Such a fine line

It’s almost hard to believe that piece ABL linked to, wherein a middle-aged white guy says what he would do if he were a poor black child, wasn’t parody. It was eerily like this classic Onion piece:

A guy from work introduced me to his boyfriend this week. He seemed pretty nice, but it was weird, because he didn’t look gay at all. He was a computer programmer and looked like any fat, balding slob you’d run into on the street. I have to say, I would never let myself go like that if I were gay.

If I were gay, I would be very well groomed. I’d purchase two high-quality suits, one nice suit jacket, and two pairs of wool trousers. I’d get about eight shirts tailored, and I would own my own tuxedo, for special occasions. I’d grow my buzzcut into a sophisticated Caesar cut, and I would brighten it with tastefully blended golden highlights. Each morning, I would tame my hair’s unruly kinks with a dollop of molding paste and a little reparative shine serum. (It’s important to use the right products, if you want to maintain healthy hair—especially when it’s gay. )

If I were gay, there’s no way I’d shave with a disposable razor and a bar of Dial soap, like I do as a straight man. As a gay man, I’d make shaving a ritual. I would prepare my face with a foaming exfoliating cleanser, then I’d use a cucumber shave gel and a sharp blade.

I didn’t feel this way six or seven years ago, but I have a harder and harder time distinguishing serious discourse in official publications from the Onion.






73 replies
  1. 1
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    That’s because there’s no consequence for crazy anymore. Hell, you get rewarded for being batshit insane because people take it as ‘bold’ and ‘new’ and best of all ‘not liberal’.

  2. 2
    patroclus says:

    Now that Craig James is officially running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Texas, let me be the first to say that the rumors that Craig James killed 5 hookers while at SMU are unsubstantiated.

  3. 3
    ruemara says:

    Look, it’s just a frank truth that white people are just better at being black. Why are we deriding the man for excelling, as comes naturally to white people? All these kids have to do is purchase a computer and self-motivate themselves to learn using various free on-line programs. They just need to use the accessible resources they already have, like a stable house, electricity, and a supportive parent structure. I wish I had known what this middle aged white guy knew when I was a poor black child.

  4. 4
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    Irony is a lost concept. Sarcasm and parody grow weak and ineffectual.

    Reality is Fantasy.

    Up is down…..etc, etc etcetera.

  5. 5
    different-church-lady says:

    Here’s what I think: I think so many people are now writing so many stupid things on the internet that people who write for mainstream publications now think they can work to the lowered standards and expectations.

    [nods smugly, and without any outward sign of irony]

  6. 6
    David in NY says:

    OT, but, from TPM — Peak Gingrich!

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) are at the top of a new Public Policy Polling (D) survey of Iowa GOP caucus-goers, Gingrich with 22 percent and Paul at 21. Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney comes in third with 16 and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) gets fourth with 11 percent. The rest of the field is in single digits.
    __
    The poll represents a drop in the state for Gingrich, who was at 27 percent just a week ago in PPP’s numbers. Pollsters pointed to the increase in Newt’s unfavorability as the major driver in the new scores.

  7. 7
    slag says:

    @ruemara: Tears, ruemara. Tears are streaming. So funny it’s sad.

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    Apart from the fact that I only have sex with women (so far), I’m totally gay.

    At least according to The Onion.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    From my quick read of the piece ABL talked about, it was from the complacent, self satisfied, shallow genre of the thoughtless middle class white man (note well, I am in the club, and have to play along with them on a daily basis).

    The message, it seemed to me, was, that every black person could outcompete other blacks for unfairly and racially biased limited resources to ? and racial disparities and problems go away.

    It was a baroque variation on the underpants gnome game.

    Made no sense, and was not worth reading. Like most social commentary in Forbes and similar rags

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Yeah, I went on a pretty serious clothes-spree this fall that was eerily like what he described.

  11. 11
    Mike Goetz says:

    The more important story on TPM is the revelation that Obama already has 8 functioning campaign offices in Iowa. None of the Republican candidates have more than 1.

    This is why Obama remains the heavy favorite.

  12. 12
    jibeaux says:

    All I can think of is the earlier scenes in the Jerk, I’m afraid.

  13. 13
    Redshift says:

    I didn’t feel this way six or seven years ago, but I have a harder and harder time distinguishing serious discourse in official publications from the Onion.

    Really? I could have sworn it was at least that long ago that it became generally recognized that conservatives had become impossible to parody, because there is no exaggeration you can create of their beliefs that they have not already topped themselves.

  14. 14
    Mike Goetz says:

    To be fair, the article was written by Navin Johnson.

    ETA: Aaaaaand, jibeaux got there first.

