skills; but that was such a ridiculously overacted and on-the-nose depiction of that issue. Also, the narration itself is very car-commercial-intense in a cringey way, and I actually think the commercial would be much better served if it didn’t have the voice over explaining how we should feel.

Those are really my only issues with it. I actually like the Terry Crews speech they referenced since it’s one of the few instances of anyone acknowledging that men can be sexually harrassed and/or victimized. The context of that speech is him talking about how fathers have a special responsibility to teach their sons not to be creeps since boys model their behavior after the men in their lives in particular. That’s a fine statement to make, and scientifically backed at that.

By the end of the commercial, the “lesson” boils down to” “Don’t approach random women and tell them to do things in a skeevy tone, and if one of your friends does that, tell him he’s being a dick. Teach boys that they shouldn’t automatically resort to violence to get their way. Don’t treat your kids like shit.”

I don’t see much wrong with any of that. My main issue with this commercial is the pretense of Gillette shamelessly marketing itself towards a counterculture it clearly doesn’t have any actual stake in, and people inexplicably falling for it hook-line-and-sinker. The content itself isn’t overly objectionable, though. It’s not like that one horrendous Super Bowl ad whose “moral” was “physically assaulting men and destroying their property is cool because feminism! Now buy our $2000 high heels.” This one is at least more even-keeled.

I’m forced to assume that the people getting up-in-arms about it are reacting to literally the first five seconds where the term “toxic masculinity” is mentioned. I understand that–I too have very, very many problems with how fourth-wave feminists use the term to pathologize maleness as a concept. That being said, though, the majority of specific cases this commercial shows actually would qualify under the genuine definition of “toxic masculinity:” not helping young boys effectively deal with their temper/conflicts because being unnecessarily violent is “just what boys do,” aggressively approaching women who obviously do not want to be approached because brashness is equated with confidence.

I understand the contention caused by mentioning #MeToo. Like I have said multiple times, referencing it is shallow, unanalytical pandering at best. But you can tell that it’s shallow and unanalytical pandering because literally nothing else in the video has anything to do with #MeToo besides some random clip of The Young Turks stating that #MeToo exists and the Terry Crews clip, which is him talking about how he was sexually assaulted. In short: Calm the fuck down. As far as shitty commercials trying to cash in on the hashtag activist crowd goes, this is probably the lease objectionable one. It’s also not some progressive Godsend that shows a company being “woke” either. Pull your heads out of your asses for two seconds, people.

 

 

 

So . . . Can I Wear a Kimono Then?

Hey, guys! It’s been a while. How about a nice little post about the dreaded cultural appropriation. [Insert Twilight Zone theme song.] So, I already wrote a post called The Case FOR Cultural Appropriation about how I don’t think “cultural appropriation” is even a thing, and after a bs controversy on my college campus about some dude having the gall to wear a sombrero at a party, I’ve really hunkered down on the issue. Claims of cultural appropriation officially make no goddamn sense to me. So here’s this shit for me to get pissed off at for your amusement:

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is hosting “Kimono Wednesdays” through July 2015. People are invited to wear a replica uchikake of Monet’s La Japonaise as a way to explore how Japanese culture influenced European art.

I might have actually shilled out the bus fare to go to this event if it had been anywhere near me. It sounds fun. Japanese art has had quite the influence on many Western artists (look at Avatar: The Last Airbender or the myriad woodblock print inspired patterns more prevalent than the fluer-de-lis for more modern examples). Western art has also inspired lots of Japanese art (the thing I immediately think of is the superflat postmodern Japanese art that oftentimes takes after Western-style cartoons–think Hello Kitty). It’s really interesting to see how the two different cultures’ influences can be found in both pop and high art, and I personally love learning about that kind of thing. One of my final projects was a nearly twenty-minute long video of me talking about the Americanization The Ring and how it’s different from the original Japanese film mainly do to cultural localization yet is still inherently a “Japanese” film. It’s fun. I love comparative art. Let me guess though, you’re going to find something wrong with it?

However, La Japonaise represents Orientalist attitudes of the period and donning the uchikake recreates that fetishism with Japanese culture.

Aaaaaaaaaaanddddd here we go. UGH. Okay.

