(Primarily Whiteness) On the road again…

What’s “the open road?”

A concept that only exists for people with mobility.

You mean mobility as in they have a car?

No. Social and economic mobility. The car’s in that mix though.

Social and economic? You mean they have money?

That covers the economic part. But you can have money and not have much social mobility. And let’s not confuse the two with physical mobility, which generally follows them but doesn’t have to. If you enough social and economic mobility you can stay right where you are. In fact, that’s the probably the point of those forms of mobility. They afford you the privilege to just be where you are. And then, whenever you feel like it, you have the privilege to be somewhere else. Then the allure of “the open road” is available to you. Even if you aren’t mobile though, the allure is there. It’s presented as a universal appeal, but the reality of it is as an exclusive journey.

You’re getting pedantic.

Why do white people love the open road? Why are there so many road movies, and why are they, like all stories really, dominated by white characters and their unambiguously white quirks?

Why are you asking the questions now?

Take Netflix’s latest film, The Fundamentals of Caring, starring the eminently endearing Paul Rudd. (Does he resonate with non-Whites?)

(Are parenthetical questions rhetorical or fair game?)

It hits all the beats you’d expect in a road movie, but the most significant one might be its racial homogeneity. You don’t really see too many road stories with non-Whites. Even Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is about an apocalyptic wasteland where we’re asked to identify with a white father and his son. Because who else would we want to see in a truly post-racial world? (Speaking of that, did you notice how in most dystopian visions, the world is populated by white people? For all its Feminism, even Mad Max couldn’t muster any racial diversity. Like Fox’s The Last Man on Earth shows us, we inherit a white vision of reality, and projecting that into the future always leaves us yearning for the absence of race.)

(Thanks for the lesson, Dad.) Does the road have to be an actual road for characters to go “on the road”?

No, Joseph Campbell. The road is really just the journey. I just happened to be struck by the Whiteness of The Fundamentals of Caring.

I was struck by the pathetic attempt to make Selena Gomez bad. Is cursing supposed to convince us that her character is a rebel?

Fuck if I care. Can we get back to White people and their enduring love-fest with the frontier myth?

Frontier myth?

You know the song, “This Land is Your Land,” and how it’s supposed to be this beautifully patriotic tribute to America? All it really says is how arrogant White people are about their conquest. Roads tie their dominion together, so of course they love to be on them. Wandering about freely, with no concerns of being shot by police along the way. (Speaking of wandering…wanderlust. Another decidedly White concept.)

Remember that cartoon you saw the other day, about Obi-Wan telling Luke to “Use your white privilege?”

Of course. Star Wars is a classic extension into space of frontier mythology. And it is (or was, at least) mostly white. Minus Lando “Cool”risian, who just appropriates “cool pose” into the Star Wars universe.

Where are you going with all this?

I’m just trying to get back on the road of creativity. We haven’t produced any writing in a long time. What better way to return to it than to address white privilege qua white privilege?

There’s no way you used “qua” correctly right there.

Fuck you. If I have to reduce all this discursive rambling to a thesis, it’s something like this: white people enjoy the privilege of mobility, which allows their dreams of “the open road” and the world being their oyster and shit to be a real possibility in their own lives. When they watch road movies (hell, when they watch any movie), their identification isn’t an illusion. They can actually see themselves as the characters that are representing them. Their road is open too. They don’t understand that other people’s roads are closed (or more optimistically, under construction?) because the stories are presented as universal truths, rather than peculiar examples of what the few are free to pursue.

Good to be back.

May white privilege be with us.

So “the Force” was just racial privilege?

The Jedi did come up with some curious “natural” bullshit about midichlorian count, which sounds way too close to eugenics to me. You’re either born a Jedi or you’re not? You just “have it in you?” That’s some racist shit right there. Isn’t that how sexism and racism continue to dominate our social reality? Because things just are the way they are? That it’s all just normal, natural, and necessary?

You don’t have an exit strategy for this post, do you?

If I had an obligation to any readers, I might think of stopping, but you’re my audience, and you’re still with me, right?

 

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