9/08/2007

I've Never, in my life, used THAT word!

I almost never post youtube,apparently 'utube' has become the popular experession, pieces but I know the people who made this so I ask my readers about the following. Racism is one of those truly intractables. It's something I'm not smart or wise enough to really get a handle on or to provide a solution to. My opinions on the subject are probably still far outside the popular consensus so I'll offer this for debate.




Good satire, flagrant exploitation, expose on the American zeitgeist, painful recitation of sins, hateful bombast or insightful commentary? You tell me.

6 comments:

Autumn Zephyr said...

Okay. First of all, I had to look up zeitgeist. Secondly, hmm, I still haven't decided what I think. I know that the PC liberal me's skin was sticking out over all those words. And believe me, I have a black tongue. I will swear like a sailor with Tourette's. But those words, I do NOT say. My tongue will fall out. It will.

I really don't know what that was. How about "what people think deep in their ugliest places"? But a Huge part of me hopes that is not true.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Dude, I don't get it.

I don't get the punchline. I can barely hear what the black guy says.

"Ho?"

or "Home?"

I don't get it. Or is the punchline supposed to be the pilot joke? If so, what does the final shot with the black guy represent?

Heck, I know what zeitgeist means and I still don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Manifesto,

Racism can mean many things to many people and as such, I think Miss Zephyr is partly correct in her interpretation--it is partly a manifestation of "what people think in their ugliest places." One could also argue that by using those hateful words and bringing them to the forefront, they lose their meaning and cease to render any sort of "shock value" and as a result, will (hopefully) go away.

Anywho, the concept is that there are all these people at a job interview and the requirement is to tell a racist joke to their potential employer--a black man who is sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. The last gentleman expresses his discomfort of the situation and finally tells a joke that anyone else would deem racist, but it isn't: A black guy flying a plane would be called "the pilot." As a result to this joke, the gentleman gets the job (really a MacGuffin, if I'm reading it correctly, for the situation doesn't matter), because the camera finally turns on the interviewer--the black man--and responds with a nod and a simple "Him." Not "ho," not "home," but "him."

No offense to you, Sir, for I am sure you are a very smart individual (especially to know what 'manifesto' and 'zeitgeist' mean), but if this video must be explained to you, then you really and truly do not "get it." The topic of racism is surely not the joke.

Sir Badass Bard, if this response is not to your liking, I will certainly not be offended if it is deleted. It is your blog after all! :oD (Perhaps writing a blog regarding YOUR intent of "Slurs" might prevent confusion in the future? For surely your video will be regarded with many different views once various individuals see it.)

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

AH! Okay. Thank you!

But cut me some slack. Some of the audio on that track was abysmal. (Spoken as a guy who started out in videography, many moons ago.)

Also, there were cutaways to a mousy blonde chick who said nothing. I assumed she was the HR interviewer on the other side of the table.

...And... Even if the production values were more crisp, the piece would have had much greater impact if The Black Guy hadn't been dressed so flamboyantly. Had he been in a suit, or even a t-shirt and jeans instead of a "Morgan Freeman playing the role of God" zoot suit, there would have been more emphasis on what he said, and not so much who he was supposed to be.

Great writing. Crappy direction.

My two cents.

Now, for the "piss you off" part of the program, Nony:

Uh... Yeah. As a matter of fact, some racist jokes (aka rebranded: ethnic jokes) ARE funny.

Saying that ethnic jokes aren't funny is like saying spanking doesn't modify the behavior of a bad child. Revisionist codswaddle! If it weren't true, neither of those memes would have lasted the entire recorded span of human history.

Back when there were only the Cro-Magnon Ug tribe and the Arg tribe, you can bet that the Ugs made jokes about the way that the Args wore animal bones in their beards instead of the top of their head.

Most ethnic jokes are an observation about small cultural differences which are then magnified to a point of absurdity. It's the kernel of broad-brush truth in every stereotype that balances the absurdity and makes it funny.

Anywhere in the world where you have two distinct cultures living in close proximity to each other, you have ethnic jokes. The English make the identical kinds of jokes about the Scots. Only the Scots tend to laugh along at what the kernel of truth says about the Scot culture.

And all the high-minded indignity in the world won't change the way the human brain is wired to laugh at the chemical collision between truth and absurdity.

The label "racist" is merely another ethnic slur until the day it's applied with unilateral impunity.

That said, there's undoubtedly a "cringe point" where there's not even a kernel of truth in a joke and it's just being mean for the sake of a sense of personal superiority. As much as I love Kurlander’s Caption This blog, occasionally I’ll go from side splitting laughter to, “Whoa. Dude! That’s just over-the-line!” Cringe! I feel guilty for my patronage. But we all have different cringe points. We always will.

You can’t legislate away poverty, and you can’t legislate cultural unity. You can’t legislate the human brain to rewire itself away from the cultural Darwinism with which it is programmed. Popular culture tells us that the answer to intolerance is greater sensitivity. Mmmm. Really? Seems to me the answer is for everybody to thicken their skin a little more, regardless of that skin’s melanin count or the culture to which it’s born.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mani,

I never meant to imply that racist jokes aren't funny--they can be and usually are. However, as a side note, the fact that you and I laugh at them, what does that say about us? And we've all lowered our voice and looked around the room before we tell a racist joke to make sure the ethnicity about which we about to jest is not within earshot. Yes, I believe that stereotypes exist for a reason...that's how they become stereotypes in the first place & I HATE how P.C. and how sensitive we as a society has become. I've known many smart blondes, but just as many, if not more, "dumb" ones. I think what I was trying to get at is, to quote Avenue Q, "everyone's a little bit racist sometimes, but it doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes." It's the slurs part that I think I meant to speak about more clearly. Calling someone a nigger or a mick or a wop or whatever just to be hateful or spiteful is wrong and there's no need to do it. Let's just say, hypothetically, that whether in seriousness or in jest, if you call someone "stupid" or conversely, "smart." There is no need to add "wetback" or "chink" after it, even if you were joking and even if you were friends with the person about whom you were remarking. And I'm sure if you heard a child/your child using a slur, you would be saddened and angry and you'd want to punish the kid. But what do I know. I'm just a dumb Polock. :oD

Nathan said...

Saw, you commented over at Seth's blog...just watched this one...
Wow...Americans!w