I wasn’t sure what to write about for this post, so my friend suggested writing about writer’s block. I guess it’s not very relevant to this post, because once I write something I will have (in theory) gotten over it. On a related note, however, I am writing the first chapter of my thesis (ack!) and I’ve kind of gotten writer’s block on that as well. I mean, I have quite a bit to say—or at least I did. Now I have about 11 pages and I’m not sure what else to add. My thesis, in case you’re curious, is about the racialization of non-human characters in film. My current chapter is about the most recent Muppets movie and how they racialize the Muppets and their counterparts, the Moopets.
While thinking about writing my chapter instead of actually writing it, I realize that I’m very much being a liberal arts, American Studies student. I’m sitting here, tearing apart the way that whiteness and racial otherness is being constructed through the visual signifiers in the film that indicate a binary of good on the one hand and bad on the other. I’m trying to connect this to larger issues, like the historic misrepresentation of nonwhites in film, the proliferation of stereotypes, how these are a broader concretization of whiteness and its dominant place in the American narrative and culture, and even the prison industrial complex.
I’m writing all of this and realizing that once I leave the Pomona bubble, most people will not think this way. If I try to explain how the Muppets uphold the racial hierarchy and centrality of white middle class values to most people outside of college, they would probably think I was, well, weird. “They are puppets!” one might say, “I don’t care if you think race is being projected upon them. In fact you’re probably reading too much into it.” Once (if) we leave the realm of academia, and even just in interactions outside of college, most people probably will not want to hear about fancy sounding concepts like social constructions. It’s not really practical or applicable in most jobs or dinner parties. A friend recently pointed out how much we celebrate learning for learning’s sake here at Pomona and completely accept doing things like double majoring in totally unrelated fields. But when I talk to people about what I’m doing after graduation, there is an expectation of practicality—why are you majoring in American Studies again? Where will it get you in life? I don’t intend to be a teacher or researcher or professor, so I will have to find some other way to apply what I’m learning to something else. I just hope it is in a way that continues to reflect the critical ways of thinking that I’ve gleaned from my time here. Even if it isn’t completely congruous with the rest of the world.