“Eating the Other: Desire or Resistance” by Bell Hooks

The curiosity, or let alone, the intense attention of white people towards the black culture, is very much emphasized in “Eating the Other: Desire or resistance” by Bell Hooks. Hooks mentioned in her essay that white men like the feeling of crossing over to another race because of certain primitive fantasies. One of the most important and highlighted examples she wrote was having sexual intercourse with “the other”. She said that this experience makes the white person feel more in touch with the world. The reason is simply because the encounter is unusual.

To elaborate, Hooks said that the primitive race is deemed to be more sensual because of how white people have constructed them. This is because, historically, they struggled more than the white men. Being black presents a notion of being sexually liberated since they are seen to be more at peace with their bodies. While the black are seen as loose, white men are seen more as stiff people. In a sense, when Hooks mentions “It is the young black male body that is seen as epitomizing this promise of wildness, of unlimited physical prowess and unbridled eroticism. It was this black body that was most ‘desired’ for its labor in slavery and it is this body that is most represented in contemporary popular culture as the body to be watched, imitated, desired, possessed.”, it implies then that there is also a form of representation. “The other” is perceived in such a way that is rooted from the white man. By going through “the other” as a rite of passage is rooted from the white man’s own eroticism.

An example for this can be seen in this clip taken from the movie entitled Road Trip. (This is a bit graphic though)

From this clip, we can see a group of young men enter an all-black frat house. Kyle, the thin guy is the focus. He is a virgin and comes out feeling like a new man after having sex with the black girl. He lets loose after spending time with a different culture and becomes a new man. With the taste of a different culture, the white man feels more attuned with his primitive side of life. He comes out of his shell and becomes a man that is more confident. In teen movies like Road Trip, the issue about virginity is always stressed. There is a longing added with peer pressure for a white man to lose his virginity. And by having experience with “the other”, that longing is satisfied with a much more thrill.

Another thing that was mentioned in the text was that “the other” is turned into a commodity. It becomes somewhat thrilling to experience what they’re experiencing. There’s more drama when you experience another race. Because of this, we see how that idea is integrated into media. There is a looming interest when it comes to race. People are curious of the other and are interested into finding out what it’s like being part of “the other”. This is what makes their integration into media and in a way, becoming a commodity, successful. Even the experience of having sex with another race can be something that is turned into a commodity. It can happen that even sex with another race is something one goes through in order to say that he had already experienced “the other".

Pretty Fly for a White Guy

In this music video by The Offspring, the concept of being cool is trying to pass as a black guy. In order to get women, he tries to pretend like he’s black. The nature of his actions is rooted to the fact that black men are better in getting women. In the current culture, black people are usually perceived as better lover with bigger packages. They have the better and smoother moves. In relation to that image, this thought can also be applied to music. There is something more exciting when it comes to hip hop and R&B. What comes to mind, whenever this genre is mentioned, is either gang violence or smooth music to get the girl. Sex is a popular theme in this genre’s music videos.

Billboard Top 100

This is the link of the top 100 songs of Billboard top 100. The top songs in the billboard are mostly in the genre of hip hop and/or R&B. This says something about the influence of what was known as “the other” type of music. An article a few years ago strengthens the idea of how big this genre is for the music industry.

Hip Hop Music

The curiosity for “The other” is something people will continue to look into. They find excitement and thrill trying to see what it is like becoming “the other”. The images created by their curiosities allow “the other” to turn into commodities into their culture. But with this also comes a price. According to Hooks, “Resurgence of Black Nationalism as an expression of black people’s desire to guard against whit cultural appropriation indicates the extent to which the commodification of blackness (including the nationalist agenda) has been reinscribed and marketed with an atavistic narrative, a fantasy of the Otherness that reduces protest to spectacle and stimulates even greater longing for the ‘primitive’”. By turning “the others into commodities”, their message is drowned by the white race. They are eaten up by society and turned into a form of spectacle. For example, in rap, the artists put messages that are in political in nature but are ignored. What is seen is merely a black man rapping and is perceived as cool and hip. It is the image created rather than the message of “the other” that is being glamorized. Eating “the other” is not an acceptance of “the other” but the created image of the “the other” rooted from the white man’s desires. This can be seen by having sex, trying to imitate, and glamorizing “the other”.

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