Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear TAN: Is Perez Hilton Always This Racist?

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!

Dear TAN,

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.




  1. There's zero reason to think it's that man's skin color that is behind the baby's freakout. Maybe the guy once scared him in a game of peekaboo. Maybe it's the size of the man's forehead.

    Personally, I'm frightened of the dad's 'stache.

  2. Well, there may be other reasons the baby started crying. But it's definitely not a Zero Possibility the reason is racism.

    Plus there's a purity to the reactions/response of children that is so telling. Like when they point out a pimple, or how much fatter you've gotten since last they saw you. it's just Pure Unadulterated Truth coming at you. observe and report. Child Journalism is the best journalism.

    so yeah, I don't know if we can fully discern, but I know i've seen a baby cry from just looking at me. and it felt racist. like if i had a pimple and they were pointing at it.

    I also had a friend in college with a racist dog. the dog growled whenever i came around. i think we actually did a color/ethnicity test with the dog, i forget the results.

    in either case, though, i definitely felt Very Black. very judged because of my race. and in both cases it was also, like, nothing i would/could do about it. like the dog or baby don't mean anything. they just cry at the sight of Darkness. its very sad. for everyone.

    i guess my point is, either way, despite the laughing, i bet that black guy in the video needs/needed a hug sometime after.

  3. my sister has the opposite reaction when she sees black men; her eyes begin to sparkle and she wants to fuck them.

    and no, i will not tell you who my sister is. (not because youre black though!)

  4. Anonymous10/02/2009

    No, the baby doesn't know him. Plan and simple!

  5. All babies have "stranger anxiety", so this was probably the first time the kid had met this guy...seems like a poorly designed experiment...he should've repeated the test by having a white stranger come in and see what the kid's reaction was...

  6. mike: ok, but what would you do if the baby is all calm and cordial with the white stranger. WHAT THEN/???? these things happen, life is messy. we need real-world solutions.

  7. Anonymous10/02/2009

    it felt staged to me. the dad was giggling as he opened the door and we didn't see the black man when he came in - what if he was wearing a hockey mask? (really is anything scarier?) and the black man was laughing.
    i am a cute white girl and when babies cry while i'm holding them it breaks my heart. no way dude would be laughing that hard.
    i think racist babies is bunk. And actually the report said very little about the racial attitudes of babies like the child in the video. the article really centered around how parents discussions of race affected their child's racial views and how b.s 'like we're all the same' just confuses children.
    racist dogs though i buy. my sister had a racist dog. it was really embarrassing.

  8. from email, gavin (father in the clip):

    Well, the secret is I think it's Derrick's height and crazy hair that freaks out the baby. Derrick has a white guy wig that looks fucking hilarious so we cold do a series of Derrick trying to white himself up enough to be liked by the racist baby. Kind of a profound metaphor for such a disposable joke (namely, the way all these liberals don't actually like blacks the way they are and would prefer to see them in tweed blazers with leather elbows listening to Jazz).

    crazy hair is a wrinkle. malcolm gladwell is prob scary. also mixed/ambiguously raced.

    come to think of it crazy-haired ambiguously raced/ethnic is typically very attractive/compelling as an adult, but somewhat understandably scary as a child. especially if you were to add, say, bright eyes to the mix.

  9. Anonymous10/02/2009

    is cogito pronounced like mojito?

  10. Why would you assume that Perez Hilton doesn't discriminate against black people? Isn't it common knowledge that he treats black celebrities differently than white ones? Doesn't that count as discrimination?
    And I doubt Michael Richards threatens to brutally murder all of his hecklers. And Lord knows those black people weren't the first ones to heckle him as crappy as he was.

  11. Anonymous10/02/2009

    hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!

  12. Perez isn't a racist, not any more than the many other media entities that service the white American public before any other. What Perez does do is discriminate, based on who he's being paid to promote. It's that simple.

  13. Is the baby racist? Maybe:

    -- Ian aka @StellaKid

  14. dude. I need a hug after that video.

  15. Anonymous10/31/2009

    interestingly, TAN, you're kind of like a child journalist.

    and, i know this thread is dead. but...

    while i know we're all being sensationalist and silly, i do think it's more than a little unfunnily problematic to linguistically make 'racism' synonymous with 'fear of black people (men?).' much more insidious than that, as we all know. politically-sanctioned socio-economically represented blah blah blah. makes the question 'is your baby racist' so silly it's just kind of a waste of joke-time.

    don't babies see black and red before they recognize other color distinctions?

  16. Where did you go?

  17. Anonymous2/08/2010

    i don't think the baby can be a racist at that age. I just think blak dude was ugly and scary looking.


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