Category Archives: Generations

What on Earth is the appeal of blackface to these white guys?



I mean, seriously, how does the idea even occur to them? And when it occurs to them, what insanity causes them to go ahead with it?

My wife and I were wondering about this last night, and trying to figure out who would do such a thing. The usual story is that these people did it when they were young and foolish. But back when WE were young and foolish, it never, ever would have occurred to us — and if it had, we’d have run screaming in the other direction. Seriously, what possible¬†good outcome could anyone anticipate from being photographed like Justin Trudeau, above?

The usual explanations don’t hold water at all. Trudeau was supposedly trying to look like Aladdin? Whaaaat? Don’t you think he’d have looked more like Aladdin without the makeup? I do. But maybe y’all have a different image of Aladdin. And if you wanted to impersonate Michael Jackson, seems like you’d just learn to moonwalk.

Trudeau’s apparently obsession with dressing up this way suggests to us that it was something that happened among guys somewhere between my age and the current generation of young people. He’s 47, even though he looks younger. This caused me to put forth a theory that it was the Reagan era that did it. There was a lot of pushing back against the racial sensitivities of the 60s and 70s on the part of the “greed is good” crowd in the 80s.

But then I saw that Virginia’s Northam is technically a Boomer. That shoots that down.

Then we wondered whether it was a Greek thing. In the sense of fraternities, not the nationality.¬†Maybe that’s what makes me mistakenly think no one in my generation would do such a thing. Because people who joined fraternities in my day were seriously out of touch with the times, real outliers, and I had nothing to do with them. And there’s something about these photos that suggests frat life. But maybe that’s because I’m just prejudiced against frats.

The people who believe in Identity Politics would probably assume that, being a white guy, I would understand this phenomenon. But I can’t even begin to. I don’t get it at all.

But maybe some of you other white guys out there can explain it. Or maybe someone else can…

Look — there’s Alfred E. Neuman at the Russell House!

Russell House magazine rack

Yeah, I know this doesn’t prove anything.

It’s just that, after all that stuff about how younger people can’t be expected to know who Alfred E. Neuman was, I thought I’d take note of this.Alfred E

I was doing my afternoon walk across the virtually deserted USC campus today, and cut through the Barnes & Noble (and no, I still can’t get over the fact that the Russell House bookstore is now a Barnes & Noble) in the Russell House because I like to get that short blast of air conditioning (and also because I love me some Barnes & Noble).

And as I passed by the magazine rack, there he was. Almost as big as life as the Swimsuit Issue. (Or Swimsuit Issues, plural. When did there start to be more than one of them?)

Does this mean kids automatically know who Alfred E. is? No. But at least it means the kids who pass through here have had the opportunity.

The weird thing about this to me is that magazine racks still exist. Who reads magazines? I know people still read comic books, and their big brothers graphic novels, but that’s kind of a cult commodity. Like vinyl records among some serious audiophiles.closer

They just seem like such big, slick, absurdly-expensive-to-produce dinosaurs.

What’s in a magazine that I can’t get in an even more attractive and interactive format, and more immediately, on my iPad? I don’t read the paper versions of newspapers, and I’m a lifelong newspaperman. Magazines just lie there and don’t do anything. You can’t even click on links. So why would I read a magazine?

Why would anyone?