Racist? Or light fun?


by Sunny
12th July, 2007 at 1:03 am    

via Ultrabrown. I’m not sure what to think. Would I react against it if this were the UK? Probably.
Updated: Although, Rohin explained early on in PP’s history why Apu is great.


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  1. Free Political Forum » Racist? Or light fun?

    [...] Original post by Sunny [...]




  1. Darrie — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:52 am  

    Well, here’s my 2c. All of the characters in the Simpsons are stereotypes. I used to hate Apu and his fake accent, then I got it. The Simpsons take those stereotypes and make fun of them (the stereotypes not the victims). So I wouldn’t say that the Simpsons are racist. 7-Eleven, however, seems to be mainly because of the way they’re handling the promo. First, they’re taking it out the context of the show Simpsons. It’s isolating one ethnicity for ridicule. Is this an optional thing? Are people putting on the accent? Have any american desis gone to one of these stores and noticed how customers are responding? I’ll bet schools isn’t fun for any brown kids in the area (well, less fun than usual).

  2. Robert — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:13 am  

    Didn’t Pickled Politics publish an article saying Apu was in many ways a positive portray of Indians?

    I hope that these stores don’t see an increased robbery rate as a result.

  3. douglas clark — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:24 am  

    Robert,

    Yeah, I remembered that too. One of the best threads ever.

  4. Sunny — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:38 am  

    I was just about to link it. Well remembered Mr Sharp, updated now.

  5. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:50 am  

    Americans are idiots.

  6. The Dude — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:51 am  

    So the portrayal of Apu is now considered in some quarters as nothing more than a racial stereotype. And I’m a white man. NOT!

  7. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:14 am  

    nb going on from my will and grace comment in the apu thread, i said this in another comment section

    . I laughed at gimmegimmegimme but hate will and grace. The former, written by a gay man, is a caricature, a parody of the latter (i think it was produced beforehand but still). Will and grace, to me, does nothing but create a fantasy lifestyle for straight women. I wasn’t a fan of the show but the best depiction of a gay (well lesbian) relationship was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was shown as any other relationship on the show was, but one that just happened to be between a homosexual couple.

    Im generally more critical of the portrayal of minority groups in situations where they aren’t (to me anyway) obvious caricatures. As alluded to above all characters on the simpsons are obviously ‘over the top’ – bumblebee man is a caricature of a character that parodied various aspects of pop culture.

    Gayploitation or Blaxploitation where people want to objectify black or gay people into certain norms – then crave ‘gay best friends’ or in the 60s/70s ‘black best friends’ is far more ‘offensive’ to me. The character of Apu doesn’t have that two dimensional aspect (as Rohin’s article pointed out).

  8. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:20 am  

    It’s the bud-bud accent writ large. How can you not be irritated.

    It’d be easier for you to specifically say what it was about that characterisation that bothered you. Saying they’ve exaggerated the indian-english pronunciation isn’t to me a valid argument for claiming ‘racism’.

  9. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:32 am  

    Is this homophobic, anti-welsh or both? To me its just a ‘live version’ of the Simpsons (except the Simpsons has a coherent plot and is therefore cleverer/funnier).

    Ali G and Borat in particular is more cringeworthy and uncomfortable viewing for me as i don’t know who im meant to be laughing at. That uncomfortable feeling doesn’t come from the characterisation, rather its the lack of clarity on ‘the joke’. Saying you’re irritated by the accent doesn’t mean the Simpsons is racist.

  10. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:37 am  

    How much time have you spent around people speaking Indian English?Can’t you hear it? It’s singsong, and most Indians don’t singsong. The pronunciation is all off. It’s nnothing like any Indian English accent I’ve ever heard. It’s like shitting a turd, pointing to your muffin and calling it the same.

    Im not really sure how to respond if you’re argument is the accent isn’t accurate. I’m sorely tempted to start patronising you, but i’ll just say its an exaggerated caricature. In real life white people aren’t yellow.

  11. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:58 am  

    Dude, it’s not even an Indian accent. It’s like if every comedian for 50 years did English people with a French accent. It’s not like the Simpsons invented the accent. It’s the same damn accent started by some idiot Englishman.

    Its fairly meaningless to get into a discussion on how indian-english is pronounced, and should be pronounced on an american cartoon. From my own point of view its broadly recognisable as an indian accent and is more than suitable for the comedic purposes of a cartoon.

    Captain Picard is apparently French, yet he has a distinctly English accent.

    In real life black people don’t have Pantone black skin and bright red sucker lips either, but wog dolls were popular throughout Britain.

