A hilarious postracial America. Colson Whitehead, taking charge:
Pop culture is the arena for our hopes, our fears and our most cherished dreams. It is our greatest export to the world. That’s why as your secretary of postracial affairs I’ll concentrate on the entertainment industry.
Some changes will be minor. In television, “Diff’rent Strokes” and “What’s Happening!!” will now be known as “Different Strokes” and “What Is Happening?” Other changes will be more drastic. “Sanford and Son” trafficked in demeaning stereotypes. In these more enlightened times, everyone knows that one person’s “junk” is another’s compulsive eBay purchase. A more postracially robust version features Sanford pÃ¨re as the genius behind a community-based auction site, with his son, Lamont, the reluctant Webmaster. Think of the opportunities for fleet-footed banter and sophisticated, pun-based aperÃ§us. Like “Frasier,” but postracial.
Good week for Whitehead, earlier mocking every book genre.
A necessary follow-up to Gary Lutz’s “The Sentence Is a Lonely Place.” Colson Whitehead, the man who brought us “Finally, a Thin President,” writes for Harper’s this month on sentence greatness. Saul Bellow’s “I am an American, Chicago born” opening line makes the cut.
There it is in all its Bellovian glory, the bluster and bombast! Can you smell it? The musk of a virile sentence drawing blood into itself? It is about to spread the labia of mediocrity and rut with the ineffable. We could all do worse than to write like Saul Bellow. And when I say write like Saul Bellow, I mean be Saul Bellow. And when I say be Saul Bellow, I mean unzip the skin from his body and wear it as a sort of Saul Bellow suit so that we can get cozy in it and truly inhabit it and understand the Old Macher. Except he is dead. And he was quite short, so your ankles and wrists would poke out of the flesh suit as if you were some ruddy-cheeked schoolboy who has outgrown his uniform, grimly trudging home from the elementary school and dreaming that one day you will write and be free from all these dullards and their cruel jibes–
Where was I?
“Finally, a Thin President,” an op-ed in Wednesday’s New York Times. This blog doesn’t do politics, but it does back messing with columnist conventions on all sides of the aisle to show love to skinny people.
We knew it’d be an uphill battle. America has a long, troubled history. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal came out and said what all Americans felt, but were too afraid to say aloud: “In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Senator Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.” Had he bitten off more than he could chew?
“A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.”