1.) Even if that painting represents racists attitudes of the period, are people just not allowed to appreciate art that is a product of it’s time, and, more importantly, take what was initially a negative message and spin it into something positive? Because that would be what this event was. The painting was made to be racist, well let’s flip that around and use that painting as a way to promote Japanese culture and help people learn more about it. That seems like a pretty good thing to me. It’s like people who make parodies of those old racist comic strips from the 1940s in order to make fun of racism. And all of that is assuming that the original La Japonaise is objectively racist, which I would argue that it isn’t.

2.) I don’t even get that fetishism part. Am I the only one confused by the negative connotation that SJWs give to fetishes? Even if this painting did just fetishize “Japanese-ness,” what’s really wrong with that again? Japan fetishizes “American-ness” all the time in its media, I don’t see anyone freaking out about that. Isn’t it ultimately just having a really rosy view of something and/or just really liking it? I don’t see anything wrong with liking things, and while you could argue that having rose-colored glasses regarding anything, culture included, is naive, but I don’t know why it’s wrong. Plus, don’t the protesters have rose-colored glasses on regarding Japanese culture since they apparently see it as something pure that should not be tainted by your horrible, horrible whiteness?

I don’t get things, guys. Somebody educate me.

Oh, look. A helpful FAQ that will hopefully do just that:

While we have garnered much support from peers and media, there has also been strong pushback from some members of the public with negative comments through social media. The often aggressively defensive tone, boldness and personal attacks are examples of vitriolic Orientalist attitude. By extension, these behaviors are precisely what events like ‘Kimono Wednesdays’ and ‘Flirting with the Exotic’ foster and make acceptable. The MFA is essentially helping to perpetuate these Orientalist perspectives and doing little to eradicate them.

Yeah, I’m sure you’ve gotten lots of support. Sure. Also, people tend to get a bit aggressively defensive when you make baseless assumptions about their personal character by calling them racist, sexist, bigots. Plus, the people complaining about this are people who regularly go to an art museum for fun. They’re not the typical lower burnouts who “need to educate themselves on the issues,” if you get my meaning. And, yes, I’m sure the MFA is doing lots to eradicate racist ideas by kneeling to the shrieking complaints of people who say that innocent museum goers who just want to learn about another culture shouldn’t be allowed to do that based solely on “not being the right race.” Totally promoting racial cohesion there, guys! Before you know it, we’ll all be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya and wondering how the hell Japanese internment camps were ever even a thing. I still wonder that . . .

a. What’s the big deal?
Orientalism matters because it reinforces racist hierarchies. White supremacy leverages AAPI as model minorities and “good” immigrant populations to further oppress and demean Black and Brown people in America. Orientalist violence is related to aggression against dark-skinned and black bodies. Darker shades of Asian people most certainly bear violence from Orientalist ideology, compounded by anti-black racism.

Okay. Back up. First you tell me how this event was Orientalist. You are the ones claiming that it is. You can’t just act like everyone already agrees with you and then start from there. The burden of proof is on you. Tell me how this event is racist. You’ve already said multiple times at this point that “It’s racist, and it promotes racism, and racism is bad, and this is racist, it’s racist, guys!” But you’ve yet to actually say why that is. You’ve just been saying it over and over and hoping that the repetition will make people think it’s true. You’ve just said that it’s fetishizing and Orientalist, but okay. Why? What about it makes it those things? Is there another way to do it that wouldn’t make it those things, or is this event just inherently horrible no matter what?

I also love how your answer to people asking you what the big deal is is to go on some totally unrelated diatribe on how, shock of all shocks, racism is bad without even mentioning the painting or the kimono event once. Yeah, you’re totally not just regurgitating tired rhetoric, you’re totally applying logical thought on a case-by-case basis. That was sarcasm. If you couldn’t tell.

b. The Japanese government promotes foreigners to wear and appreciate kimonos. This event happened in Japan. How is this different?
The Japanese government is promoting its own culture in a context where Japanese people do not have a history of being discriminated against in Japan for being Japanese.

So . . . all this event would have had to do to be a-okay in your book would be to get a Japanese person to stand outside the door and give everyone the thumbs up before they went inside? That seems . . . really fucking arbitrary. Also, from my personal experience, Japanese people actually really like it when Americans gush over how cool their stuff is. Japan is one of the world’s leading cultural soft powers for a reason.

c. People in Japan do not agree with the protesters.
We have discovered that there has been much mistranslation of our original writing, which was reduced to, among other things, “no one who is not Japanese can wear a kimono therefore the MFA event is racist.” Some of us have been engaging one-on-one with people in Japan and when we explain our thoughts, they have tended to agree. We are currently translating this letter.

