The center cannot hold. Neither can it let TF go.
I owe a final position to my social media since I came out so hard at the halfway mark of this series on my instagram. So, where did I land in the end? Back in the motherfucking gutter where that hotel insists I belong.
Perhaps what I can’t reconcile, what pains me the most–though there are several pains–is that I showed up for this grief. I signed up for it. I willingly followed my rich white leaders–Mike White, HBO Max, Connie motherfucking Britton and Steve Zahn, aka the benevolent whites (bene-VIOLENT?)–into the motherfucking abyss. Where they predictably left me to die. It’s not their job to save me, right? When has it ever been? Why do I keep showing up to be drowned?
There are multiple complications to this point:
- This is their media; “they” being unapolegetically white folks. White folks who will not share the center with my non-white ass, explicitly. And by explicitly I mean implicitly. It’s a sunset medium.
Don’t let the sun set on you on this platform, n****r.
You don’t belong here.
Don’t make us say so out loud. You won’t like what happens when we feel threatened.
The White Lotus is a sundown show. If Natasha Rothwell’s character, Belinda, had instead been played by [insert critically acclaimed fat blacktress … I’ll wait…], perhaps their emmy-caliber performance would have made more clear the dire nature of their character’s situation–how violated the character is as a matter of course. As a term of “employment.” Violated. Erased. Displaced. Discarded. Used up. And left for who-cares-what-happens-to-her.
- This white man (Mike White) uses her. Uses Kai. Uses Paula. Uses Lani, to move his narrative along; to illustrate just how careless with the lives of others your wealth, and your whiteness allow you to be. And then he leaves it there.
- And in the final analysis, every major media outlet lets him. Most major content distributors who reviewed this show asked only the whites who consumed it what they thought, leaving them firmly positioned in the center to perhaps contemplate just how centered they are, perhaps, but mostly to emote, casually, about how it made them feel.
- What TF does that matter when the stakes of a careless disregard for non-white life are quite literally human sustainability on earth?
- I am galled by how passively we consume our own violent erasure from the platform of human dignity and worth. How HBO just gets to do it. Because… Exterminate All the Brutes is also on the platform for white folks to consume and dismiss?
- This is why equity matters. This is why. Because when the HAWAIIIANS of Hawaii get to respond to the work, for ALL to consume (let alone the blacks), across multiple channels, across their own multiplicity of perspectives, then the art itself gets to hold a position in “right-relationship” to its audience. Gets to have a second life that actually contributes to the progress of our culture rather than the poisoning of it–rather than the entrenchment of this white supremacy which ever more menacingly and insidiously threatens our survival on earth.
These are the motherfucking stakes of mainstream culture work, bitch–the creation and dissemination of our myths; the generation and assimilation of our social values.
Our mainstream culture work defines what our culture is prepared to do and to be. It diagnoses what we’re actually willing to do about climate justice, liberation, and sustainability on earth. The White Lotus painfully reminds us that at present, among the so-called powers that be, the answer is not a goddamn thing. This is both true and patently unacceptable. The opportunity for progress, if there is any, is in its audience confronting its truths. So, where is the goddamn voice in the mainstream shouting this truth through a megaphone, for at least one human who might make a difference to hear, and be validated in her genius to take that next essential step which might actually make a difference, as every culture genius who has ever lived has told us in some form is how inspiration works??
- When we only consume and credit white sources with publishing and distributing and historicizing the meaning of art, at the mainstream level, then we stay stuck in position as far as mainstream white institutions are willing to go. When there are simply 20 white think pieces across all major platforms for critical analysis, then the impact of the art has an OUTSIZE relationship to its audience. I, and you, and everyone we know who ain’t white get erased as an audience; not merely, simply, only, as archetypes in a dramatic comedy about our passive yet violent erasure from the actual society we all share. Do you think the United States Congress is prepared to take one step further on issues of sustainability than the “Mike White community?” If you think we can afford to leave the mainstream to either group, you MUST know that means we not gon’ make it.
Come on, somebody.