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2018 was the year that I heard the word "problematic" more times than I ever had before in my whole entire life. It was a good year for the word "offensive" too. They become catch all terms to describe a piece of media, a public persona, or any pop culture phenomenon that wasn't exactly progressive by today's standards. This lead to a rise of people declaring things as cancelled straight up.
And this was (legitimately) problematic.
When things in our culture that we love become critiqued without nuance or without a desire to see improvement of the thing, criticism becomes as helpful as telling your friend their eyebrows are clapped when you've already got into the Uber on the way to the party (no this hasn't happened to me, why would you say that? Be quiet). Shining a light on a problem, without saying the specific issue, and without thinking about how it be rectified just reads as a criticism with no construction.
Unfortunate brow situations, like problematic media, can be remedied (ideally, some things are just absolute trash) if examined properly and with tools used in the correct way. When these tools are not used properly, or when the wrong tools are used it only makes things worse. I've already responded to an article that I would say is incredibly guilty of this and you can read my response to the article here, but the misuse of words like "misogyny," "racism," "appropriation," "blackface," "homophobia," etc., in serious conversations (emphasis on serious conversations, I'm very much down for us minorities joking about the oppression we face) about our culture in an attempt to critique something doesn't help anyone. When critiques seem to just exist to to sound clever, or top someone else but try to use all the right words to sound "woke," the meaning of these words become muddied and when they're used correctly, they're already dismissed. If you try to fix my eyebrows with your eyebrow palette and I end up with two Nike ticks on my face and someone asks what hardships led to my brows looking like that and I say "I actually didn't do these, my homegirl did," you look bad, your eyebrow kit looks bad, I look bad and we all lose!
So here I am looking like I'm in a tight knit throttle with the two slugs on my face at this party because ******* couldn't make good use of the tools they had access to. That's what seems to be happening to pop culture critique. Something potentially very useful, and interesting is slowly becoming misused and its usefulness is being lost.
It's being lost under capitalism as "problematic" becomes a word that attracts clicks and pushes up ad revenue. It's being lost under bigotry as the misunderstanding of these concepts works to provide fuel for people who think that nothing needs to change in our culture. It's being lost in the political chasms that seem to exist between people because for some reason in 2018 people need to be told why blackface is bad.
I don't want that to be lost, and I've been guilty of some of the issues I addressed here. I am problematic . In 2019 I'n gonna work harder to make the best out of the tools in critical theory to critique things. And I'm gonna remind myself that everything can be problematic depending on how I examine it and not everything requires the same amount of energy to critique it.
Have a great new year guys! Don't draw on your eyebrows at pre-drinks!
PS. If you liked this or anything else I've written please leave a tip, to help me continue writing and providing a steady stream of writing for ya'll to enjoy!