Friday, March 09, 2007

"Myspace and the Mainstreaming of the New Racism" or "The Real O.C. is full of Nazis"

In a previous post, I mentioned how I'd discovered a whole nest of white-pride nasties via the myspace profile of one Josh Waring (aka the troubled son of Lauri Waring from the Bravo series The Real Housewives of Orange County). Said profile is now set to private, perhaps to prevent nosy people like me from happening upon the profiles of random white supremacists and writing irate letters to the vulcans at I finally got a response today (I wrote the letter two weeks ago) saying that the content had been removed.

Even though the terms of use state the racism/hate propaganda are not allowed in the myspace community, a google search for "white pride" + "myspace" reveals that white supremacists are pretty annoyed that their nazi profiles get deleted. This seems to point to something -- I'm not sure what -- but something that suggests an interesting semantic trend regarding the ways terms like "community" are overlaid with "functionality." Why do white pride people want to be part of the myspace community? Probably because Myspace is one of the largest and most popular social networks on the web. And probably because posting content on myspace allows one to "publish" or "promote" all sorts of material to all sorts of people, not just those who are already in agreement with one's nazi agenda. In other words, myspace is a way to "mainstream" the racist vitriol.

And this is something that seems to be happening in many places these days, not just in some internet community frequented by the 13-30 set. The list of known racists in Hollywood just keeps getting longer. We know that Paris uses the n-word and other racial slurs. We know that Jason Wahler (one of the boneheads from MTV's Laguna Beach) slung racial slurs and spat at police officers. And then there's the good ol' boys: Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. WTF?

This trend seems to parallel the obvious racism in "the war on terror" and, for that matter, the whole stupid war(s). Never mind the obvious racism in the "immigration debate." I've heard people say that this is a "post-9/11" thing or a "post-hurricane katrina" thing. These explanations -- to me at least -- seem too simple. Especially against the backdrop of a trend which seems to indicate that casual racism is becoming increasingly mainstream.


PAOLO CRUZ said...

You're totally right -- In some ways, the problem is more pervasive than just a handful of wanna-be Nazis using social networking technology as a recruitment tool. I'd say that only people with a specific kind of personality would agree to proactively organize with fellow racists, anyway.

However, what's more dangerous is the idea that the casual acceptance of racism -- on the web, and in the entertainment industry -- would allow cells of racism to develop, in the exact same ways that dedicated terrorist cells operate -- that is, bubbling just under the surface of everyday bourgeois "normalcy", and the outward appearance of liberal tolerance.

Even without the influence of a white-pride version of al-Qaeda to strategically coordinate its "hate machine", the inherent structural biases and hegemonies of contemporary America would allow pockets and enclaves of "permissible racism" to thrive beyond locker rooms, and frat rows, and gated subdivisions, and board meetings. That alone is enough to unsettle anybody who finds themselves marginalized by the capitalist hetero-patrirarchy (to use bell hooks' preferred term).

So yes, this *is* a "post-Katrina thing" or a "post-9/11 thing", in as much as it's a response to a series of cultural moments, which have forced the priveleged classes to lay bare their various prejudices. However, what often goes unspoken in these kinds of discussions -- the reason why they "seem too simple" to Femme Feral and others -- is an examination of how these StraightWhiteAffluentMale attitudes are rooted in insecurities about just how fragile their hegemony really is.

At the heart of these multi-layered "affinities of distrust" -- say, one minority group versus another -- are the vagaries of how power is deployed in the globalized world. But we can't start discussing that in public, as long as discourse remains oriented towards (re)fabricating a fake-ass sense of national unity, as much of the discussions about 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina continue to be. (Of course, i'm not even American, so what do *I* know, right?)

femme feral said...

wow. great comment.

to everybody reading this, you should totes go check out paolo's blog. I've added the link in our sidebar.