Unpopular Opinion: Talking About Others

There are many aspects of this that I could write about, the liberal hegemony, the hypocrisy of wealthy kids preaching against privilege, the attitude that anybody who enjoys history is a rightist, and the tendency for people to prefer phrases for their emotional value rather than the actual definition (violence, safe, racism, anything involving the term culture or privilege, hate crimes, and the term race).

I could do that (oh look at that I totally just did there didn’t I), I am going to focus upon the attitude that only people who are allowed to talk about a group people are those in said group. There are several problems with this, firstly it seems extremely hypocritical for people who are always talking about individual identity will focus so much upon the idea of group mentality.

Second, who is and is not a member of a group is very complicated, I am white but I am not of Irish or French heritage, so I can’t write a short story from the perspective of a Mexican labor worker but can I write from the perspective Bill O’Rielly? Even if I can only write from the perspective of white, straight, Anglo-Saxon, American, male, can I not write about the perspective of somebody who has lived in St. Lewis, as I have never lived there. Can I never write from the perspective of somebody who is born more or less money as my family makes less than 100,000k a year? So the only work I can write is that from my own personal perspective, so the literary tradition is one of personal narcissism? So certain people can speak for their entire race/culture/nation/class/gender/orientation? I think that 300 is an extremely racist film, if an Iranian person disagrees with me does that make me wrong and her right simply because she is Persian? Is the discussion of the racism in Birth of a Nation reserved only for African Americans? Is the fact that I am southern mean that I am the only person allowed to talk about portrayals of “the southern hick?” Sasha Cohen is Jewish, does that mean that Borat is automatically not anti-Sematic? This is a perfect way to engender and divide people, because anybody who might be unintentionally offensive are marginalized and driven away by such hostile rhetoric.

This eloquently allows me to move my final point, that it devalues one of the most powerful purposes of art, the ability to relate to each other. Yes when wealthy white men create racially uncomfortable portrayals of African-Americans that perpetuation stereotypes, then its badly written and racist, that isn’t the fault of anybody who writes from a different perspective, it is the fault of those who don’t do any research. Yes, when Whitman said that he understood the experience of the black slave and used this as a justification for slavery, it was racist and ignorant. Yes, when Falkner speaks about African-Americans he is relying more upon stereotypes than actual research. However I don’t believe Shakespeare was King of England, fell in love with a 13 year old Italian, or murdered a Scottish king (maybe it was in the 7 lost years). Shocking as it might be to believe, Akira Kurosawa never actually was in a Samurai epic, James Joyce never was an abused Irish Maid servant. Nobody has ever been Elijah Zane, and no matter how hard you try, nobody will ever be able to fully understand the Elijah Zane experience, without astral projection we all have our own experience. Only through imagination and communication can we sympathize each other, so if people want to live in a more progressive world, then we should encourage communication, not demonize it. Unless of course people are more interesting in being drunk on self-righteousness and showing off rather than actually helping others.

The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not reflect the opinion of SLCSpeaks. If you don’t agree with them, consider submitting to the Unpopular Opinion contest, ideas@slcspeaks.com.

Submitted by: Elijah Zane

Be first to comment