    Without giving a context on the use of gollywogs calling them ‘racist’ is obviously idiotic. Its perfectly possible to use them as exaggerated caricatures without it being ‘racist’, i don’t see why its more offensive than Spitting Image. If you’re saying context is important id appreciate an actual racist depiction of Apu – as opposed to just saying his accent is ‘wrong’

  12. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:18 am  

    It’s broadly recognized as a white person’s version of an Indian accent, which is a whole different thing. What I’m saying is it’s so inferior and off, it’s insulting.

    A white person made the cartoon. Arguing a caricuture isn’t like the real thing is lunacy.

    What about these ads?

    Well done; now find that poster with Apu’s picture and you’ll have an argument.

  13. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:33 am  

    Personally i think this is funny, you may think its the omg racist stereotyping of southasian family relationships.

  14. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:46 am  

    Can you form an argument without resorting to ‘Apu isn’t completely life like’ or am i just wasting my time?

    This namaste + thank-you-come-again poster is damn insulting. ‘TYCA, dothead, towelhead’ are the American equivalents of the ‘Paki’ slur.

    Because quite clearly the Apu poster is advocating the repatriation of indian-americans.

  15. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:49 am  

    No, that clip is great.

    Well now im just confused; the Jasminder accent wasn’t English, and her fathers was generically the same as Apu’s.

  16. Don — on 12th July, 2007 at 8:45 am  

    Kulvinder,

    Who are you talking to?

  17. El Cid — on 12th July, 2007 at 9:02 am  

    Yeah, wtf? Has someone else been barred?

  18. Katy Newton — on 12th July, 2007 at 10:30 am  

    That’s what Randy Newman does too. And there are people who genuinely think he is a racist, as well.

  19. Rohin — on 12th July, 2007 at 11:08 am  

    Yeah, wtf? Has someone else been barred?

    There’ve been a few glitches with Manish’s posts (the chap in the video!). Trying to sort it.

  20. Clairwil — on 12th July, 2007 at 11:14 am  

    Who is Kulvinder talking to? I need to know.

  21. Dr. SKye-Vee — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:01 pm  

    I love Apu.

  22. Osman — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:17 pm  

    Apu is a parody of expected stereotypes. It’s not like the whites (or yellows that should be!) are paragons of virtue next to Apu. I mean Homer is supposed to represent the middle american white male and he is a lazy, stupid alcoholic.

  23. sonia — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    seems to me british asians /american desis are the ones who have always made the most fun of the FOB accent. perhaps because they’re thinking shit that could have been me if momma and poppa hadn’t come over here where its sooo much better. those fobs have oil in their hair, ewww.

    all of which makes me laugh, personally.

    accents are lovely, and as far as i can see, everyone is desperate to get to india for their year out. india is exotic to people who have no connection with it. to people who may have had a closer connection with it, it s a bit more scary.

  24. El Cid — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:32 pm  

    Osman, that’s a very good point. Wins hands down.
    Maybe that’s why my mum liked Mind your Language and maybe why children of the melting pot — in my experience — have no compunction taking the piss out of each other along racial lines.
    Maybe it’s about being in on the joke — as the storekeepers in the clip might say.

  25. sonia — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:32 pm  

    i suppose some people feel ‘ashamed’of what they feel is their heritage, and are trying to be far removed from that – but that’s their inferiority complex problem – no one else’s problem.

  26. Kismet Hardy — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:38 pm  

    Apu is a powerful character with some of the funniest lines in the show (especially in the one where they go to the far east to find the head of the kwik-e-mart).

    In any show, you can suss out the token/stereotyped/joke character by the fact that they are the butt of the humour (I saw 9 and a half weeks the other day, the opening shot has a comedy black man doing a runner with a purse, while two chinese men have an argument for no reason other than they sound ‘funny’.), as opposed to actually saying something worthwhile.

    Which is why Shakespeare isn’t really a racist, seeing as Othello and Shylock have such amazing lines.

    I’m a bit perturbed that Tintin is being hailed a racist by Borders though. Tintin in Congo is certainly dodgy, which is why it’s never really been promoted until very recently I think, but in Tintin in Tibet in particular, the character Chang was in no means a cartoon image of a ‘typical chinky’.

    There’s a difference between an impression/impersination and a distorted caricature

  27. Steve M — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:40 pm  

    What a brilliant piece of marketing though.

    No, I don’t think that Apu’s character plays badly for Indians. He’s a very likeable character** and, if he were Jewish, I wouldn’t mind at all (as a Jew). Come to think of it, why isn’t there a prominent Jewish character in The Simpsons – now that’s racist.

    Oh wait a moment – Matt Groening – hmmm, probably not a Catholic.

    Go Apu!

    ** with the exception of the episode where he had Marge arrested for shoplifting

  28. Rumbold — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:50 pm  

    Krusty the clown?

