Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Joseph Kahn Hates Sandwiches

Seriously! What kind of shit is that?

A sandwich is a compact, portable food that can encompass all 4 food groups within one convenient food item. It can employ limitless taste combinations and sensations with the fresh ingredients of one's choosing. Plus, sandwiches are historical. Did you know that Leprechaun was the first R-rated film to have tie-ins at a fast food joint? That fast food joint was called Subway. The invention of the Internet directly followed.

I'll tell you what this is really about. Despite everything I just said, Joseph thinks sandwiches lack flavour and are white people food.

To illustrate, here are some pictures of white people eating food.

Now, it's true that Mexican, Thai and various other food types are spicier than the average tuna on rye. And in a weird way, I know and agree with where Joseph is going with this. I just don't entirely believe his sandwich dismissal. My friend Mike Gillis is terrified of pies to the point where he won't be in the same room as one. It's much different than Joseph Kahn's anger at sandwiches.

I suspect I was just challenged by some mixed messages I was struggling to interpret. Joseph once told me that I have more soul than any other white person he knows. Then, when sitting in class last week, he told me that I should embrace my whiteness more through the way I dress and act. I never realized I was denying it.

This isn't to say that certain races are prefered over others, just that it's taken as a sign of confidence when people comport themselves to their own station in life rather than to someone else's. I'm opposed to this thinking for several reasons, principally because I'm not sure how it applies to me. But then, I hope I don't come across like Fergie either.

"Look," Joseph explained, "I'm a Korean American. When I was growing up, I had no idea how to get girls until I reinvented my look as an Asian rock star. But it put me in a position where I noticed what kind of white guys girls go for. I know more about what it takes for white males to score than white males do. Trust me on this. I directed 2 Janet Jackson videos, 2 Britney Spears videos, and 2 Eminem videos."

If you look around in LA, the trendiest white guy hairdo is something we'll call Extreme Bedhead. This goes along with collared t-shirts, and five o'clock shadow. In other words, to be the most desirable white guy one must look like actor Ryan Gosling.

So I did it up.

The next step in my white identity project was to buy some indie rock. Joseph was in Seattle for his cousin’s wedding, but left me to look over his Hollywood home for the weekend and gave me permission to his car. If Joseph saw the Dana Carvey epic Opportunity Knocks he would know this was a terrible idea. But anyway, I drove down to Sunset, parked and began walking to Amoeba Music. The plan was to get the trendiest indie rock possible.

It seemed like a stupid idea at first. But then, walking out of the store, I noticed Mary Elizabeth Winstead, star of Death Proof, Live Free Or Die Hard, Sky High and Final Destination 3. It’s hard to recognize celebrities immediately because when you see them in person their facial characteristics are in check, but they’re slightly differently proportioned than how they look on screen. Actors have giant heads because they’re easier to light that way.

This was definitely her, though. She’s cute as hell. And my mission was validated when I noticed her hand-in-hand with a white boyfriend who is clearly uglier than me. (This isn’t just the ego of the world’s best-looking film critic talking. It’s observed fact.)

Winstead looked at me, in my new sell-out get-up and hair-dew, and smiled. It didn’t matter that my soul crushing make-over made me feel like an absolute dork. In that brief moment she totally eye-fucked me.

There were a lot of people in Amoeba Music that day. I decided to just stand in line at the register to ask for assistance.

“Can I help you?, a white woman with dreadlocks asked.

“Yes. I’m wondering what the hippest indie rock CD is right now?”

“Hmm. Have you heard the latest TV on the Radio?”

“No. I need something more white?”

“Excuse me??”

“I’m trying to impress this girl who thinks I’m racist against white music, which is a thoroughly untrue and inappropriate supposition for her to make, but still I’d like some help.”

“There’s The Arcade Fire. They’re a collective without a real group leader. Like the white Wu-Tang.”

“That’s not white enough.”

At this point, the true silliness of this race based presentation exercise was starting to hit me again. Taking interest only in the small piece of the world one's born into has always seemed ignorant to me. Yet this is how so many people choose to live. I rail against xenophobia a lot in my writing because life is about the experience of branching out—understanding yourself, your situation, and others’ by taking interest in the world around you. Almost as annoying to me as outward racists are people who think they’re combating racism simply by ignoring it altogether—denying its presence in everything.

