What are your thoughts about the concept of white culture, identity, and entitlement as they were discussed? What are your thoughts about the concept of white privilege?
After completing this section of the program yesterday, I realized I was feeling some pretty heavy emotions. I also decided it was time for a lunch break. Two days ago, I *finally* started watching The Office for the first time ever, and decided it would be a nice addition to my routine to watch an episode with lunch every day. I pulled up Netflix and started up The Office, season 1 episode 2.
The topic was diversity. If you haven't seen it and don't mind cringing all the way through, it's very applicable to this course, and especially to this reflection prompt. It managed to pack in so many stereotypes and biases prevalent in American culture. It showcased the (generally quieter) sense of entitlement of many Americans who have never experienced or engaged in racism, and highlighted the way priviledge can unjustly rear its head in the workplace (even if it doesn't happen so overtly in most real-life situations). From the clueless yet unapologetic boss to the silent staff, the obvious discomfort of the few POC in the company, and the overall lack of consequences for all involved, the episode really went all-out in highlighting both subtle and overt racism within the workplace.
Pulling away from the world within the show, the fact that it went on air at the beginning of its first season says a lot about pop culture, viewer preferences, and what can or cannot be joked about. The directors and writers clearly made a point of showing why each action in the episode is NOT okay. But there's still an assumption that viewers will be simultaneously cringing and laughing all the way through. And they do. Why is that? Is it okay to laugh at these made-up situations when similar scenarios in the real world cause people very real harm? Does joining in the laughter mean the viewer is part of the problem, or that they're simply aware of the problem (and if so, what does it say that they still find it funny)?
Shows like South Park, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and (new to my list) The Office put me in an uncomfortable position. The whole point is that the characters are bad-- they say bad things, they do bad things, and they hurt people, even if it isn't always what they intend to do. It's supposed to be funny, because everyone knows what they're doing is wrong. The reason this makes me uncomfortable is because I do find these shows funny, and I'm not sure what to think about that.