January 23, 2013

Did you see that "deconstruction of what has come to be known as 'hipster racism'"?

That "moment that challenged" the "privilege" of the "core audience" of the show "Girls"?

In Season 1, Episode 1, they acted like a character could just be black without being about the fact of his being black, but in Episode 2, the main character, saying "you know what, I never thought about the fact that you were black once," was essentially mocking the viewers' own phony pretense that they didn't think, like back in Episode 1, about the fact that he's black.

Also, they made him Republican... and perfectly decent and low-key about it.

By the way, if you've never noticed that there's something that has come to be known as "hipster racism," I see it's got its own Wikipedia article:
Hipster racism, a term coined around 2006 in an article by Carmen Van Kerckhove, is described as the use [of] irony and satire to mask racism. It is the use of blatantly racist comments in an attempt to be controversial and edgy. Its irony is established in a somewhat post-racial belief that blatant expressions of genuine racism are no longer taken seriously and are an outdated way of thinking, thereby making the use of such overt expressions satiric. In some cases, hipster racism can be seen as the appropriation of cultural artifacts by hipsters.
Why hasn't this led to more trouble if it's actually been around for 7 years? Because it's so lame no one can be bothered to get offended? Because no one really does it? Anyway, I guess I can imagine examples of humor that would fit this category, but the notion that it's been some sort of style trend for more than half a decade just seems so sad. We need better trends these days. Pop culture is insufficiently diverting. 

41 comments:

X said...

that episode just plays into the stereotype that black guys like fat chicks

Lem said...

I think I have an example.

I thought it was funny.

Dennis said...

Hipsters fancy themselves as being masters of irony, they imbibe it in small doses like iocane powder when they engage in their battle of wits.

The problem is, irony has no master, and it twists hardest when one thinks they have it in their command.

Rabel said...

Can't say that I understand any of that, but I take it that Jackie Chiles was ahead of his time.

Maguro said...

It's too fucking complicated.

chickelit said...

The deconstruction of anything "hipster" is a good thing.

Jana said...

For all their supposed ironic detachment, hipsters (in my experience) are just as earnest as any regular old progressive to demonstrate their moral bona fides by flaunting their not-racism (and their not-homophobic-ness).

That said, I was mostly recovered from my hipster phase by 2006, so I may not be up-to-date.

Mr. D said...

The way to cheese off a hipster is to ask them if they downloaded a copy of the new “Death Cab for Hootie” album.

Seeing Red said...

Didn't she just say something that she thought wasn't racial and got pushback?

Seeing Red said...

Oh, Lenny Bruce-type stuff.

The kids didn't get a chance so now they can.

Nonapod said...

Speaking as a member of Generation X (the generation that fully embraced irony) it seems to me this younger generation (Millennials?) have embraced things like metahumor, the deconstruction of irony, and even the deconstruction of deconstruction. It's gotten very confusing.

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thorley Winston said...


Thank you Ann for confirming that there is nothing worthwhile about this show. I guess that I’ll have wait for the return of “Game of Thrones” in March to see something decent to watch on HBO.

bagoh20 said...

Isn't this the kind of joking around you do with friends who are other ethnicity or races. Where you make offensive racial jokes or slurs and they do it back, and everyone knows it's not serious. That's not new - it's been going on my whole life.

Another version is racial slurs directed solely at whites, which are always hip and funny, even if serious.

Kenneth Burns said...

What I guess you would call hipster racism was a staple of "Will & Grace."

As when the character Karen says, "Nobody calls me a racist. And you can ask anyone I own."

Kenneth Burns said...

It got uncomfortable.

n.n said...

While the market largely rejects it, a slight majority of voters and "voters", the politicians they elect, and the civil rights businesses they patronize, endorse and exploit it to advance their political, economic, and social standing.

As I understand it, only God has the prerogative to visit the sins of the father on his children. In his place have arisen mortal gods who service and exploit their followers' dreams of instant (or immediate) gratification.

Amartel said...

