My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

A Fascinating Perspective; Critical Race Theory in Action at The White Lotus

 

“… Excellent performances (and performers) like Rothwell as Belinda are wasted as the Black and Hawaiian characters — the ones actually best suited to critique their white oppressors through the lenses of race, class and gender — are sidelined to focus on The Real Story: the humanity of rich and powerful white people. In the characters’ fight for power, the rich white people emerge victorious as ever, the exploited white hotel manager winds up dead, and the Black and Hawaiian characters barely even get to play. This is, after all, a six-episode story about white people for white people, created, written and directed by one white man, (pun inherent) Mike White.”

I was going to leave the topic alone, but then I read this fascinating critique by Brooke Obie. As I’m not one to miss the opportunity to upset people on all sides of an issue, here we go again.

I think Obie’s text demonstrates the importance of CRT as a concept. Especially in the sense my personal experience and vision of the world don’t allow me to see it from that angle (not naturally, anyway). Historically we’ve praised the teachers and lecturers and artists who have allowed us to see through their eyes, and this is no different. From where some people stand, this is what they see. This is what there is.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other things there, that there isn’t more, that other forces and struggles aren’t also at play — in fact as I watched I did some introspecting myself after realising I was jumping to Shane’s defence in my mind. He booked the Pineapple Suite, he should get the Pineapple Suite. I could see myself behaving in the same petty, childish way.  I can’t be the only person infuriated because the salad with parmesan shavings came with grated parmesan instead. How dare they! That last thing was me, not Shane, so I suppose Shane and I could be friends.

My other reactions to the show were looking up who made the wallpaper design in the opening credits (Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford of Plains of Yonder), checking if I had light pink chinos, realising I didn’t and then ordering a pair; wondering why no one wore big pony Ralph Lauren polos on the show which means they must be out of style now — and finally reminding myself to buy ingredients for Mai-tais. I love Mai-tais. So Obie’s article makes for uncomfortable reading. My pleasant Sunday evening experience of summer breezes and happy hour is tainted by the reality that it came at a price, much of it paid by other people. Unlike Ms. Obie, I thought the writer of the show was very clever when he said, Obviously imperialism was bad. We shouldn’t kill people, steal their land, and then make them dance <for our entertainment>.  Unhappyhourly as it may be, I can’t help but think this CRT affair is necessary. It may at least begin to change everything for the Millennial and Gen Z generations. I hope.

After everything I’ve read on the issue, limited though it may be, I’ve begun writing about my experience of race. The context of that is what it means to not be black in a majority black part of the world — where at the same time the elite is the racial minority. As a European Male, I feel this will explain race structure and relations better than anyone else, obviously 🙂

 

17 comments on “A Fascinating Perspective; Critical Race Theory in Action at The White Lotus

  1. inspiredbythedivine1
    August 24, 2021

    I watched this show and couldn’t exactly put my finger on why I wasn’t “digging” it. I kinda disliked it, actually. As a PWT, poor white trash, male who grew up without and remain without, anything resembling wealth, I simply could not connect to this show or, really, any of the characters in it. I felt it was a show made for a class/group of people I simply don’t and can’t relate to. Even the supposed “poorer” folks in it were way outta my realm of life experiences. This usually isn’t a bad thing for me. I want to know what other people’s experiences in life are like. For example, I love reading Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V plays though I’ve no connection to, or relationship to, wealthy kings and noblemen. However, Shakespeare makes these characters relatable to me by showing me how very, very human they are with the same range of needs and emotions I have. I care about Prince Hal and his father Henry IV because I feel what they feel and have empathy and compassion for them–though I’m as far from English royalty as a Trump supporter is from common, reasonable sense. The “poorer” characters in these plays, i.e. Falstaff and his pals, are shown to be just as human as Hal and his father. Basic human emotion is the same regardless of wealth or royalty status. It breaks my heart when Henry V rejects Falstaff because it breaks both Henry’s AND Falstaff’s hearts. Henry’s new position as king dictates that he can no longer “hang around with” guys like Falstaff, even though he may very well still want to.
    The White Lotus keeps its characters at an aloof distance from me–even the working class characters were not relatable to me in any way. Everyone seemed above me–better than, or pretending to be better than, me. I related to no one in the show and didn’t truly give a shit what happened to them or what their issues were. Not every writer can be Shakespeare, but the writer/director of this show, IMO, failed to make me care about his characters. Rather, all I got from them was a sense they live in a universe so different than mine that they might as well have been aliens from another planet speaking a language and living a life that is, for me, not even remotely “human”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 24, 2021

