Monday, April 20, 2009

laugh at overbearing white guys

Now that Barack Obama's been elected and he's hiring all sorts of non-standard people--like women, and brown people, and such--is the white American male in decline? Could the white male even be said to be "in crisis"?

How about it, white guys--are you feeling a loss of power? Is your self-confidence slipping, along with the sense of entitlement that people like you used to be able to count on?

Over at, they're dispensing advice on how to boost your confidence. But then, who do they choose for the article's accompanying photo of supremely self-confident masculine success? A black guy!

As the guys at know, it's important to not only feel confident, but also to project confidence. It needs to radiate from you, like musk, and if it doesn't, you've gotta find ways to pump it up:

Even if you're reasonably assured most of the time, it is beneficial to do a little mental strengthening every once in a while. It feels good to be self-confident, which perpetuates more confidence, impresses people and brings you success.

A difficulty here is that you not only have to project confidence, you should feel it too. And for American white guys, who get bombarded more and more with Sarah Palins, Barack Obamas, Tiger Woodses and Nancy Pelosis, and then get represented themselves mostly by clowns and losers like Joe the Plumber, Jay Leno and Timothy Geithner--well, it's hard sometimes to keep feeling that confidence that you're nevertheless supposed to project.

So what's a white guy on his way up supposed to do these days? How about . . . design a new business card! Or maybe, make money by convincing other, less confident guys to redesign their business cards. . . and act very, very confident while doing so . . .

Actually, the guy in this video is a motivational speaker named Joel Bauer. He's also the author of a book with this charming title: How To Persuade People Who Don't Want To Be Persuaded: Get What You Want--Every Time! Videos of Joel Bauer selling various sorts of manly advice are popping up all over the Internets. He's getting lots of laughs, in ways he probably wouldn't appreciate.

Here's another one that's making the rounds. In this clip, Bauer (who identifies himself here as "a real person") promotes a self-defense boot camp, with the help of his understandably sullen daughter.

What I'm wondering about this latest Internet sensation of sorts is--as people laugh at the "douchebaggery" of Joel Bauer, are they also laughing at a certain kind of white guy, the assertive, entitled, hyper-masculine white guy? If so, does that laughter also register this kind of guy's declining power these days?

As scholars and philosophers and such tell us, socially constructed modes of identity are really all just performances. Society presents us with various scripted roles, and we reject or adopt them as we sit fit (or sometimes, as we feel pressured).

Maybe this kind of white American masculinity, which Joel Bauer performs and promotes with such clueless sincerity, is being laughed right off center stage. Let's hope so.


  1. Wow. I've never heard of this Joel Bauer character before. I empathize with his daughter -- I fidget and get uncomfortable too when confronted with guys like him. Who knew that confidence = never blinking (seriously: look at the first clip, the man does not blink). Creepy.

    I had never noticed it before, but these macho, over-confident, "self starter" business types tend to be white guys. And, yeah, they absolutely reek of entitlement. It's best to avoid them.

  2. I feel so bad for his daughter. She looks like she wishes that she could use her new found self-defense skills to seriously injure herself in order to get out of that uncomfortable situation.

  3. I kinda disagree. These guys have always been laughed at, they've always been on the outside. They are used as a comparison to 'normal men' (white men we see in romcom movies as the lead). They see them as equivalent to black males - hypersexualized and problematic others. The hero/nerd always win over these guys. This is what's suppose to happen if you don't go to school and take your rightful place as leader of the free world.

  4. I don't think "overbearing" and "confident" are the same thing. Overbearing makes everyone feel uncomfortable in their presence. Confident however tends to make others relaxed, they look and act like they are under control and know full well what they are doing, definite difference.

  5. uses a Black man in their building confidence video because they obviously do not have color issues. Why should Whites be challenged because of this, and because of successful Black men and women?

    Those Whites that feel a loss of power because of Black Americans in successful positions have a race issue.

  6. You are right, Kandeezie. Quiet, nerdy guys win all the time. I never liked these kinds of overbearing White guys, or any overbearing guy for that matter. I was a overbearing/bully/alpha male basher in high school, along with being very quiet, bashful, but friendly with anyone that I felt had a good heart. Just happens that most of those kinds of guys in HS were White.

  7. Straight, white, able bodied dudes like this guy and may other very different or not so different guys are still getting listened to. People may be laughing at them but not necessarily because they are interrogating privilege or laughing at an attempt to assert one's power. In terms of perceived and visible identity, this white guy, whether or not we think he's an asshole, holds power. Look at how much power we give him by watching videos of him over and over while video clips of Public Enemy music videos get youtube comments from users like, "god racism is so over, get over yourself." Yeah so Obama is President. He also boycotted the UN Anti-Racism Conference. I mean I love "I Can Do Whatever I Like" as much as the next grrl but what do you like, Barack? Asking permission to do anything from white Republicans, apparently. Nice blog though, man, keep starting dialogues about this stuff!


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