Sunday, November 8, 2009
The Politics of Non-White Folks Wanting to Look "White".
It's one of the ironies of globalism that bringing diverse peoples together has led to mono-cultural dominance in certain areas. Take the supremacy of English for instance. Globalism hasn't made more people eager to learn more languages but all people want to learn English, or more specifically American English(Amglish).
And look at the dominance of Hollywood. Though certain segments of the movie-going public welcome new opportunities to see more movies from around the world, the overwhelming trend worldwide has been to see Hollywood movies. Italy and Japan used to have thriving domestic film industries. No longer.
And, then consider pop music. It's like all the kids around the world wanna be black--at least in style, though some kids even frizzle their hair and darken their skin.
And, though many people want to look white-ish, many others want to ACT black or SOUND black. Look at all those whites and non-blacks on American Idol trying to sing black-ish. There used to be a time where white rock and black soul were distinctly different--even if both they'd borrowed from one other--, but lately, it's like just about every white pop singer wants to look, move, groove, and sound black. They don't even try to adapt blackness to white styles or tastes(like Elvis and Rolling Stones did) but merely to ape the black style note for note, beat for beat, funk for funk.
And, look at the eating habits. Though yuppies try more kinds of cuisines in big cities, the world as a whole is eating BIG MAC and drinking Coke. It all reminds me of the Globo Chem skit on Mr. Show or the music video Amerika by Rammstein.
I think it is somewhat misleading to say Asian or black women want to be white. They only want to appropriate certain elements of white-ishness to their own racial features. In a globalized world where cultures, commodities, and ideas can be switched back and forth--Chinese buying buicks, whites dabbling in Tibetan Buddhism, French listening to Afropop, Nigerians watching Hollywood movies, etc--, it's only natural that people want to trade body parts and looksies as well. With biogenetics, the changes may not happen under the knife of a plastic surgeon but at the genetic level. I'll bet some guys are already hatching the plan for the SUPER MAN: Jewish brains, Aryan facial features, black physique, Anglo temperament, Asiatic 'spirituality', etc.
The new ideal isn't so much white but mixed-blood. TV journalism may prefer Asians or blacks who look white, but the corollary is that such people are preferred over pure whites. Obama has a certain whiteishness, and that was appealing to many white people. But, MORE CRUCIAL is the fact that mixed-blood whiteishness is preferred over pure whiteness. Lots of white people prefer Obamaness to Mitt Romneyness; they prefer Will Smithness to Tom Cruiseness. Both Will and Barack have elements of whiteness and blackness, and THAT is what's so appealing. (Even in the dog world, the hottest trend is for custom mixed-breeding, which isn't the same thing as scattershot muttery. After all, most people are not fascinated with Mexican mestizos. They are fascinated with Tiger Woods who seem to have the right mixture of black athleticism and Asian temperament which made him a superduper golfer. One might call it designer interracism as opposed to populist interracism.)
Will Smith is a light-skinned black guy. There is the ideal of mixing the best elements of blackness--charisma, studliness, assertivieness, style, stronger muscles, stronger voice, etc--with best elements of whiteness--pleasant face, cool and calm demeanor, clean cut look, etc. TV journalism may discriminate against non-whiteish blacks and Asians, but it's also increasingly discriminating against pure lily white types. And, because of the Suzie Wong or Mamasan exoticism, Asian women--white-ish or not--are often preferred over white women.
And, ever notice a lot of Jews in TV journalism? Some of these Jews look rather waspish--like Katie Couric--, but many Jewish pundits on TV are not waspish. Why are Jews so prevalent? There is the fact that Jews own the media, but there's another factor: the ideal or appeal of Jewish intelligence and wit. Whether it's a show like Seinfeld or TV news, there's the idea that SMARTS matter and can even be SEXY. So, even though Jewish-looking types don't usually become news anchors, they show up on TV all the time to offer their views. Ted Koppel, it must be admitted, did one helluva job.
I really think Michael Jackson was a special case, and I'm not even sure he was trying to be white. I think he was trying to be Mickey Mouse or some Disney cartoon character. He was trying to be Bambi, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Snow White rolled into one--with a touch of Diana Ross and Liz Taylor. To be sure, most Disney characters were Caucasian types, but at any rate, I think Jackson wanted to be fantasy figure than a real figure. He was like the modern day version of King Ludwig II who was crazy about magic castles and Wagner's Lohengrin.
