Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stupid White Review by Dawn Allison (Book Review)

Stupid White Review
by Dawn Allison
(Review of Stupid White Men
by Michael Moore)

On a seemingly endless car trip my mind was taken over, invaded from the outside. Though we were driving through New Mexico it was not aliens that dared enter and infect my brain. Heavens no! It was Stupid White Men. They lurk in every state, in every big city, and perhaps even right next door. You can run, but you can’t hide. The worst? They’re impossible to pick out of a crowd. Oh, yeah, and they really are out to get you.

Have I crossed the thin line between crazy and sane? Am I a delusional paranoid? No, not all of the time. I was reading Stupid White Men by Michael Moore. Although I was previously aware of many ideas expressed by the author, there were also many things that I did not know. When Clinton took the White House in 1992 I was eleven years old. I didn’t know, or really care to know too much about his presidency. I was eighteen when Bush was elected president, and by that time I had begun to notice a lot more of what the government was doing. Because of my age during the reign of Clinton I never suspected that he had done some of the things he did. I guess because everything seemed to be going smoothly enough at the time it was more like he slipped it under our noses while our eyes were closed. I have learned by reading this book that the biggest difference between Clinton and Bush was that Clinton could feed people shit and make them think they were eating rhubarb pie, while Bush probably couldn’t so much as spell rhubarb.

Of course, I don’t think President Bush is retarded or anything per se, just better suited for a life of hard labor where speech isn’t part of the job requirement than for the presidency. He’d probably make a great dishwasher. Lord knows he hasn’t done well at any of the other enterprises he’s taken on. Of course, I didn’t need Michael Moore to suggest something might be wrong with our president, I heard Bush claim on television that he wasn’t putting subliminable messages in his campaign ads. I believed him too, I mean, if he can’t even pronounce the word...

Clinton, however, came as a surprise. If you have fond memories of his presidency and no desire to see him vilified, this book may not be for you. It surprised me that while he did terrible and awful things to the world that the Republican Party was trying to have him impeached for a little splooge spot. I mean, there was much better material to impeach him for. NAFTA, anyone? A blowjob in comparison to the state of the world (and perhaps our economy now) seems a damn fool thing to focus on. It’s a story better suited to late night comedians than actual news crews. Of course, if Moore had focused only on two specific stupid white men the book would have been boring.

Moore not only discusses the last two presidents and their faux pas (anybody know the plural for that?), but also the criminal stereotype that is attached to black people yet is just as appropriate for white people. While I agree that a white guy is a far more likely to connive you out of your hard-earned cash (tricky white-collar bastards), I doubt Moore has ever spent much time in the south. The relevancy of that? I too have been harmed more by white people than by black people, of course, much like Moore I grew up in the frigid climate that surrounds the Great Lakes like a cloud of misery. I grew up in Ohio, and like Michigan, there are very few people of any particular ethnicity other than Caucasian. I’m not saying black people really are criminals, I’m just saying how could I, or Moore for that matter, know either way without living among them?

My mom, on the other hand, lives in Virginia Beach, in an apartment complex where she is one of two white families in the whole area. I went there over the summer, and while I was trying to sleep I heard gunshots in the night. Her car was stolen once, her apartment was broken into (my brother was sleeping on the couch at the time) and she basically lives in fear. Of course, my mom’s disabled and lives in a poor neighborhood that has a high crime rate, which is surely a result of poverty. What I’m saying is that from experience I have found the group of people that is the most dangerous are the severely impoverished. It’s not a color thing; it’s a money thing. Granted, many minorities don’t have good odds of rising above poverty levels but it is circumstance rather than color that turns people on to becoming criminals.

That is why I have a problem with Moore’s chapter entitled, “Kill Whitey”. Although, I do agree that things could and should be much better for African Americans, I think that his statements should be examined closely.

“Even Native Americans, who are among the poorest of the poor, have fewer children living in poverty than African-Americans” (62).

Really? Just curious, how many more children do African-Americans have than Native Americans do? Because if I remember right, we damn near about decimated the Native Americans, so I’m willing to bet their numbers are smaller to start with. It seems like Moore is not above jerry-rigging statistics to get his point across. The same tendency can be seen in any number of his films. Like in Bowling for Columbine, for instance, when he went to Canada and just walked into to people’s houses.

“What? You crazy Canadians don’t lock your doors because you don’t have guns?” Says Moore to the owner of the home he just entered. Yeah? Well, I don’t lock my doors when I’m sitting in my living room either. Do you?

Why not just speak the truth plainly? We’ll still think bad stuff is bad even if you don’t go to all the bother of doctoring up the statistics.

That’s not to say Moore doesn’t make some valid and admittedly entertaining points.

Moore’s environmental complaints perhaps struck me the most. I guess I can understand why we will kill each other, but you just don’t shit where you lay. Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t understand why we kill each other. But still, you don’t dump toxins where people have to live, or in water they have to drink, or, well...anywhere? If it wasn’t for those toxins I wouldn’t be typing on this keyboard, or be able to wash my hair, so obviously hazardous waste has to go somewhere, but where?

Moore didn’t say. See, his solutions are amusing antidotes that have little to no bearing on reality. It’s so much easier to bitch about stuff than it is to suggest or implement a solution. My suggestion? Texas. Do the world a favor. Put the ranchers and the oil tycoons right out of business. If you want beef, grow your own. If you don’t want grow your own check out the new, not chemically enhanced, soy burgers! No? Okay, I concede. Real solutions are hard. Moore wrote a book that didn’t offer any, so don’t expect any out of me in this review.

I have to say I loved the chapter called “The End of Men”. Is it because I am a woman fed up with living in a man’s world? Or because living in a man’s world for the last couple thousand years has made a real wreck of mess? A little from column A and a little from column B. But ask yourself, would your mother have dropped bombs in the middle of a city full of women and children were she running the show? I thought not. Mine might, but she’s impoverished.

Once again Moore offers humorous solutions lacking substance for international problems, like holy wars, the Cold War, and North Korea, and so on. Are humorous solutions the best we can come up with? Apparently. The world is full of problems that need solving. We have to start in one spot and work our way towards each of them. Until then we can only joke about how bad everything sucks and hope that our late night comedians make some damn good jokes while they have such a plethora of material.

There is an answer, though Moore doesn’t offer it. It was free when I heard it and I’ll say it freely now. You must change your life. It’s the only answer that covers it all in five words while still being true. And before you get all taken aback and offended, let me clarify. We all must change our lives. Or not. Somebody’s got to give the late night comedians material, right?

Author bio:

Dawn Allison now resides in the south where she has yet to be robbed or raped by anybody, unless you count the various credit card companies she's indebted to. Yes. It should count as getting raped and robbed.

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