For my birthday, my wife surprised me with a trip to the Petersen Automotive Museum. There among the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the assorted Model T’s and muscle cars, was a cautionary lecture about lowriders and the heterosexual male gaze.
Does a car museum really need gender politics? Must we have assertions of “feminist politics and framing queerness” on an exhibit of art by Hispanic car enthusiasts? Obviously.
The politicization of even the most innocuous museums is not a new phenomenon. But the growing obnoxious censoriousness of it is becoming more ubiquitous.
The American Writers Museum in Chicago just had to include accusations of racism in its exhibit on Laura Ingalls Wilder. At the New-York Historical Society a costumed volunteer in the garb of a Revolutionary War soldier began ranting that George Washington was a racist.
The walk into Colonial Williamsburg takes you through a series of warnings about how racist and sexist the past you are entering is.
This is no longer atypical. Instead it’s sadly become the new normal.
The Petersen Automotive Museum decided to provide space (in an out of the way corner) to this pseudoacademic gibberish about the gender politics of lowriders.
Is there anyone visiting the museum who wants to see that? Doubtfully. But they’re getting it anyway. And in 20 years, the Petersen Museum, like so many others, will just consist of lectures on racism, sexism and the male gaze in automotive design.