Wednesday, 28 January 2015

#22. "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama" by Ann Coulter

Why Can't Black People Be More Korean?


By Admiral Fartmore

(book chosen by PearTree)

Editor's Note: The more books we delve into in the Piece Of Shit Book Club™, the more I worry for the world. 

Ann Coulter is a cartoon character created, written and voiced by the real-life Ann Coulter. The Coulter character was first featured in syndicated columns that appeared in conservative magazines and newspapers in the late 1990s. Part satirist, part pundit, part skeletal-beast, Coulter is described by her creator (Ann Coulter) as a polemicist – a character intended to “stir the pot.” In the surreal media circus that surrounds American politics, she is the bigoted fire-breather. After her inception at the turn of the century, her popularity grew dramatically in the 2000s, when Coulter began performing the character on American political talk shows as well as starring in a popular book series, The Adventures of Ann Coulter.

 Featuring titles such as Godless: The Church of Liberalism, and Treason: Liberal Treachery, The Adventures of Ann Coulter is reminiscent of early Adventures of Tintin comics, for its familiar blend of political intrigue and racial stereotypes.

Coulter is best known for her controversial statements, including comparing US immigration to genocide against White Americans, advocating for a carpet bombing of the Middle East, and suggesting that America’s Jewish community should be perfected through conversion to Christianity. Her character is cleverly designed to satisfy both poles of the US political spectrum; right-wingers enjoy her ability to annoy the left, and left-wingers in turn enjoy watching YouTube videos of her losing arguments. In essence, she embodies a brilliant – albeit simple – reflection of everything that is fucking wrong with American political dialogue.

However, Coulter has received criticism from various artists for her occasional low-grade animation, particularly for her unrealistic lip movement, her disproportionate features, and her emotionless, dead, dead eyes. I personally feel that this critique is unfair. I would argue instead that the entire point of her character design is to straddle the uncanny valley, through a balance of human features with that of the undead. I came across this difficulty myself when attempting to draw Coulter, as you may see below:

 I still couldn't quite catch the unapologetic hatred, but whatever.

I was both excited and nervous when I received Coulter's latest adventure, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery in America from the 70s to Obama as my assignment. In it, Coulter tells the story of “the left’s agenda to patronize blacks and lie to everyone else,” through her own lie-filled and patronizing arguments. Make no mistake – this book is a Piece Of Shit™ – but how exactly am I to critique a character designed to be belligerent and ignorant? When Coulter says that “the three-fifths clause had nothing to do with the moral worth of black people,” of course she’s wrong, but she’s deliberately wrong. You’d have to be a real idiot to try to whitewash the systematic racial discrimination that marked the 19th century. But that’s the point. There’s nothing insightful or funny about pointing out the fact that Homer Simpson is a buffoon, and Ann Coulter needs to be treated with the same level of seriousness. This book is endlessly quotable, but Coulter has made her name by being quotable. As such, I want to refrain from simply quoting her through this entire review, because I hate her.

There is room, however, to critique the fictional world that the Coulter character inhabits. It is a dystopian (her words) version of the United States where Democrats and liberals (the author employs the two terms interchangeably) have engineered a mythical history of racial oppression in America in order to pander to and control the black community. The myth of racism in America is “a malicious lie told to black people to make them fear imaginary oppressors, so they will turn to the big, strong Democrats to protect them.” In Coulter’s world, everything was perfectly rosy following the abolition of slavery, but “from Jim Crow to ‘hope and change,’ liberals wrote the book on how to destroy a people.” In this world, Coulter is tasked with unearthing the liberal conspiracy and spreading the good word of the Republican Party, who are here to save the black community from its liberal oppressors.
The messiah Ann, pictured here in mid-revelation. 

I had several issues with this world. Firstly, I had difficulty finding the sodomite-academic-liberal-democrat antagonist very believable either in make-up or intent. For one, there’s no real explanation for how this monolithic demon operates. We are just expected to believe that the Democrat in Mississippi, the university professor in Seattle, and the news anchor in New York are all fastened together magically like the Megazord from Power Rangers. I got a Megazord for Christmas once, and while it’s an impressive adversary, I would have appreciated a clearer explanation of how this conspiracy actually operates. Secondly, Coulter stresses that slavery, affirmative action, childcare benefits for single mothers, etc., are all part of the same 300-year-old master plan to subjugate the black community. Flat, single-purpose villains just aren’t interesting, and so I found this to be a little stale. Lastly, Coulter’s allergies to nuance and character development left the whole conflict feeling a bit too black and white. (HEYOOO)

But to be fair, I haven’t read any of Ann Coulter’s previous adventures, and starting a fantasy series halfway through is always confusing. I do have to recognize that this book is written for people who already have an idea who the liberal demon is. Or maybe it’s deliberately ambiguous, so you can fill in the blanks with whatever you like. I’m not sure. Either way, it wasn’t written for me; it was written for black people. Wait, no it wasn’t. It was written for white people - well, maybe. I guess it was written for anyone who agrees with Coulter’s weird concluding statement: “If all black people woke up tomorrow with the cultural predilections of Korean Americans, all sociological disparities would vanish within ten years.” Soooo, Koreans? Ah, fuck it: she just wants money, and she wrote this book for anyone that would buy it.

Otherwise, most of the bigotry and ignorance that Ann is celebrated for just felt dull and contrived. And if you’re over the shock value of her work, there’s really very little substance left. She’s a perfect example of how no press is bad press, and how very rich you can get by pandering to people’s frustrations with our imperfect world. But there’s no point attacking her, because she revels in infamy. So I’ve treated Ann Coulter like a cartoon, because that’s what she is. And this book was just another boring afternoon re-run.

-Admiral Fartmore

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