10 October, 2009

Hey Hey It's Saturday: Racist Defense Bingo Card

After the Hey Hey It's Saturday skit featuring blackface went to air, there were a number of people rightly offended. There were a number of other people who just didn't seem to get it, and have made all sorts of arguments as to why it';s perfectly acceptable. I have compiled the most repeated and most ridiculous arguments in a Bingo Card, which I will now share with you. (Click for a better image)

Now let's talk about why these arguments are ridiculous.

It's the Australian sense of humour
There are types of Australian humour that I like: pantomime, dead-pan, self deprecating humour...
Then there's humour that relies on treading on the already disenfranchised: racist humour, sexist humour, ableist humour, humour against transgendered people, humour against anyone not straight... This type of humour does nothing more than strengthen the status quo which tells us that the highest thing to push for is being a white, straight, able-bodied cis man. This isn't inherently Australian, it's inherently appalling.

Americans imposing values!
You mean values like decency and a respect for fellow people? How horrible! Why would we ever want that? (Please not the heavy sarcasm)

But Australia didn't have slavery!
Australia didn't officially have slavery. But Australia has a history of white supremacy, treating Aboriginal Australians as non-human and forcing them to work in appalling conditions for very little pay, if any at all (normally none). Australia does not have anything remotely resembling a clean history when it comes to racism.

They won't change for us, why should we change for them?
Ah yes, cultural relativism. This argument basically boils down to "But he started it!" We don't want to end racism because other countries are, we want to end racism because it's the right thing to do.

They're impersonating the Jackson 5, of course they have to black up!
If they were impersonating the Jackson 5 they would make an attempt to look like the Jackson 5. What they did was apply boot polish to mock them, and also to mock Michael Jackson's auto-immune disease (you know, the one which caused his skin to lighten?)

But it was a TRIBUTE!
To who? Michael? It is not a tribute to make fun of someone who has only recently died. Especially not in the way they performed it, which was clearly derogatory.

It was just a JOKE!
Yes, it was a joke. A joke that is deeply entrenched in years of institutionalised racism and hatred. It's not just a joke, it's a joke filled with hatred and mistreatment and a denial of justice. Go on, keep laughing.

It's the INTENT that matters
No, it isn't. I know they didn't intend to be racist, but that doesn't stop the skit from being racist.

Lighten up already
Deal with years of oppression based on the colour of your skin already!

But it's just a TV show
TV is a popular medium which continues to perpetuate stereotypes. This is generally considered by progressives as Not Good.

But they were all doctors and respectable people
Then they should know better. Next!

What did you expect?
I didn't expect anything. I'm responding to what I got. And what I got was a horribly racist skit.

Just harden up!
Just deal with years of violence and hatred based on the colour of your skin!

I don't see how it's racist
This is what is known as privilege. If you don't have any clue what privilege means, I suggest you do some research. I'll even help! Read this.

No one cares!!
This is probably the most ridiculous argument I've heard. Of course people care! That's why we're talking about it!

Harry Connick Jnr. is a HYPOCRIT
You're referring to the Preacher skit. Also racist. It doesn't magically make this skit less racist. The world doesn't work like that.

What about 'White Chicks'?
... I'm not sure I can even be bothered answering this one. Anyone wanna help me out?

It wouldn't be offensive if it was 'whiteface'
Do you honestly not see the difference between a non-privileged person making fun of a privileged person, and a privileged person making fun of a non-privileged? Seriously? Racism = prejudice + power.

But the guy is Indian!
No one is immune from racism.

Robert Downey Jnr. did it and won an Oscar!
I haven't seen Tropic Thunder, so I can't know for sure, but I was under the impression that it was mocking the Hollywood portrayal of "the other". BIIIIG difference.

I'm not a racist, but...
Just like "No offence, but..." this is a common tactic used by people who are about to say something extremely racist or otherwise offensive. Saying "I'm not a racist" does not make your statement any less racist.

Chris Rock makes 'white jokes' all the time
Please see my response to "whiteface".

I know this black person and he doesn't care
I say again: no one is immune to racism!

It's political correctness gone MAD!
1. Don't use ableist language.
2. What the hell is wrong with e little bit of respect? I don't get it!

"...storm in a teacup"
*sigh* It would be, if this was an isolated incident and Australia didn't have such a sordid history of racism. It would be if the world was all completely utopian and equal and people weren't routinely discriminated against because they were not straight white able-bodied cis men. But the world isn't like that. The world is full of hate and discrimination and we need to call it out every time we see it. Every time. It's the only way there can ever be any change at all.

Kitkat said in the comments:
White chicks was not only racist but sexist as well at least in my opinion. I found a good review for it here

As for tropic thunder a review from the same website.

Thanks Kitkat!

I'm very new to dealing with issues of racism, so please feel free to amend, correct, alter or whatever my arguments. Any help would be appreciated. Please feel free to link this page to anyone you know.


Kitkat said...

just some tidbits for people who are interested. White chicks was not only racist but sexist as well at least in my opinion. I found a good review for it here http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/White-Chicks-553.html

As for tropic thunder a review from the same website. http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Tropic-Thunder-3257.html

It seems tropic thunder was more making fun of the whole "hollywood" process and Robert Downey Junior plays his role well.

Anywho thought i might make it a bit easier for people to see what was meant by two of the bingo cards statements.

Anonymous said...

Everything you've done here is just brilliant. Thank you for saying what I couldn't find the words for.

Lissy said...

Totally love this post!

Delux said...

Great bingo card. Unfortunately I keep getting BINGO everytime I read something in the australian press about this. The angry defenses of the skit are much worse than the actual original performance at this point.

I would like to point out that HCJs skit on Mad TV is not a blackface performance, it is a satire of southern televangelism.

Pharaoh Katt said...

Kitkat: Thanks for those links, I've added them to the original post :)

Shiny: *blush* Thank you for helping me put this together.

Lissy: Thank you :D

Delux: I know exactly what you mean. The wilful ignorance of some people amazes me.

Anonymous said...

You've done a terrific job of summarising. Well done.

Anonymous said...

there was slavery in australia
aboriginal women from tasman taken for slaves by the whalers in bass st
qld slavery in sugar cane industry
etc etc