The Visible Man

Or, The Irrelevance of Being White

The summer of 2008 has showed us that China is well on its way to world domination, Dominicans are the future of musical theater (and literature), Indians have taken over the blogosphere, Koreans are sexy, and black people are cool as shit, as usual. Which leads us to the following question: has the white man lost all his cultural relevance?

Well, maybe, but it’s still possible the white man has some fight left in him before the imminent death knell that finally launches him into complete, utter obscurity. Consider the following:

The most effective portrayals of the modern white man’s condition in 2008 have been those that acknowledge the haplessness of their own condition. Take “Pineapple Express,” a movie that uses action, violence and marijuana as the backdrop for what is essentially a story about white dudes realizing that all they’ve got is each other’s man-love. Or The Hold Steady’s “Stay Positive,” in which average white guy Craig Finn advises his predominantly white male audience to try to look at the bright side of things as they age into fat, balding alcoholics who reminisce about the glory days as they pound Michelob Ultra in lawn chairs in their backyards. Or even the awesome spectacle that is the Brett Favre soap opera, which is relevant only in that it is a prime example of a white man who’s terrified of fading into irrelevance, and is subsequently taking the country on a melodramatic journey with him as he refuses to let go.

Sure, we’ve got Michael Phelps, but chances are most of us white dudes aren’t going to have the perfect proportions of our bodies analyzed on ESPN.

White dudes had some momentum earlier this year when Jason Giambi busted out his formidable ‘stache, but the success we enjoyed was fleeting because it was unclear whether he was being serious or deliberately trying to look like a pedophile. The predominance of facial hair on white dudes in general inevitably stems from the desire to appear hyper-masculine in a time when the cultural climate has cherry-picked our nuts right out from under us. This is leading to a lot more white dudes growing big hair and beards, retreating to rural, secluded areas, and writing plaintive, defeated music about how no one understands their feelings (or, maybe, how everyone understands their feelings so well that no one gives a shit anymore).

The white man may have a few more things to say, but those things are inevitably going to be about his struggle to assert himself as he helplessly fades into the cultural abyss.

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3 Responses to The Visible Man

  1. […] of the most malcontent Indian curmudgeons you’re likely to encounter.  In spite of my glaring cultural irrelevance, though, I have perhaps garnered a tinge of insight into the world outside of my sheltered […]

  2. […] for the New England Patriots, listens to Jenny Lewis, goes to Burning Man, and wonders how the white man can possibly still be relevant in America, I can only hope that exposure will include Chris Cooley and his white TE […]

  3. […] locked, seemingly completely stocked and ready to go, for at least two months at this point.  As a bespectacled, bookish white person, I acknowledge the homogenization and the edging out of local authenticity that goes hand in hand […]

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