While I've been on my five week work trip abroad, the HBO series "Girls" has debuted and apparently caused reactionary waves involving it's perpetuation of the "No minorities exist in New York City" TV reality ( except to panhandle and fulfill stereotypes).
Typically, minorities are casted to fill in roles like gay Puerto Rican, Chinese delivery guy, or a homeless black guy to name a few. Basically Hollywood castings for non white people sound like a racist, seedy version of It's A Small World. The supposed "whitewashing" of the media is not new so I'm not sure why it matters with "Girls" more than it does with anything else that the media chooses to air. I'll have to find out when I am able to sit down and watch a full episode at least. Produced by Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner, and written by Leslie Arfin, it sounds like the audience had more hope for a show's authenticity and perspective that centers itself around a "Greenpoint hipster". Sure, I am a fan of Judd Apatow and maybe the fact a writer from "Vice" ( Leslie Arfin ) might suggest that this more unique collaboration of humor, wit, and experience would yield a refreshing look at life in the Big Apple.
While different articles readily compare this show to Seinfeld, Sex and the City, and Friends to name the most obvious ones, I'm not going to compare it to anything because I've never actually watched it yet. I'm going to try to dabble in this idea of "Hipster Racism" and it how it might affect a show that people are trying to shape as a failing beacon of political correctness.
First of all- what the hell is hipster racism? Ok I googled it and I found " bigotry as an edgy joke for white people (and other people)." Anything I've read about the show is a second hand opinion although I have to say I have read a few comments from Leslie Arfin's twitter and it doesn't really surprise me that her sense of humor would suggest the quintessential "hipster racist". On twitter, she's used taking Obama to the White House as code for taking a shit. I really don't think she is particularly sensitive about race. I guess she's Jewish so it's okay? Not. Needless to say, I usually find that the people who are most comfortable with making racist jokes are often the ones who are the least affected by racism. Based on the below tweet a few paragraphs down ( which has since been deleted ), the premise of the show, and articles she's written like The Vice Guide to Girls , she sounds more sensitive about gender roles and women's bodies than about race or political correctness. Afterall, based on The Vice Guide to Girls, feminism is described as the following:
Feminism: We get so mad when some nitwit says she’s not a feminist. I guess if you’re cool with being raped all the time and having no options in life other than being a baby machine or a prostitute, then yeah, you’re probably not a feminist. But if you enjoy birth-control pills and not being beaten up by your owner—I mean, husband—then you pretty much are one so you may as well stop shaving your legs right now. Just kidding. Somewhere along the way feminism got a bad rep, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a sourpuss or that you can’t write tongue-in-cheek articles riddled with silly gender stereotypes. All it means is that you don’t hate yourself.
First of all- was this a joke? Quite possibly. If feminism can be reduced to either being a prostitute or a cactus legged sourpuss, I'd rather be dead than have to read that shithole of an explanation again. Her popularity within her niche of like minded people who appreciate her sense of humor and perspective, is probably why she worked for Vice and was involved with editing the now defunct Missbehave magazine. In my opinion, a magazine that sucked because of their shitty "Skater Dater" article which I wrote a fuming opinion about in 2009. SKATERDATERlink. Anyways, here is a popularized retweet of the Girls writer:
Anybody who's ever picked up an issue of Vice would know that between it's pages, exist the bible of iconic hipster racism; peppered in with the images of gender transcendent floaters and indescribable weirdos. It is not a print source you take instruction from on proper human etiquette, taste, and refined opinion. I am pretty positive it wasn't meant to be treated that way either. If the show "Girls" is merely a loose extension of The Vice Guide to Girls, I have to say I do not find relating to post Liberal Arts college experiences in big cities particularly groundbreaking.