At any rate, most black men are NOT like Michael Jackson. And, if lighter skinned blacks tend to succeed more, it's not necessarily because white society prefers them over darker blacks. In our PC culture, most companies cannot and would not employ such strategy--"get the light skinned house negro over the black field negro"--as they may have in the past.
No, the reason for greater success of light skinned negroes could be (1) higher intelligence due to having some white genes--like Cornel West or Michael Dyson (2) a more even temperament thanks to having white genes (3) bad relations between 'wanna-bes' and 'jigaboos'--at least according to a Spike Lee movie--that pushes wanna-bes toward white society. Didn't the light-skinned black wife of Senator Cohen once say that she has been bullied by black-skinned kids back in school? Indeed, one often meets light skinned middle class blacks who will privately tell you that they can't stand black people who act crazy and shit. They are into the whole black power fist-shaking and rhetoric and all that, but they don't want to integrate with most black people. Such people tend to be more motivated to study and work hard to get the hell out of black areas and make it in the white world.
To be sure, there are certain professions where the IMAGE is everything, and so certain types are preferred over others on the basis of appearance or presentation. Viewers generally prefer white-ish blacks over blackish blacks or white-ish Asians or yellow-ish Asians or white-ish browns over brownish browns. Indeed, even blacks, Asians, and browns feel this way. If a TV station hired a black guy with fat lips, broad nose, and etc, black viewers might complain that blackness is being caricatured in the old Sambo way. If a TV station hired an Asian guy with slitty eyes and buck tooth, Asians might scream 'stereotype!'. If a TV station hired a Mexican with stubby neck, fat face, and thin mustache, lots of Hispanics would get pissed too. People want to see good-looking version of themselves, and that generally means having some elements of white-ishness.
But, many whites want idealized or exoticized versions of themselves too. Lots of white people hate pale skin. There's nothing uglier or drabbier than Irish skin that burns but doesn't tan. And, whiteishness in and of itself isn't necessarily pretty. Too long a nose can be ugly. Or check out the thin lips of Kenneth Branagh. Ugh! For every Robert Redford, there's a whole bunch of ugly white guys who look more like Beavis and Butthead. Nor are 'white' features necessarily owned by whites only. Lots of people in the Middle East have similar features. (Of course, one could argue Arabs and Persians are also Caucasian in the broad sense). And, many Ethiopians and Somalis have aquiline noses and un-fat lips.
Also, standards have changed over time because the world has discovered that different races excel at different things. Blacks, for instance, are king of the hill in sports. So, the new ideal in athleticism has become black. Many white guys want black-sized penises and black-tones muscles--and thick black voices. I used to work as a clerk at a videostore, and the rising sexual ideal in porn became black male and white female. What amazed me was that most people who rented out these tapes were white males(followed by white females)!!! I was tempted to play anthropologist and ask, 'why would nice white boy like you be watching stuff like this?', but it wasn't part of the job description. I think they loved to fantasize being big muscular black guys making a white woman feel pleasure she'd never gotten before from a dweeby flabby white guy--or maybe the feminized or liberal-metrosexuailzed white male viewer identified with the white porn actress and excited to be dominated by a Big black guy. One look at Ken Burns, and you know what I mean. What a dweeb.
Look at Sports Illustrated or College sports. The hot models or cheerleaders are mostly white but the top athletes are mostly black. So, when we see the rise of the whiteish ideal among blacks, we mustn't read it ONLY as dominance of white standards but rising preference for mixed-race standards. Black males prefer white women, but it's equally true that more and more white women prefer black men. Of course, black male/white female unions are limited by the fact that so many black males drop out of society or don't accomplish much. For all I know, it could well be that geeky Asian males have more success with white women than black males do. Asian males, like Jewish males, are more likely to have the dough and good jobs. White women may fantasize about the Negro stud but still want something stable and safe, not wild and crazy--at least not forever.
Anyway, 'interracial' has different connotations depending on the races involved. It generally means black male/white female or white male/Asian female in our society. This may be why there are many white-ish looking black guys--or can they be said to be black-ish looking white guys?--but almost no Asian males in TV journalism. But, there are many white-ish looking Asian women or exotic Asianish Asian women in TV journalism. TV media sells sex as as much--if not more--than news.
