Monday, September 19, 2011

The problems with definition in our folk-family: Part 1

Last evening, I was viewing the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen. It's what I would consider an acceptable swim in the waters of modern America's "trash culture." Certainly a roast is no place for thin skin; and the "thin-skin issue" is one of debate. My general definition of acceptable disagreement is when someone says something that is either entirely out of proportion, or is simply not true. It's somewhat rare that a stereotype simply IS NOT TRUE, but it does happen.

One of the roasters was Anthony Jeselnik. His surname, although sort've Polish-sounding, might be of Prussian/Silesian (north German) origin. His appearance and demeanor were somewhat of what some would occasionally perceive as a negative German stereotype: tall, lean, muscular, strong blue eyes, a touch of seriousness or self-importance, short brown/blonde hair not quite short enough to call a crew cut; all of which mixed with the playful "chop-busting" attack-mode of the roast, only added to this concept. Of course, sometimes a comedian cultivates a certain persona for their act, and this could be misinterpreted. Later, Amy Schumer, who seemed to be a German-American, playfully poked fun at Jeselnik, saying that he looked like "Hitler Youth," and he responded with a Roman salute. All in good fun, no one or nothing got a break, etc., etc. However, it occurred to me that, although funny, the lines of a politic and the general character of a "folk-group" were certainly blurred.
For whatever it's worth, there were as could be expected, certain jokes of Charlie Sheen's real name of "Carlos Estevez"; and while funny, if really looked at, were based on the fact that he had a grandfather from Spain. He was even called "a Mexican." Too thin skinned? Well, if one was of literal Spanish heritage, would endless false-perceptions and misidentifications with people of a different racial and/or ethnic background always be such a laughing matter? I mean it's almost to the point, in some areas, where a people are denied an identity as a people. In a world where these false-perceptions didn't exist, and someone lets say made fun of me for "being a Fascist" or "being a Anarchist," or even if they disliked me personally and stated it in a more negative way; well, at least it would be based on some fact, as opposed to "organized crime," which would be entirely based on falsehood. I suppose, since I'm a "white person," then "my people were slave owners." I mean, it can just get wilder and wilder. There's a lot of this type of thing around. I remember a certain fast-food restaurant that I frequented at one time. Working there was a very young women with a Spanish accent. Much more of a authentic Spanish accent. She was beautiful, maybe 5'4", somewhat slight of build, somewhat long dark hair, basic brown eyes, a straight nose, ivory skin, with a certain energy and charm, like a Barcelonian! What I'm driving at is that if someone considered her a "non-white" based on her accent, that would be almost.... evil. I would venture to guess that she was probably from the cone of South America. I recall a young woman that I took a college course with who was from Argentina. She might not have even been a Spaniard, but maybe German or French, with blonde hair and blue eyes, but she had the thickest accent of anyone of any language that I ever met I think. Yet, despite that, she was part of our Western family of people.

Although German-Americans are very rarely discriminated against, specifically, there exists at least subtle prejudice against them. I recall working for a company which was owned by two Jewish guys who were very easy to get along with. However, I remember a young guy, the same age as myself at that time, who was hired out've a temp agency. He was a hard worker, and a positive addition to the company. He said that he was a rugby player, although I never got to know him very well. He, I suppose, had a very distinct "north German look"; somewhat tall, lean, muscular, short light blonde hair, and just generally a very north German face (distinctly not Anglo or Scandinavian), although he said that he was "German-Irish." The point is that he was "let go" for no apparent reason. I know, the sword cuts both ways, we all have our problems in life, subtle unfair treatment, blah, blah, blah. I honestly believe that he "looked too German" for them. They did have a guy with a very German-sounding name in a high position, a tall blonde fellow, but he somehow didn't exemplify that stereotype.

"German heritage" pays a certain price today for the past existence of "National Socialism"; while, for example, "Italian heritage" today pays no price whatsoever for "Fascism." Fascism, in its original form, was not invented by Southern Italians, it was invented by some our Cisalpine people. Mussolini was an Emilian. Also, "Jewish heritage" only very marginally pays a price for Communism, which was the invention, originally, of "some Jewish people," although they seemed to have been atheists. Communism murdered, very literally, tens times as many people as National Socialism. Okay, I don't want to got off too much on all that now, but the "subtle prejudice" against "us"---the Cisalpines---in America, is the same basic idea at what might be aimed at Germans. That being: we are tied to a negative concept of organized crime. However, unlike the Germans, who largely (at that time in Germany) went along with National Socialism, we have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do whatsoever with organized crime as it has existed in communities of Southern Italians, Irish, Jews, Russians, or Albanians in the European world.

Black market activity exists in all societies. Always has, always will, but what I am referring to is gangland on a massive scale; and which could never possibly be merely chalked up to "a few bad guys." The fact that these crime figures represent only a very small percentage of those communities doesn't quite always erase the PR damage. There is a subtle overlap between the negative and the positive. So, as with the negative political milieus, there exists this overlap. If anything, some of the bad politics could be somewhat of a blight on our heritage (Fascism, Communism, Anarchism). These negatives, as always, overlap some positive areas... I'm aware of that. It should also be noted that there were regions of Europe where the poverty was more extreme than what existed in Southern Italy, Ireland, Albania, etc. Poverty was as bad, or worse, in Andalucia or Greece, than it was in Sicily or Ireland; yet, there has never been any gangland problem on those places, and many other areas of Europe or elsewhere.


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