Category Archives: comedy

Speed Trap: George Lopez To Play Speedy Gonzales

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By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Nothing good can come of a new Speedy Gonzales film. No matter what the intentions, or the updates George Lopez’s wife, Ann, is promising:

“We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s – the racist Speedy. Speedy’s going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he’s a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he’s good at.”

So Mrs. Lopez, who will produce this project, says the couple can refashion a cartoon like this into A Mexican-American Tail:

georgelopez1 The thing is, it’s not just about Speedy, but about the universe he inhabited. Continue reading

Complex Magazine: The 50 Most Racist Movies You Didn’t Know Were Racist

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

I had a great time with this article sent to us by reader mra: Complex Magazine’s run-down of the 50 Most Racist Movies You Didn’t Know Were Racist.  The list spans not just time but also ethnocultural group – I was happy to see that Complex pounced on movies offending all sorts of people of colour.   (They even include White Chicks as token movie that offends white people, though I don’t believe in reverse racism.) As you know, cross-community-of-colour solidarity is something we really prize here at the R.

Some entries were obvious – like #47: Big Trouble in Little China:

It’s hardly an ancient Chinese secret that the most populous country in the world, with a cultural legacy thousands of years old, really only excels at doing laundry talking funny marshalling inscrutability and mysticism for untold evil. But you know what’ll stop them? Knocking down their fuckin’ BUDDHA statues. Take two Jesuses and call Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) in the morning!

or #31: Jungle 2 Jungle:

A direct adaptation of the 1994 french film Little Indian, Big City, Jungle 2 Jungle changed the title but kept everything just as racist. Tim Allen meets the son he never knew he had, a 13-year-old who grew up native with his ex-wife and a tribe in Venezuela, and takes him to New York City, where his backward customs simply don’t fly! It just goes to show, video games don’t turn good little white kids into savages—brown-skinned savages turn good little white kids into savages!

But some surprised me, especially the ones that I saw as a child and have not since revisited.  Like this classic of my youth, #23: Adventures in Babysitting:

When a lily-white babysitter (Elizabeth Shue) journeys to the ghetto to rescue a runaway friend who’s stuck in the heart of darkness, she and the kids she’s caring for encounter the full spectrum of black people, from car thieves to gang members, and even the kind that sing and dance! And they say Hollywood doesn’t grasp the diaspora!

While I was puzzled by their numbering system (after all, how do you rank racism?), I really enjoyed this list.  Though of course, as is the nature of lists, they missed some films that would’ve made my top 10.  For example any number of  movies by my ex-friend Wes Anderson (other than Bottle Rockets), or Lost in Translation, which to this day I continue to argue about with Sophia Coppola devotees.  Continue reading

General Larry Platt’s “Pants on the Ground” and the Intersection of Race and Comedy

In the middle of January, American Idol scored a huge ratings win when they decided to air a tryout clip of an elderly black man named General Larry Platt, singing his original composition “Pants on the Ground.” The song took off and is now a part of American pop culture…at least for the next few months.

The first time I saw the clip I couldn’t help but feel torn. I felt joke discomfort: the uneasiness I often get when someone makes a joke that I sense is not quite right, yet I still feel like laughing. “Pants on the Ground” does seem inherently absurd and there is something really adorable about Platt. Yet how should we feel about the way American Idol used his clip? Does it encourage us to laugh with Larry Platt? After watching several different Platt appearances, I’m still not sure if Platt is funny because he’s trying to be, or just by accident. If we’re laughing at Platt instead of with him, how much of this is about race?

Reader Gavin Jones sent us an email about Platt, lamenting the way Platt was the butt of jokes on Youtube and the late-night show circuit. Gavin says

It just seems like we live in a Bizzaro world where the more virtuous artists are fake blonds, singers whose subjects are ultimately selfish, and Soulja Boy types, and someone like Larry Platt is somehow not legitimate. Simon Cowell said he had a ‘sinking feeling it would be a hit’. Mary J. Blige couldn’t stop laughing DURING his audition. I wonder how her (and all of our lives) would be different if he didn’t exist. SOMEONE, ANYONE should mention some of this after one of those clips or in some commentary.

