Tag Archives: comedy

The Office: all Asians look alike

by guest contributor Ansel

On December 14, the NBC show “The Office” aired its Christmas episode titled “A Benihana Christmas,” written by Jennifer Celotta. As a big fan of the show, I was interested by the previews for the episode which seemed to include a joke about two Asian women looking alike. So would “The Office,” a show known for being ironic and clever and in-the-know, be putting their satirical spin on the old stereotype? To my disappointment, they didn’t. In fact, in my personal opinion, one can argue that the show just played with the stereotype for laughs. It’s a more insidious sort of racial joking– the writers, producers, actors etc know the stereotype is politically incorrect, but they use it for laughs, anyway. They’re supposed to be a “smart” show, but that’s not going to stop them from pandering a little bit, either. I’ll explain.

First, the show has occasionally included references to race and has proven a tendency and talent for skewing stereotypes. The pompous main character, the boss of the office, is Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell. Michael is often seen embarrassing himself by revealing his cringe-inducingly poor understanding of race relations towards minorities; however, the laughs are at Michael’s expense, not minorities. A few episodes ago, Michael’s boorish and dimwitted understanding of Indian culture during a Diwali celebration led to a lot of chuckles at his own ignorance, and not at the expense of Indian culture or heritage. Michael is arguably the embodiment of the Ugly American, and the funniest thing about it is, he doesn’t know it and would be horrified if he found out… because he thinks he’s quite tolerant and well-educated about racial issues.

Hence, the irony, a form of humor “The Office,” like many other smart shows, revels in.

However, what makes the treatment of Asians in “A Benihana Christmas” different?

I’ll provide a recap of what happens, you decide. I can only say that it left me feeling disappointed. I won’t make some statement that the episode was in fact racist or overtly offensive, but I will say something about it seemed a little off and left me puzzled.

Recap: Michael Scott has just been rejected by the woman he thinks he loves and is moping around the office. To cheer him up, office brownnose Andy (Ed Helms) invites him and the other guys to the Japanese restaurant Benihana’s for lunch, which Michael calls “Asian Hooters.” Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) accompany them. At the restaurant, the guys get drunk on “Nog-a-sakis” (an eggnog/sake concoction) and Andy and Michael start eyeing two cute waitresses, one of them named Cindy. Andy suggests they invite the two women back to their office, where an office party is starting, offering Michael the prettier of the two women to invite.

Cut to the guys stumbling into the office with two giggling Asian waitresses… except that these two are DIFFERENT Asian waitresses than the two that were seen at the restaurant. The problem… no one makes a comment about it, continuing to refer to the two women as the same two women who were their waitresses in the restaurant.

Click links below to see pictures of the two different “sets” of Asian women:
Cindy and the other Benihana waitress
Different waitresses

Hopefully, this is a producers/writers’ gag on the audience. Will the show’s audience realize that these two Asian actresses are different from the first two Asian actresses? Or will the audience not notice, just as the four men don’t seem to notice, thus playing again on the “Asians all look alike” stereotype? Hahaha. Clever, right? Continue reading

Damon Wayans fined $320 for using the n-word at the Laugh Factory

by guest contributor Philip Arthur Moore, originally published at TheThink

How much is a “nigger” worth? Twenty dollars, apparently. Damon Wayans, the same man who attempted to trademark the word “Nigga” for a clothing line, has been banned from the Laugh Factory for three months, after using the word 16 times during his routine on Sunday. Said Wayans:

“I’ll be damned if the white man [Michael Richards] uses that word last. …This is part of our culture now…don’t take that from us.”

Wayans was fined $20 for each time he said the word, bringing the fine total to $320. Twenty bucks. Sorry Mr. Wayans, but for you to stand up and say that “this is part of our culture now”, I hope you never see the light of day with a trademark for the word “Nigga” in your hands. At this point, I understand why white people chastise blacks for being so damned hypocritical when it comes to this issue. Yes, it is hypocrisy.

Paul Mooney vows to stop using the n-word

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As we reported yesterday, comedian Paul Mooney has vowed to stop using the n-word as a result of the Michael Richards incident. He joked about Richards, “He’s my Dr. Phil. He’s cured me.”

The question is, would abolishing the word really do any good? Here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about it.

Rachel Sullivan over at Rachel’s Tavern:

Maybe something good may come out of Michael Richards racist behavior. When people hear this word used in its historical context, and it is connected to lynching. Its power is apparent, and the idea of reclaiming it starts to look futile. Mooney has frequently defended the use of the n-word… Mooney noted that he was trying to take the power out of the n-word by using in his act (and in his comic writing for Richard Pryor), but something snapped in him when he saw Richards. He realized that the word still had power.

Jay Smooth at hiphopmusic.com writes:

I don’t use the word, and can’t say I’d particularly miss it, but I’m not sure what we accomplish by crusading against it. Does making a word taboo ever do anything but increase its power? If we did succeed in eradicating it, would it do anything to change the sentiments or thought process of those who use it? Or does it bring merely a cosmetic change in the vocabulary we use to reveal those thoughts, and make us less likely to put our cards on the table?

