The relationship between the sketch-comedy show Portlandia and In Other Words, the feminist bookstore that features prominently in the ongoing “Toni and Candace” sketch, has apparently soured. The Willamette Week reports that the bookshop placed a sign in the window that reads, “Fuck Portlandia! Transmisogyny – Racism – Gentrification – Queer Antagonism – Devaluation of Feminist Discourse.”
It seems that the sign has been up since the spring when the IFC show was in town filming Season 6. When the Willamette Week reached out to In Other Words for comment, the paper and store had an exchange that seems almost fitting for the show that made the feminist bookstore nationally known:
WW sent questions via e-mail—including what specific content had spurred the store to put up the sign after a six-year association with the show. WW declined as a matter of policy to promise a link to the store’s fundraising platform in exchange for an interview.
[Mickey] Karnage [a representative for the bookstore] then sent the following message:
“After some consideration and research we’ve decided to officially tell the Willamette Weekly to go fuck themselves. Your paper has absolutely zero journalistic professionalism and you are scummy rape apologists. Thanks for the opportunity tho! Have a great night.”
Willamette Week did link to the bookstore’s fundraising site and, last night, the store posted a link to a statement at the site. In the post, In Other Words confirmed that they had severed their relationship with Portlandia “several months ago.” “We fucking love the sign,” the post confirmed.
According to the store’s statement, the current staff was not involved in the decision to work Portlandia, and it proved difficult for the store, its employees, and neighboring businesses. The decision to break its relationship with the show was a multi-part decision, underpinned by both financial and political issues. Portlandia paid In Other Words, a “small flat fee per episode” and that fee “does not cover the profits lost by our having to remain closed for filming.”
In addition to the operational consideration, the staff and volunteers at the bookstore write that they feel the show is both transphobic and racist:
[The] segments that are filmed at In Other Words are trans-antagonistic and trans-misogynist and have only become more offensive as the show goes on. ‘LOL Fred Armisen in a wig and a dress’ is a deeply shitty joke whose sole punchline throws trans femmes under the bus by holding up their gender presentation for mockery and ridicule.
Also: there are no Black people on Portlandia. There are a tiny number of people of color on Portlandia. Portland is white but it’s not that damn white. It’s also a city with a deeply entrenched history of racism and white supremacy. In Other Words is in the heart of a historically Black neighborhood in Northeast Portland. We have Black Lives Matter written on our window. Black Lives Matter Portland meets regularly in our space. But as more and more Black folks and people of color have become involved at In Other Words, Portlandia has only gotten steadfastly more white.
In Other Words adds that during filming Portlandia’s production staff removed a Black Lives Matter poster from the shop’s window. The post continues, discussing gentrification and describes the show as “straight up not funny” and filled with “insipid humor.”
Jezebel has reached out to IFC and Portlandia for comment. We will update this post if we hear back.