Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Race and the paranoia of awkwardness

White audience members’ consequent “panic,” she notes, is simultaneously posited as an intended effect, a positing that locates and circumscribes [artist Adrian] Piper as a strategizing subject. Rather than remaining cognizant of how their panic is produced in the moment of their own receptive uptake, white interlocutors instead construe Piper as the sovereign and willful originator of their discomfort, disorientation, and shock. (Shannon Jackson, Professing Performance, 186)

(Note that this video contains repeated uses of the n-word.)

One of the best things about Curb Your Enthusiasm is its recognition of race as a site of particular awkwardness in the US. In the episode from which these clips are taken, Larry experiences the world as it appears to the paranoid opponent of political correctness; people of color, in this mindset, only exist in order to arrive just at the moment the (white) person is telling the “truth” about race, to entrap the white person into political incorrectness. By playing this worldview straight, Curb Your Enthusiasm shows how ridiculous it is, and so, I think, comments rather well on the sense, which pervades discussions of race in America, that the awkwardness that surrounds the topic is somehow the fault, or even the willed action of, people of color.