I'm watching The Daily Show. They just had a bit where John Oliver interviewed a fringe candidate running in the primary for the Wisconsin state assembly. The candidate was a black woman named Ieshuh Griffin.
Can you guess where this is going?
The story was that Griffin wants her statement of principle on the ballot to be "NOT the whiteman's bitch." She explained why she chose the phrase, demonstrating a grasp of critical race theory. Griffin talked about "whiteman" signifying power structures rather than individuals, and about the significance of "bitch" as a dog used for breeding. "Okay," I thought, "Makes sense. It's gutsy. But it's rather awesome that she's refusing to dilute her politics. Good for her." Oliver proceeded to mimic the way Griffin analyzed language, as though it was something that only crazy people did.
Oliver talked to Griffin's opponent, also a black woman, suggesting that she add "bitch" to the end of her statement of principle to, "add some punch". "I don't need that kind of punch," she answered. It was basically just a white dude being an asshole to a stoic black woman - painful to watch. And it showed that even though Griffin had a considered rationale behind her slogan, all Oliver heard was a stereotypical angry black person, using words like "bitch" to sound assertive.
Then Oliver did a man-on-the-street thing, asking random people what they thought about the statements of principle. He was shown asking random people, black and white, male and female, which they preferred. "NOT the whiteman's bitch" was the unanimous favourite. "You do realize that you're a white man," Oliver asked one, "And this means less bitches for you." The guy responded, "I think I can live with that." Oliver, take lessons from that dude.
Despite the fact that "NOT the whiteman's bitch" seemed to go over well with voters, Oliver continued to act like it was the zaniest, most racist thing he'd ever heard, as he discussed slogans with a campaign manager, actually calling it "racist" at one point. The skit returned to Oliver's interview with Griffin, and him asking her if she had considered any other slogans. Her other idea had been, "New Booty," because she was, "not the same old ass." I can see how someone would think it was cute slogan, but moreso I can see why she decided not to go with that one. Despite the fact that Griffin acknowledged that the slogan was a bad idea, Oliver continued to make fun of that one.
The part of the skit that really demonstrated what was wrong with Oliver's approach to the story was the mock TV ad they made in an attempt to demonstrate the absurdity of the slogan. The ad featured an older, white, heterosexual couple, sitting in a spacious, marble-counter-topped kitchen, discussing who to vote for. The woman turns to the camera and delivers the line, "Ieshuh Griffin: New booty: not the same old ass." Oliver asks the campaign manager, another white man, "do you think voters will feel this represents them?"
Talk about missing the point.
John Oliver is a troll who is fortunate enough to have a cable TV show to use as an outlet for his 'splaining, whining "WHAT ABOUT THE WHITE MENZ!" and charges of racism for daring to assert the reality of one's racial oppression. Seriously, how is it racist to assert that you're not the "bitch" of the dominant race? The whole thing just reeked of privilege.
I don't know why The Daily Show continues to use Oliver for skits about racial issues. Why not feature Larry Wilmore more often, who always seems to offer a thoughtful analysis within his comedy? Or at least put Wyatt Cenac on the job, so you don't have the spectacle of racist assholery of a white man suggesting that a black woman add "bitch" to the end of her campaign slogan.