yellowface

Power Word: Blackface

Movement conservatives have this thing that they do whenever someone is questioning the latest steps toward military aggression. They compare it to appeasing Hitler, because Hitler was appeased and Hitler was bad. So like a lawyer making his closing arguments to a jury, they say, “But what about… WORLD WAR TWO!?”

I call this Power Word: World War 2, like those spells from Dungeons and Dragons that were power words that could not be resisted by their target. Similarly, Power Word: World War 2 ends the discussion, because non-interventionism is obviously wrong, since it’s a proof by contradiction. Everyone has to believe in World War 2 as the good intervention (duh!).

But all the beautiful people know that neoconservatives are stupid, so I will focus on a power word that the beautiful themselves love to use. And that is Power Word: Blackface.

A week or two there was a story about a white man named Michael Derrick Hudson who got a poem published in one of the most prestigious journals of poetry in the country. Hudson had previously had the poem rejected from lesser journals about 40 times. So he used the name Yi-Fen Chou because he thought that appearing to be something other than a white male would get his poem published.

He was right.

“Bluntly stated, I was more amenable to the poem because I thought the author was Chinese American,” the (non-white) editor of the journal, Sherman Alexie, explicitly stated.

Despite the overt favoritism toward poets because of their non-maleness and non-whiteness, in bizarro Twitter world, people took this fiasco as proof that Hudson actually had some sort of unfair advantage.

The contradictions between the narrative and the reality are obvious. But the issue for the commentariat is that this ordeal had:

  1. A white man coming out on top
  2. A white man doing it by seemingly outsmarting people of color, and most, importantly
  3. A white man turning a left-wing narrative on its head.

They couldn’t turn to him getting something because of his privilege, since the exact opposite happened 40 times. So where could the thinkpiece industry find its outrage release valve? Power Word: Blackface.

Blackface was a bad thing. It degraded black people by portraying them as buffoonish and contemptuous. It’s obvious that blackface not being socially acceptable is a good development. Yellowface was a bad thing as well, and Hollywood had quite a few examples of dressing up white people to make them walking stereotypes of Asians, like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the header pic). People who write by-the-numbers outrage thinkpieces aren’t very smart, and so they lazily painted Hudson with this brush.

The poet-troll didn’t wear yellowface though, despite the shrieks of the folks at Salon and the Guardian. No stereotypes or degradation happen. In fact, even the editor of the journal that there was nothing “Asian-seeming” about the poem he accepted. Hudson just beat a”no white males allowed” filter that apparently exists at a lot of places, and this made those who want to see those gates do their job very angry.

The absurdity of this becomes evident when considering that 19th-century female authors adopted male pen names to get published and read. It’s not a secret that George Eliot was actually a womann named Mary Ann Evans. Even J.K. Rowling supposedly adopted a gender-indeterminate name to appeal to broaden her appeal. Were these women degrading men and wearing “manface”? No, that’s obviously ridiculous. It’s equally ridiculous to say that Hudson was being a racist and wearing yellowface.

The blackface smear happens lot, and it happens when the contradictions in cultural Marxism are laid bare. People couldn’t quite articulate why Rachel Dolezal is evil and Caitlyn Jenner is brave, so they said “remember that blackface thing? That was bad! And this looks similar!”

Pointing out superficial similarities in things is something that every first grader has mastered. So why are adults paid 100 dollars per article to do it and why do we all pretend that it’s thought-provoking?

Advertisements