I’m sure most of the people reading this are familiar with Gustavo’s Ask a Mexican column in the OC Weekly. It has some pros & cons that I’m not prepared to go into, but I think I understand its popularity.
There must be some number of non-Mexicans who just aren’t familiar enough with a Mexican to ask questions like this without fear of offending, and need their curiosity satisfied in some anonymous way. Much of the obscure cultural information is not readily available on the web & such.
By contrast, I once tried to imagine what an “Ask an Old White Guy” column might look like.
There are pretty clear reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist. Being the most powerful demographic, old “white” guys have their culture all over the mass media. They have often been everyone’s bosses, teachers, and talking heads, pontificating to us all our lives. What could be mysterious about them?
But I kinda suspect that there are some questions that bug the non-white or non-old sometimes, and it can be difficult to get a straight answer from an old white guy. They’re not used to being questioned in any way that might question the value of old white guy culture.
I know, a lot of the people reading this are also OWGs, but some are not. I therefore offer myself as the answer guy. Here are my qualifications:
— Born right smack in the middle of the postwar baby boom, in the early 1950’s. This is the generation that has shaped the last decade or two, and will shape the next decade or two, as we are in our mid-forties-to-early-sixties. Just about everything — good, bad, and otherwise — is our responsibility. Our parents have their revenge now.
— All my known ancestry is northern European, some of it American back to the 17th century, though most of it probably dates from the major European immigrations of the 19th century. In other words, nothing exotic at all for a “white” American.
— Male and heterosexual, from a reasonably well-off family. No outstanding disasters in my own life so far (knock on wood). How boringly “mainstream”.
So if you’re young, non-white, or an OWG who’s lost touch with his uh… “heritage”, maybe you’d like to ask some questions like:
– What is an “Aryan”, really?
– Why do white people want suntans?
– Did anyone ever actually LIKE Gilligan’s Island? If not, how did it get so much play?
– Is it true that people once “said” things, without being like them, or being all them?
– Why do white people want to live up in the hills, when it just means sliding down the hill next time there’s a heavy rain?
– What’s an 8-track tape, and what does it mean when someone refers to it?
– Why do white people often pretend to be black when they sing & dance?
What’s the big deal about:
– the Trojan War?
– French cooking?
– Wine and cheese?
– 18th and 19th century European music, with massive subsidies to keep it alive?
– Where the f___ did “suits” come from, and why does anyone wear them?
– Why do white people want to bomb everybody else, but freak out when one bomb out of 100,000 kills “white” people?
– How did people ever find each other without cell phones?
If any such question bothers you, submit it as a comment, and I’ll give it a shot. No need to use your real name.