Tag Archives: rhetoric and meaning

Describing the call out as oppression: Paula Deen

There is something toxic about people who have public histories of being offensive arguing that being criticized for hateful comments is comparable to experiencing hate itself.

Here is Zerlina Maxwell explaining why Paula Deen’s recent articulation is exactly this kind of hijack of experience.

“In a recent interview with People, Deen said (via CNN):

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name,” she tells People. “It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” referring to NFL prospect and former University of Missouri football standout, Michael Sam.

“He (Sam) said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

It’s no surprise that Deen would feel embattled, but as someone who said racially insensitive things, it is a surprise that Deen sees herself as the oppressed, instead of the one doing the oppressing.  How is Paula the victim if she was the mastermind behind the slave themed wedding?  It seems to me that actually being oppressed and embattled by structural inequality and policies that lead to disparate outcomes for people of color is worse than being called out for your bigotry.  And being the first openly gay player in the NFL like Michael Sam is nothing like being a celebrity chef exposed for referring to your Black employees in explicitly racist terms.”

via Paula Deen thinks she’s oppressed like “that Black” gay NFL player.

1.  Writing words or speaking it aloud usually archive ideas marked to bodies.

2. It is worthwhile developing critical vocabulary for this rhetorical maneuver.   It is one of the best tactics to resist the call-out.

3.  Thanks Feministing.  You rock.

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Filed under communication, Gay, learning, media, representation, rhetoric

Freestyle rhetorical analysis: Top Chef 11 finale

Rhetoric is a lived art — we use it in all of our discussions when we make arguments.  When we write stuff down or record our words, they can be analyzed.  There is mass critical discontent about the winner of Season 11 of Top Chef.  In the scrutiny of a single television episode, quite a few folks have made visible pathways of arguments presented in the TV show.  Salute to freestyle pop culture rhetorical analysis!

Consider the breakdown of the faux-humility presented by contestant Nicholas in Entertainment Weekly by Stephen Lee:

Back in the stew room, Nicholas infuriated me by saying to Nina, “Well, it didn’t happen.” Nina: “What?” Nicholas: “I had to be perfect to beat you.” Just in case anyone was mistaking that for humility, it was NOT. That’s Nicholas trying to look like the underdog so that if he lost, he could just shrug sadly, but if he won, he could do that whole dropped-jaw thing and make it look like some dramatic come-from-behind victory.

via ‘Top Chef’ season finale: An unsavory winner | Season 11 Episode 17 | EW.com.


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Filed under academics, do-it-yourself, food, representation, rhetoric

Onion tweet and visibility of hatred of women

Thanks to the potent Feministing column “Your daily feminist cheat sheet,” who recommended film critic Maryann Johansen who coordinates Flick Filosopher.  The title of her article is: “a feminist film critic defends the Onion’s Quvenzhane Wallis tweet.”   Her title is inflammatory, but I’m a little intrigued by the notion of some idiot was going to parade their shadow representation of feminism to justify calling a nine-year old kid a misogynistic insult.

I could not have gotten it more wrong.  Turns out that Maryann Johansen is not only on-point, but seems to be the kind of really smart feminist critic who can help make oppressive discourse visible, able to be mocked and defeated.  Thinking about it, the denigration of Quvenzhané Wallis is only visible because the insult doesn’t work against regular celebrity women — they are often called terrible names.  Johansen explains that the Onion tweet is visible precisely because the message (hate women) has suffused mainstream culture.

That gets attention in a way that calling a famous adult woman the same thing never does. Because it’s clearly outrageous in a way that, apparently, isn’t quite so clear-cut when it comes to an adult woman. But she asked for it by wearing that dress. She’s an attention whore. She likes being in the spotlight. She can stop being famous any time if she can’t take it. We should see such rationales as ridiculous. We can see it when they’re applied to a nine-year-old. But we don’t see it in general.

via a feminist film critic defends the Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis tweet | MaryAnn Johanson’s FlickFilosopher.com.

What a smart argument.  I still don’t see any need to defend the tweet.  I’m not going to cheer on hatred of women in order to make hatred of women more visible.  We work with the tools available to us.  We read the signs available to us.  We dismantle systems of oppression as they are described and spoken into being.

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Filed under art, communication, feminism, learning, media, representation, resistance