  15. 15
    BGinCHI says:

    I’d also point out the obviousness of the Forbes writer’s showing his chops for a gig at Forbes For Wealth-Challenged Black Kids, their new urban spin-off mag.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    @jibeaux: Great, now all I can think of his how much I want to juggle cats.

    You know, I really should be grading exams.

  17. 17
    different-church-lady says:

    @David in NY: I knew I was wrong predicting Huntsman as the next shiny object. Paul. Of course. [slaps forehead]

  18. 18
    Mark B. says:

    Craig James is running? The thing he’s most famous for in Texas is for destroying two major college football programs. SMU: death penalty for his recruitment, and Texas Tech where he got Leach fired for mistreating his son. I don’t see him getting lots of votes in West Texas.

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:

    The Onion is well on its way to earning its motto “Americas Finest News Source”

  20. 20
    passerby says:

    Yes, those crafty folks at The Onion are truly the bards of our time.

    They expertly ride the seam between reality and some people’s reality.

  21. 21
    Schlemizel says:

    @BGinCHI:
    Don’t forget your special purpose.

  22. 22
    patroclus says:

    @Mark B.:

    Indeed, Craig James, despite the rampant allegations that he killed 5 hookers while at SMU, is going to file for the U.S. Senate imminently. His popularity ratings in Lubbock, after he hired a PR firm to lie about Mike Leach, are about 7%. He’s hated at TCU, whom he has routinely trashed and slimed for 16 solid years. There are scores of Republicans all over who claim that they will vote Democrat this time if he wins the nomination; there are Dems who are switching parties to vote in the primary against him.

    Even despite the 5 hookers that he allegedly killed, this is huge news in Texas. Expect high turnout for the worst AP voter ever!

  23. 23
    Catsy says:

    @Redshift: For me the turning point didn’t come until well into the Tea Party era. There have been running jokes about reality overtaking The Onion for pretty much as long as people have been sending Onion links to their coworkers, but even during the Bush era the worst of those moments still had a distinct whiff of “can you believe this shit?” As if the examples were still beyond the pale.

    The power of The Onion’s satire comes from reductio ad absurdum, from taking humanity’s ridiculousness to its logical extremes and using those extremes to illustrate the absurdity of the subject matter. Nowadays, though, it’s not exactly news that the Republican Party is being driven by its extremists, or that modern-day conservatism is a self-identification program for lunatics and sociopaths.

  24. 24
    different-church-lady says:

    @jl:

    From my quick read of the piece ABL talked about, it was from the complacent, self satisfied, shallow genre of the thoughtless nearly-thoughtless middle class white man

    He did have a thought. Lots of them, in fact. His big mistake was that he then wrote up and published those thoughts without figuring out that they were mind numbingly asinine.

    OK, I can understand the well intentioned but clueless semi-liberal invertebrate Forbes bubble-dweller getting crushed to death when the poorly shored mines of his own deep thinking caved in. What I wonder more is what this says about the editors at Forbes. Are they so deep in the same sanitized existence that they nodded and said, “Oh. Yeah. This makes sense. Go for it.” Or did they not do their jobs? Are there any editors at Forbes anymore?

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Honestly, I can’t see Paul being the next shiny object. Two things against him: he’s not gung ho for borrowing money to kill brown people, and the MSM desperately wants to ignore him.

  26. 26
    different-church-lady says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Sure, but did anyone see Gingrich becoming the next shiny object?

  27. 27
    Schlemizel says:

    @different-church-lady:
    Are there any editors anywhere any more? It would appear not as total crap is routine in papers, magazines & online publications. Particularly egregious is inane sludge like this example and the McCardle, a story with obvious errors and omissions used to come to the conclusion desired. Add to that you will notice gross spelling and grammatical errors that go without correction. Editors cost money, there is no need for them.

  28. 28
    RandyH says:

    That Onion piece reads sort of like a George Will column. Remember his rant on people who dare to wear denim, that fabric for which he does not care?

  29. 29
    Chet says:

    Apropos of the thread title, pity the miner for a heart of gold in the conservasphere. Talk about your full-time jobs.

  30. 30
    slag says:

    I didn’t feel this way six or seven years ago, but I have a harder and harder time distinguishing serious discourse in official publications from the Onion.

    Speaking of…this seems about right:

    America Gets Set To Enjoy Month Or So Of Libya Seeming Like Symbol Of Freedom

    Especially this:

    “We should all enjoy this stirring image of Libya as a beacon of democracy before Islamists or a new military strongman moves in to fill the power vacuum.” Other Americans, however, said that after a month of looking to Libya as a symbol of freedom, they planned to simply stop paying attention to the nation altogether.

    Whoever said that knowledge is power is an idiot.

