Among the people I’ve worked with during my Hollywood career is mega producer Joel Silver. Back in the day, Joel produced huge box office hits like the “Lethal Weapon”, “Matrix” and “Die Hard” franchises. He also executive produced “Tales From The Crypt” which is my connection to Joel. Joel remains a controversial figure for various reasons and he was controversial back then because of the work environment he created. Joel was notorious for being a monster — for having his way because he was willing to shout louder than anyone else in the room. That was true; Joel did have his way because people simply feared having to “deal with him” (deal with his extreme craziness). But, having sat in the room with Joel while he actually “performed” his craziness? I know for a fact — a lot of Joel’s craziness was an act. It was based on his over-sized personality and hair trigger temper, but, what most people in Hollywood experienced as “Joel Silver” was really “Bullshit Kabuki” — performance art with a purpose.
What our news media calls “white rage” has, at its core, an element of truth: how America was is not how America is going to be — and that will impact white people in a particular way: they will no longer be able to take their cultural hegemony for granted. That’s it. That’s the ONLY thing any white person is about to “lose” — the automatic win. Stone cold fact: white people compete with the rest of us, they step onto a playing field already tilted significantly toward them — and it’s tilted even more so when a white Christian man steps onto the field. Anyone not white, Christian and male has to climb a mountain just to get to the heavily tilted playing field. This applies to business opportunities, education, criminal justice and pretty much everything in America. This happened because when America’s founders wrote “All men are created equal”, they didn’t actually mean “all men” (though they did mean the “men” part).
America has always been a great idea poorly executed. That’s because the white European man who coined “All men are created equal” came from a culture that automatically excluded everyone else. Thomas Jefferson, like all the founders, took his white racial superiority for granted — because of course he did. That doesn’t mean Jefferson or any of the founders was right. Because of course they weren’t. The Catholic Church insisted until quite recently — despite evidence to the contrary — that the earth was the center of everything. Big ideas get perverted by little people all the time. Good thing there are re-writes.
Though America’s founders got the “All men are created equal” part wrong, they got the idea of a living, breathing Constitution right (albeit with way too many giveaways to slavers whose whole business model laughed at “All men are created equal”). They made the document correctable. So far, we’ve made 27 significant revisions to the founders’ vision. A lot of those have gone to expanding “All men are created equal” to include everyone as in “Everyone is equal before the law” and, so long as they follow that law, they can be anything they want to be in America. They’ll have to put in plenty of sweat equity but, as Americans, we accept that challenge because we know — if we do this right — we can get the very best out of every American and make America the very best it can be.
That’s the desire on ONE SIDE of the American equation. On the other — the descendants of privilege crave a return to the days where America was a great idea poorly executed. Democracy won’t get them from here to there because only they would vote for representatives who’d try to make that happen. That’s why the right wing has turned its back on democracy: it isn’t working for them anymore — as in “working exclusively for them”. White Americans have always been happy to import other humans if those humans were willing to work as slaves of one kind or another. What we did to Africans, we also did to Chinese men. We imported them into America to build the railroads for little money then — when that work was done — we made it nearly impossible for them to remain by enacting laws that discriminated against them cruelly.
Let’s be quite clear: Black people in America have NEVER treated white people the way white people treated Black people. Same goes for Latinos. And anyone who came from Asia. In America, the history all runs one way: white people have treated everyone else like shit. White people have worked overtime to prevent everyone else from voting or even from getting to hold onto the wealth they earned through their hard work. Events like the 1921 Tulsa race massacre weren’t just about racial violence. We don’t know for sure how much Black wealth the riot (white people were the ones rioting) blotted out. But, the blotting out of that Black wealth was very much the point. Much of that wealth was taken — by white people. Deliberately. Black people have NEVER done such a thing to white people here in America.
Chinese Americans did not write the exclusionary laws that made their lives hell. Japanese Americans did not write the laws that turned them from good Americans into prisoners of war in their own country. Mexican Americans do not look down on white Americans because those white Americans speak English like a third language.
There is literally nothing legitimate about a white point of view that insists white culture is superior and therefore white people deserve to run everything but that IS the white point of view. To accept it — without forcing it to admit what it really is — is to give credence to bullshit. White culture isn’t superior. Any argument that starts with or from that premise starts out fatally flawed — a fact it knows itself. That’s why those arguing FOR the white cause have to resort to theatrics. They have to put on a show because if anyone actually listens to the arguments themselves, they’re finished. Thus the Kabuki.
Here’s what I look forward to — MTG getting to perform in the theater space she most deserves to perform in — a courtroom. I look forward to EVERY Republican getting their moment to shine — their Bullshit Kabuki rehearsed and pitched to the very back row. I look forward to Jim Jordan performing. Matt Gaetz. I look forward to Ron Johnson putting on a show on the witness stand as he Bullshit Kabuki’s the story about dinner on July 4, 2018 when he and seven other Republican members of Congress cut a deal with Vladimir Putin. I look forward to GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s singing and dancing as he explains — under oath — what he meant by “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” The entire Republican Party has a gi-bungo problem: they’re all guilty of committing TREASON.
To be fair to white people, there are two kinds of white rage. There’s the real rage — coming from white people who, in some cases, have never gotten their share of America’s promise. There’s also the rage of people whose good fortunes turned bad when technology changed and left their businesses in the past. Blacksmiths feel coal miners’ pain. Most blacksmiths quickly got up off their asses and found themselves new work. That’s how it works for everyone. And, yes, it sucks when you’re the one being disadvantaged by changing circumstances. But, white people having to share power with everyone else in America is not the same thing. These aren’t “changing circumstances” depriving white people of their hegemony, it’s fairness. It’s the actual promise of the American experiment finally getting a chance to shine.
White people may perceive life as a zero sum game but that’s just them seeing the world defensively instead of how it is or could be. The thing they think they’re losing was never really theirs to begin with.
That’s the difference.
The people demanding fairness and equality have always been promised those things but never actually gotten to experience them. They will not accept the status quo any longer. That, too is a difference.
White people attacking the Capitol to try and overturn a (relatively) free and fair election is not an expression of legitimate rage. It’s white hegemony stomping its feet and throwing a temper tantrum. To see it any other way is to give white hegemony credence it does not deserve. It is to see white kabuki as something it isn’t: a legitimate point.
Honest actors are honest actors. They step onto the stage speaking from their hearts but also from their heads. They may have a political point of view, but the thing motivating them isn’t political, it’s an ideal for a better, more prosperous, more diverse America. Dishonest actors — Republicans — spew bullshit and lies and call it patriotism. It sure would be nice if the people charged with reporting our collective story understood the difference.