      That’s a brilliant analysis; but have you considered that maybe that was his aim? As I watched I had the impression life is less dream and more farce. Although we don’t always realise it, we’re playing these carefully choreographed roles that are so often dictated by accident of birth and geography. I think I spent much of my life announcing I wasn’t one of those people and then at the point when I started realising I was, I had to just go. To leave, to do things my own way in isolation.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. inspiredbythedivine1
    August 24, 2021

    Yeah, I’m sure that probably was his intention. I think I’ve seen an interview with the writer/director, I forget his name, where he states something like this. It just didn’t work for me. I felt the whole show was kinda holding its nose up to me saying, “You kinda stink pal! We really don’t like your type here!” I’ve gotta connect on some basic, human level with at least a few of the characters and with this show, I just couldn’t. At the same time, I didn’t hate the show or hate watching it. Perhaps I’ll revisit it in the future and see if I feel differently about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 24, 2021

      I completely understand, sometimes the gulf is just too wide. In my efforts to expand my worldview we started watching David Makes Man, and although I can see there are good points, it doesn’t really take me in. I suppose universal appeal is very hard to achieve. I started re-watching Soap this week, and it’s even funnier in todays context. They found a way to appeal to everyone, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymole
    August 25, 2021

    I’d comment but having not watched what can I say but, the Absurd Universe doesn’t care if you steal everything from someone or somerace. Take what want and leave a trail of tears. The Universe won’t care. In a million years, all of this will be as if it never existed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. acflory
    August 26, 2021

    This is a strange topic for me as I was the only vaguely Asian looking kid in a predominantly, belligerently ‘White Australia’. At that time, we even had a ‘White Australia Policy’. Did I enjoy privileged status? lol I was bullied by six year old blond monsters. And yet, in comparison to the Indigenous population, I was one of the elite. I was white. Would I dare tell an aboriginal person’s story…supposedly from their perspective? No way in hell. :/

    Like

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 26, 2021

      That makes perfect sense. Have you ever seen the Mexican Casta paintings?
      At the top of the hierarchy were Spaniards born in Spain, at the bottom were Africans born in Africa, and each level of miscegenation in between was rated according to how close they were to either end of the spectrum.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        August 26, 2021

        -wince- Nastiness formalised. And no, I haven’t seen them but I’m about to look them up.:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 26, 2021

        In more recent history a number of academics have tried to question the concept of castes in the colonies and Spain, mostly by saying it was more fluid than the paintings make out — but I contend that just because people found ways around the system doesn’t mean the system wasn’t there 😉 Spain was and is a monarchy which is the ultimate system of social hierarchy.

        Liked by 2 people

      • acflory
        August 27, 2021

        Hah! Rewriting history, yes. Castes may be a thing of the past [maybe] but class is alive and well wearing a raincoat and dark glasses. Humans never change, except perhaps for the worse. :/

        Like

  5. angryricky
    October 4, 2021

    Recognizing that we live in different economic strata, I will also insist on the Parmesan thing. Pre-grated Parmesan has all sorts of fillers to keep it from clumping and make it taste like sawdust, but shaved Parmesan is an absolute delight.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 24, 2021 by in activism, thinking aloud and tagged , , , , .
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