  29. sonia — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:51 pm  

    anyway, portrayal of stereotypes usually about satirising those stereotypes themselves. and if that goes over the head of some of the audience, ( Ha) that just proves the point that some people are dumb in the first place. like the whole borat hoo ha.

  30. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

    Steve M – Isn’t Krusty the clown Jewish? The Rugrats were Jewish, and there’s always South Park.

    And everybody used to call my father Fred Flintstone, because they looked so much alike, so Fred must have been Jewish too :-)

  31. Steve M — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

    Krusty, of course. Silly me. Oy.

  32. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    Damn it Rumbold, how did you sneak that in whilst I was posting?

  33. Steve M — on 12th July, 2007 at 12:56 pm  

    Chairwoman, don’t be silly.

    Fred worked in construction.

  34. Kismet Hardy — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    I’ve always wanted to know. The black lady that looked after Tom (and by proxy Jerry) – was she the owner or the maid?

  35. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    Steve M – Damn it, you’re right.

    Why am I now thinking of Jackie Mason?

  36. Steve M — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    Because he played Krusty’s father…

    “I have no son!”

  37. Unity — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:36 pm  

    What are they actually complaining about here?

    What makes Apu such a brilliant character is the fact that he completely subverts the usual racial stereotype. So if their problem is that this aspect of Apu’s character is being lost by taking him out of usual context then they have a point – I just wish they’d actually say that.

    But if all they’re doing is trying to claim that Apu is a racist stereotype as means of having a general whinge about racism then they have no idea what they’re talking about.

  38. Don — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

    Kismet,

    Apparently both;

    Mammy Two Shoes, a stereotyped African-American domestic housemaid who also appears to be the owner of the house in which Tom resides because of her actions such as inviting people over for dinner…

    (wiki)

  39. Kismet Hardy — on 12th July, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

    Which makes her one of the first black women with a major role then. In every episode she inspires fear (in Tom) and feels fear (of Jerry) so she’s a well-rounded character too. Although she is all legs and no trousers…

  40. Katherine — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

    NB To Kismet – it isn’t Borders saying Tintin is racist – it is the CRE saying Tintin in the Congo is racist and that the book shouldn’t be sold. The compromise Borders have proposed is that it be moved from the children’s section to the adult section.

    The strange thing is that until 2005 Tintin in the Congo wasn’t even available. I had most of the Tintin books as a child (and still have them) and never saw the Congo one. I’d certainly agree that, generally, racism wasn’t one of Tintin’s problems. If anything, books such as Tintin in China challenged that – there is even a page where the Chang character challenges Tintin on his impression of China and the Chinese. Although it does then contain exclusively nasty Japanese characters – not altogether surprising in the setting of China in the Second World War.

  41. Kismet Hardy — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:25 pm  

    Yeah, I never remember seeing Congo in thumbnail pics on the back of any of the comics. I’d also like to add that the way Herge dealt with the Aztec and Incas (brown people at the end of the day) in Seven Crystal Balls was nothing short of reverance. And he made the yanks look a damn sight dumber than the apache warriors in Tintin in America

    I think in their day, Herge (and Goscinny and Uderzo) did a hell of a lot for bringing the world closer than any travel books might have

    I know I’d never heard of Corsica before Asterix in Corsica

  42. Kismet Hardy — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:27 pm  

    Oh yeah, and the maharajahs (the one that had the spoilt brat Abdullah that made Captain Haddock’s life hell) and sultans (Crab with the Golden Claw) were always pretty strong characters. Tintin and the Blue Lotus had some tough chinese characters too

    The allegations are nonsense

  43. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    Kismet – To the best of my knowledge, Herge was an ardent supporter of Herr Hitler’s policies.

  44. sahil — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:54 pm  

    I have to agree with the rest of the posters about Apu and Tintin. Apu is so subversive and that’s down to the writers who must have spent so much time thinking about their series. In fact there is an episode in the Simpsons, where Apu needs to find a wife, and he becomes easily the most eligible bachelor in town not only because he has money, but because most of the people in the series believe that he is a ‘good human being’. What more does the CRE want?? As for Tintin, I only remember the comics from when I was young, so i may be completely off. But like Kismet said, I learnt a lot about travelling and culture from Tintin. There were always ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys running around to make the story interesting, but there were also good bad guys like the Captain, who was always swearing and supposedly drunk. Now if one decides that Scots are all pissheads from that, then that person has more issues to deal with than simply Tintin.

  45. sahil — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    Chairwomen I know that the writer of Tintin was a facist, but I refer simply to the character that he built. Tintin sort of held the values of a tolerant reporter who got stuck in crazy situations where he tried to help ‘good’ people out. I don’t know maybe Hergé was being a smart ass.