"The deconstruction of anything "hipster" is a good thing."

Amen to that. Constructive intellectualism, not even up to the (low) standards of actual intellectualism. Posers.

I got a free trial of HBO a few weekends ago and watched this "Girls" thing. "Girls" is a good name for it; those characters are not grown women (or men). Females degrading themselves and dumb/obliviously vicious boy-men. The writer is an annoying nuisance hipster but I must give her points for honesty, on the topic of hipster racism and hipsters in general.

Icepick said...

There needs to be an emoticon-type series of key-strokes to represent the international sign of jerking off. (A cupped hand shuffled in the vicinity of one's jock in a bored, desultory manner is how it is done in person.)

Anyway, such an emoticon would represent my level of interest in hipster racism, deconstructed or not. (Hipster racism falls into that category of things that denotes Stuff White People Like people, or whiter people for short.) I miss having our crazy black musician around at moments like this. I wonder if Crack Emcee will ever rejoin The Collective?

Amartel said...

"The way to cheese off a hipster is to ask them if they downloaded a copy of the new “Death Cab for Hootie” album."

Here's another:
"Billy Joel Armstrong."

Really lean into the "el"
Guaranteed to work every time.

rehajm said...

Also, they made him Republican... and perfectly decent and low-key about it.

If low key is having her character break up with the Republican because he is Republican, thus providing opportunity for two or three liberal rants, and checking off the latest party talking points. Good thing, too. Not that she would, but should Dunham dare challenge her audience by failing to resemble something besides another propaganda arm, expect the trickle of critical reviews to flow: Gee, the it girl isn't all that. She really never was....

EDH said...

Actually, isn't that Season 2, this season?

Anyway, I actually found his character pretty real and very interesting. It's not a condescending portrayal at all.

And at another point in Episode 2, the character played by Brian William's daughter also also chides Lea Dunham's character for not knowing Glass Steagall was repealed under Clinton.

I have to say this second season so far has been a big improvement over last year's angst-ridden mewling.

There's more complexity, and Dunham's character is much less precious in terms of her world view.

EMD said...

Ken Burns (not that one!) is right.

This has been going on forever.

Apparently the writer has never seen South Park.

ironrailsironweights said...

And at another point in Episode 2, the character played by Brian William's daughter also also chides Lea Dunham's character for not knowing Glass Steagall was repealed under Clinton.

Actually, it was the character played by the drummer from Bad Company's daughter.

I'm still very disappointed that Allison Williams (Brian's daughter) got topless in last week's episode, but her long hair was draped in such a manner that we couldn't see anything. God damn it.

Peter

Dust Bunny Queen said...

even those who have spent their whole lives surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds will never know first-hand what it's like to be a person of color in America.

And .....writers for The Atlantic, will never know first-hand what it is like be a white rural person (aka Hillbilly, Redneck, Bitter Gun Clinger etc etc) in America either. Furthermore, they don't even try.

You don't know us, do don't pretend to and don't judge what you don't know. We don't know you either.

This is just the way of life....get over it.

Crunchy Frog said...

You don't know us, do don't pretend to and don't judge what you don't know. We don't know you either.

And it don't give you any special cred either. That's the argument I always had with Crack.

"I'm a black musician in Utah! There's all these icky Mormon cultists around!" So? They ain't lynched your sorry ass yet, and it don't appear likely to happen any time soon, so STFU already.

EDH said...

Actually, it was the character played by the drummer from Bad Company's daughter.

You're right, it was the character with the British accent played by Simon Kirke's daughter.

I'm still very disappointed that Allison Williams (Brian's daughter) got topless in last week's episode, but her long hair was draped in such a manner that we couldn't see anything. God damn it.

Lest you get the wrong impression because it's Peter, it wasn't that hair.

Balfegor said...

