Thursday, April 3, 2014

Celebration of ignorance

Suey's at it again, bombing another interview.

Whereas the first question of the last interview was apparently "loaded", the first question of this Salon interview is merely "irrelevant".

The interview is conducted by Prachi Gupta. Given that the interviewer and the interviewee are both "women of color" in Suey Park terminology, the interview is hopefully absent of Suey Park accusing the author of being a condescending liberal white man -- but Park is not a predictable person.

Some snippets:

Gupta:Did you watch the Monday night segment on the “Colbert Report”? 
Park: No, and I think that’s an irrelevant question. 
Gupta: Why do you think that’s an irrelevant question?
Park: Because you’re still trying to understand my context, rather than the reaction and the conversation that I was trying to create. 
Gupta: You don’t think understanding your context is just as important? 
Park: I don’t think so.

A few things stand out from this exchange.

Suey Park allegedly:

  1. Ignored an episode of a world famous television show in which she was the subject
  2. Doesn't think context matters a great deal
  3. Had a grand, devious plan for the #CancelColbert hashtag
Each of these items are incredible claims alone, however let's focus on the fact that Suey Park apparently didn't watch the follow-up episode.

Suey Park would then be a person that happens to read Colbert punchlines on Twitter but doesn't actually care to watch the show at all.

If she actually did watch the show in the first place she would not look like such a fool, yet she chooses to continue to refuse to watch content before discussing it.

It's another level of unbelievably when one considers that it's actually a personally and professional risky behavior to be entirely unaware of what the continent may have learned about you in a late night comedy show. 

Continuing on later...

Gupta: In that case, do you think that “The Colbert Report” itself is oppressive or just that specific joke or comment was oppressive? 
Park: Neither.
Gupta: Neither? 
Park: I’m talking about whiteness at large.
Gupta: Do you want to continue your thought? 
Park: Yes, because I think this is important. A lot of white America and so-called liberal people of color, along with conservatives, ask, “Do I understand context?” And that’s part of wanting to completely humanize the oppressor. To see the white man as always reasonable, always pure, always deliberate, always complex and always innocent. And to see the woman of color as literal. Both my intent behind the hashtag and in my [unintelligible] distance, is always about forcing an apology on me for not understanding their context when, in reality, they misunderstood us when they made us a punch line again. So it’s always this logic of how can we understand whiteness better, and that’s never been my politics. I’ve always been about occupying the margins and strengthening the margins and what that means is that, for a long time, whiteness has also occupied the margins. Like, people of color get in circles with no white people in the room and we see that whiteness still operates. So I think it’s kind of a shock for America that whiteness has dominant society already, it also seeps into the margins. What happens the one time when the margins seep into the whiteness and we encroach on their space? It’s like the sky is falling.
Gupta: Do you think race has a place in comedy? Is it OK to joke about race, and if so, under what circumstances?
Park: I mean, I don’t think people realize what I write about. I write a lot of comedy myself, I write scripts, I write jokes about race all the time, but I think they’re supposed to make a social commentary. A cheap joke is hitting a trope of a minority in order to get a point across. I think a better joke is to point to the depths and the roots of white supremacy, not simply joking about the Ku Klux Klan, not simply joking about Dan Snyder. But actually, like, when are we actually going to have these conversations about how white supremacy has caused Orientalism, slavery and genocide? When will we actually touch on those big things? And I don’t think that we’ve seen that yet in comedy, and I do think it’s possible, but no one is ready to flip the switch to make the white person the subject of the archetype.

We learn quite a few things from this exchange.

  • The joke itself was no big deal. The real problem is "whiteness at large"
  • "Whiteness" can be present (even "operate") in a place absent of white people. "Whiteness" is ethereal, like a flatulence that smells of patriarchal cisheteronormative colonialism
  • "White man" is viewed as "always innocent"
  • White supremacy caused Orientalism, slavery and genocide

The last bullet point being the strangest, as at first glance it seems like a legitimate claim. There are numerous examples of "white" colonialism, imperialism, etc being guilty of serious crimes.

However what appears to be key in Suey Park's reasoning is not the fact that military and economic dominance was established, it was that the supremacy also had a "whiteness" factor. 

The Suey Park ideology sets "whiteness" aside as something all its own. Genocide and slavery apparently aren't merely functions of inherently xenophobic tendencies in the human race - they have a special affinity to history's experience with the "white" race exhibiting its "whiteness".

It ties in nicely to how social justice warriors view the troubles of former colonies. These countries had their development stunted by imbibing "whiteness" and modern conflicts within these regions can be viewed as buttressing white supremacy. Colonial powers came in, set up systems more vulnerable than that would have existed otherwise. White people either did this purposefully or did this out complete incapacity to understand.

And in cases where white people are rendered incapable of understanding, Suey Park cannot be bothered to explain.

Once we've arrived here, out of necessity the solution cannot include white people.

Gupta: What is the best way to work with white people, to get them on our side?
Park: I don’t want them on our side.

You're welcome to read the rest of the interview

But you'd be better off watching Colbert.


  1. The larger issue at hand is not about what she is saying (whether it is right or wrong). But Park, as a woman of the minority, with unconventional views with the rest of America, why does she deserve to be backlashed with highly inappropriate rape and death threats? There is no reason why anyone should face this form of discrimination. It's as if she committed a crime by speaking.

    1. "why does she deserve to be backlashed with highly inappropriate rape and death threats?"

      Why is it assumed that I or any other critic believe that she does deserve threats? This is somewhat insulting.

      In any case, I've addressed this topic directly here:

      And also the matter in general here:

      Hopefully this outlines why the backlash is not the "larger issue" here.

    2. "It's as if she committed a crime by speaking. "

      Really? Name one person--literally one--who wants Suey Park to be arrested for what she said.

      People have the right to speak; they don't have the right not to be disagreed with. You seem to think otherwise.

      And don't worry, in America Suey Park is one-third as likely to be murdered than a man.