Taking into account that this was my first time going to a play, the excitement of attending was obvious. I was entranced by the decoration of the stage and the spotlights hitting the center was euphoric. I did not know what I was expecting to see except that the setting was to be taken place in a makeshift living/family-room. To my delightful surprise, it was a play that was both comedic, astute and awe-inspiring. This play, “Straight White Men”, written by Playwright Young Jean Lee, about three brothers (yes, Caucasian) reuniting for Christmas at their father’s home where they hark back to embarrassing yet laughable moments in their past as well as filling in the blanks of the time they last kept in touch and entertain the audiences with stories of success and failures; gradually, the play takes a dramatic twist by asking the question that when it comes to matter of true identity and self-worth, and the privileges of being a white man in America is problematic, what is its value?
The answer to that question is not exactly specified but rather, left to interpretation by the audience to ponder over its melancholic cliffhanger of an ending. Pay little attention to the stomach-aching laughter you’ve experienced and look deep within one’s own self and ask if privileges we have had given to us were taken for granted regardless of whether or not we are straight, white, or men. I will attempt to give a short synopsis of the play without including any spoilers but if there are any, please forgive me but either way, you will not be disappointed.
The play begins by showing two of the brothers in the living room, one playing a video game and the other attempting to distract him so he may lose and just like ordinary brothers, they begin wrestling in a playful manner and soon enters the eldest brother with their father. The four men begin to, as stated before, fill each other in on the details of their lives before their last encounter and what they have been up to since with nostalgia making its appearance from time to time and ultimately the audience sees that behind all that laughter, the brothers are miserable even though their smiles are large and their careers (for some) are blossoming, they cannot help but feel apologetic for their success due to the idea that they don’t have to work as hard as minorities do because no matter where in time one of these white brothers were to go, success (even moderate success) is waiting for them.
A strong but ponderous message because the idea of “white privilege” is seen as foreign to most people and that is because since time has passed it seems as though society has gotten a lid on racism especially in the United States, but racism is like the inevitable, ineluctable. And with Trump running for president uttering the things he’s saying it’s as if racist turtles are finally able to emerge from their racist shells. I have digressed, but my case still holds water. Racism may never end for whatever reason, but as humans we should have no excuse to not be tolerant and this age, and Lee’s play sends the message that when we look deep within ourselves and realize that we as people have forgotten the meaning of humility, we are not so different from the straight white men on stage who are feigning smiles in order to be remiss of our envy and avarice.
Written on the 3rd of March, 2016