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Comment count is 9
That guy - 2014-06-04

racist or race-ish?
broad stereotype, but not the butt of the joke, just in the service of absurd silliness

anyway, these guys were not exactly reactionary nationalists

Old_Zircon - 2014-06-04

So what you're saying is it's like how it wasn't at all racist when Ted Danson did blackface.

Anaxagoras - 2014-06-04

A broad stereotype in service of something else is pretty much a textbook case of casual racism.

Newsflash: even good, progressive folks can occasionally do bad things. Like create an incredibly racist portrayal w/out adding a biting commentary on said portrayal.

The more you know!

That guy - 2014-06-04

Thanks for the newsflash. I really had no idea that good people do bad things sometimes. You're really raising my consciousness here, asswipe.
You'll note that I didn't mount a full defense of this, but I think I'll stick with the Devil's Advocate thing for now:

If this is your definition of "incredibly racist", it has a hell of a low ceiling. Is the "Red Indian" portrayed as any less human than the schmuck in the tuxedo?

The element of the 'foreigner' in sketch comedy (or tragedy for that matter) shouldn't be an automatic RACISM! charge except that sensitivities are so double-standardly full of shit that if anyone does anything from right-to-left it's horrible, and anything from left-to-right is witty.

I don't know if it was racist when Ted Danson did blackface any more than when the Wayan bros. did whiteface for a whole movie.

Bort - 2014-06-04

Intention matters, and awareness matters. These guys were juxtaposing the Native American stereotypes against the manner of the theater-going public, so the point was that the stereotype exists, not whether it is accurate. Plus it was fun.

I'm not going to hold it up as a sterling example of cultural sensitivity, but neither am I going to be offended just because I was able to check a few boxes on the "You Have to Be Offended" checklist.

Anaxagoras - 2014-06-04

That Guy: Sorry... I provide newsflashes where they're needed. Think of me as your fairy godmother of basic education.

When you mention "they're not exactly reactionary nationalists", I assumed you thought it has relevance. It doesn't, for the reason specified in my newsflash. If you decided to throw out bizarre non-sequiturs just to be tricksy, I admit it: you got me.

As for the element of foreigner... that's not an element of "foreigner", you moron. It's an element of racist stereotyping. Including a foreigner is rarely problematic because there isn't an ugly history behind that portrayal.

And comparing blackface to whiteface? Holy crap. You really don't have a clue. The former has a long history of mocking, hurting, and demeaning an entire group that has traditionally been shat upon in American society. The latter is just kinda strange. Hopefully you see the difference.

Bort - Sure, that was the point of the sketch, but the way they got to that point was to use an offensive stereotype. If they have nothing to say about the stereotype other than "it exists", they probably shouldn't mention it. We know it exists.

I'm not up in arms against the Python guys. From what I've seen in interviews, they seem like good guys, and this was just a misstep. Kinda distasteful, but nobody's perfect. But it was a misstep.

That guy - 2014-06-04

I don't think it's all great that there were sketches like this. I think that a comedically similar sketch would be done differently nowadays, and for the better. Truth to be told, they have a few in worse taste with interesting ideas going on in them.

I just don't believe in the social context of all of these things as the predominantly important detail, that's supposed to completely preclude any thinking about what the character is and does in this exact sketch, by these exact artists. Who they are does matter somewhat. Furthermore, you're trying to frame up what parts of historical context matter and which don't. How to challenge people's thinking in Britain in 1970 is part of this.

And yeah, ultimately I'd refuse to give a free pass to whiteface and a blanket condemnation of blackface. I will compare them. If you had a sketch comedy duo of any two different races, it could be useful for them to do a sketch as each other, even just to try to do something thought-provoking, successfully or no. You'd say that the white would be racist for this and the black wouldn't?
Inconsistency is not a virtue, and it's a good way to collapse a moral system into just making mouth noises at people to see if they'll feel guilty. In my state in public schools, the paler kids get made fun of for their skin color, without those who do it being charged with racism, all the time. But I suppose this is ok because there's no historical context, right? Or is it the fact that it's emotionally painfully devastating that matter way-the-fuck more than the context?

Oppression, history and guilt are the key reasons for a lot of moral arguments. But they aren't an excuse for a bunch of 'liberal double-standards'. That's in quotes for a reason. It's faux-liberalism. It's an attempt at playing a trump card that is suppose to allow for a new double-standard.

As someone who thinks he's smart enough to criticize both sides of the political spectrum, I'll say that liberals create an incredible amount of hypocritical, oppressive bullshit with their identity politics shit. It doesn't have to eclipse apartheid-levels of hypocritical, oppressive bullshit to be so.
Naming worse evils are not a trump card to do wrong in the name of justice.
The constant deliberate overstatement of 'everyone united vs. straight white males' makes the battle about orientation, race and gender, when it should be about the ridiculous oligarchy that our country has become. Go after the actual oligarchs. That they are straight, white males should not become a conflation of straight white males with oligarchs, unless you're stupid, sexist, racist and so on.
The campusy politics that constitutes this movement adds a ridiculous layer of metaphysics and rhetoric to it that further remove it from just hammering on oligarchy until something gives and profits are fairly distributed.

If you see nothing interesting about the Pythons' sketch where a Red Indian has the same theater tastes as an upper-middle class Brit in a tux, in a way that might cut in multiple directions, I can't help you.

Long-view socio-historical context is less than everything. Text and subtext matter.

Anax- Make your case for whether this sketch is incredibly racist or casually racist or what, and how White Girls wasn't, if that's what you're saying.

That guy - 2014-06-04

"Truth to be told, they have a few in worse taste with interesting ideas going on in them."
"with FEWER interesting ideas going on in them"

exy - 2014-06-04

OZ, but doesn't it help Danson's case at all that Whoopi wrote his material? There I think they were at least "doing a thing," however lame or misguided, hoping to show sufficient irony I think--to reflect or comment on racist caricatures themselves, rather than to (shit, I'll say it) reify them. Maybe it comes down to whether a racist caricature is sufficiently ironic to be acceptable (assuming you're willing to admit any possibility of there being acceptable racist caricatures, and of course I take as given that irony might suffice for acceptability).

With the pythons, this and the African waiters and Chinese spies etc., always make me a little squirmy, though I assume there's a large amount of irony intended. They take potshots at all kinds of stereotypes, whether based on race, gender, orientation, region, nationality, occupation, etc. There's plenty to be offended by. I kind of doubt they expected their audience to believe this was much how any given native American would actually act, but what do I know, I wasn't even born yet.

None of which means it can't be racist, except I don't really consider it proper racism without actual malice.

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