A few Girls critics, including the black writer who exists, tried their hand at a statistical argument, noting that Brooklyn overall is only about a third white — saying, in effect, that Girls wasn’t representing reality, but distorting it. But this argument is at best daft, and at worst disingenuous: People do not live and interact with a random sample of people from their city or borough; they live and interact with the people they get to know in various setting — settings that are often segregated, such as neighborhoods, jobs, and university alumni communities. Indeed, there are many whites, many blacks, and many Hispanics in Brooklyn — but in large part, each group is tucked away in its own bubble, as the briefest glance at the Census data reveals.
Girls writer Lesley Arfin fought back at first, tweeting a joke that was both more insightful and funnier than anything on the show: “What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” She perfectly captured the absurdity of the idea that every story should represent everyone, not to mention the self-centeredness of the demand that every work of art include someone who looks like you, and made her observation cut by choosing an extreme example of a movie that did not include her — a movie that no “diversity” advocate would dare suggest should have included her. Precious is a movie about a black teenager in Harlem who suffers horrifying abuse. It didn’t need a smart-mouthed white girl for comic relief.
The Left was not amused. After Arfin tweeted an incoherent apology, deleted the joke, and then deleted the apology as well, blogger Elspeth Reeve of The Atlantic informed her readers that Arfin was “learning there’s no such thing as ironic racism,” and highlighted some other jokes Arfin had written that touched on race in some way. (For example, she once suggested “taking Obama to the White House” as a euphemism for defecating.) Reeve offered no explanation as to why this particular humorist was not allowed to use edgy racial material, when these types of jokes are nearly ubiquitous among American comedians of all colors and creeds.
Seven excruciating days after Reeve’s post, the fury reached a peak with Lindy West’s “A Complete Guide to Hipster Racism,” an article on Jezebel, a website that bills itself as being about “celebrity, sex, fashion for women.” In this brief against humor we are informed, more or less, that where race is concerned, there is no such thing as a joke. For example, it is racist to introduce someone as “my black friend,” even if you say it with a smile on your face and know that your black friend won’t be offended.
The most amusing section of West’s article pertained to racism of the “tee-hee, aren’t I adorable?” variety. This is when white girly-girls find humor in pretending to be gangsters. We learn it’s racist for a white woman to perform a quiet acoustic cover of a violent rap song, and for “suburban white girls” to flash gang signs. It was also racist when the cute white actress from the sitcom New Girl, Zooey Deschanel, retweeted this joke from the cute white pop singer Sara Bareilles: “Home from tour and first things first: New Girl episodes I missed. #thuglife.” “Thug life” is a gangsta-rap theme popularized by Tupac Shakur.
If the Left expects Americans to take its crusade against modern racism seriously, it will have to find better examples of bias than the predominantly white cast of Girls and some harmless jokes from adorable pop stars. And just as important, young liberals could benefit from lightening the hell up.