I stumbled across this gem on YouTube the other day. It’s an old episode of the Maury show where they do a paternity test to prove what everyone in the audience already thinks: there’s no way this white man can be the father of this mixed-looking child. It’s depressing that to much of America, depictions like these form their impressions of interracial relationships.
I feel so bad for the poor kid. He’s basically on the show to serve as the punchline to everybody’s joke.
But this clip also says a lot about how interracial relationships and interracial sex are framed. The focus is on the humiliation of the cuckolded white man, whose wife can’t resist the sexual power of the black man. Not coincidentally, that’s pretty much of the plot of every interracial pornographic film too.
No wonder this season sucks so much. The writers of America’s Next Top Model are on strike:
Who are we? We are the writers of America’s Next Top Model. We are the people who turn hundreds of hours of footage into engaging episodes of model-drama. We are the shows biggest fans. We are 12 hard working storytellers who helped create a succesful show that makes millions of dollars for the network.
All we want are some basic benefits like health insurance and recognition for the work we do. The Networks are refusing to negotiate with us AT ALL. We have decided to take a stand against the outrageous greed. We are standing up for ourselves as well as for others who work in reality who are also getting a raw deal. We deeply appreciate all your support.
So on Monday I actually watched the Tyra show (which I never do I swear!) and I have to say, it was quite awful. Sure she focused on interracial dating, but other than having people in the audience stand up and verbalize their prejudices towards interracial couples on the stage, and have the couples defend their relationships, there was no depth at all. In fact I think she gave people more names to call those in mixed race relationships. I had never heard of the terms Rice Queen/Potato Queen that are used in the gay community. Thanks Tyra.
Then she had two women go on blind dates. A Korean woman who thought all Asian guys were nerds dated a Filipino. Uncomfortable! And a black woman dated a white man-and this was the worst since they had her take him to a soul food restaurant in a predominantly black neighborhood, and got shots of the patrons giving them the evil eye and the white boy asking how to eat oxtail. The show made me cringe.
But I got to thinking, what is the best way to do a show on racism and prejudice? Perhaps this would be a good Race Changers assignment. Clearly Tyra was not adept at handling this. If you saw the show I would love to hear your thoughts/comments. I reaize that many will say, what can you expect, it’s daytime TV. But should we let the media continue to dumb down important issues?
by Jen Chau Have you wondered why our society doesn’t address class with nearly the same frequency as it does race? I have, but I quickly answer myself — clearly, issues of race and diversity have been done so much (not necessarily done right, though) that it’s easier for people to talk about race than it is for them to talk about class. No one wants to really think about those issues. In the same way that perhaps it used to be taboo for you to mention that (god forbid!) you had a parent of color, the modern day passing might just be about class (as in passing as someone who has more than $100 in savings. :|). I had a recent conversation with a friend where we were talking about this — and how it’s an unspoken thing, that you can’t necessarily tell who is who, that the distinctions of social class are much more invisible. And that’s another reason why race is so easy for us to talk about. It’s seemingly more obvious to us. Or so people think.
Here are some examples of Michaels’ rhetorical excess. Cultural differences, including those involving race, are “lovable,” whereas class differences “are not so obviously appealing.” Affirmative action is therefore “a kind of collective bribe rich people pay themselves for ignoring economic inequality.” It is absurd to focus so much on affirmative action because “there are no people of different races.” It makes more sense to talk about concrete things, such as paying African-Americans reparations for slavery, than it does to engage in symbolic politics in which nothing really is at stake: “No issue of social justice hangs on appreciating hair color diversity; no issue of social justice hangs on appreciating racial or cultural diversity.”
Michaels, as these examples illustrates, belongs to the “shock and awe” school of political argument. First, you say something wildly implausible in the hopes that its dramatic counterintuitiveness will make it seem brilliant. Yet in the United States in which I live, race is an obvious fact of life, conversations about it remain awkward and uncomfortable, and both supporters and opponents of affirmative action are sincere in their convictions. It is true that saying such things would make for a very unoriginal book. But at least it would be an accurate one.
All that said, I do agree that we need to discuss class a much more than we are. But unless someone otherwise convinces me, I don’t think we can necessarily forget about race in that conversation about class. Race and class are inextricably linked (at this time).
Just when I didn’t think Eddie Murphy’s career could sink any lower, along comes his latest flick, Norbit. Check out the video of the trailer. Jenn at Reappropriate summarizes it thus:
In it, Murphy plays a dorky, meek Black man adopted as a child by an old Asian man and, in adulthood, who is dominated by a fat black woman stereotype. The catch? Murphy plays Norbit, Norbit’s girlfriend, and the Asian man who adopts him. As the Asian man, not only does Murphy wear yellow-tinted skin, but plays up the old Asian male stereotype, complete with poor Chinglish accent.
I think Racialicious should hand out buffoonery awards. Tyler Perry is, of course, still in the lead for Buffoon of the Year (NAACP Image Award bedamned), but I gotta say after watching this trailer that Eddie Murphy’s a close second.
I’m really looking forward to watching The Departed but I’m shocked to hear that it’s chock-full of Asian stereotypes. Which is ironic, of course, since it’s a remake of the great Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs.
Brian from Asia Pacific Arts wrote this quick report in to Angry Asian Man:
…it is surprisingly insensitive to Asians — namely, lots of inscrutable Chinese villains lurking around in seedy Chinatown, as well as some sinister mainland Chinese government agents who are made into inept fools by Jack Nicholson and his gang. It’s not a huge part of the movie, and normally I can tolerate the stereotypes, but in a film that’s so indebted to Hong Kong culture, it’s shocking that this is the way it choses to give back to the Chinese.
But the insult comes not in these caricatures of Chinese characters. No, the insult comes with Jack Nicholson’s dialogue, which blatantly invokes nearly every “amusing” anti-Asian joke one can bring to mind: from Chinese as spies, to Chinese as foreigners, to Chinese as un-American, to Chinese as emasculated, to Chinese dick-size jokes, to — and I quote — “No Tickee No Laundry”.
All in the span of five minutes.
…This is how Hollywood treats the people who gave birth to the film upon which the Departed is based. This is how visible our community is in Hollywood. And they wonder why we don’t go to theatres anymore: tonight, I spent $17 on a movie that basically spat in my face.
Ouch. Sounds like we’ve got another Crash on our hands.
Monday’s episode of the Tyra Banks Show is going to be about interracial dating. Click here to watch a video preview, but here’s the description from their web site:
What is your first reaction when you see men and women of different ethnicities holding hands or kissing? Tyra continues her ongoing race series, and gives her audience an in-depth, controversial look at interracial dating. Interracial couples discuss the stigmas they face on a daily basis and respond to shocking comments and perceptions made about them by a focus group. Tyra also invites an interracial gay couple to the show to see if the same prejudices occur in the gay community. Plus, the cameras follow two women on controversial race-related dates, where one dates a man outside her race for the first time, and another dates within her race for the first time.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World