Chapter

White Looks and Limbaugh’s Laugh

David R. Roediger

in Colored White

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233416
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0003
White Looks and Limbaugh’s Laugh

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This chapter addresses the wordless white supremacist sneers delivered by the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on his mercifully short-lived television show. It compares a piece of cultural work on race partly carried out by Mark Twain with one carried out by Limbaugh. It also uses the materials from Twain and Limbaugh, and from Eugene O'Neill, to take into account what is called the “white look.” It then explores the questions of method that emerge from the pairing of Twain's “white look” with Limbaugh's and O'Neill's, suggesting how one might examine historically why certain white looks work and others do not. The drama in The Hairy Ape turns critically on a vicious parody of the blackface tradition of theatrical performance. Twain exploded the logic of the white look, not of the imperialist gaze. Limbaugh frequently described his own “rightness” and “excellence” as resting on his saying what listeners already believe.

Keywords: white look; Rush Limbaugh; Mark Twain; Eugene O'Neill; The Hairy Ape

Chapter.  4725 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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