Yours, Daniel
Humor, Supremacy & the Uses of Bitchiness

On we discussed the website <>. C- said, "I haven't got past the front page yet the whole site gives me the creeps. Its like that one female impersonator that did the mammy bit very disturbing!" I replied:

It is kind of creepy, in the way that looking at white supremacy is always creepy, but I think that there is a difference between this website and the female impersonating mammy bit that appeared in NYC a while ago. I didn't see that show and so I may not know the details of the performance; I can imagine that such a thing could very carefully avoid being white supremacist and succeed at being anti-white-supremacist, as I believe this website does. But from what I read in interviews of the performance, the performer did not seem to have a grasp of the issues he was touching upon. Consequently, I think it was too easy for that performance to simply support and further white supremacist stereotypes of Black folks. I think the folks who created the website have a very sophisticated, aware and indeed compassionate understanding of how white supremacy hurts the lives of both white and black folks, though I must say that given some of the responses they've received (put on the letters page) enough people don't get it that the white supremacy of their audience might make their work on the website support white supremacy rather than blowing it up far enough to blow apart.

I do treasure humor such as that used on this website. I choose my words here specifically -- "used on this website" -- for I think the website intends and does anti-white-supremacy very seriously but is using humor to do it. I treasure it, though, not only for its ability to make points poignantly and even subtly, not only to make kind of mainstream liberal white supremacy *un*-hip, but most of all for its therapeutic effect for those of us who feel the affects of white supremacy in our lives every day. The "testimonials" page showed me that many Black folks seem to have created "stories" to unload some hurt they had just received, or had received way too many times. Reading them, and laughing so hard at them, released in me the grief and rage that builds up in my own life, and this in turn makes me feel far less isolated. This is a website that in a brave, sophisticated, even compassionate way, reminds us that we are surrounded by stupidity and heartlessness and yet that we are not alone in our despair, something that more straightforward depictions of stereotype, such as the female impersonator referenced above, does not.

Just this morning I was pondering the difference between the bitchiness of Queer As Folk and that of Will & Grace. I am one who loves Queer as Folk and can't stand Will & Grace. Doesn't it seem like folks fall in one camp or the other on this one? I realized that for me the bitchiness of Queer as Folk is the bitchiness of people who are taking action in their lives, in a brutal world, and getting shit back in their faces (or baseball bats to their heads) and bitching to release the grief, rage, despair or confusion, and as a way of bonding like soldiers in wartime. Whereas the bitchiness on Will & Grace is stereotypical fag bitchiness of people who are not acting, feel the lack of action and the lack of any result, such as real love, in their lives, and bitch to release the tension of those dreams they keep bottled up inside. They bitch not to bond but to make others feel their pain. I much prefer the bitchiness of brave soldiers in a noble cause than the bitchiness of fearful people attacking whom they can: those closest to them or those traditionally oppressed. So I love the website, because it makes fun to release the pain and grief of doing good work in a painful world and I dislike it when a white person uses Black stereotypes unthinkingly to make themselves feel better. Oftentimes it's a difficult call to make, but I guess I will look in the future for whether a joke makes folks bond across race, rather than divides, and whether the jokester and the audience who bond are actors in the world rather than those who sit aside from the work of justice or community making, only bitching about the world.