Yeah. I’m sure “they’ve tended to agree.” I’m also sure you’re going to provide some helpful translations of their responses so everyone can see for themselves, wait no. Good thing some of us can read Japanese then. . . wait you’re not even showing us the responses in their original language. Awesome. On another note, that was not a mis-translation. That is what you think. That is why you only ever talk about this event in terms of “white supremacy” and white people putting their grubby little hands over everything. It is very much just a case of “if you’re not X, you can’t do Y.” Stop acting like you’re being mis-quoted, okay? You’re not. It’s not our fault that the translator was straightforward.

d. I’m Asian American, and I think it’s okay. Japanese people should not be used for your political gain.
The model minority myth and Asian complicity with white supremacy are interlinked. Also there is historic discrimination against AAPI as well as other POC when not assimilating into Western norms of culture.

Those goddamn, dirty race traitors, am I right? Any Asian person who disagrees with you is just brainwashed and what they have to say can be thoroughly disregarded, why not?

e. This is appreciation, not appropriation.
The way this programming was framed and curated makes it appropriation, not appreciation.

What? The way it was framed and curated . . . It was literally promoted as “Come on in and appreciate and learn about Japanese culture’s melding with Western culture! Look at the pretty picture, learn more about kimonos!” This is an art museum. Appreciation of the art inside of it is literally the only reason it exist as a place. I don’t even get how a painting can be curated in a racist fashion. What do you people fucking want? This event couldn’t get more “appreciative.”

f. White people putting on the uchikake for a few minutes is not yellow face.
Yes it is, when it is done in order to replicate an Orientalist painting. No matter how it is curated, within such framing it is racist.

Well, seeing as how yellow face literally refers to someone changing their skin tone/facial features to pretend to be Asian, this is objectively not yellow face. Them putting on a Japanese robe doesn’t mean they’re pretending to be Japanese. Seeing as how the event was promoted as “Eastern Art Meets Western Artists,” it was the exact opposite of them pretending to be Japanese since it was explicitly referenced that it was a Western artist’s work as influenced by Eastern art.

Plus, you just said in one of the above points that “the way it was curated” added to the racism. But now you’re saying that it doesn’t matter how it was curated, it’s going to be racist no matter what. So what? Anytime someone not from a place decides to try to replicate art from that place in their work, it’s just going to be racist? Nothing to be done about it? Somebody call up the guy who designed Hello Kitty and tell him that he’s racist for taking inspiration from Western cartoons. While you’re at it, go burn down all the Gothic Lolita stores in Japan because Victorian-style dresses are our thing.

g. Putting on a kimono is not real racism. There are more important problems.
White supremacy is a major problem in the world. This kind of programming fuels and propagates it.

How the fuck is saying “I think Japan is cool! Japanese kimonos, which I fully acknowledge as being Japanese in origin and design, are beautiful articles of clothing! More beautiful than the dresses my ancestors’ culture made!” something that promotes white supremacy? Maybe if they just were totally historically inaccurate and said, “Europe totes invented the kimono, guys, you can tell from it’s authentically European name.” you’d have a point. But this is a case of a museum lauding the artistic merits of Japanese clothing and how it is so artistically valuable that it had an overt effect on Western artistic perceptions and made at least one artist “more Eastern” in his content because it was just that aesthetically good. How is that degrading to Japanese art again?

i. What about Japanese and Asian Americans wearing Western clothing? Isn’t that racist against white people or hypocritical?
Reverse racism claims that there can be oppression against white people and cultures. Here’s an article on reverse racism and why it’s not a valid argument.

Wow. So you’re one of those, huh? I love how you don’t even try to address claims of hypocrisy, you just devalue the very identity of the person calling you a hypocrite and act like that makes their claim less valid. “I think you’re dumb, Bob.” “Well, you’re ugly, Alice.” “Can’t argue with that, I guess you’re not dumb after all!”

j. How can Japan be oppressed? Wasn’t Japan a racist imperialist power, too?
Yes, Japan has a legacy of racism and imperialism. That does not impact the racism Japanese-Americans in the U.S. have experienced (e.g internment camps), and continue to experience by association (e.g. the racist reception of the Japanese women’s soccer team cup loss to the U.S.). The Japanese have not escaped Orientalism (imagine the rhetoric used to justify U.S. internment and atomic bombs during WWII).

