The Dreaded Dinner Party: Which Opinions to Reconsider Voicing Unless You Plan to Stand Your Ground

dinnerparty2
Source; http://fashionablehostess.com/host-dinner-party-kitchen-surfing/

I hate talking about anything remotely controversial with anyone I’m related to or anyone I don’t know well. Maybe it’s because I’m stubborn or because I have a tendency to argue passionately with anyone who disagrees with me. But, at the same time, I jump at the chance to argue and debate with friends or classmates. It’s most likely the setting of the conversations. Non-best friend get togethers usually involve sitting around a table, chowing down in the midst of debates (and there’s usually drinking involved in some way) where as friendly debacles occur in casual and comfortable settings with people you can act more loosely around without the fear of being condemned. And that brings us to the crux of this post: the Dreaded Dinner Party.

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The Dreaded Dinner Party is rarely held by friends you’re comfortable with because if it was, there would be no need to include ‘Dreaded’ in it’s title. Usually it’s family members or neighbors or even coworkers. People who you see enough that it wouldn’t be strange to spend time in their house but who you wouldn’t spill every detail to. The Dreaded Dinner Party begins as any other meal would, with polite small talk while everyone plays catch-up. And then, as the meal progresses and the minutes pass, the conversation begins to transition into a debate. Opinions are tossed around without consideration as to how their listeners may react and differing views clash.

Here are a few topics common during the “Not So Happy Hour” of the Dreaded Dinner Party: politics, racism, sexuality or anything of the LGBT+ variety, sex (slut shaming, sex education, etc.), sex in the media, the media in general, foreign affairs, religion (especially when religious views are not unanimous among the group), drugs, immigration, the American education system, economics, terrorism, poverty or class in general, abortions, etc.

controversy
Source: http://charlesstone.com/the-controversy-behind-top-10-reasons-people-dont-tithe/

Personally, I find nothing wrong with healthy debates about any of the topics mentioned above and I believe these topics do need to be talked about in a mature environment. I’m not saying intellectual discussions can’t be had at dinners parties, I mainly saying that opening up to discussions about these “controversial” topics is also opening up to the possibility of a level of awkwardness if someone in the group shares an unpopular opinion. The dinner party Obinze attends is a prime example. He arrives, has pleasant conversation, eats some of his dinner and proceeds to have a very levelheaded conversation that includes a woman named Alexa who has opinions that both I and the others at the dinner party disagree with. These opinions jumpstart an interesting discussion on racism and America that leaves Obinze feeling uncomfortable and alienated.

I can usually see the reasoning behind opinions I disagree with but that doesn’t stop me from firing back. And because of that, I do feel certain topics can initiate heated debates that can spiral out of control if people aren’t smart with what they say (or if they drink a bit too much). Because of this, I am among many that fear the Dreaded Dinner Party.

That’s it for now.

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Breaking News: It’s Time For Your Daily Dose Of Paranoia

Breaking News
Source: http://www.fox35orlando.com/home/56143278-story

I don’t often watch the news but I am a very paranoid person. How do these two relate? To quote Aunty Uji in Americanah, “If you keep watching television, you will think these things happen all the time. Do you know how much crime happens in Nigeria? Is it because we don’t report it like they do here?” (140). This quote specifically references the paranoid behavior Ifemelu begins to exhibit after coming to America, more specifically after she is exposed to a heavy dose of American news. Upon reading this quote, it got me thinking about how plausible it is that paranoia stems from the news Americans are subject to everyday. Robberies, kidnappings, murders, the works. It’s around us, all the time, practically shouted from the rooftops. It’s almost impossible not to be subject to some of the crime and negativity the news stations rave about.

crime scene
Source: http://www.akkuza.com/2013/11/28/blasphemy-and-censorship/

I think it’s interesting that crime-something that isn’t specific to only America-isn’t as heavily broadcast-ed in other countries as it is here. Ifemelu mentions prior to the talk with Aunty Uju that she was used to seeing militarial broadcasts occupying the Nigerian news station, which gets me thinking. Obviously news reports depend on the area in which they are located, but does the location also affect which news is presented? Like in America it’s all crime stories but in other countries it’s more military focused or stuff like that?

That would make sense, especially if censorship is involved. When I think of censorship in the media, I specifically think of China because I remember learning about Tiananmen Square and realizing that almost no one in present day China knew anything about these series of protests and this massacre that had taken place almost thirty years ago. And then, with that comes the inevitable question of what the American government is hiding from us.

censorship1
Source: http://www.akkuza.com/2013/11/28/blasphemy-and-censorship/

Overall, the whole concept that the American broadcasting system is somewhat responsible for widespread paranoia opens a million others doors regarding censorship and government secrets and I completely understand why Adichie chose to include this in Americanah because it truly exemplifies something that is very prevalent in American society that might not stretch to many other countries. The whole idea is an invitation to really consider the mechanics of mass media in America.

That’s it for now.