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Yipster Gentrification of Weird, White Portlandia

Advertised locally by a citywide mantra of 'Keep Portland Weird' and reinforced nationally by the Portlandia television series, Portland, Oregon, is touted as a hip and creative metropolis. Although the city may feature artistic diversity, actual demographics of Portland highlight a stark deficiency in ethno-racial diversity: Portland is among the United States' whitest cities. Within this context, gentrification that began in the 1990s has led to the displacement of an African American population from its historic roots in Northeast Portland -- the site, not uncoincidentally, of many of the Fred Armisen- and Carrie Brownstein-led comedy skits. Taking Portlandia as a work that shapes meanings toward social/racial justice issues like gentrification in its onscreen representation of Portland, we argue in this paper that the show, in bolstering Portland's national reputation for whiteness/weirdness, contributes to the marginalization of a nonwhite gentrified populace by normalizing, yea valorizing, decidedly privileged white patterns of consumption.

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