Sarah Silverman does blackface

by guest contributor The Thin Black Duke, originally published at Slant Truth 2.0

I’m not a fan of Sarah Silverman. I find her humor juvenile and often offensive. She will stoop to the lowest level possible to try and get a laugh. Yet I was still shocked to learn that a recent episode of her show, titled “Face Wars,” went so low as to contain (oh yeah…you guessed it…the hip trend of last year hasn’t gone away yet) Silverman in blackface. Take a look:

Yep, she went there.

Now, I’m a big fan of comedy, especially subversive comedy, and so I understand that many comedians exploit stereotypes to get their point accross. Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Sacha Baron Cohen, among many others have all to varying degrees of success exploited racial/ethnic/religious stereotypes to get a point across. The difference, for me, is that they all exploited racial/ethnic/religious stereotypes in order to expose the ignorance of those stereotypes. In Silverman’s episode, it seems to me that she is revelling in stereotypes and trying to be as offensive as she possibly can. When I saw the bit where a black man is wearing a big nose and a t-shirt that reads “I love money” (the black man and Silverman attempt to switch places so that Silverman can prove that Jews have it worse than blacks, as if that’s a question worth asking) I almost threw my computer monitor out the window.1 Really? Did she need to go there? If you haven’t seen the episode you probably don’t get where I’m going here, but in the context of the show it is nothing but offensive to me and serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the faux black/Jewish divide.

What really gets my goat about this episode is that it’s all played off as “starting a dialogue about race.” Um no. All I see is the worst stereotypes about black folks and Jewish folks being perpetuated with little to no actual commentary on why these stereotypes are messed up in the first place. It’s all shock. No commentary. And when it has all ended, she has painted herself as the most “open-minded.” To wit, this little supposedly funny bit from the show:

“What do we want?”

“The freedom to explore issues of race in American culture through the use of post-modern dramatic irony.”

“When do we want it?”

“We think it’s fairly obvious.”

That could be funny in a lot of comedic situations, but here, I find it all too telling.

links for 2007-11-02

Propaganda week

newsweek pakistan yellow peril xenophobia

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

This scare story was loaded with terrorism hype. By the time I finished the story, it seemed like jihadis were on the verge of overrunning not only Islamabad but India too. And yet with all the advantages of Musharraf’s rigging, Islamist parties crested at a tiny minority of votes in the last election.

Check out the photos in the print edition, all foreboding black and white like a cheesy re-enactment by a TV crime show:

  • Cover: Scary, screaming, bearded man
  • First photo: Bleeding man lying on road, pierced with shrapnel from the Bhutto attack, looking directly at the camera. This is the kind of gruesome verité the American media refuse to show about Americans at home or American soldiers in Iraq, but think it perfectly acceptable to show about those not like us. I’m in favor of showing it all, not this disgusting double standard.
  • Second: Osama bin Laden t-shirt vendor
  • Third: Bullet-pocked walls
  • Fourth: Street scene with signs in Urdu / Arabic script
  • Fifth: Bearded mullah and a Koran

Here’s the thing — it’s a milestone that the media are beginning to drop the artificial he-says-she-says between India and Pakistan. They’re beginning to report the ISI and Pakistani military’s continued support of terrorism, and the fact that Islamists in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are far more dangerous than was the tinpot dictator of Iraq. Some of the content of the story is excellent.

But its packaging and tone are yellow journalism at its worst, ignoring everyday life in Pakistan and puffing up a tiny circle of jihadists using the trashiest techniques of propaganda.

Boondocks recap: Stinkmeaner Strikes Back

by Racialicious guest contributor Jasmine

My first recap for this weeks episode of “The Boondocks”, “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” was a bit of a mess. A blow-by-blow recap of what happened, I didn’t put in much in the way of commentary because… I was scared. I admit it. Although I lobbied for the gig, the actual task of recapping “The Boondocks” is daunting because it’s a smart, funny show which draws a lot of fire for its routine use of the n-word, among other things. I like to think that I am sharp enough to know and to remember that the show performs cutting critiques on race and class, and I try not to worry too much that other viewers may just be taking the program at face value. If I believe I am laughing for the right reasons, I’d better make sure I reach out and engage those folks who may be laughing for the wrong ones.

At the same time, there’s nothing that makes me feel entitled to watch this show. I’m naturally attracted to any show, good or bad (whatever those words mean when applied to television), that is funny, engaging, and wants to engage in a discourse on race that doesn’t involve “very special episodes” or token characters like the ones often found on mainstream network television.

But what’s right and what’s wrong here? It’s hard to know where to begin, but here is what happens: the Freemans are set upon by the evil spirit of Colonel Stinkmeaner, the mean old man whom Granddad Robert killed accidentally in season one. The Colonel, having thrived on hate in life, is far too evil even for hell, and is sent back to Earth by the devil himself. Stinkmeaner’s spirit makes itself at home in the body of Tom DuBois, instigating bouts of meaningless violence and attacking the Freemans so that they might return to hell with him as his quarry. It takes some advice from the ghost of Ghostface Killah (yes, I know he’s not dead, so that one confused me, too) and a misguided exorcism led by everybody’s favorite Black white supremacist Uncle Ruckus to restore Tom’s spirit to his body, and finish off Stinkmeaner for good. While all this is going on, Granddad is trolling the internet for dates, though not with much success.

What I’ve left out is that each instance of the violence, as instigated by Stinkmeaner/Tom, was described as an example of what was called “a nigga moment”: “a moment where ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical Negro male, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner, i.e. like a nigga.” I cringed every time I heard the phrase, but I didn’t stop watching. But was I accepting the premise of such a phenomenon? Do I believe that all Black men are susceptible to times of ignorance so profound that it clouds their judgement and causes them to act in a self-destructive manner? Of course not, and that’s why I thought the show was funny. It’s that line between the ridicule and stereotype, the gap between the sacred and the profane, on which “The Boondocks” is found. It knows what’s sacred, but is not afraid to use some humor to show its audience that it’s smart enough to know the difference.

links for 2007-11-01