Let’s talk about Talks with Tyger. Recently, Tyger Gruber had Jason J Dorsette, a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University, on his show, episode can be found here. We get this moment where Gruber asks the question, “what makes your heart sing?” From then on, we learn a little more about Dorsette which is nice for new listeners to understand why Dorsette is worth the little time we have in our busy days. Dorsette is educated and he has many thought-provoking opinions on masculinity and gender, but for a short while, the podcast turns into background noise for me. My mind travels off until Gruber makes a comment on the LGBTQ+ community and it catches my attention for many reasons.
“There’s a huge group in the LGBTQ+ community. I have met wonderful and incredible people who just happen to love someone of the same gender or their fluid. I see a large group of people who almost seems like their faking it just to be a part of the group.” (15:28)
I have come to learn from Gruber’s other episodes that pushing the boundaries when asking a question is common in his podcast. At first, I was incredibly uncomfortable, mostly because it’s not something that most educated people would say out loud in public, especially in a very liberal state like Oregon. Then I became curious because a part of me, a part that I have tried to suppress in order to be politically correct, has thought this same exact thing. He goes on to say, “Some people define their gender as ‘I am gay.’ If I met a straight person and their whole gender was I am straight, I wouldn’t like them. I don’t think your sexuality should be a key characteristic of your personality.” (16:41). This begs the question, is Gruber being a little too ignorant or is he playing devil’s advocate? I’ll address later on.
At this point, I am hooked into the conversation and found it amazing that the conversation between Gruber and Dorsette is civil, especially when white privilege comes up. First of all, they both handle the conversation respectfully, but this is where Gruber should have been a little more prepared to speak on privilege. In the next part of the podcast it felt like the two men were having two different conversations. Gruber was speaking more on socioeconomic privilege and Dorsette was speaking on white privilege. That’s where the conversation went a little off the rails.
“If you make 30 grand a year you’re in the top 1% of all people on the planet. That’s privilege” (24:53) States Gruber. After doing some research, he is correct in the fact that 32k will put “teachers, nurses, and salaried individuals in the top global 1%.” Although this is technically correct, according to Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the top 1% for America is 400k, so I am not sure this statistic backs up his statement that just because we live in America makes all of us privileged. This is just one example where I wish Gruber had been a little more prepared with sources before the podcast started. Another time was when he kept asking what privileged meant and wished to find a definition, but couldn’t. That being said, I think there is something noteworthy about the fact that he isn’t on a script and the conversation is flowing naturally from one subject to the next. It’s refreshing to know that neither person’s answers were prepared or cookie-cutter answers. They were real, raw, and in the moment.
The conversation continues and I transcribed the next few lines below in order to analyze them. This is where it feels like they are on opposite pages because Dorsette jumps to white privilege and Gruber rewinds back to wealth where it’s insinuated that he believes that there isn’t white privilege but instead class privilege.
Dorsette: I am an administrator, I work on campus, I have all these degrees. You’re (Gruber) an awesome person. If I was to dress like you were today and let’s say I attempted to go do something, it would be frowned upon.
Gruber: If I was an administrator in these clothes, would it still be frowned upon.
Dorsette: It might be frowned upon. But there would be a level of grace that would be rewarded versus I might be dismissed.
Gruber: Do you think I more privileged than you?
Dorsette: Oh yes. (26:09)
Gruber goes on to touch more about the wealth aspect of privilege and how simply prices of everything has gone up and up until people in their 20’s can’t afford to live and can’t even find jobs to bring in income. He has a fair point, there is this divide between people who are in higher economic classes and I look at my parents when they were in their 20’s and it cost them $100 for a one-bedroom apartment and now it costs $1500. So yes, Gruber has a great point, but it feels like a different conversation than the one that Doresette is trying to have.
Socioeconomic privilege is its own beast in need of being discussed. What Dorsette is getting at is white privilege. Gruber mentions earlier how he likes to wear Harem pants (14:40) even though some people comment on how flamboyant they look. Dorsette’s comment about dressing in a similar fashion he wouldn’t be taken seriously. Gruber does not understand this because he isn’t African American like Dorsette. Gruber may have been judged for his clothes, but never his skin tone. Dorsette has to work harder to be taken seriously because of how some people may treat him due to his skin color. He has to think about his clothes, his hygiene, how he speaks and portrays himself because of how history and even groups of people today treat African Americans.
In the end, I enjoyed listening to the two men politely converse and share in a politically important dialogue where they still managed to be friendly with one another. Back to my earlier question though, is Gruber ignorant? I don’t think so, I think he’s smart enough to play devil’s advocate. In an earlier episode of Talk with Tyger, he spoke with Karla Mercado and he said, “When I talk with right-wing and left-wing people, I enjoy playing for the other side” (25:00). Gruber is using a method of devil’s advocate to open his guests up and force out an explanation of each of their opinions. Without Gruber taking the opposite stance, it would just be a dialogue between Dorsette and Gruber agreeing with each other for an hour. Gruber asks uncomfortable questions that at times made me cringe, but he asks questions that have crossed many people’s minds. He does not allow people to state an opinion without giving details on why Gruber should agree with them. Gruber’s podcast is smart, thought-provoking, and yes, maybe a little ignorant, but let’s face it, we’re all a little ignorant and it’s worth asking the question and listening to the answer.
Written by Kelsey Winter, for more of my work visit my website here.