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Colored WhiteTranscending the Racial Past$
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David Roediger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233416

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233416.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

White Looks and Limbaugh’s Laugh

White Looks and Limbaugh’s Laugh

(p.44) 3 White Looks and Limbaugh’s Laugh
Colored White

David R. Roediger

University of California Press

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

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