In a greater sense I wonder how much this has to do with race. Obviously there’s no immediate way to quantify that but it’s curious that of all the thousands of applicants to American Idol over the years, the only objects of ridicule are William Hung and Larry Platt.

What rankled Gavin is particular is that Platt is actually a hero in Atlanta, thanks to the work he’s done for the civil rights movement. From Yahoo:

But Platt is not just some William Hungian TV clown angling for 15 minutes of YouTube fame. His real legacy in fact extends all the way back to the ’60s, when he was a teenage crusader for the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia…The man was even honored with his own holiday in Atlanta, Larry Platt Day, on September 4, 2001, for his “priceless and immeasurable contributions to society” and “his great energy and commitment to equality and the protection of the innocent and for his outstanding service to the Atlanta community and the citizens of Georgia.”

On that fateful day, the Georgia General Assembly declared: “For the past 40 years, Larry Platt has given of himself in service to the people of the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and the nation…Larry Platt merits the highest recognition for his many valuable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and his dedication to the struggle for equality and human rights.”

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George Lopez “Races” Late Night

By Guest Contributor Tomas, originally published at Latino Like Me

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Comedian George Lopez debuted “Lopez Tonight” on Monday, November 9.  A veteran of the stand-up stage, Lopez’s foray into late night does little to mess with the familiar format honed by Johnny Carson and tweaked by Leno and Letterman: it includes a monologue, video-taped comedy segment, celebrity interview, and musical guest.

The primary difference, as pushed by Lopez, is the “color” of the show.  “¡Oralé!” he exclaimed as he walked out on stage.  “The revolution begins right now!”

It’s an odd role for Lopez, the man who carved out his niche in prime time as a Mexican Bill Cosby.  His eponymous sitcom featured a middle (maybe even upper-middle) class family struggling with the same kinds of life issues faced by any family.  Its lack of depth and specificity relating to Latino life was deliberate.  It didn’t evade “race,” but it rarely let it mean more than we’re slightly different but still the same. Continue reading

Open Thread: Cornel West on Stephen Colbert – Respect or Mockery?

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

The Colbert Report is pretty hit and miss.  But most of the time I enjoy it.  Potentially that’s because Stephen Colbert’s satire is so impenetrable that I have little idea as to what his real politics are…which means I can just project my own politics onto him.  Jon Stewart on the other hand is less of a blank space. We get a much clearer sense of what he truly believes, making it (well, at least to this grump) easier to dislike him.

When Cornel West guested on the Colbert Report last week, my sleuthing skills went on overdrive.  What does Colbert really think of West? Does he agree with West, or does he think West’s a joke?

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cornel West
www.colbertnation.com
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Is Colbert mocking West’s manner of speaking, or borrowing it? When Colbert references Jim Morrison, is he poking fun at West’s knowledge base, or is he merely “tangoing”? When West makes a great counterargument to the logic of Post Racialism, Colbert responds by saying “I feel like a muppet.” Does that undermine West – and is that Colbert’s intention?

I have to say that no matter what Colbert is doing, I really love this interview. I couldn’t stop smiling through it – not only because Cornel West’s enthusiasm and exuberance is infectious, but also because I don’t think I have ever seen someone steamroll Colbert so effectively. And I love that it was an anti-racist black man – expounding such truthiness! – that managed the Colbert takedown.

It can be very difficult for women and people of colour to wrest control of a conversation in a white mainstream space, especially when that conversation veers into hateful territory. Feeling voiceless or ignored in a white or male conversational space seems like almost a weekly happening for me. Watching this video, I felt like West was striking one for any POC (or WOC) who’s ever felt silenced by the cacophony of racism around them.