We have been familiarized with two kinds of the Big Apple through the media and culture. There is one idea of the gritty, dangerous, once bankrupt New York City and it's tough, no nonsense immigrant rich history. There is also the other more all encompassing concept of New York City that allow for shows like Sex and the City, "white people problems", "neurotic Jewish people problems", " Different Strokes" and everything in between. The one theme, or principle idea that weaves all of these lifestyles together is the idea that New York City is the ultimate representation of where anything can happen; no matter your race, background, or sexual orientation.
Where our collective aspirations for a better represented New York City and the staged tribulations of a free market capitalist fantasy fails us, is the reality that most of these "successful" New York City based shows force us to explore the same city streets, the same beaten path, the same familiar people with their same familiar problems. How is it a not natural response to feel cheated out of New York City's vibrant reality riddled with it's race and culture studded complexities? You would think New York was a treasure trove of TV fodder. Here is an opportunity to open the dialogue of race and culture, to address it after countless TV shows that failed to represent the inexplainable other half of New York. Admist the awkward gender roles, embarrassing dating revelations, and distorted self imagery women may experience in young adulthood, aren't these other discussions just as important? TV afterall is merely supposed to imitate life and it's "problems" in a palatable way for it's viewers. I'm trying to think of other explanations but the only one I can think of is that generally speaking, race is still taboo. Race and complex discussion about society is unachievable through oversimplified scripts, yet it is easier to force people into boxes that perpetuate stereotypes.
New York City is a place where anything can happen, where the unexpected authenticity of people not like yourself can surprise you for better or for worse. What makes it so beautiful, interesting, and compelling are the people that live in it who reflect an unscripted, living story of the city. And anybody who's ever been to New York knows that there are millions of untold stories. In our culture which is normalized by zero attention spans, shocking jokes which inevitably combat looming taboo have replaced the longevity and perspective of worthwhile discussion and collective evaluation. The exceptionality we are told to be and strive for, is replaced by medicority and unchallenged, almost unmovable social cues and expectations of gender, race, class, etc. that are reinforced through advertising, media, and television. People want innovation and broken down walls but are we even ready for it?
Maybe the fact is most Americans don't want to talk about race. They don't want to talk about culture. Because talking about your race and culture is the equivalent of bringing your mom's Korean kimchee to school and your classmates telling you your food smells? Or being black and always having strangers touch your hair? Why is it that race is usually only talked about when someone feels threatened? Or when someone feels they might have to defend themselves. Or when somebody makes a racist comment without realizing you are the subject of it's racism. Other than that, perhaps Americans overall would rather live in a scripted environment where the biggest problem include awkward encounters with a crush at a gym or being 13 pounds overweight. But who knows? There's room for everything in this universe and nothing is impossible.
Maybe the future and the current inhabiters of the internet are also telling us that somebody needs to write a show that forces us to really take a long hard look at ourselves. And New York City is the most logical setting to do that- so why squander the opportunity repeatedly? Also, maybe this time without the vampires and werewolves. Because it's 2012, I'm 27, and I'm ready to grow up.
Forgot my camera at the hotel room. Ended up borrowing a cybershot. Pictures didn't turn out so bad.. But shooting only digital makes me motivated to scrounge up a 35mm camera for future trips.
On the way to Tai Po. A fishing village located about a 40 minute ferry ride from the city as well as a 40 minute puke-alicious bus ride to the other side of an island.
Dried fish town.
Chris Angel strawberries.
Randomly shot this photo without looking. Wanted to sneak a photo of the guy in the corner. Iphone plug.
Growing up, I got dragged along to Mah Jong games and was forced to fall asleep to the racket of pounding tiles being thrashed around a table of players high on green tea from 7pm-3am. So cool to not be a single digit age anymore.
Castles on stilts
Vitasoy boats. Big fan of the vitasoy. Asian monopoly of sugary drinks.
Salted egg yolks.
Lots of them
Getting pulled around is pretty cool
Was pretty stoked on this photo. If I had a film camera would have been pretty stoked on this too
Abandoned dragon dancing club?
Saw this in a store. Uh. Insane? So beyond! Racism against non-pink nipples. Better to just paint them pink instead of rubbing hair gel on them.