Tag Archives: Aqua Teen Hunger Force

A Historical Guide To Hipster Racism

By Thea Lim

Last week at Racialicious HQ, we were delighted to see the term “hipster racism”–coined by our very own Carmen Van Kerckhove in 2006*–suddenly enter mainstream parlance, thanks to Jezebel’s publication of Lindy West’s “A Guide to Hipster Racism.” In a flash, the words “hipster racism” papered themselves across Facebook and Twitter feeds across the continent (and maybe the world?).  Words are wonderful, and when more people have access to language that helps them name the racism of everyday life,  we’re happy.

There was only one glitch. While West linked to one Racialicious post (a short piece Carmen wrote in 2007 about white girls and gang signs) she never once name-checks Racialicious or Carmen…or any of our amazing pals and allies who have been writing about this stuff since the main target was Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls (i.e. a long time ago).

On the one hand, no one takes up social-justice work to see their name in lights and, at the end of the day, the point is just to get the message across, no matter who gives it the signal boost. On the other hand, we’re only human. It hurts when work that we, as a collective, have been jackhammering about for seven-plus years gets credited to someone else. (Seven years, y’all! Back to the dawn of skinny jeans! Before Facebook was open to the public, for cripes’ sake.)

And as our friends at Bitch pointed out, it is also  distressing, though not in the least surprising, that the words “hipster racism” are more palatable, resonant, and listenable when they come from the mouth of a white blogger.  It’s enough to make you get real low and start thinking terrible emo thoughts, like one white blogger is worth more than ten bloggers of colour.

And so! To keep the emo monster at bay and, as an ancient person who remembers all the way back to a long lost time when Racialicious was known as Mixed Media Watch, I decided to quietly slip out of retirement for a moment to revisit just a few of our landmark posts about hipster racism, so as to remind ourselves (and yes, to remind the internet) of all the brotherpucking hard work we have done, lo these many years.

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‘Aqua Teen’ Joins Hipster Racism Force

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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Look, I don’t expect anything progressive out of Adult Swim. But when it’s good, it can be really good (“The Venture Brothers,” “Metalocalypse”) and when it’s bad it can be really bad (“Squidbillies,” “Tim And Eric”).

And then you get Sunday night’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Again, I don’t expect anything, you know, intelligent out of this show. But “Shake Like Me” … well, my roommate put it best once it was done: “You didn’t need those brain cells, anyway.”

athf2The episode started “normally” enough: for whatever reason, a construction company was dumping radioactive waste near the titular trio’s New Jersey pad. While he was complaining about it, Master Shake was bitten by an irradiated black man. At which point his tone changes to brown, an afro grows atop his head, and his pink straw grows to a disproportionate length. In no time, Shake greets people with “all heezy in the sheezy.” And he can’t swim.

See, it’s funny because he was “turning black,” and that’s what black people say and do! Get it?! LULZ

At the urge of another afro’ed character, Boxy Brown, Shake forgoes his “slave name” in favor of Mocha Shaka Khan, and sees marked improvement as both a rapper and a basketball player. It’s only thanks to a “Blackcine” cooked up by Frylock, the brains of the outfit that he’s restored to his normal ridiculous state.

Defenders of the show will point out that the episode is “okay” because Frylock is voiced by a POC, voice-actor Carey Means, and that it was “obviously” satire. My problem is, like the other instances we’ve highlighted over the past month or so, it’s not good satire. It made “Family Guy” look nuanced and thoughtful by comparison. Was there humor in Master Shake being reduced to a stereotype? Possibly. The problem was, nobody reacted to him like he was one. The show took more half-assed shots at Frylock’s liberal guilt while accepting Shake’s “blackness.”

Which, from the impression I’ve gotten over the years, is perfectly fine for what I’ve imagined to be the show’s target demo: kids who ran around quoting the “porch monkey” bit from “Clerks 2″ to their black friends asking, “It’s funny, right? Isn’t it funny?” It’s not absurdist, it’s not smart, it’s not comedy. It is, as the kids say, EPIC FAIL. And to that line of comedy, only one response is appropriate:

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