Another White Dude Analysis of the World’s Problems

I’m not sure why I bother. Watching documentaries, that is. Roughly 99.9% of English language documentaries are made by white dudes. Sometimes, they’re religious white dudes. Sometimes, they’re environmentalist, lefty white dudes. Sometimes, they’re libertarian white dudes. Sometimes, they’re partially lobotomized, incoherent nutjob white dudes. Most of them are middle class or come from those there parts – not rich enough to be truly devoid of cause. And not poor enough to be barred from funding even a low-budget documentary. Most of them have a basic college education – even the partially lobotomized ones, since we hand out college degrees like candy to white dudes with damaged brains.

But despite the deceptive variety in approach or ideology, the commonality is that they all belong to the class at the top of the human heap. And as such, they are blind to many things; they believe they have more of a right to speak than most; they believe they have a unique perspective than no one else has; they see themselves as leaders and ones best equipped to speak for all of us; and they tend to populate their documentaries with interview clips of their fellow white dudes as if there are no other people available to offer insight.

Most liberal white dudes are tuned in enough to make a documentary that pays lip service to problems of racism and classism – because these, of course, are classes that contain bepenised people – men can be of different colours and can be poor. And all men deserve attention, of course. But their oh-so-unique views of the world almost always miss one of the most important (if not THE most important) cause of why our world is the shithole that it is.

They either ignore or severely downplay the role of male domination – aka Patriarchy – in the destruction of the earth and the degradation of the human condition. They don’t acknowledge the fact that the only reason men have made poor economic models work in the short run is because they’ve built everything on the unpaid or lesser paid backs and uteri of women. You can’t have domination without slaves. And slaves have, for the most part, throughout history and continuing through to tomorrow, been women. But even when you have an unlimited slave supply (women), you can’t make a model of unlimited growth work (à la capitalism), or expect nonrenewable resources to magically become unlimited, or demand unlimited environmental imperviousness to deadly human assault.

It makes for a flawed and incomplete documentary. It has always made for bad science and theories in every field. When you don’t factor in Patriarchy as the primary cause and/or the primary environment, you aren’t telling the story correctly. It would be like trying to measure atmospheric gases, but failing to take into account that the planet being studied is Jupiter.

Men leave this key part – that Patriarchy is the root of most problems on Earth – of the puzzle out for a few reasons:

  • Men like women to shoulder some to all of the burden when blame is to be laid and responsibility is to be taken for shitty circumstances.
  • Conversely, men like to take credit for things (even when they didn’t contribute) only when it is a positive accomplishment (i.e., male expert dominance to be patted on the back in the awareness-raising documentary).
  • Men don’t want to acknowledge that we’re in the shitter because of them, their violence, their greed, and their lust for power.
  • They won’t find themselves an audience if they suggest that men fucked up and should take responsibility for the things they’ve done and should immediately relinquish their control and power structures. Men don’t like to be told that their millennia-long culture of dominance and rape is at the heart of most of the world’s current woes. Even a lot of Stockholm Syndrome-affected women won’t get on board with a documentary that says, “Look at what the men have done.”

I’m going to force myself to watch as much of this as I can. I’m into minute 23, and after way too much melodrama and wordiness, this generic, middle class, white dude, has finally laid out what he sees as the four main things that will lead to American downfall. I noticed that all four problems he listed result directly from Patriarchy, yet he doesn’t identify Patriarchy as the ultimate source. He referenced Derrick Jensen early on in the doc, and implied that he interviewed him, so I’d be a little disgusted, but not surprised, if he managed not to talk about Patriarchy in his ‘analysis’. Jensen has paid lip service to radical feminist theory, although I find him a little arrogant for my personal liking.

Two hours later:

I managed to get through two hours of, yes, mostly white dudes pontificating on the decline of the American Empire. And no, Patriarchy wasn’t mentioned even once. Dominance yes, but dominance was used to refer to class and race, as I predicted. There wasn’t a single mention of the oppression of women and how all empires have been built on that requirement. It was unsurprising, but still disappointing. Oh, and Jensen was indeed interviewed, and he arrogantly told us his favourite thing that HE ever said. Icky. Self-quoting… Well, white dudes. What do you expect?

I’ve noticed a few things about white dude documentaries. I’m not sure if there is a manual that they all read, but recurring elements creep me out.

White Dude documentaries must display the following:

  • Lots of historic film footage of dudes doing something dudely or women doing something degrading or feminine. Preferably from the 1950’s or from some wartime period (if soldiers or concentration camp victims are needed)
  • All or an overwhelming majority of those interviewed are white male experts (despite there being tons of non-white and/or non-male experts in any given field)
  • Video clips that give a literal enactment of some metaphor used by an interviewee. For example, an expert begins talking about destroying the environment, and suddenly you have a clip of a wreaking ball.
  • Quotes from noted misogynists, pedophiles and the like. (This particular film quoted Woody Allen who is both a misogynist and a pedophile.)

It’s hard to take a documentary seriously if it ignores really key elements. I’m not talking about entertaining and giving equal weight to fringe theories. I’m talking about allowing personal bias resulting from privilege to severely limit the explanation of the phenomenon you’re trying to cover. Feminism is not a fringe theory, and it is globally relevant. It needs to be included to provide an accurate picture of what is going on. It is also hard to take seriously any documentary that pulls testimony from a single group of privileged people (who all look like you) when the phenomenon is a) relevant to more groups than that small one, and b) there are plenty of representatives of many other groups to pull from as experts.

Nice try, white dude. He would have been better off giving his funding to a woman or minority and offering his services as ‘research support’. He would actually have been walking his talk then. But that’s just the thing. When a white dude talks about wanting to change the world, it’s just words. He doesn’t actually follow through on what he’s saying. It would have been really, really easy for him to make a positive change by enabling a traditionally less powerful, and often silenced, voice to deliver the message. When have men every stayed silent though?

*** Note: I’m not going to link to this film. It’s really not worth watching, nor do I offer a time-back guarantee when you demand those two hours of your life back. Anyhow, I wanted to comment on a phenomenon, not this particular documentary.

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Feminism, atheism and other stuff

Posted on September 24, 2015, in Anti-Feminism, Education, Male Privilege and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Another White Dude Analysis of the World’s Problems.

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