Saturday October 25, 2003

Stupid White Men

Category: Opinionated | 3 Comments | Posted 22:43

Hm yeah so I read this a while back, in fact started reading and didn't finish cuz when my latest Anne Rice arrived I had to move on to that. Anyway, I did mean to write something about it, just cuz, well, everyone seems to have an opinion on it. Like for instance in this thread on ChitChat.

I have to say personally I didn't like it (which is one of the reasons I didn't finish it, tho I may at some point). Moore makes me feel like a stupid schoolkid that he has to explain things to. I mean for one, it is very much aimed at Americans, with his advice and stuff... a lot of the stuff he talks about I knew anyway, or I don't care cuz I'm not concerned. I also just feel that, well, he sounds very condescending. Maybe they like being treated like that over there - seeing as they can't seem to think for themselves.

But I have to say his arguments suck big time. I mean he comes across as downright manipulative. So he has his points, he definitely does, there is little I don't agree with on principle, but some of the stuff he comes up with to make his points is a bit dubious to say the least.

Like this for instance. He's trying to convince us that the rich people of the world (or of the US) are living at the expense of the poor ones. Which is absolutely true of course. Who would deny it? But he has to prove & illustrate his point... so he says this:
From 1979 until now, the richest 1% in the country have seen their wages increase by 157%; those of you (notice how he uses "you", addressing the reader directly!) in the bottom 20% are actually making $100 less a year (adjusted for inflation) than you were at the dawn of the Reagan era.
Sounds shocking doesn't it. But it's inaccurate, right? How come inflation gets ignored in the "rich bit"? I mean I ain't no economist (thank God), but to me this sounds like a big manipulative distortion. And the worst part is, he has a point of course, so why does he need to twist things like this? I assume it's because of the way Americans work. Because they are kinda stupid, you only get their attention if you come up with a really shocking injustice. Nevermind if it's misleading.

Same with his black/white opposition. So he tells us that black people aren't any more criminals than whites. He could argue that the increased crime rate among black Americans is due to the fact that they happen to be over-represented in the poorest sections of society (something he does mention at another point in the book), or that they get convicted/persecuted/picked on more frequently due to their race. But that would be too deep and complex. So what does he do? He says this (and this is how his whole argument works):

As white people, we've been lulled into thinking it's safe to be around other white people. We've been taught since birth that it's the people of that other colour we need to fear. They're the ones who'll slit your throat!

Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but unmistakable pattern seems to emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime - the boss who fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid who hit me in the eye with a rock, the executive who didn't renew TV Nation, the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo, the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next girlfriend who left even sooner, the person in the office who stole cheques from my chequebook and wrote them out to himself for a total of $16,000 - every one of these individuals has been a white person. Coincidence? I think not.

Yeeaaah, you freak, so you haven't come across many black people in your little sheltered 'whitey' life! Of course your landlord, your girlfriend and the executive who didn't like your crappy show weren't black! (he actually points that out at some point, but doesn't dwell on it) Thing is, he has a point in both instances - that blacks aren't "criminal by nature" and that blacks in influential positions are extremely rare - but he just simplifies it to this completely idiotic and populistic level. I am guessing it must work for Americans, but to me all it does is exasperate me.

Is he taking me for a fool? Or is he a fool himself? It just doesn't make me like the book, and it makes me become more hostile to his ideas than I originally was. So, well, what can I say about the book - I rarely find it funny, I definitely don't agree that "the angrier he gets, the funnier he gets" (San Francisco Chronicle) - in fact I find him less and less believable the angrier he gets. I don't like being manipulated either way, even if it is by someone I am actually supposed to agree with. But I guess as long as it makes some Americans switch their brains on, the book has served its cause. Now let's hope they don't vote Bush again.


Bush was in Australia last week. He's a rude, ill-mannered prick.

But then again, I should tell you something you don't already know.

I was looking at that book, but you just saved me some money, thank you. :)

Posted by: Jess at October 26, 2003 08:17 AM

Totally agree with you! Try Al Franken's Lying Liars. A real pageturner!!

Posted by: Anne at October 26, 2003 11:18 AM

LOLOL he's not only stupid, but rude too?

Aah thanks Anne, I knew someone had recommended a different book. Will get it next time I order on Amazon.

Posted by: Clarissa at October 26, 2003 01:28 PM