Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wil Wheaton demonstrates the liberal identitarian's obliviousness to class

My name is Wil Wheaton. I Live With Chronic Depression and Generalized Anxiety. I Am Not Ashamed has important things to say about mental illness, but it also has this:
as a white, heterosexual, cisgender man in America, I live life on the lowest difficulty setting — with the Celebrity cheat enabled
It's the standard identitarian list that straight white male neoliberals feel obliged to cite, but what's striking to this socialist is the list doesn't include class. Wheaton wasn't a poor white kid—his mom was an actress and his dad was a medical specialist. But class is not a privilege that matters to identitarians, so when they talk of checking privilege, that one gets a pass.


  1. Does "I work on the most popular comedy series in the world, I’ve been a New York Times Number One Bestselling Audiobook narrator, I have run out of space in my office for the awards I’ve received for my work" not speak to class?

    Perhaps you could say it only lists achievement. But achievement (of this kind, certainly) speaks to class, doesn't it?

    Or is he supposed to explicitly name net worth and annual income, neighborhood he lives in and schools his kids went to? Name those in his generational and professional networks who facilitated and facilitate his easier access to "success"? I guess my point is: What precisely should he say to signify what you see as missing?

    I was born to relative wealth and connection and have maintained that wealth and connection thus far in my life?

    I didn't have to work as hard to achieve as people who did not have the resources of relative wealth and connection that I had? (A truism.)

    1. Achievements are not privileges. That framing suggests merit. The ability to have the opportunity for those achievements is privilege. So, no, what you quote is not citing privilege. However its meant, it’s only bragging.

      He should, at the very least, say in a list of privileges that he had class privileges too. It’s clear he was raised in the top income quintile. He might’ve been in the top decile, or higher.

  2. @Paul Oakley - Wheaton has already opened the door to specificity, literally listing what he sees as unearned advantages. So yes, rather than limiting his list to identitarian concerns, he could have included some or all of the things you mention. Or he could have stayed general, ie "I've had a relatively privileged life".

    Shetterly is engaging in pattern analysis and pointing out unacknowledged bias. You have a beef with that?

    1. Pattern analysis. I like that. Thanks!

      “Unacknowledged bias” is the perfect term because these people are all about unacknowledged bias, yet they don’t see their own and bristle when it’s pointed out to them.