I suppose different people like the mixed-race ideal for different reasons. A white liberal takes pleasure in seeing the POSITIVE result of race-mixing--a person who looks better than pure blacks or pure whites. A white conservative may feel less threatened by a white-ish looking non-white than a non-white-looking non-white. Even in pop music, guys like Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis crossed the color barrier before more nakedly black guys did. Sure, there was Louis Armstrong, but his act wasn't threatening because of the cartoonish coon aspect. Blacks may like to see good-looking black folks who have both black charisma/magnetism--lacking in white bread folks--and some of the appealing facial aspects of whiteness. So, the ideal is becoming increasingly Eurasian or Africasian than pure white.
Many non-whites may indeed want to lose some of the 'unpleasant' aspects of their non-white-ishness, but there are also plenty of whites who wanna take on certain aspects or attributes of non-whiteness.
The reason why we hear more complaints about non-whites wanting to "look white" is because it fits into the liberal narrative on 'white racism and imperialism(cultural and historical)'. The idea is that Evil Whites, through their control of global media, have made non-whites lose self-esteem and wanna be white-ish. The idea is that 'racism' has now become internalized within the hearts of non-whites. White don't need to politically oppress non-whites anymore since non-whites have come to loathe themselves and worship whiteness. Since whiteness is still identified with evil and imperialism, it is deemed wrong for non-whites to wanna be white.
But, the liberal narrative has a different take on whites who go out of their way to be non-white or non-white-ish. Barack Obama's mother rejected white men and sought only non-white mates to have mixed-race kids, but this self-loathing woman is lionized by the liberal media. White kids who imitate black style and attitude are not said to be self-loathing whites fallen under black cultural imperialism but praised for trying to be 'cool and progressive'. Indeed, a black guy who only listens to black music is considered to be open-minded, but a white guy who only listens to white music is said to be 'racist'. If you say, 'I hate classical music but love reggae', you're a progressive who embraces diversity, but if you say, 'I hate reggae and rap but love classical music', you're an evil bigot. It's amusing that 'progressive' magazines like Rolling Stone actually promotes a kind of mono-culture--English language Rock and black music(Afro-pop, rap, and soul)--but considers itself very open-minded. Cinephiles are curious about and open to movies from all over the world, but 'progressive' in pop music culture don't really give a damn about anything other than largely black musical culture(run by liberal Jews)in the English speaking world. (I suspect Bono cares more about saving African kids than non-African kids because he's into black music culture... which goes to show that liberalism is, if not outright racially bigoted, racial-favoritist.) As far as white liberals are concerned black = diversity. It never occurs to them that the spread of Jazz and Rap--especially since backed by Western musical industrial power--might constitute a kind of cultural imperialism(or dominance of Hollywood constitutes a kind of Jewish cultural imperialism--even within America itself). And, this gets even funnier when French immigrant youths use rap music to dis and piss on American imperialism. Rap and rock, spread around the world by (Jewish)American 'cultural imperialism' are the weapon against American hegemony. After long rap sessions putting down the US, I'll bet they go for Big Mac, Fries, and Coke. Anyway, English people who reject fish n chips or corned beef for spicier non-western cuisine are not ridiculed or mocked for their culinary self-loathing. White people who prefer African or black music over classical music or European folk music are not attacked for having fallen prey to non-white cultural imperialism.
Also, the world today isn't what it was 50 or even 30 yrs ago. There was indeed a time when Hollywood and European metropoles dominated the global entertainment and industry, and the great movie, music, and sports stars were white. But, much has changed since then, and non-white worlds have their own media conglomerates promoting their own stuff. Most Japanese pop is filled with Japanese stars.
And, even in old white dominated Hollywood, not all white people in movies were good looking. Indeed, for every glamorous white guy on screen, there were many more ugly white guys. For every Cary Grant, there was Red Buttons. Also, some of the biggest stars weren't really good looking but appealing for their style or personality--John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart. (And in much of the late 60s, 70s, and 80s, non-glamorous people were cast in popular shows like Kojack, Columbo, Barreta, etc. If beauty is a matter of who gets positive exposure, we'd all think Roseanne Barr, Barbara Streisand, or Jimmy Walker are beautiful people since they were all over TV. And, we'd think Oprah is the most beautiful woman in the world because she's been on more magazine covers than anyone else. By the same logic, we'd all think William Hung is the greatest singer in the world if SONY spent 100 million promoting him and put his music on MTV everyday for a full year. Dream on.)
Men have been liked for their manliness and not necessarily for their good looks--consider Ben Johnson or Charles Bronson. And, many women were admired for their unique style than beauty. There were countless Hollywood starlets more beautiful(in a conventional sense) than Lauren Bacall or Marlene Dietrich, but they lacked the X-factor allure of Lauren and Marlene. And, the success of people like Naomi Campbell proves that one doesn't have to have classic white features to be admired, approved, and adulated.