No, no, no. You don’t get it, anonymous question-asker. I know we use vague history as a way of talking about how white people have sucked and will always suck. But we can’t use history to talk about how literally everyone else has sucked too. That would be dumb. It derails the conversation. Now, can we please go back to talking about how history proves that white people and only white people are horribly oppressive?

k. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
Yes, Japan is the only Axis power that dared to bomb the U.S. However, the Allies were decidedly winning the war when the atomic bombs were being considered. Scientists urged that the bombs not be deployed. The attacks therefore reflect damningly on U.S. foreign policy at best and the choices to justify the target at worst. They did not target Germany. They did not target Russia.

Who the fuck is saying this as a response to a museum canceling an exhibit. And, yes, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and, yes, I’m fairly sure that’s a contributing reason to why America bombed them instead of the other Axis powers (I feel like basic geography and war-time strategy also contributed, but, you know, racism has to be the main thing). I also don’t think that it was right to bomb Japanese civilians with the deadliest bomb ever created. I will talk shit about America’s decision to do that until the cows come home.

That being said, Japan sure has taken advantage of the fact that America’s army is pretty much its army. (For those of you who don’t know: After the war, Japan was forced to de-militarize itself, leaving it unprotected from attack, with America promising as a “Sorry for the whole bombing your civilians thing” gift to use its military to protect Japan if and when Japan found itself in a war. That may or may not still be the case as of this year, since the Japanese government is currently eating itself trying to decide if it wants to renew the aforementioned military contract with America, but that’s how it was up until very recently.) And Japan has essentially been using the backing of the American armed forces as a bluffing point to antagonize the hell out of China for years now because America has to protect them if anything bad happens and they know that China doesn’t want to fight America.

So Japan isn’t 100% some sniveling victim in all of this even though how America ended WWII was, in my opinion, a bad thing. Plus, once again, Japan may not be a military force to be reckoned with anymore, but they’re second only to America in the amount of soft power/culture clout they have.

l. The protesters are not Japanese and not all of them are of Asian descent.
As we wrote earlier, this is a hyphenated-American issue in a context where AAPIs are homogenized. There are Japanese and Japanese-Americans supporting this response.

White supremacy is supported by Orientalism in order to minimize the Asian-American experience, especially when Asian-Americans try to advocate for themselves: when it is convenient, the Asian-American experience is either homogenized or not authentic enough.

Why are you still talking about white supremacy? Oh my GOD. Are the people criticizing you even white? I’m not, by the way, so can wear a kimono, then, being one of their fellow oppressed POCs and all? You’ve already called some people race traitors, so probably not, but I might as well ask. That’s the thing with obvious hypocrites, you don’t know what they think about anything. And apparently the Asian-American experience is homogeneous seeing as how those aforementioned Asian race traitors’ opinions don’t seem to matter much to you. So much so that you disregard them entirely.

The “Asian-American” experience, to you, extends only to the Asian-Americans who are offended at what you think they should be offended by. The only Asian-American opinion that matters to you is the one that affirms what you already think. The only Asian-American voice that is authentic is the one that doesn’t like white people wearing kimonos. The other voices support white supremacy. So don’t even act like it’s other people trying to silence Asian-Americans. I think you can say whatever you goddamn want.

Also, allyhood is important. Folks with different experiences can and must stand in solidarity where needed. Furthermore, we all stand in solidarity against anti-black and anti-indigenous systemic oppression, because black and indigenous people bear the brunt of the violence fueled by white supremacist iconography and ideology.

What does this have to do with anything?! You’re talking about a museum exhibit of a white woman wearing an Asian dress. Stay on goddamn topic.

m. The protesters don’t represent all Asian-Americans.
We are well aware we do not represent all Asian-Americans nor do we intend to.

