Does watching Gilmore Girls mean you support the Nazis?

Love runs the streets Paris Street Art

Any middle class white girl between the ages of 20 and 35 is super pumped for Friday. Friday is the day that we finally get the Amy Sherman-Palladino ending to Gilmore Girls, the show that meant so much to us in our formative years. Yes re-watching it in 2016 there is a seriously problematic treatment of race, the relationships are fucked and what the hell is up with Luke not telling Lorelai that he has a daughter – but it is nostalgia that I/we can’t shake.

But despite the Netflix powered build up, I can’t help fearing this Friday a little. At the moment we have videos of white supremacists (which we apparently have to call alt-right now to avoid hurting their feelings) doing Hitler salutes on mainstream news channels. There is unprecedented levels* of race based attacks in the UK and USA, the President elect has actively encouraged tension against minority groups, and the UK is still running full pelt towards the brick wall of Brexit. And on Friday, our glorious Gilmore Girls Friday, social media will be screaming about Rory’s job choices. BuzzFeed will have 18 quizzes so you can see if you are on Team Jess/Dean/Logan. Genuine grown up news sites will have light hearted opinion pieces about the revival, nudging it onto the front page to try and fill space. We will ignore the horror in the world in favour of something that feels hygge.

In the past I have been a massive advocate of turning off the news if it gets too much, protecting yourself and your mental health in the wake of terrorist attacks that were a little too close to home. But now? I keep wondering about how Londoners felt on the eve of the rise of Hitler in the years before World War Two. Did they bake cake to distract from the feeling of unease they felt when they read the newspaper? Did they throw a little too much effort into Christmas because ‘surely’ it isn’t as bad as they all say, someone will put a stop to it.

I might be overreacting, the Trump administration may not be world ending. But. But. What if they are? What if this is the point in history where we could be standing up, doing SOMETHING, and we are too busy using the #todayimgrateful hashtag to make the world seem a little lighter. I don’t mean to throw shade at anyone using the hashtag by the way, I understand the point and applaud the attempt to focus on the positive – but what if tomorrow Trump announces the Muslim register and we are being grateful for a good cup of tea?

I’m writing this because I feel truly impotent right now. I know that racism is not just a problem in America, it is 100% an issue in the UK too, and I don’t know what I can be doing to help. Retweeting is not enough. Sharing a status is not enough. Disagreeing when someone says something thoughtless is my jam, but waiting for mild levels of conversational cunt seems like a weak cop out. I hate how Brexit is dividing Europe (right at the moment when we need to have our shit together) but how can I actually influence change?

As we have seen from the last few referendums and elections, the social media bubble you are in is just an echo chamber. You surround yourself with people who think the same way you do, and then the big day arrives and your liberal castle crumbles around you. So how on earth do you reach people with a different opinion, how do you engage someone in a meaningful debate without searching for the ‘KKK London HQ’ on Citymapper. Actually I think that would be a bad idea. Don’t try to talk to the KKK. Or should we? Oh god I don’t even know anymore.

I know what will happen. I will watch Gilmore Girls on Friday and get entirely wrapped up in how ‘its not like it used to be’ and how neither of the girls has managed to have a functioning relationship in the intervening years. If this is the eve of World War three I will be discussing how Suki should be a Michelin starred chef and Michele should have been fired while the world burns around me. The way we live through binge watching and social media is the new opiate for the masses, and while we focus on the petty and the fluffy we are letting bad things happen. By doing nothing we are accepting the new status quo.

Any ideas?

*not unprecedented levels of racism, racism does not appear overnight – this current rhetoric is just allowing people to voice their bias as if it was mainstream and acceptable

4 Comments

  1. November 23, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    I’m an American living in the UK – so both brexit and the election hit me quite close to home. I don’t think that gratefulness and action are mutually exclusive – you need to put both into perspective. And there are lots of things we can do! I’m not in the USA right now obviously, but I’ve been using Skype to call my state representatives and congress. I’ve signed petitions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and electoral college. I’ve tried to be open and listen and understand opinions opposite to mine – you can’t change someone’s opinion if you don’t first understand what got them to that point. Decisions like this, for a lot of people, don’t necessarily have logical origins. In the UK, I worked for a refugee resettlement agency prior to Brexit voting. I’ve tried to stay involved, volunteer, let those people know they are welcome here. I’ve also educated a LOT of people on the legislation and policy behind how refugees can enter the UK. A lot of people were ignorant to the actual facts, and they actually want to learn. Times are tough but there are things we can act on EVERY day to make things better.

  2. November 24, 2016 / 11:40 am

    Just my two cents, but I feel the only want to sustain the fight against injustice and the “alt-right” is to build that into our regular lives. Otherwise it becomes too much. A life can’t be focused on only one thing.

    So I’ll enjoy Gilmore Girls on Friday and I’ll recognise my innate privilege in being able to set aside a day to immerse myself in television. Television is also my career so despite the world falling down around us I still go and help people make more of it every weekday.

    As long as we don’t forget to think and act on the other stuff, call out the injustice, help to actively fight against it then I don’t believe there’s anything wrong in simultaneously continuing our personal lives, hobbies, and goals.

  3. November 24, 2016 / 5:48 pm

    This is definitely food for thought. In school, we’re always taught that learning history is important so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. And yet…? Whilst the rest of the world didn’t know the full horrors of the Nazi regime until towards the end of the war, there was definitely the policy of appeasement that was quite controversial at the time. I hope it’s not too melodramatic to say I think we’re seeing echoes of that now. What’s worse is that now we have The Media to inform/misinform us of what’s actually going on, so you’d hope we would be more on top of things and generally aware. Apart from all the fake news stories, that is. Ah, what a mess. I like Sarah’s suggestions of what to do, although I’m not an American so I can’t really go ringing state representatives. If anyone’s got any counter-brexit ideas I’m all ears.

  4. November 25, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    I could tell you are very upset, but I love how thoughtful you put your emotions into words. what resonated with me most is the bubble you spoke of.. the world is split into almost 50:50 – pro or anti refugees it seems. the situation in austria is the same, we have a presidential election coming up and it’ll be a close race. I agree, we shouldn’t lose touch with those who disagree with us. it’s kind of hard to admit, but my boyfriend does not agree with my views on politics, doesn’t mean he’s a nazi, though. it’s hard at times, but it keeps the “dialogue” alive, I guess. thank you for sharing your thoughts.