Fredrik deBoer on “critique drift”


Yesterday, Fredrik deBoer posted this long and thoughtful essay on a phenomenon he calls “critique drift.” I assume the internet hates him now. You should read the whole piece, but deBoer nicely summarizes his own argument in this passage:

Critique drift is the phenomenon in which a particular critical political lens that correctly identifies a problem gets generalized and used less and less specifically over time. This in turn blunts the force of the critique and ultimately fuels a backlash against it. Critique drift is a way that good political arguments go bad.

DeBoer cites three concepts from the rhetoric of social justice/intersectionality that reflect critique drift: mansplainingtone policing, and gaslighting. Note that he does not say these phenomena aren’t real—only that the lefty internet increasingly uses them in contexts where they don’t apply.

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Grand Marnier targets race-blind narcissists with “blend out” ads

If you watch Hulu, as I do when my Critique of Pure Reason is broken, you have probably seen Grand Marnier’s “blend out” commercials. In the one above, everyone at the club is kind of bored by a jazz combo, until a young man reinvigorates them by mounting the stage and beatboxing along. Grand Marnier: drink a bunch of it and interrupt a public performance, probably to broad acclaim. It’s pretty much your standard alcohol-commercial excellence fantasy, (q.v. Heineken) except everyone in the club is black, and our beatboxer is white. Surely there’s a reason for that—but what?

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