  31. 31
    KG says:

    The Onion piece is amazing. I use to try to do the shaving ritual, but I’ve found I like sleep too much. Yes, I use a safety razor and brush, but those extra ten minutes that a proper washing and preparation requires are so much better spent in bed. It’s really so much easier to be well styled when you don’t have to be anywhere before noon.

  32. 32
    TG Chicago says:

    I have a harder and harder time distinguishing serious discourse in official publications from the Onion.

    That’s pretty much what I said about your awful post last night. You really should retract that one.

  33. 33
    jl says:

    @different-church-lady: My cynical hypothesis is that the objective function of most editors at places like Forbes is to publish propaganda pieces that keep the mass of self satisfied self righteous and narcissistic middle class in line.

    They may also believe the stuff, but that is neither here nor there in terms of what they need to do to keep their jobs.

    The piece was offensive and stupid, as you say. And you are correct, a string of random thoughtoids that sooth one’s conscience is not the same as being totally thoughtless. My bad. The guy is clearly not totally zombied out, though if he is not careful, that will be his fate.

  34. 34
    El Cid says:

    @KG: I figure that if a bit of surface cleaning and degreasing are required for the best results in just painting many surfaces that it works for skin and razors, too. No ritual, though, just soap up and wash off once or twice before the shave gel/cream/soap just to remove the oils which gum up the razor. It all goes better.

  35. 35
    Jack the Second says:

    I’ve started to see Poe’s Law as something like Rule 34 for the real world.

  36. 36
    wasabi gasp says:

    If I were a poor black kid, I’d cancel my subscription to Forbes.

  37. 37
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @DougJ: I think Balloon Juice needs a style blogger. We have beautiful minds but we need to look good too, right!

  38. 38
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Schlemizel:
    Actually, there never was a golden age of print (well, text) journalism at any time, anywhere. The copy editing may have been better in the old days. But then, as now, as it shall ever be, editors would print trivia, asinine crap, suck-up pieces for the rich and powerful, celebrity gossip and scandal. The tomorrow’s fish-wrap business has been like this since day one.

    @RandyH:
    Agreed. A man who wears bow-ties in the 21st century should not presume to lecture others on style.

  39. 39
    David in NY says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    If I were a poor black kid, I’d cancel my subscription to Forbes.

    Yes!

  40. 40
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Amir Khalid: Fusty George Will is not stylish, not at all.

  41. 41
    David in NY says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Balloon Juice needs a style blogger

    We’ll have to get new pajamas?

  42. 42
    Nellcote says:

    Remember a couple of weeks ago (a lifetime, I know) when Trump said he was going to get 10 poor kids and make them junior apprentices?

    How’s that project going?

  43. 43
    different-church-lady says:

    @jl:

    They may also believe the stuff, but that is neither here nor there in terms of what they need to do to keep their jobs.

    Good perspective. There’s a halfway good chance the editor(s) looked at the 250 or so commenters calling the guy an idiot, counted them as clicks, considered it an internet victory, and went off for a martini.

    a string of random thoughtoids that sooth one’s conscience is not the same as being totally thoughtless.

    But in a lot of ways it’s even worse than thoughtless — it’s condescending thought. The really infuriating thing about that piece is the tone of “I’ve been thinking about black people lately,” the same way someone might say “I’ve been thinking about time travel lately.” To this guy poor blacks are a completely abstract concept, in the same way interstellar exploration is. And he’s so touched by his own new-born enlightenment about these strange, downtrodden people he’s heard about but never met that he’s just gotta share.

    Condescension: it’s not just something you wipe off your windshield in the morning.

  44. 44
    David in NY says:

    @Catsy:

    running jokes about reality overtaking The Onion

    Tom Lehrer said that satire died when Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Then came the Onion’s 2001 headline: “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’.”

    And now, every day, it’s harder and harder to know …

  45. 45
    Schlemizel says:

    @slag:

    There recent piece on people living in “not our problem any more” getting blown up was pretty dead on.

  46. 46
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @David in NY: Not just new pajamas, an entire wardrobe. Hair and makeup tips for women. Also accessories, shooz and bags oh my!

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    @wasabi gasp: You… are the new Internets Champion!

  48. 48
    David in NY says:

    @different-church-lady:

    poor blacks are a completely abstract concept,

    True of almost everybody in this country who isn’t black or doesn’t live in or near a black community. Except to the extent that black=criminal, which is how lots of people see it and which is far worse than abstract.

  49. 49
    JPL says:

    Media related OT… It appears that ABC news is planning on replacing Amanpour. link

    also, too.. Herm Cain is available.

  50. 50
    David in NY says:

    Wait — too late to edit. I didn’t mean that everybody was an abstract concept, just that most people also saw blacks as an abstract concept.

