Thursday, October 22, 2009

John Safran's race and pan tee* sn$ffing oddities

Hi, I'm John Safran. I'm latching onto the noble cause of tolerance and general inter-racial fraternisation. We're naturally attracted to other races.

No way, you say, because you're all so conservative compared to me. Well, I'll pass on some astonishing facts.

Did you know lots of white women are attracted to black guys?

... pick yourself up, there's more:

I, John Safran, am attracted to part Asians.

NO WAY, OMG! I know, I know, this completely tips on its head all cliches out there. Oh did I mention, part Asians go for me, look at my photos, here's 3 I've been dating... etc etc. OK, let me steal some panties and sniff the genitalia of women without their consent and we'll see what I can prove...

Is it just me or was this a string of sometimes offensive splats that failed to connect? I'm up for being shocked. Love any topic to do with the juice of attraction, don't mind getting into the way people of differeing races do it, etc. I read Houellebecq, I'm not particularly sensitive on this stuff. But I think interracial p00rn probably makes a more compelling case for love between colours than what was served up on ABC last night.

The sperm donor stuff was a bit foul, and proved nothing. Other than reminding us that so many people still could not give a rat's about the child's right to know anything. To me it was hard to separate conceptually from the 'purpose' behind the rapes carried out by Serbian and Croatian soldiers as part of the ethnic cleansing that went on there. Consent, effectively, was removed, so a different race could be promulgated. Witty stuff.

The p&nty sn1ffing escapades are a set up I'm sure, it would certainly be a criminal offence to do that, probably acts of gross indecency as well as theft, so he's either faked those bits or sought permission. If he didn't it's sexually invasive and abusive.

And why did he bring the Minister from Togo into it? I found that just, well, here's a white guy from a rich country granted an audience most likely because they're poor and desperate for any recognition, and he just wants to bang on about why black guys in Australia get an unfair advantage?

His obsession with part Asian girls does not bear out his theory. It just shows he has an obsession with part Asian girls. As a white male obsession it's about as novel as white women into by black guys. In a general sense, Asian girls look very young by Caucasian standards. Black men look particularly physically strong and imposing. Viewed that way, neither is a particularly novel source of attraction signifiers.

His theory, about genes and opposites, would be better demonstrated by people who go for people of all other racial backgrounds. Which, based on last night, he is not.

My limited knowledge of the whole genes and opposites thing is that there's truth there, but 'race' is just one way to find such 'opposites', and is a means to the priority ends from a genetic point of view which is strengthening immunities and eradicating weaknesses. So a Jewish girl who had complementary immunities to him should be just as attractive to him. And given he lives in a city full of people from all corners of the globe, if it was all about being attracted to the 'other' why did he keep bounding back to one particular obsession?

I don't know, it was all just a bit um really. I have liked a lot of Safran's stuff, but in this case I didn't think the ends connected at all to the means. It just seemed an indulgence of a privileged, powerful man having fun at others' expense and acting like an adolescent boy. Clearly I missed some witty connection between the dots so I'll wait to have it pointed out...

* I don't censor my headings very much, but was getting just a wee tad too many of the wrong type of searches...


Kelly said...

thank you. adolescent boy yes. and as a woman...I hate the term panty/ies!!!! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek makes me cringe, undies is a much less cringe worthy term! is it just me??

The Accidental Housewife said...

Didn't see it so can't comment on the main topic, but I'm with Kelly. Panties? Yuck! Undies or knickers please...

Armagnac Daddy said...

Fair enough, but I also agree with Stephen King (On Writing) that you should use the right word for the right context.

'Panty' is without a doubt the more s&xualised of the available words, undies is almost its linguistic polar opposite. So suitability relates to context. I am writing a post about what I percieved to be a highly sexualised act, and in fact as a fetish it is known as "panty sniffing".

I'm not going to carefully select inoffensive language that is desexualised if my whole point is to emphasise aspects I found lewd, is it?

While I try to be sensitive, reasonably polite, and to steer away from flaming and trolling, I have my limits, and I am a strong believer in clear, honest writing. So with respect, I must disagree.

In the right context, I like the word. If the context seems 'wrong' in an unpleasant way, this may in fact go to the very point I am making in the post!

Anonymous said...

I also haven't seen this, and so I can't comment, although there's enough debate about it in the press. It sounds lame, and obviously adolescent, as you say.

