The #We’reGivingYoutheSideEye edition. With my commentary, since I still have a lot to say.
Colbert’s satire isn’t particularly funny or clever, even within its “context.” Although he says in an interview that he never “punches up,” using racism against Asian Americans as part of the humor violates the general unspoken rule of satire.
However, where The Colbert Report‘s satire fails is that a significant portion of The Colbert Report‘s audience does not intuitively or instinctively believe in their guts that saying “Ching Chong Ding Dong” or using the term “Orientals” is necessarily racist. Not everybody who laughs at “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is laughing because Colbert the character is so stupidly racist, but they are laughing at Asians. I believe this to be the case because this kind of anti-Asian dialog is still common in our society and is not immediately countered by most of society for being racist.
I told a white friend this joke as it was relayed on the Colbert Report, and he laughed. I felt pissed off about it, so I went on to discuss some other parts of Colbert’s “humor” that I find problematic. Continue reading →
White people often bring up “context” in defense of racism.
Miley Cyrus made the “slant-eyed” face but protested that people took it wrong and “out of context!”
The Tribune discontinued running a much “beloved” illustration called “Injun Summer” and noted its “innocence of context.”
A Villa Park council member, Deborah Pauly, was videotaped stirring the racist pot to a boil. When confronted, she said the tape was edited to “completely change the context.”
Murray State University professor Mark Wattier thought two black students were late to his class. His comment: “Do you know why you were late? There’s a theory that a way to protest their master’s treatment was for slaves to be late.” (Click the link to read the students’ version.) What did he say in his own defense? “My comment was inappropriate. I regret having said this out of context and bluntly.”
Screenshot of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from another high school production on youtube.
Thanks to Mia Wenjen for covering this topic so thoroughly on her blog, I Love Newton.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” was a musical film from 1967. It included a subplot about a hotel proprietor who dresses in yellowface and two nefarious Chinese henchmen. It was developed into a musical 33 years later, and the racist subplot remained intact.
I was somewhat surprised that anybody would consider a remake of a dated movie to be a good idea, especially given the racism. Of course, we’re only too familiar that white people find a greatdealofentertainmentinracism. The entertainment value is often used as a defense of racism: “But it was only meant in good fun!”
If you do a brief web search, you’ll find that “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a popular choice for high school theatrical groups. Undoubtedly because it’s so much fun. Newton North High School chose it for its spring production. Newton (MA) is predominately (82%) white, with an 11% Asian American population. And although concerns were voiced before the musical was staged, it proceeded as planned. Although a note about the “stereotypes” was listed in the program guide, apparently. On page 49.
It’s been my general experience that when white people are confronted with their racism, they rarely will completely abandon the racist endeavor. This is because they have too much invested in both the endeavor and the racism.
She is a 27-year-old pharmacist who was out drinking with some friends. The police picked her up for public intoxication. Somehow she ended up lying in the street with a shattered jaw and torn clothing. She was in a medically-induced coma because of bleeding to her brain.
Kim Nguyen is suing the LAPD. She states she was being sexually abused by the police. Video footage directly contradicts the officers’ version of the incident. They claimed she accidentally fell from the car. Story here. More here.
Oh, and for an additional dose of WTF-ery, both officers have been identified as 1.5ers from Korea.
In which resistance perseverates about internalized crap.
I am still angry with Questlove’s casual racism. And I am upset by the reactions and non-reactions of others, which serves to inform about the state of post-racial America.
Because in post-racial America, we are still talking about how Asians are being offended rather than how white supremacy is being supported. The former puts the blame on those pesky Asians. So thin-skinned. No sense of humor. Chip on the shoulder.
Questlove is a six-foot-two black man. So I can imagine he’s experienced his share of overt racism. He talks and writes about it sometimes. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, he wrote the following:
I don’t know how to not internalize the overall message this whole Trayvon case has taught me:
You ain’t shit.
That’s the lesson I took from this case.
You ain’t shit.
These words are deep because these are words I’ve heard my whole life.
“Which drummer is not like the others?” is the caption in this Home Depot tweet featuring two African American men and one person wearing a chimp suit. For which the company undoubtedly paid a marketing agency. Yeah.
Personal note: My friends and I used to hum “One of these things is not like the others,” when one of us got singled out in class. “Where did YOU come from?” was the one I got the most.