But we will shut down entire events that could have been used to educate people and/or just make someone’s life a little less sad and monotonous for a while in the name of “all Asian-Americans.” We will act like the only Asian-American opinion that matters to this discussion is the one that agrees with ours. And we will accuse any Asian-American who disagrees with us as being a supporter of white supremacy. We don’t represent all Asian-Americans . . . just all the true, authentic ones, just the Asian-Americans’ whose opinions are actually worth anything.

n. The protesters are “bad” Asian Americans. They are selfish and just want attention.
Badness, selfishness and attention-grabbing are typical shaming done in Asian cultures against women who are non-conforming. This is specifically misogynist, because of how the public sees us as the visible protesters. This is how stereotypical Asian patriarchal misogyny folds into Orientalism so people in the West can further oppress women, feminine and/or gender queer folk in the Asian-American community.

SJWs are attention whores? I thought all their histrionics were caused by their self-diagnosed bipolar disorders. Huh, who’d a thunk? I feel like the rest of this speaks for itself. You just went on a rant about how not everyone protesting this event is Asian, then one point down you try and fail to connect people calling you attention whores (which you are, by the way) with them being racist toward Asians. And also, they’re sexist, I guess. I don’t even know the genders of the protesters involved. They could all be guys as far as I’m concerned. You’re still attention whores. Oh my God. I can’t even argue with you.

Badness is also part of entitled elite white supremacist patriarchal fantasy that the model minority myth ascribes to. What is bad and what is good helps people in the U.S. assess each others’ desirability. So when members of the Asian-American community speak out, they risk breaking their model minority status, leaving themselves vulnerable to oppressive attacks from both white and Asian-American neighbors.

Someone calling you an obnoxious killjoy when you are being an obnoxious killjoy is not them distressing over you breaking the model minority stereotype. It’s them distressing over you being fucking obnoxious. That’s why the Asian protesters are taken just as seriously (read: not taken seriously at all) as the other protesters are. Or are the non-Asian protesters being treated with staggering levels of respect and understanding by detractors while only the Asian SJWs are being called out for being dumb-asses? That doesn’t seem to be how it worked out. Playing the race card has been denied here.

o. The protesters don’t understand what Orientalism or racism really is.
We cannot possibly have any misunderstanding. We speak from lived experiences of Orientalized racism.

What do you mean “you can’t possibly have any misunderstanding”? Why? Because you’re Asian? You seem like someone who doesn’t like stereotypes, and good for you because you definitely don’t fall into the “Asians are logical, smart, respectable people” stereotype. Way to tear down those misconceptions by being the change you want to see.

Well, I’m black, which I guess means I can never be wrong or have a misunderstanding of anything. I now decide that racism is defined as “a thing that people go into histrionic hysterics over in a counterproductive way to prove that they’re sorry about slavery and which is undeservedly given way too much power as a hammer to beat any and all detractors with.” There. It’s my lived experience, so it’s right, I guess. I look forward to seeing the new definition of racism, as defined by Disorderly Politics, in the next Webster’s Dictionary.

p. The MFA has good intentions. They can’t be racist because racists are bad.
Again, the MFA is defined as good by white elite supremacist standards and benefits from the immediate trust given it. In this framework, if there is any opposition, as an institution it is being bullied. By this ideology, blatant and violent racism is not cultured enough to be good and therefore labeled bad or even evil. Therefore, the MFA cannot be racist.

So, what does an Asian define as good, again? Oh, wait a minute, Asians are not a  homogeneous monolith. Unless they are, I guess, because all the Asians who thought that what the MFA was doing was fine/a good thing are totally ignored here. Of course. Now, I hate the Man just as much as anyone else. I don’t think corporations are people, I think our military has committed unpunished war crimes, yadayadayada. But this is a case of an institution being bullied. Blithely denouncing the idea with a condescending tone doesn’t make it not so. The MFA is being bullied. I can tell by this very next sentence:

We have enough work to do to dismantle white supremacy. Don’t contribute to this mess, MFA.

Using rather baseless and defaming assumptions to shame people into doing what you want is blatant manipulation and blatant bullying. You’re essentially calling the people who organized this, went to it, wanted to go to it, and/or defended this as horrible, horrible racists who really need to go sit in a corner and think about what they’ve done. Making people feel bad about benign, harmless acts as a means of controlling what they do to fit your standards is being a bully.

q. The MFA programming is not racist because the dictionary definition doesn’t apply to this situation.
Most dictionaries do not acknowledge the inherent power structure of white supremacy within their definition.