I'm prompted to address your connection to the war in former Yugoslavia, particularly as I was born there. So, I found this analogy interesting:

"To me it was hard to separate conceptually from the 'purpose' behind the rapes carried out by Serbian and Croatian soldiers as part of the ethnic cleansing that went on there. Consent, effectively, was removed, so a different race could be promulgated."

I'm aware that one of the potential side-effects of rape in war (and there's mountain of academic literature on the topic) is to 'promulgate the race', as you put it. However, this proposition as a primary motivator of these crimes is highly debatable. Rape, under all circumstances, including war, is primarily about power and oppression. The notion that the ethnic groups in Yugoslavia were waging the war to advance their race is also questionable, and has been addressed in academic literature. Some have proposed that by labelling these horrible events in terms of 'ancient ethnic hatreds', 'promotion of race and religion', etc, we are not seeing it for what it was: thuggery of a handful of greedy political dictators using military power to carve pieces of land and destroy people's lives. Rape, torture, violence and general pillage is not unique to modern day conflicts, it is a feature of all wars, including conflicts occurring elsewhere in the world as we write this. Implying that rapists in Yugoslavia were concerned with fertilisation gives too much credit to these criminals. I think that the Hague Tribunal lists rape as a separate entity constituting a crime against humanity (although I recall there was some discussion about this not being the case, but as I'm not a lawyer I'm not sure about the legal intricacies of the matter). What I have read about is the question of rape and motive at the time of war, and exerting power over the powerless is a strong (if not primary) motivator. The proposition that Serbs and Croats had some grand plan to advance their race during this civil war I find problematic. Studies show that children born as a result of these rapes were usually rejected...

As for the analogy with sperm donation in this context, I can't comment as I haven't seen the show, although it frequently fascinates me how easy it is to refer to various military 'hot spots' when discussing pretty minor examples of local popular culture.

Otherwise, great blog.

Occasional reader

Armagnac Daddy said...

An excellent comment. Little I can disagree with there regarding power and abuse.

I guess I'd disagree with the 'minor examples' to a degree, while conscious that my efforts to shine light on what I thought were really quite dark and abusive undercurrents in the show can easily turn around and appear to be a diminishing or trivialising of horrific crimes against humanity.

Even with what he might construe as noble motives, what Safran purported to do (it may all be a setup, or have gone down the drain afterwards) was also about power, in fact a grotesque self-empowerment at the expense of other people and their choices. Tricking someone into being inseminated by you in order to make a political point is, if not rape, certainly a stark power-act that completely overrides consent.

But that being said, your comment gives me food for thought.

Tony said...

"It just seemed an indulgence of a privileged, powerful man having fun at others' expense and acting like an adolescent boy."

Sounds like Sam Newman.

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean. As mentioned, I haven't seen the show, and was responding to your proposition about the "'purpose' behind the rapes" you mention in your post, with which I disagree, since I see it as a reductivist argument about why rape occurs in times of war. (I'd propose that its purpose is to contribute towards further extinction of these women and the children born to them, as they are subjected to ostracism, rejection and further abuse.)

I guess I was also having a reaction about potential trivialisation of the matter, as you mention. I understand you were trying to illustrate a point using a powerful example, and abuse of power of a different kind. I'd definitely view insemination without consent as a violation, that's for sure.

Anyway, this Safran thing sounds interesting. Must have more of a look.

Occasional reader

Ann oDyne said...

I knew I would not enjoy that show, so I did not watch it, and consequently am saved from outrage.
I do know however, that worn knickers are available from vending machines in Japan (gotta love those Japs, and don't mention The War).
On race: one of my favourite movie lines is from Bulworth, where Warren Beatty in the title role of the US Senator says: 'we just have to keep fucking till we're all the same colour'.
We can't just leave it to Bowie and Iman, Heidi Klum and Seal, Lenny and Dawn, Cleo and John Dankworth, Mai Britt and Sammy Davis Jnr, (etc).

Safran's cringeworthiness is related to having an audience. Like toddlers who play-up to attention.
I'm ignoring him in the hope he will go away.

Chai said...

I watched it and I found it entertaining. Didnt analyse it beyond that. Not sure if one is meant to with comedy.

James said...

I've watched the 1st and 2nd episodes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Its quite polished entertainment that doesn't hinge on its central plot devices alone (panty sniffing, colour change).
With baron sascha cohen going trite since his tv series, and the chaser going down the drain this year, Saffran's new show is a pleasant treat. I give it four stars.

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