sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

January 13, 2012

Portlandia: Stuff White People Like on Cable TV

Filed under: politics, society, taste, tv — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:35 pm

The real white people are not in New Hampshire, and certainly not in Iowa or South Carolina.  The real white people live in the Pacific North-West, and they are California transplants.

We started watching Portlandia on a Big Hollywood tip, and I can’t believe nobody told us about it last year.  Like Stuff White People Like, a blog I proudly feature on my blogroll under humor, Portlandia ridicules mores and tastes of white upper middle class liberals.   Some skits can be considered companions for the blog entries.  Consider, for instance, the bike post on White People to the bike skit:

I wonder, though, if this biker is too aggro for the Pacific North-West.  I’ve only been to Portland once, but DH used to go once a year, and his impression was that everyone up there is verrrry mellowwww.  (Because weed?)

The self-righteous biker type is very familiar here in San Francisco where bikers are known to kill pedestrians and where the entitled bikers regularly organize events to block city traffic.

Portlandia is full of in-jokes — about bird designs, dumpster-diving, hotels with turntables in each room.  Much of it might be of little interest to a viewer unfamiliar with the region.  In any event, since the show airs on IFC, the mainstream viewer is not expected to tune in.

Liberals making fun of themselves, quite maliciously at times, is nothing new.  What’s surprising is that self-mockery is coming from Carrie Brownstein of a super-earnest grrrl band Sleater-Kinny and Fred Armisen who sabotages Obama skits on SNL.  I suspect Brownstein and Armisen feel liberated to be funny on Portlandia only when they are performing for an elite audience of  like-minded white liberals.

Liberal self-mockery is not unlike Jewish humor when one says the most hurtful thing about himself, because he senses that if he says it first, it won’t hurt when someone else will do so.

Which brings me to this point: the nature of humor is deeply conservative.  What I mean by that is not that Rush Limbaugh is funny (he is), but that humor enables people to laugh off their problems.  And so Jewish people persevered.

So don’t expect any of the Portlandia humor to make a difference at the ballot box.  The joke about the unemployed of Portland getting jobs completing each others sentences might be about the failure of Keynesian economics, but true-blue liberals are not ready to make a leap to a free market economy because in their opinion that would be evil.

In any event, season 2 is on now and I can’t wait for tonight’s episode.



  1. […] Portlandia: Stuff White People Like on Cable TV […]

    Pingback by Sunday Links: Pics From my Facebook Friends Edition » Conservative Hideout 2.0 — January 14, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

  2. Maybe employers recruit employees not on weed. That would greatly reduce the number of jobs available to the greatest number of Portland citizens.

    Comment by Maggie@MaggiesNotebook — January 15, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  3. wow too bad pple don’t wish to earn their keep anymore hun.. Happy Sunday my friend:)

    Comment by Angel — January 15, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  4. […] Edge of the Sandbox: Portlandia: Stuff White People Like on Cable […]

    Pingback by Right Reading 1-16-12: Slight Edge to Education: Rand Paul Gives Back Office Budget | Maggie's Notebook — January 16, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  5. The dude’s gauged ear getting caught is just….yowch. Awesome.

    By the way, this is the funniest Fred Armisen has ever been in his entire career. This blows away everything he’s ever done on stupid lame yawn-inspiring Saturday Night Live.

    Comment by KingShamus — January 16, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  6. Also, I thought I recognized the chick, but I couldn’t quite place her.

    Damn, Sleater-Kinney. That takes me back to the 90’s and a whole host of bands I tried so hard to ignore.

    Comment by KingShamus — January 16, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  7. People have been telling me about this show. I’ll have to check it out.

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — January 17, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  8. […] Read the rest. […]

    Pingback by Portlandia-Is This Something? « Blog de KingShamus — January 18, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

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