2011-05-06 06:04 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure which is more uncomfortable, stumbling onto unenlightened stereotypes or stumbling onto things where they are clearly trying so very hard to be enlightened and failing miserably. I am reminded of an episode of Bewitched, in particular: I don't remember the plot details, but it somehow involved the main characters "discovering" a young black girl who was a violin prodigy or some such. All I could see was the fact that none of the other characters would cross that invisible line between them and where the Black Actress was standing, as though they were in split screen or something.
What bothers me about it, more than anything else, is that it's nearly impossible that I do not have a blind spot to some equally offensive ideas that I take so for granted that I don't even know I think them.
I don't remember that one, but I wouldn't be surprised. Those early years of attempting integration were very painful.
And I know that I have blind spots. Every once in a while one is pointed out to me, and I admit that my first reaction is not always generous. It's hard being ooched out of our comfort!
(a) As amazing as it might seem, I have to remember that some of those attitudes are still well and alive today. (remember the "black jellybeans at the bottom of the bag" comments several years ago). I
(b)I ran into the same problem with Birth of a Nation; On one hand it's perhaps one of the three greatest movies ever made because it propelled film from filmed stage plays into thm medium we know today. Close up, flashbacks, fade casts between scenes, BoaN wasn't the first to do some of these but it was the first to pull this all together and is pretty much the first movie we would recognize as such. One small problem...
The KKK are the heroes of the film. What is a film fanatic to do?
Celebrate the art and use the message as a cautionary tale to people about how film (and any art for that matter) can be a freeing experience for the human hearty but it can also reify ideas that are corrosive and immoral.
Reading about some of the stuff that's going on in the south, I'm painfully aware that those attitudes are still with us in some quarters.
And yeah, film is often the source of discomfort because it's right there in your face.
It seems like everyone I know is reading this book and taking about this chapter right now.
How funny! It's just one of those weird coincidences like when several comic strips independently have the same theme on one day.
I haven't seen any of the other discussions. Any good links?
My partner is Jewish, and even though half my friends were Jewish growing up, (in Palo Alto next door to Stanford University,) I had never heard such open anti-Semitism (and racism) since Obama was elected.
But I don't take umbrage with books written during a given time period. It's important to understand people's prejudices as well as their potential virtues to paint as accurate a picture as possible. (I'm also against the re-writing of classics such as Huckleberry Finn, just because it contains the "N-word.")
It may be uncomfortable reading something like that today, but that's good. It should make us uncomfortable to acknowledge the bigotry of our ancestors, (and, sadly, some of our contemporaries.) These are reminders of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.
That's how I look at it, though I know some people who have serious problems with our own cultural history.
What would make me pretty uncomfortable was that was 5 years after the Holocaust. I can't imagine how anyone (that I'd ever want to hang out with) could be anti-semitic right then.
Unfortunately people made a large distinction between "shouldn't be killed off" and "liked and accepted" back then.
You'll be interested to learn that Heyer's grandfather, Boris Heyer, was a Russian furrier who immigrated to England at the turn of the last century. The name, and the occupation, certainly lend themselves to the possibility that he was Jewish. So, overcompensation and some amount of self-hatred/self-denial?
That is interesting. I wonder.
Oh, and thank you for introducing me to Heyer!
Ever read H.P. Lovecraft....Super fucking racist. I think its good that people can see this stuff, because otherwise they would brush it under the carpet. So while it leaves a bad taste in my mouth I do think its good for people to see for the reasons that you stated.
BTW I love your new hair. I don't know if you husband passed that along. I commented in his journal a while ago. But I thought I'd pass that along just in case.
Oh, thank you on the hair. He doesn't lie is short so pro about overlooked the compliment.
Haven't read much Lovecraft - find him dull and overwrought. But I think you are right.
I had that same problem when I downloaded from Project Gutenberg the original set of Dr Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting.
I read these books as a kid and as a kid I was obviously unaware of just how racist these books are. Not only towards black people, but Irish and Scottish people to.
Every single stereotype is used in these books, and I had to keep on reminding myself that they were written back in the early 1900's and that's how things were.
I had such fond memories of these books from when I was kid, sadly now those memories are tarnished, because I, as an adult cannot be blind to those views anymore.
Holy cow, that's amazing.
I always enjoyed Marion Chesney as a Regency romance writer. Regency was my favorite, now they are hard to find. Now vampire romance is the popular thing and I just can't get into that.
I haven't read her. If I get through Heyer and find myself jonesing for more, I will look into her. Thanks!
Yeah, I look on it as another history lesson, albeit one the author didn't intend.
Definitely a good outlook.