My book, Negropedia, Touré's book, Baratunde's book coming soon, all seem to pose the question of: what does racism look like today? And, is it to be taken seriously, or with a sense of humor. And I guess the answer is: Perez Hilton is still a racist!
Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.
In this edition: The metaphysics of Perez Hilton's racism!
For whatever reason, I've found myself skimming his site for the past week or so.
Check this out: "She joined by some dude name Zalon. In this alternative universe, the white bitch is rapping, while the black guy is singing the sweet melodies. Go figure!"
Or this one: "Also, Whoopi Goldberg eats fried chicken - and we love her for it!"
???? I like to err on the side of not accusing people of being bigots, but I don't even know how else to interpret these. Do you follow the site regularly? Are these just aberrations, or part of a trend?
- Not Terribly PC
Dear Not Terribly PC,
Well, on the surface your question is an easy one: Yes, he is racist. Besides your links above, you won't be at a loss to find plenty of examples of Perez Hilton(TM) being full of dubious isms and phobias.
But it brings to mind a phrase both Perez and myself would be certain to mispronounce as silly americanz, the ol': "cogito, ergo sum", aka: "I think, therefore i am"; aka: if Descartes didn't say this at a time when 90% of the world was racist/less worldly, it might have been phrased as "I think, therefore I am ....Racist?."
Which is to suggest that beneath the surface question lies deeper, more difficult questions: Like, is Perez Hilton a racist of his own free will? Does Perez Hilton have malicious intent? Is Perez Hilton a bad person?
The answer to the last one is also obvious: Yes. PH is a bad person. But we do need bad people. As outlets and objects for our own animosity, angst, assholishness. So, yay him. Good job!
The other two though... I don't know. Michael Richards revealed he was a racist. Then went on his "But I'm Not A Bad Person" tour, featuring Jerry Seinfeld as lead moral representative. I don't think Michael Richards or Perez want to discriminate against black people. Or deny them some sort of equal opportunity. They just want to make a little dough off the n-word, like a lot of other n-words are doing. Does that make them bad people? Like Perez Hilton, entertainment-meets-capitalism America is full of dubious isms and phobias. R-list celebrities. Chappelle went crazy off this.
So this is classic Post-Racial 101 stuff. People -- especially, "the kidz theez dayz" -- own the stereotypes and wield them for their own purposes. Most likely somehow someway trying to turn it into fortune, maybe fame. 30 Rock, Curb, The Office all use racism to great comedic effect. It's a universally resonant human condition; by virtue of our timing and circumstance most of us have some socialized racism in us. Sexism as well. Also the odd attraction to musky foot funk (just me?). And we deal with those the same way we deal with the rest of our flaws and foibles.
Even better: this deconstructing can be summed up in this clip of an ethnically-discriminating child, and asking the same question: is this baby racist?
well, is he? Please let me know.