There are probably certain aspects of whiteness that are appealing for biological than cultural reasons. Same could be true of certain black traits. Regardless of culture or politics, people have admired strength and magnetism in men. In this area, blacks have natural advantage. In the area of looks, people like a well-structured face, and white angularity has more of this than black 'brutishness' or Asian roundness.
Indeed, the notion that white looks are preferred ONLY or PRIMARILY because of Western domination in the past few centuries can be disproven by studying history. Ibn Fadlan, a well-educated Arab, came upon the Germanic Rus peoples during the Middle Ages. He was of a great civilization whereas the Rus people were barbaric--they washed their faces in the same water basin and didn't wipe their butts. Even so, Fadlan described the Rus as the most beautiful people he'd seen; he never saw Hollywood movies. Romans looked down on Germanic peoples culturally but admired their strength and beauty. Romans also admired black muscularity and strength--and often pitted the black African against the Germanic beast in the gladiatorial ring. Most Asian movies have Asian people, Asian News are all Asian(or I would assume that's the case), and etc, but even so, Asians prefer the 'white' look. During the Mao yrs, China was shut off from the entire world, but if you look at most communist posters from that era, the heroic figures tend to be somewhat white-ish.
Perhaps, non-whites don't see their preferences as necessarily white since 'caucasian' looks exist in all races. It may be more generally present among European whites, but it's not exclusive to whites. Similarly, all nations have gold but some have more of it than others. Just because South African has more gold than other nations doesn't mean Gold is necessarily or primarily an African thing. China has relatively little gold, but I've heard no people on Earth love gold more than Chinese do. So, when an Asian person has surgery to look more 'white', he or she may see it as trying to look more pretty. Even if this form of prettiness is more prevalent among whites, such looks may indeed exist among some Asians as well. Or, when a black person wants to have an aquiline nose, he may want it to look 'better', not necessarily because he wants to look white. After all, there are plenty of Somalis and Ethiopians with aquiline noses. And, when a white guys wants to run real fast or jump real high, he may not necessarily want to be black or just be a great athlete.
To be sure, a lot of whites undergo plastic surgery too and not only to fight aging. We tend to notice less of this because we miss the 'racial' element. Even so, anyone who undergoes plastic surgery is trying to circumvent biology or genetics in order to conform to or attain the attributes of another set of genes. Plenty of whites have short legs, fat noses, stubby necks, fat asses, pig noses, buck teeth, etc. When they have plastic surgery to look pretty, we don't say, 'they are trying to look white' but only say 'they are trying to look pretty'.
So, there is a problem when we say Blacks or Asians are necessarily trying to look white. They may only be trying to attain a certain narrow kind of look that happens to be more prevalent among whites. Even so, many white people may not have these qualities either. After all, non-whites are not going under the knife to look like Rosie O'Donnell, James Carville, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Tim Robbins, Will Smith, or other funnyass looking whites. In fact, your average white guy looks more like Bob Costanza than James Bond. Most TV shows about EXTREME MAKE-OVERs are about white women trying to look pretty. If whiteness = prettiness, why bother? The truth is most white people don't look like 'white people'--of the Aryan Ideal. Just look at the Nazi leadership, and it's not hard to realize that the idealized white beauty too is a myth--if we are to believe it's shared by most white people. Most white people look uglyass. Just look Rudy Giuliani's fathead and thin lips. Just look at John McCain's squat body. Generally speaking, 'pretty features' may be more prevalent among whites, but it's still not shared by most whites.
Also, there has never been a single ideal of whiteness. Whites at the European periphery have admired 'pure' whiteness of the Northern Europeans, but Northern Europeans have admired exotic whiteness of outlying areas. In the movie BREAD AND CHOCOLATE, Italians look up and try to pass for blonde Germanic types. But, Northern Europeans have also been fascinated by dark latin or Greek beauty mixed with non-European blood. Just look at Sophia Loren's 'Negro' lips. But, she's beautiful! Or, look at some Slavic and Hungarian women with a tinge of Asiatic features. They can be very exotically beautiful--with both good white looks and mysterious non-white looks.
I'm always amused when some pale skinned potatohead Irishman acts like he's something special because his blood is 'purer' than that of a Greek, Italian, Spanish, or Russian. Pure potatohead is what it is.
Labels: caucasian black asian cultural imperialism hollywood rolling stone magazine pop culture racism