But we’ll make sure to acknowledge the dictionary definition of feminism like that’s all anyone needs to know and scoff at anyone who acts like the dictionary definition isn’t enough to define a specific situation! Oh, don’t look at me like that, you know these people are in the same feminist camp. Also, dictionaries don’t tend to act like a certain group’s theory is fucking correct. It’s why the definition of Hell isn’t “the place all the fags, niggers, and Jews are gonna end up.”

r. I am offended that I am being called racist. The protesters are the true racists for calling people racist.
This is response, called white fragility, is common in discussions about racism. (More about white fragility at this link.) Being called racist can be uncomfortable. However, when brown and black communities are suffering every day due to systemic racialized violence, white people can afford a little discomfort.

Well, I’m black and I’m offended at you calling white people racist. Also, me, I guess. I’m still not sure if other POC are included in the whole “this promotes white supremacy” thing. This article has done a tremendous job of acting like no slightly tan person on the face of the earth was ever interested in attending that event or angered that it was canceled after someone cried racism. It was only the whites. And those poor white people. They don’t have pseudo-intellectual bullshit to fall back on to justify how saying “making people feel bad for no other reason than their race” isn’t racist. That’s something only we coloreds have.

s. If only Asian people are able to present Asian art, then there can be no cultural exchange.
Again, our opposition is not against cultural exchange. However, we do expect Asian folks to be curators and head administrators at institutions of arts and culture, especially involving Asian-related programming, along with responsible curation, so that this kind of egregious oversight never happens again. Representation is important until we no longer have pervasive white fragility.

Well, clearly it is against cultural exchange seeing as how a picture of a woman wearing an article of clothing not from her culture apparently takes things to far. How do you know that the curator wasn’t Asian, by the way? Also, I love this: “We’re not against cultural exchange, we’re just against anyone of different cultures having anything to do with something that isn’t theirs!” Are you an expert in Edo Era wood block printing because you fell in love with Japanese art styles in college? Well, too bad, if you’re not Asian, you clearly don’t have what it takes to work with Asian art! Race segregated curation is responsible curation. Remember that.

I wonder if they’d say the same thing about a Chinese American who works as a head curator on an exhibit of paintings from Victorian England. Is that just unacceptable too? How about if I went and curated that painting? Would it still be racist and an issue with representation then? I can see the protests now: “Kick Out the Black, and Bring in More Yellow.” I’m sure that would happen.

t. I’m not racist. I just really love Japanese culture.
It is great to really love and want to appreciate a culture different from yours. To do that responsibly know the wider impact your actions have in how that culture is both perceived and received by those who have not put in the time to study it. Appreciate the culture by providing knowledge about it. A culture is more than a set of aesthetics. Learn about the background behind the ‘pretty style.’ Be sure also to assess and acknowledge your privileges and the history of power from which you might benefit.

These people must be really fun at parties. “We love that you like a different culture’s art. Just don’t try to actually indulge in a different culture’s art in any way, shape, or form, because that has a vague ‘wider impact’.” How do you know those people never studied Japanese art? It kind of seems like many people would have gone to that event for the express purposes of studying and learning more about Japanese art because going to art exhibits to see the art is how you learn about it.

Just thinking that something is a ‘pretty style’ isn’t wrong, by the way. You don’t have to know everything about everything before indulging in anything. Or are you going to fly on over to Japan and lambaste all the Japanese youths who have taken a liking to hip-hop even though they don’t know everything about the struggle of African Americans? Hell, how about all the Japanese youths who love K-Pop without acknowledging how racist Japan has been to its Korean neighbors? Not going to address that though, are you?

I’d put a picture of me wearing my kimono (given to me by a Japanese person in Japan, by the way) flipping you off, but I don’t want the internet to know my face. For shame.

Edit: My face is on here now (yay.  . .), so here is me in my kimono. I’m not flipping anyone off in this picture because, believe it or not, I’m a pleasant person. Just imagine it being the case.

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This is stupid. It’s nothing but authoritarian-minded, entitled idiots self-appointing themselves as moral arbitrators, using shame and offense as a way to make people do what they want them to do. So, since I actually know Japanese (at this point I’m not sure that the writer of this FAQ who cares so deeply about Japan does), why don’t you go and translate this, from me to you?

くそくらえ

ばか . . .