Monday, March 03, 2003

timmy: golly, problematic man! you look down. what's the matter?
problematic man: well, timmy, i've just gotten back from a Problematic situation.
timmy: really? what happened?
problematic man: cleverly disguised as a swarthmore student, i was reading some lacan in the kohlberg coffee bar when i got a distress call from a nearby classroom. i swooped over to see what was happening. a young well-dressed asian woman with an acoustic guitar had moved to the front to present her comic dialogue, as, over the past couple weeks, so many of her classmates had done. alarm bells rang immediately as she began, "inspired by the Vagina Monologues as performed recently by several very talented actresses, i thought i'd write my own monologue," and then proceeded to play the intro the dave matthew's "crash."
timmy: why didn't you stop her, problematic man?
problematic man: well, as the assignment was to write a comic piece, i thought perhaps the ensuing monologue would be an ironic sendup of the monologues. i let her proceed. she put down her guitar and, in a stereotypical representation of a poor-white southern accent, intoned, "i loves my guitar. my guitar is alls i got going in this world. my mama, she don't like me to play my guitar ..."
timmy: holy classism and more-than-likely racism, problematic man!
pm: precisely, little timmy. but she didn't stop there. she continued to tell the story of how her mama found her one day playing her guitar and threatened her, screaming curses ("you little crackwhore bitch girl") and expletives before wrenching the guitar from her poor daughter's grasp and smashing it against the wall. when her father came home later, she explained, he verbally and sexually abused the girl's mother, and as he had once played in a band that explained the mother's aversion to the daughter's guitar.
t: how did the class react to this cliched, melodramatic, manipulative potboiler?
pm: that's the funny thing, little timmy. people seemed to react as though it was a legitimate piece of drama. when i couldn't stand it anymore, i assumed my typical role of a sensitive swarthmore student and i raised the issue that the dialect made me uncomfortable. but just then, my arch nemesis, dr. ditz, spoke up.
t: not dr. ditz!
pm: i'm afraid so. "but like the dialect made it like so much more interesting," she said, "because like i don't get to hear that kind of talking so often, you know? it's like really exciting, cause it's different." i turned my ExoticizingTheOther laser gun at her but before i could pull the trigger, the professor stepped in and made the point for me.
t: so you didn't exactly save the day, didja, Problematic Man?
pm: no, timmy. i wish Consciousness Raising Girl had been there with me. but i did the best i could.
t: don't worry, Problematic Man. there's still every other class you've ever taken or ever will take here in which a travesty like that could never take place.
pm: you're right, it's true ... all the same, do you think i should destroy the Vagina Monologues before they tempt others to follow this young woman's lead and create other offensive stories that essentialize females-as-victims?
t: gee, you know, i haven't actually seen them so i'm not sure. [turning to the camera] what do you think?

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