then again, maybe not
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December 14, 2005

You don't have to be "down"

I've got a cheap Chardonnay hangover, so I'm a little touchy today.

Last night, at the 3rd of 50 or so holiday parties I'm attending in the next week, I got really annoyed. What is it with this town and holiday parties? I don't think this is normal.

Anyway. Towards the end of the evening, after the extremely earnest folk duo (crunchy guy and super crunchy pregnant gal - natch) stopped butchering classic songs, someone plugged in their iPod for the drunk dancing part of the evening. Everyone knows I can't avoid shaking what my momma gave me to silly pop hits of the 80's and 90's.

But somehow, in the middle of this, I get into the "I'm down" conversation with one of the partygoers. I believe the song playing was Jay Z something. I'm pretty sure I heard a "jigga" in the lyrics. This very nice gal leans over to me and says "I love hip-hop. It really speaks to me. So honest and raw." Now, I didn't know her, and I certainly didn't ask how she felt about hip-hop. So I have to imagine that she mentioned this because I was the only black person left in the room.

I had so many things I wanted to ask her. Like, is it liberal guilt that makes you think you need my approval to like hip-hop? Or do you think it's a shorthand for letting me know you like black people?

The fact that people so far removed from the roots of a music enjoy it, and are touched by it are the point of music, right? A song can speak to you in a way that a conversation never can. So why so uptight?

December 12, 2005

I have chosen to stop reading this book?

So uh, this is kind of awkward for me. I don't, um, quite know how to say this.

I've been reading Margaret Cho's new book, I have chosen to stay and fight. And it's causing me pain. Whew, pain. I have seen her a half dozen times and love the hell out of her. But this book? Not loving it at all. Sad. To be fair, I haven't finished it yet, but I'm not sure I'm going to. Like I said, pain. The book alternates between (and I hate to say this) semi-coherent political venting - which I'm all for, if you're honest about it (Cho seems to think it will server as a call-to-arms), and semi-coherent bitching about how oppressed she is. Hm. Ok. I agree that she (unfortunately) is one of the only vocal and visible Asian-Americans in our culture right now who talks about the racism she faces. That sucks ass. One example of the many good points I think she fails at making is the lack of good roles she gets offered. But she lists 2 1/2 pages of "stereotypical" Asian roles that she doesn't want. Uh, I'm not sure that's the best way to show a lack of something. But I will agree they're all pretty lame roles from movies I recognize.

Cho also spends a lot of time. I mean a lot. Of. Time. Complaining about how she doesn't get asked to comment on news shows about anything but Asian-related issues. Well, I'm not doubting that some of that is bigoted. But I think a lot of it is about her delightful use of profanity (which I don't think detracts from her arguments, but a lot of people do), and the fact that she's a comedian. John Stewart and Al Franken aside, you do not see a lot of stand-up comics on the O'Reilly Factor. Another perceived injustice? That her show, All American Girl, will probably never be released on DVD, but My So-Called Life is. I actually liked both shows, but let's be honest here. My So-Called Life had a cult following. My mom and I watched it together and wrote angry letters when it was canceled. It was a new brand of show. Well, maybe not really. I think it owed a lot more to The Wonder Years than people admit, but I'm getting off topic. All American Girl was a kind of funny sitcom very much like a zillion others, except it featured an Asian-American family. Which wad great, and sadly, still unheard of. But breaking the boycott of Asians on TV doesn't make your show worthy of being immortalized on DVD. Again, not arguing that some of the reasons the show didn't stay on the air were racist, but that doesn’t' mean everything related to it was.

I'm not at all denying Margaret Cho her right to think every professional problem she's ever had is race-based. But I can't get inspired to political action, can't rally behind someone whose writing about deep things seems to come without any deep thought.

Oh, and most importantly? So far the book isn't very funny. Now that I've written this, I feel like I want to finish reading it. Maybe I'll have a different opinion once I'm done.

Edited to add:

While I was writing this, a friend emailed me about a post over at Margaret Cho's blog:

"Shakespeare must have been a lesbian because we invented drama."
But she's not a lesbian. She's married to a man. A man who as far as I know was born a man. Being bi, or being "down" with lesbians is not the same as being one. I
think that's fucked up. You're straight and my friend, that doesn't make me a straight black girl, does it?
Interesting point. And yes, my straight black cooties are all over you, tainting you. Deal with it. It seems like an off-hand remark, but it is interesting. Also? The comment appears in a post about "The L Word," so I can't think about it anymore.