More specifically, where are the people complaining about Superbad? Sure, it’s just one in a long line of teen movies to relegate adolescence to an all-white experience. But in 2007, this view is reflective of nothing. The only black character in Superbad is the liquor store cashier. The only Asian is Evan’s male cooking class bitch. There’s a substantial number of white kids for whom this media fabricated view is their embraced reality. Check out the movies and music on many 20
-something caucasians' MySpace pages for proof. It’s a sickness of hegemony—a subliminal racism wherein the non-white world just doesn’t exist. And I’m not trying to come off as righteous. It seriously bothers me. Who casts a movie with only white people, and then sees nothing wrong?

Let me make this much clear: Joseph Kahn has nothing against white people (he likes some of them more than I do), though his sandwich-hate is perhaps unconsidered. He simply has an outsider-understanding of how white America works and wants to let me know that game can be played to my advantage if I want.

Which brings me to the next topic. The most cruelly discriminated against group (by the educated elite, no less!), with the least support from anyone, isn’t a race at all. It’s The Stupid. Next blog.


Mike said...

A pie raped my brother.

Shannon Emery said...

I reject his anti-sandwich stance too! You can put anything on a sandwich - kebabs, lemon juice, hot sauce, yogurt, chutney. There are unlimited sandwich possibilities.

Matt D said...

I'm curious to know how exactly the Arcade Fire aren't white enough. They're from Montreal, they sing in French, and they play the ACCORDIAN. How much whiter can you get?
I mean, there's country, I suppose, but if you want the intersection of white and hip, they seem to fit the bill.

What did you end up buying?

Also, the Arcade Fire = Wu Tang comparison is crazy.

Mark Palermo said...

Mike - Those pies are just getting their revenge. Pie-rape has gone up 800% since American Pie.

Shannon - I know! Perhaps it's because most people just settle for ham and cheese. Putting yogurt on a sandwich sounds nasty.

Matt - Accordians are just a superficial difference. The Arcade Fire are a socialist collective. They probably like martial arts films too, and relate to the character of Ghost Dog. Now, if the cashier had told me that Arcade Fire is the white Bright Eyes, I would think they were the whitest sounding band possible.

Joefilmfan said...

Sandwiches are the Michael Bolton of world cuisine.

Mark said...

You need to see Sandwiches That You Will Like. It's effing brilliant. It's so brilliant that you should wear white-guy shades when you watch it. I'm not even beginning to kid about this.

Peter said...

All this talk of sandwiches reminds me of a recent sandwich conversation. I'm told there was a lawsuit on the question of whether a burrito was a sandwich. It was decided that it was not. This conclusion does lend itself to the "whiteness" of the sandwich. I would, however, characterize the sandwich based more on culture (ie. european), rather than race (ie. white).

In refreshing my memory about this burrito thing I found an interesting sandwich survey:


alex said...

"They’re a collective without a real group leader. Like the white Wu-Tang" Uh, Rza. Yes, he is the leader, only someone profoundly ignorant of the group's origins and evolution would argue otherwise.

This is an aside that doesn't really relate to what you were talking about, but it drives me insane when TV on the Radio's race becomes this weird tokenistic argument used to disprove indie rock's lilly whiteness.

dennis r said...

I just discovered your blog, and it's a great read! You haven't posted in two months (nor have you written any reviews), so I hope you're only taking a short break.

In any case, you're just about the only person I've discovered who considers (as do I) Captivity a stronger work than Hostel II, so props for that. I Know Who Killed Me, thematically linked as it is with Captivity, is another movie that, while admittedly pretty damn flawed, is more intelligent than the knee-jerk critical community gave it credit for. If you haven't seen it, check it out with an open mind.

And you're friends with Joseph Kahn? Tell him to make another movie. Torque rocks.

Mark Palermo said...

Yup, the blog is just is a down-period as I've been catching up on leftover '07 movies before I do my year-end list. I Know Who Killed Me is one I missed that I'm curious about. I've heard some say it's the worst thing ever (which kind of makes me want to see it) and others saying it's a pretty cool Italian horror throwback (which really makes me want to see it.) I'll rent it.

I need to update my Rotten Tomatoes page. I have plenty of new reviews written.

Thanks for reading Dennis. It's about the support of fans like you (especially if they're not prejudice against Torque and Captivity.)

Laurie said...

Interesting to know.