Interestingly a Colbert fan site reports that Colbert appears to genuinely like West, stating that this is what Colbert did after taping the interview:

In person I got the impression that Colbert actually really liked Cornel West. After the interview Stephen immediately walked around the desk and gave him a hug. Then West smiled and waved at the audience and we gave him a standing ovation.

So what do you think? Is Colbert an ally or is he just using West to make white folks laugh?

Et tu, Amy Poehler? What’s so funny about desiring a big, black woman?

By Guest Contributor Tami, originally posted at What Tami Said

Fat, black woman. Big, black chick. Those descriptors are lazy comedy shorthand in a racist, sexist and sizist society. Want to bring on the cheap laughs? Then trot out an over-sized, brown-skinned lady. Even better, despite her fatness and blackness, give her a more than healthy opnion of herself. See, that makes it doubly funny, see, cause even though everyone knows neither black women or fat women are hot, this character doesn’t seem to know this and actually behaves as if she is attractive and worthy of amorous attention.

See how it works? I’ve come to expect black women, especially plus-sized ones, to be the butt of the joke in low-brow comedy films–the sort of flicks commonly associated with Eddie Murphy, Rob Scheider or Tyler Perry. But usually your benign, weekday sitcoms eschew hateful comedy. I’ve been watching NBC’s Amy Poehler vehicle “Parks & Recreation” off and on this season. I want to like it. I’m a fan of “The Office” and generally find Poehler charming. Each time I tune in to the show I hope it will be better. But last night, “Parks & Recreation” lost me for good. Because I can’t relax and laugh in the face of the dehumanization of women.

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Your Joke is Not My Joke: Racism and Sexism in Jokes and Satire

By Guest Contributor Princesse de Clèves, islamogauchiste, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Have you ever noticed how minorities—and oppressed people in general—lack a sense of humor? Lately, there have been plenty of jokes about Arabs and Muslims. So why aren’t we laughing?

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux recently felt his joke fall flat after this year’s summer congress. One of his traditional supporters, Amin Benalia, asked if he could take a picture with the minister. A woman in the crowd jokingly introduced Benalia to the team as someone different because he “eats pork and drinks beer”. Ah, a meeting of old friends and politicians united under the banner of pork, beer and the finest French jokes. The Minister explained about Benalia:

“He doesn’t fit the prototype [of an Arab Muslim] at all. Not at all. We always need one. When there’s one, that’s all right. It’s when there a lot of them that there are problems.”

This moment of free expression had been launched on the website of Le Monde and raised lots of questions, reactions and criticism. But the merry minister did not apologize. He simply said it was a joke, and most journalists gave it legitimacy by saying the minister was “very laid-back”.

David Gee, the author of Shaikh Down—a  very “funny” novel about the Arabs (again)—claimed he “spent six years in the Gulf and never met an intelligent woman”, ignoring the fact that intelligent women had better things to do than meet up with a poor so-called satirist.

In Shaikh Down, Gee writes:

“Nayla was tall, olive-skinned, voluptuous, at twenty-six two years younger than her brother Ibrahim and exactly half her husband’s age, a feminist intellectual in a society that tended to ignore women and mistrusted intellectuals .”

Exclusively focusing his attention on the body of Nayla, the author completely ignores the role that high-profile women play in the Gulf. The “feminist intellectual” is at some point described as if she was either a prostitute or a commodity: by the size and the color of her “voluptuous” Orientalized body.

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What’s So Funny About Chicago-Lake Liquors Ads?

By Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

According to Macon D at Stuff White People Do and Craig Brimm at Kiss My Black Ads (Both wonderful blogs that you should be reading on the regular), a Minneapolis-based retailer, Chicago-Lake Liquors, has launched a new ad campaign that depicts middle class white folks acting “black” (or rather the minstrelized version of blackness popularized by BET).

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Funny or offensive? Continue reading