NOTE: This is gonna be one of those serious, boring postings. This might be a good time to consult the aggreblog or The Dem IM.
There are many things in life for which I am not proud. This, of course, is true of just about everyone but more difficult for me because I try to live by the creed that there is nothing to fear but fear itself and nothing to be ashmaed of but the fear of shame.
Perhaps put more simply by Tyler Durden in Fight Club:
"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything... No fear, no distractions, the ability to let that which does not matter truly slide."
At some point this mentality conflicts with another of my primary beliefs: loyalty trumps all. In this case, loyalty not only to others but to identities and communities. That is, not only would I protect my friends at all costs but I would protect what it means to be a man, or Black, or from Cleveland, or a Democrat at all costs.
I find this conflict becomes relevant primarily among my comedy and my politics. I have been able to squash* most of my issues with my comedy by framing it in a post-PC/meta-bigot context that allows me to make fun of structures rather than people. This tactic worked well for Dave Chapelle... for awhile:
The third season hit a big speed bump in November 2004. He was taping a sketch about magic pixies that embody stereotypes about the races.
The black pixie—played by Chappelle—wears blackface and tries to convince blacks to act in stereotypical ways. Chappelle thought the sketch was funny, the kind of thing his friends would laugh at. But at the taping, one spectator, a white man, laughed particularly loud and long. His laughter struck Chappelle as wrong, and he wondered if the new season of his show had gone from sending up stereotypes to merely reinforcing them. "When he laughed, it made me uncomfortable," says Chappelle. "As a matter of fact, that was the last thing I shot before I told myself I gotta take fucking time out after this. Because my head almost exploded." [TIME Magazine]
Recently Chapelle did an interview on Inside the Actors Studio that was hyperreal** and said about his abrupt exit:
Mr. Chappelle said his father, who died in 1998, then relented and encouraged him to act. "But," he remembers his father saying, "name your price in the beginning. If it ever gets to be more expensive than the price you named, get out of there."
"Thus," says Mr. Chappelle with a flourish, "Africa."
That's not to say I'm about to hop a flight to Namibia* but there is always that underlying fear that I will sell out either my loyalty or my balls. It seems the only way to avoid doing so is to "name my price in the beginning."
I'm not so concerned about this on the comedy front but on the political front I've gotta think this through. As I've argued in Schiller's class, the Democrats could reinstate slavery and I'd be hesitant to vote Republican. I suppose I meant that tounge-in-cheek but its actually more true than it should be. I have been and always wanted to be a political hack, not a policy wonk (shut up, I'm not a nerd). As such, I don't really care what we do when we are in control, I just want to get us in control.
It is almost guaranteed that in ten years when President Manchin (yeah, I said it) is ruling over Hackett's Democratic House and Graham's Republican Senate, I'll have a mid-life crisis over what I have done and for what reasons. "What was the point?" I'll think. "Is this really better than it was before?" "What did I want to happen before anyways?" I need to name my price.