How the Willamette Week Will Doom Us All
Inauguration day has come and gone. Individuals and communities are mobilizing, fear is pervasive, and the future looms uncertain. In the face of this political spectacle, we need responsible local publications to help us orientate and prepare as a city. I usually read the Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury side by side, not to compare and contrast, but to absorb as much local journalism as possible. I like to note what items were covered by one publication and neglected by the other, and what shows or events are touted in both. Earlier this month, however, I found myself staring into an abyss so deep that not even Trump’s coming Twitter tantrum could rattle the dark. Speaking of Trump, I am now convinced that we are all doomed by the Trumpocalypse.
We will not die due to raging fires unable to be tamed by a privatized fire department, nor by the slow and unchecked poisoning of our drinking water, nor by our increasingly isolated communities. No, reading the WW’s “Surviving the Trumpocalypse: Health + Wellness,” we are going to die because we cannot afford $594 of “products to help you survive.” We will die because we took time to read about the benefits of watching YouTube rather than learning how to combat police brutality. We will die because the WW suggests we spend $2.90 on a “brownie-size bread square,” and anywhere from $4.40 to $6.31 on various forms of health powder to be dissolved, scooped, and snorted. With ice on the streets and homeless people dying in parking lots, the WW would have us read about someone who meditated for a while and found it “brutal.” With multiple communities openly persecuted and marginalized by the coming administration, the WW demands that we consider whether yoga is cultural appropriation (don’t worry, they say it isn’t). And instead of advocating unifying as like-minded groups of people prepared to practice self-care and communal responsibility, we were treated to two pages of group fitness classes. Nothing says “fuck you Trump, we can get through this together” like capitalism and bourgeois lip service, it seems.
All of this was advocated under the monikers “fight to the death” and “give it a chance"—monikers that, if the WW is anything to go by, will be the death of our dignity as responsible citizens, and the chance to experience further poverty. There were two pieces of relevance, however, the first being an intro to adaptogens and the second a poignant take on why women should learn self-defense. These aside, the WW seemed to forget that, for many people, a Trump presidency means real threats to safety and livelihoods. For many more, it means the acceleration of a dangerous environmental trend, the wholesale privatization of our government, and potential future wars. Reading the WW, though, one would think we were in danger of beer bellies, feeling down about white guilt, and overwhelmed by the plethora of health food options at Whole Foods, New Seasons, and Zupan’s. How privileged to be able to dedicate eleven pages to chocolate bars and pilates, rather than real organizations, movements, and events that will strengthen our communities in the face of the coming storm. And then, to suggest that everyday people fork over six hundred dollars for a sleeping bag, multi-tool, water jug, camp stove, and—for Christ’s sake—a “water-proof Snuggie,” leaves us wondering, who—exactly—does the WW think is preparing for the Trumpocalypse? Or, perhaps more precisely, who do they think is reading their paper? And if the Willamette Week is indeed “Portland’s Newspaper,” the question then becomes: who are we?
N.B.: The Portland Mercury released it's own version of the above on 1/18. While it is not everything I had hoped for (many of the recommendations are vague and abstract), it does contain practical information useful to everyday people. Their light trolling of the WW in the sub-title is appreciated as well.