Nova at Novaslim.com writes:

What some of you uppity, self-righteous negroes fail to acknowledge is that “nigga” was being used for decades by blacks, long before hip-hop came into the picture. (Hip-hop in it’s early days never invoked the word.) Think about Lawanda Page or Richard Pryor. Think about your daddy and and your grand-daddy. Although Pryor said he’d never use the word again after visiting Africa, the ball was already rolling. By then it was viral, as slang tends to be. Please stop beating the same drum. Hip-hop and black youth can only shoulder the blame for so many things…

Let’s say Jay-Z stopped using it as well. Have we ended racism? How would you feel if you looked up one day, after spending all of your time and resources killing one word, to find that another word has been created to debase black people?

What do you think? Would abolishing the n-word actually make a difference in race and racism?

White supremacy by any other name

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

lige danielsWhen now-disgraced comedian Michael Richards screeched into his microphone “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass!” followed shortly by “He’s a n—-r! A n—-r, look, there’s a n—-r!” he was obviously attempting to drum up the vibe of a lynch mob closing in on its target. That’s some funny shit, eh?

Here’s how hilarious it is: To your left, Lige Daniels, lynched in Center, Texas, on August 3, 1920. To your right, Rubin Stacy, lynched in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 19, 1935. Here are but two among tens of millions of murders attributed to America’s long history of genocidal white supremacy.

As you can see, these are mirthful family affairs. The children are smiling innocently. The parents are proud and upstanding.

rubin stacyI guess this is Michael Richards’ comedic vision of America, and that of all those who are defending his invocation of the twisted pathology of sexualized white supremacist violence.

Yes, the n-word is “just a word”: a word that has historically led to scenes such as these. If you’re cool with such scenes, by all means continue supporting this word’s use by “edgy” white folks (you say “edgy”, I say “coward hiding in a mob”). You know why black folks “are allowed” to use the n-word (though it remains deeply controversial in the black community)? Here’s a hint: look at the pictures and see if you spot any black folks among the living. Okay I’ll fill you in: they’re the ones being murdered; white folks are the ones doing the murdering. Get it? In the context of the n-word’s countless unpunished crimes, black folks are not the accused.

“Just a word”: what a moronic defense. I suppose “war” is “just a word” as well — unless you happen to be among those getting bombed and shot. “I intend to kill you and your family” are just words too, but if someone were to say those words to me, my response would be very unwordy. I think it’s bizarre that middle-class American liberals appear to have become so comfortably, mentally astral that they believe that language and reality are somehow disconnected; as though words and thoughts are powerless postmodern playthings that have no consequences in the real world; as though every actual atrocity in human history didn’t begin with “just a word”.

Michael Richards and his ruined career are not the point here. The point is that if we’re ever to move beyond our current racial strife, we need to begin with enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge and understand America’s glaring legacy of white supremacy. As this popular comedian’s tirade shows, that legacy is alive and kicking in the American psyche. Shrugging it off as a “politically incorrect” use of an insensitive “racial epithet”, or as some mysterious “hostility” that bubbled up out of nowhere, demonstrates a profound ignorance and denial of this country’s past and present. And as long as such ignorance and denial dominate our national discourse, we will remain unable to accurately and meaningfully talk about, think about, and transcend the blood-soaked, heavy-hearted legacy of the American Color Line.

YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!


Continue reading

Michael Richards on Letterman: “I’m not a racist”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

kramer racist tirade n-bombUpdate: TheThink has the video of Michael Richards on Letterman. Check it out.

So Michael Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld, was on Letterman last night to apologize for his racist-ass rant on Friday at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory. (See our previous post on this.)

I’m always amazed when these racial outbursts happen, and the apology is something along the lines of “I’m shouldn’t have said that” or “those words were very offensive.”

What the perpetrators of these racist statements don’t get is that it’s not the words themselves that are shocking or offensive. It’s what the words reveal about the person’s values and true beliefs.

The fact that Richards, when provoked by a black man, immediately reminded him that it wasn’t so long ago that he could have been lynched and made a public spectacle of, to me indicates that he is resentful of having to tolerate blacks being equal to him, and longs for the days when he could exercise his “god-given” superiority. Kinda makes you wonder what dinner-table conversations are like at the Richards house, no? If you didn’t believe this stuff, it wouldn’t be the first thing that came to mind.

Anyway, Defamer has some behind-the-scenes scoop on how insincere Richards’ apology is:

As he was walking out, he said to the women accompanying him, “…so you go on these shows and apologize and apologize but it’s never good enough.” One of the women murmured something about him having a PR person to handle this kind of thing and he replied, “I don’t have anyone handling this. If I did, I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble in the first place.”

Right, not having a PR person is why everyone thinks you’re a racist.

I found the transcript of the Letterman show and pasted it below. Interesting that he talks about pushing the envelope, about trash talking, about rage, about free association, about passion – everything except the big R word: racism.

Letterman:

“Why don’t you explain exactly what happened for the folks who may not know.”

Richards:

“I lost my temper on stage. I was at a comedy club trying to do my act and I got heckled and I took it badly and went into a rage and said some pretty nasty things to some Afro-Americans, a lot of trash talk, and uh…” Continue reading

MadTV spoofs Korean dramas

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Hat tip to Angry Asian Man and Mike Kang for this one! Apparently MadTV did this spoof of Korean dramas awhile back. Even as someone who hasn’t watched any (though I’ve seen plenty of Hong Kong and Japanese dramas, and I have a feeling they are somewhat similar stylistically) this is pretty damn funny. Love the long subtitles whizzing by. :) And Bobby Lee and Sung Kang are hilarious.

[If you're reading this post in your RSS reader and can't view the video please click on the post title to see.]