If you haven’t been paying attention, Gawker is currently running a bracket-style contest it’s calling the “Privilege Tournament,” the stated goal of which is to nail down exactly which subset of Americans is the most un-privileged. While the whole thing is being done with its tongue firmly in cheek, there’s obviously some pretty scathing social commentary at its core, both on the nature of privilege itself as well as the largely social media-driven industry that’s now erupted around piously calling out privilege whenever possible.
And of course Salon is the industry leader, so it will surprise no one to learn that the internet’s premiere home for outrage porn took Gawker’s bait hook, line and sinker and is now slamming the Privilege Tournament as an exercise in — wait for it — privilege.
Here comes Salon’s usual indignation Mad Libs, this time in the form of an article called “Gawker’s ‘Privilege Tournament’ Is All About White Anger”:
Not only is white male humility in discussion of race/gender/sexuality absent here, but in its place is a vicious, sneering resentment at the suggested need to be humble. When a white man decides that a conversation about privilege has gotten out of hand, gone to absurd lengths, and needs some comedic cutting down, he is reestablishing white, male dominance, plain and simple. Who is asking who to laugh? Whose experience is being mocked? … The “Privilege Tournament” is not just childish trolling. It is a shamefully racist, sexist, homophobic and classist attempt to silence large swaths of people. It is worth your criticism and it is worth your anger. I say the Privilege Tournament is “hurtful” rather than idiotic, irritating or angering, because hurt in all its unsarcastic, undefensive glory, is where it begins and ends. A white man cannot mock a conversation about the daily struggle for inequality without revealing the bitterness that brought him to that particular humor, and the pain behind that spite.
That white man, by the way, is Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan — who admittedly is white to the point where he looks like the product of about six generations of Appalachian inbreeding.
What’s interesting about Salon’s ill-advised decision to wade into this, aside from the fact that it threatens to create an ouroboros of irony that might very well swallow all reality as we know it, is that the Gawker piece is asking regular people to determine, through a series of online votes, which group is the least privileged in America. Salon, of course, sees this kind of determination as something too important to be left to the unwashed; calling out privilege is strictly for professionals.
And nobody has elevated this kind of thing to a Ph.D-level position the way Salon has.