January 21st, 2016. 11:27 [Yes, this is my second post in a row with a title taken from “Resist”. Leave me alone, it’s a good song.]
Yesterday I had perhaps the worst experience I’ve yet had in my short college career.
In high school I really enjoyed my drama classes and performances, and have been told by several people I respect that it’s something I’m fairly good at. I’ve been pondering potentially minoring or dual majoring in theater at UNLV due to my appreciation for the thespian arts, and to that end I enrolled in an “Acting: Basic Technique” class this semester. I attended the first class yesterday. Two hours later, I dropped the class.
The first thing I noticed entering the room was that I was one of only four men in the class of around 25. Okay, no big deal, it’s not the first time that’s been the case. Doing another cursory sweep, I noticed that, what’s more, I was probably the only straight man in the class. Again, okay. Not the first time for that one, either. I was surrounded by the type of person I’m realizing is commonplace on this campus, the gangly (or enormous), gauge-wearing, purple-haired, pierced-lipped “artsy” types, who I generally do my level best to avoid in day-to-day life. I know, it sounds elitist, but I find that my first impressions of someone are usually on the mark, and if I don’t have to expend effort befriending someone I know I’m not going to have any interest in being friends with, why should I bother? I don’t really have anything against these types of people, and not all of the girls in the class were repulsive to look at, so I figured I could muscle through it for the sake of the class.
Then I met our teacher, a thirtysomething, rambunctious black woman with a whole lot of opinions. Again, not a big deal for me. Most of my teachers have been women, and growing up with two sisters and no brothers I’ve learned very well how to get along with women. That’s why almost all of my friends are female. In fact, I think I only have two male teachers this semester, so this wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. As for how opinionated she was, I really didn’t mind that either. It was a theater class, after all, and if you don’t have something to say about a play you sure as hell can’t act in it. But as the class went on and she gave us an introduction to herself, my stomach filled with more and more dread and I sank lower and lower into my seat, almost as if I was trying to avoid being seen.
One of the first things she told us was that she was a “proud black woman,” a phrase I’ve never understood. How can you be proud of something you have no control over? Am I allowed to be a proud white man? I’m not even proud of the fact that I’m tall. Pride comes from achievements, not just facts about yourself. That was her way of telling us that many of the plays we were going to be reading and performing parts of would be written by “minorities,” and would all be contemporary. Okay, so … no Shakespeare? Awesome. She also noted how much she loved “gay plays,” which … great.
She gave us her life’s story, which was fine. She told us she was a single mother, which I feel bad about not being surprised about in the slightest. She told us she had a reputation for being a bitch to her students. Actually, “bitch” wasn’t even the word she used. She used another, even fouler word, one of the few curse words even I won’t say. I’ll also note how generally unprofessional she was, with every other word out of her mouth being a f-bomb, and her attitude about it being flippant at best, and downright disrespectful at worst.
She told us she really likes discussing things and having conversations about plays, which I thought might be at least constructive in some way. Then she went on to tell us a story about how a student last semester (one of those nasty Republicans) brought up that Mexicans don’t pay their taxes (which I’m almost 100% sure was not the argument he was making) and how she nearly “lost her shit.” So, apparently, she’s into discussions, if people agree with her.
She did a little bit of preaching about Bernie Sanders, the plight of the black woman in today’s society, and how people with “privilege” don’t have any room to speak in discussions she wants to have. Interestingly, this might be the first time I’ve ever heard someone actually use that whole “privilege” argument in the real world.
The scary part was how into it the rest of the students in the room seemed to be. Either they totally agreed with her, or they didn’t need to be in that class, because they already had the acting thing nailed down. But then she said the worst thing I’ve ever heard a teacher or professor say.
“Last semester, I had this guy in my class. You know, one of those Republican, super-religious, [scoffs], ugh. Anyway, one day I heard him tell someone about how he didn’t like the play we were reading because it had gay characters in it. [laughs] So, of course, the first scene I had him do was kissing another guy. Shut him up real fast. [more raucous laughter]. If you’re gonna come in here and be all Republican, I’m gonna make you as uncomfortable as possible.”
That might not be verbatim (I wish I’d recorded it, in hindsight), but she said it. She said that. A professor said that to her class.
The saddest thing here is that I was really taking this class because it was a prereq for a class I really wanted to take: a voice acting class. But she mentioned that she’s also the professor for that class, too. Awesome.
So, long story short, I’m down to 14 credits now. I can’t take any other CS classes concurrently with the one I’m taking, and anything that looks remotely interesting is full up at this point. So … I guess I’ll sign up for guitar lessons, or something.
Let this be a lesson to you: If you’re conservative, and you want to be in theater, you’ll have to pick one. I picked conservatism. I hope that someday in the future that feels like the right choice, because it doesn’t feel like it right now.