  51. 51
    patrick the pedantic literalist says:

    @BGinCHI:
    The mirror image of Lady GaGa, who is gay but has sex with guys. Although, I think she kissed a girl once.

  52. 52
    Redshift says:

    @David in NY: The problem wasn’t just that he (like many others) lives somewhere where poor black children are an abstract concept; that’s not offensive in itself. It’s that he was unable to see that it made him completely unqualified to offer an opinion about them.

  53. 53
    rlrr says:

    @Nellcote:

    He’s still trying to line up ten 17 year old girls for the project…

  54. 54
    KG says:

    @El Cid: That’s what I try to do… but more often than not, it devolves into “splashing warm water on my face a few times before applying shaving cream/soap with brush”

    ETA: funny thing is, even with a half assed attempt like that, I still get a better shave with the safety razor than I ever did doing all the extra leg work with those 47-blade monstrosities that are advertized everywhere?

  55. 55
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @patrick the pedantic literalist: I think that was Katie Perry, Gaga was just born this way.

  56. 56
    Gex says:

    @Redshift: I believe that satire died the day the Onion published the “Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity has finally ended” after W. was elected. They thought they were being funny, it turned out they were telling the future.

  57. 57
    Lynn Dee says:

    True story: I worked with a programmer (I forget his name, so I’ll call him John) about 20 years ago who was fairly liberal as programmers go (or so I thought), and whose style of dress was somewhat unusual for a programmer: bleached blond hair, an earring, and flannel shirts. Someone mentioned one day that John was a Log Cabin Republican. I looked at the guy completely dumbfounded and said: “John’s a Republican?!

  58. 58
    BGinCHI says:

    @patrick the pedantic literalist:

    The mirror image of Lady GaGa…

    Best compliment I’ve had today. But it’s early.

  59. 59
    Menzies says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I wear a bowtie every Tuesday – of course, more because it’s camo-patterned than because it’s a bowtie. (Tactical Tuesday, we call it at work.)

  60. 60
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Menzies:
    A camo-pattern bowtie? Cool. I wear decade-old freebie T-shirts with my elderly denims and beat-up leather boots seven days a week. I think it’s a safe bet that neither of us presumes to lecture other people about style.

  61. 61

    @ruemara 6: OK, that’s a weeks worth of internets for you. Hope you got room.

  62. 62
    David in NY says:

    @Lynn Dee: lol.

  63. 63
    khead says:

    Craig James for Senate? Really?

    No fucking chance after getting Leach fired.

    The good news is it gets him off of ESPN broadcasts.

    Edit: Missed MarkB @ 18. My bad there.

  64. 64
    Brachiator says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    A man who wears bow-ties in the 21st century should not presume to lecture others on style.

    Unless, of course, he’s Doctor Who.

    Bowties are cool

  65. 65

    @Brachiator: Well, he’s only in the 21st century sometimes.

  66. 66
  67. 67
    No one of importance says:

    @ruemara:

    Look, it’s just a frank truth that white people are just better at being black.

    And Muslim, too. Or so Samara Morgan would have us believe.

    Those goshdarn white people. They’re better at *everything*, including racism.

  68. 68
    AxelFoley says:

    wherein a middle-aged white guy says what he would do if he were a poor black child

    60+ comments in and NO ONE make a reference to The Jerk? C’mon, Balloon Juice, DougJ set you guys up perfectly with that intro.

    I am disappoint.

  69. 69
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @AxelFoley: It was in the very first comment of ABL’s thread on the subject.

  70. 70
    AxelFoley says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass:

    Ah, I should have known.

    My faith in this place is restored.

  71. 71

    […] brief (for me) reaction about the now-notorious Gene Marks piece in Forbes. (With apologies to ABL, DougJ, and John, all of whom get this “timely” thing waaaay better than yours […]

  72. 72

    […] do I sign up?Speaking of the above, the Onion beat them to it. Seriously, the parallels are scary (Via).Related Posts13 December 2011 – Incitement &#187 US Middle East Opinion &#187 The Debate LinkMega […]

  73. 73
    Paul in KY says:

    @patroclus: Talk about reverse-affirmative action. He shoulda been Eric Dickerson’s backup, only getting in after Eric had 300+ yards.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] do I sign up?Speaking of the above, the Onion beat them to it. Seriously, the parallels are scary (Via).Related Posts13 December 2011 – Incitement &#187 US Middle East Opinion &#187 The Debate LinkMega […]

  2. […] brief (for me) reaction about the now-notorious Gene Marks piece in Forbes. (With apologies to ABL, DougJ, and John, all of whom get this “timely” thing waaaay better than yours […]

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