I don’t usually get political here on the blog (as opposed to my FB where I pick political fights constantly and with great elan). Recently, though, some of the national conversation and chats I’ve had on social media have led me to a thought too long to put on social media. So here it is.
Let’s talk about privilege.
Privilege is a social construct people toss around a lot that boils down to the fact that life ain’t fair. For example, I’m white and male and hetero and grew up with sufficient food. I earned none of that, but it makes corners of my life easier than it is for people without those advantages. For better or worse, privilege is the word we use to describe that, and it’s a real thing.
Trouble is, a lot of people skew towards asshole when the topic comes up.
- Liberal assholes use it as a bludgeon to end legitimate questioning of their ideas. They holler RACIST or claim the other can’t understand instead of having a conversation. More on them in a bit.
- Conservative assholes respond with indignation, and point out how their lives are limited by their demographic identity. Very often, it sounds like “There was a Black Pride march parade today…why can’t I have a White Pride parade?”
Both sides go all out when this happens, joining an upward spiral of outrage that accomplishes nothing. But it’s not the liberals’ fault. It’s not the conservatives’ fault.
It’s Vanilla Ice’s fault.
Yep. I said it. Vanilla Ice is at fault for this. Here’s how that breaks down:
Back in 1981, Queen and David Bowie recorded the song above: “Under Pressure.” It’s a classic rock piece of its period, a collaboration of puissant musicians, and deserves a place in music history.
A little less than ten years later, this happened:
“Ice, Ice Baby” is an objectively terrible song, but the bassline it samples from “Under Pressure” makes it as catchy as HPV in a freshman dorm. It ran through the airwaves, spreading as quickly as…well, HPV in a freshman dorm.
It’s a quarter century later, and the catchiness and marketing behind Vanilla Ice’s opus means that he owns that bassline. You can hum “Under Pressure” as much as you want, sample “Under Pressure” in your mashups however you like…doesn’t matter what context you do it in. When that bassline come in, people are going to think “Ice, Ice Baby.”
Even if you were raised by hermits and only ever heard “Under Pressure,” even if Vanilla Ice was the farthest thing from your mind, even if you abhor Vanilla Ice and everything he stands for…if you hum “Under Pressure” while dressed like Freddy Mercury in line for a Queen tribute concert, people are gonna hear “Ice, Ice Baby.”
It’s not your fault, and it’s not a good thing. It ain’t right. It ain’t fair. But it’s how the world is right now.
Still with me?
We can’t have a “White Pride” parade because it’s just like the bassline from “Under Pressure, only instead of Vanilla Ice ruining it for everybody it was these douchebags.
They own the phrase “White Pride” and similar sentiments just as much as Vanilla Ice now owns the bassline for “Under Pressure.” Any time you hum about it, no matter what you mean, everybody’s gonna hear “Ice, Ice Baby.”
Yes, people of all the other colors of the rainbow — brown, black, yellow, purple, green, albino — get to have their pride days. But we don’t. Because of Vanilla Ice. It’s not your fault, and it’s not a good thing. It ain’t right. It ain’t fair. But it’s how the world is right now.
Don’t blame liberals for it. It’s not their fault either. Blame the racist asshat who stole the term from polite usage in the first place. Blame Vanilla Ice.
Liberals who skew assholish during this conversation, this doesn’t let you off the hook. Thing is, that guy humming on Facebook right now? He’s probably humming “Under Pressure.” We know this because all decent people hate Vanilla Ice, and most people are decent. It’s largely shitty of anybody to assume otherwise based on a few bars of song.
True, some folks actually like Vanilla Ice, and hum “Ice, Ice Baby” all the time. They are terrible human beings and deserve all the scorn and derision you care to heap upon them. They’re easy to spot, too. They’re the ones starting statements with “I don’t mean to sound racist, but….” and end them by saying something jaw-droppingly racist.
So lay off all the other people, the ones who like Queen and David Bowie and sometimes hum a tune that’s close to their hearts. It may be easy to assume they’re humming “Ice, Ice Baby” because of what I said before, but you’re still wrong about what you think they’re humming. Leaping to a wrong assumption puts you squarely in the asshole box for the duration of the conversation.
- It’s all Vanilla Ice’s fault
- If you’re tempted to hum “Under Pressure”…don’t. Vanilla Ice has stolen it and people will misunderstand
- If you hear somebody humming that bassline, make damn sure it’s not “Under Pressure” before you start calling people names
- Most importantly….it’s all Vanilla Ice’s fault
It’s my estimation that race of any color is stupid to be proud of. So is being gay, straight, trans, cis, left-handed or tall. Pride is for stuff you earned. Like empathy and the ability to look at things from multiple points of view. Like living a pretty okay life despite the obstacles in your path. Like having the courage to come out of the closet, or developing the self-awareness to understand where your prejudices lie.
- Like realizing that straight, white, cis males are the popular, pretty kids in life’s high school and we sometimes do things that hurt the nerds, geeks, freaks and spazoids even when we don’t mean to.
- Like understanding that “racist” is often as lazy and unfair and hateful a label as any other slur you care to name, and we should be very careful when tossing it around
At the end of the day, we all have more in common than we don’t. So let’s stop having this conversation in ways that convince us otherwise. After all, we all believe deeply that Vanilla Ice Sucks. If we can’t unite under that common ground, what hope is there for any of us?