The real white people are not in New Hampshire, and certainly not in Iowa or South Carolina. The real white people are 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 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 very mellow. (Because of the 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 organize events to block city traffic.
Portlandia is full of in-jokes — about bird designs, dumpster-diving, hotels with turn tables in each room. Much of it might be of little interest to a viewer unfamiliar with the region. The show airs on IFC, so the mainstream viewer is not expected to tune in.
Liberals making fun of themselves, quite maliciously so 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 a bit like 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 that would be evil.
In any event, season 2 is on now and I can’t wait for tonight’s episode.