The feminist bookstore in Portlandia run by Toni (Carrie Brownstein) and Candace (Fred Armisen) is based on an actual specialty bookstore called In Other Words located in Portland’s Northeast district. And this week, the staff of the real business made it clear that they don’t support the show’s further use of their store as a filming location. How clear did they make it, you ask? Well, there’s a new sign in the front window that says “Fuck Portlandia!” in big red letters with the words “transmisogyny,” “racism,” “gentrification,” “queer antagonism,” and “devaluation of feminist discourse” written underneath. The bookstore is actually part of a larger event space and community center, and the staff posted an explanation for the sign in a letter on their website. The letter is also titled “Fuck Portlandia” and it cites the production’s poor treatment of their facility, staff, and neighboring businesses as reasons for cutting ties.
The staff also claims the show does actual social harm, saying it has contributed to accelerated gentrification of the city and that it presents damaging representations of queer people:
“‘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. In a world where trans femmes — particularly Black trans women — are being brutalized and murdered on a regular basis for simply daring to exist, dude in a dress jokes are lazy, reactionary, and actively harmful.”
A local paper, the Willamette Weekly, reached out to In Other Words for comment, but received this in response: “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.” (It should be noted that In Other Words only agreed to be interviewed if WW published a link to the organization’s fundraising platform in the story, but the paper declined to do so.) IFC has not yet responded to the protest, but it’s unlikely they’ll have further access to In Other Words if the staff has any say in the matter, as they conclude their letter by saying, “We stand behind our collective decision to discontinue our relationship with the show. And we fucking love the sign.”