When young adults tell you they don't "see" race, they are almost invariably lying. My generation -- the "Millenials" -- is probably more hyper-attuned to fine degrees of racial difference than either Gen-X or the Boomers, because calibrating our perception of race is the most important question in modern etiquette in America today. There are elaborate codes regarding what can be said to whom under what circumstances, and a faux pas can lead to social ostracism. Imagine if you assumed an Indian-American was African-American, or vice-versa? Or accidentally treated a Korean-American as though he were Japanese-American? You need to know the racial and ethnic markers cold to navigate the maze of American ethnic etiquette. At least in places like California.

This is why I so enjoy when people get my racial classification wrong -- it's a kind of social comedy you can only enjoy in the context of a tight knot of absurd and inflexible social expectations and rules of public behaviour.

What they mean, at most, is that they don't particularly care about race. And that's true of the Whites, at least.

Baron Zemo said...

Because you can never have enough kinds of racism.

It's like frozen yogurt.

Jim S. said...

The writers of The Office are masters of hipster racism:

http://youtu.be/FVXGnXgL-dI

Valentine Smith said...

I still can't suspend disbelief enough to think anyone would fuck that girl.

Revenant said...

You need to know the racial and ethnic markers cold to navigate the maze of American ethnic etiquette. At least in places like California.

That hasn't been my experience in California at all. Well, university excepted. :)

The Crack Emcee said...

Crunchy Frog,

That's the argument I always had with Crack.

"I'm a black musician in Utah! There's all these icky Mormon cultists around!" So? They ain't lynched your sorry ass yet, and it don't appear likely to happen any time soon, so STFU already.


You seem to have missed my "I'm a black musician in San Francisco! There's all these icky NewAge cultists around!" period. That came before my political party decided someone in the Mormon cult, who also happens to be an honorary member of the state I moved to, could run the country. Do you begrudge me, also, for my interest in Scientology's current problems - after I grew up in Los Angeles and Hollywood, walking past the Celebrity Center and, now, knowing they run a concentration camp in the desert? There are people in those camps, y'know. Oh, wait - I forgot:

I have to die, or be in immediate danger myself, to speak on these topics. Which means those three people my wife killed aren't worthy of mention either. Hey - the cult problem is solved!

Real genius - and the best explanation, Icepick, for why I choose to no longer participate. Underneath all the "So?" rhetoric of the Crunchy Frog's on this blog is a reality, and whether I'm looking at Mitt and The Mo's setting up camp in the White House, bad Republicans, Scientology, cultism itself, or a whole host of other issues, my point of view is on one hell of a roll while those who opposed my reading of the landscape are demoralized and confused as to which way to go. (No one, here, can say I didn't try.) That, to me, is evidence that - as the current economics squeeze out the silly options - mine will be some of the few left standing. You guys know what they are now - didn't you hear?

Last year the NewAgers read the Mayan calendar and predicted The End Of The World.

They never said whose,...




tim maguire said...

I've never heard a hipster use ironic racism. Not saying it doesn't happen, but there are a fair number of hipsters in my environment and I've never heard it.

William said...

Actually Mormons are not a cult. They're post ironic hipsters who are making subtle fun of white people. Exaggerating for effect and adopting retro styles. Not everyone is hip enough to get the joke. It's very subtle like the Girls series.

Anglelyne said...

...but the notion that it's been some sort of style trend for more than half a decade just seems so sad. We need better trends these day.

You know what's really sad? Allegedly educated adults (see, linked article and comments) who've been using idiotic phrases like "people of color" for more than half a decade now, with perfectly straight faces.

Sam L. said...

So....it's racism all teh way down, by women. Bad girl!(s)

Balfegor said...

Re: Revenant:

That hasn't been my experience in California at all. Well, university excepted. :)

Fair enough. I left California after university, and have no intention of ever living there again.

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Richard Dolan said...

Like hipster racism, deconstruction was old before its time and has long since outlived its original usefulness. But it still has its uses. This is one of them.

Mick Havoc said...

Very silly people who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if there were instructions on the sole.

God, what an unserious country. We deserve everything we will get.

Lena Dunham is extremly lucky. In an earlier era with her skills she would have been serving Genghis in any way he wished.