  46. AsifB — on 12th July, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

    To look at Apu in a contemporary US context, in the Harold and Kumar film, (which is far more subtle than the stoner/teen movie image lets on) there is a telling moment when one of Kal Penn’s nemesis-es says “thank you, come again” in an Apu/bud-bud accent.

    It is not made out to be heavily racist (the ‘bad’ characters are bored/stupid wannabe yobs who are mildly initimidating vandals yet are still a world away from American history X skinheads) but some (light) racist consequence/effect of Apu’s voice is definitely registered.

    Obviously this does not make the Simpsons racist per se, but it should have raised some flags at 7-11 perhaps.

    Whilst my view of the Simpsons’s Apu is indulgent, (partly because of the Simpsons Spinal Tap connections as well as Satijgit Ray looming large in my childhood)- it is a truth that is self evident that mocking people who are non-native speakers for their accent – is at the very least poor manners and should also not be funny itself.

    Hence by the mid-90s, the very title of the programme “Goodness Gracious Me” was an explicit rebuke to Peter Sellers for his Indian characters – even though as with Carry on up the Kyhber, most South Asians probably find it funny whilst acknowledging the potential for offence. Around the same time, Frank Skinner whose early act involved a lot of sports related impresssions and banter, told Tony Banks in a GQ interview that he stopped doing impressions of Sunil Gavaskar (for his Radio 5 live cricket commentary) because he was uncomfortable with the way some white people laughed in the audience.

  47. AsifB — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    Kismet and Don re; Mammy Two Shoes.

    The inviting people for dinner part is wishful thinking I’d say. I think we’ll have to blame Fred Quimby for the stereotyping..

    Hana-Barbara appeared quite socially consious by the 1970s in Wait til your Father gets home. And what was the Hare Bear Bunch but a metaphor for the prison that was early seventies America for afro-american men.

    Hong Kong Phooey’s reliance on a cat of indeterminate ethnicity possibly let the side down for them

  48. Katherine — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Kismet, I’d say any allegations that Tintin is, collectively, racist are nonsense. However, having seen some sections of the Tintin in Congo book I can totally understand the objections – they are simply disgraceful. “Of their time” is about as generous as any is going to be prepared to be, and even that is stretching it somewhat. Hence the previous unavailability.

    I don’t know what made the publishers include it in the recent reprint.

  49. Katherine — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

    Chairwoman – really, Herge was a fascist? Do you have a citation for that? I know Wikipedia is not the fount of all knowledge, but it depicts him as rather a critic of fascism. I’d be interested to know…

  50. sid — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    I was arguing with an unscrupulous travel agent/crook on Brick Lane yesterday. I resorted to replying to everything he was saying in a piss-take of his bud-bud accent and he was getting clearly pissed off. I’ve never felt so gratified.

  51. bananabrain — on 12th July, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

    i always found tintin kind of racist, but never felt the same thing about asterix, partly because goscinny and uderzo always took the piss out of the gauls/french (right down to regional stereotypes – “we don’t even know where alesia IS!!”)as well as everyone else. and, yes, that includes samson alias (alias “rosenblumenthalovitch”, that is).

    borat and ali g are meant to be uncomfortable. sacha b-c is certainly keen to combat anti-semitism, stupidity, hypocrisy, ignorance and intolerance – i think that is quite obvious from his work. on the other hand, i think people are quite surprised on quite how successful he manages to be!

    as for “south park”, parker and stone are two of the finest satirists alive imho. i just saw a recent episode in which cartman freezes himself alive (because he is too impatient to wait for the launch of the nintendo wii) which then turns into, firstly a piss-take of buck rogers in the 25th century (complete with ostrich-riding sea otter warlords) and secondly a ribald lampoon of the excesses of rationalism, featuring richard dawkins shagging mr garrison, who he married after the latter’s sex change operation. upshot – “isms are all very well for clever people with no common sense, but they’re only ever put into practice by stupid people”.
    hur hur hur, or as my mum would say:

    WHAT-WHAT-WHAAAAAT???

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  52. Rumbold — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    Please provide some references Chairwoman; and not ones which show that he stayed in Belgium after the Nazis invaded. That is not a crime (otherwise most of Europe would be war criminals). He carried on earning a crust, drawing cartoons. We all like to believe that we would take up arms against tyranny, but wanting to survive under Nazi rule does not make one a Nazi.

  53. Sunny — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

    For some reason MAnish’s posts were absorbed by our spam filter. I’ve approved them now.

  54. Rumbold — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

    “I’ve approved them now.”

    A shame; it was far more entertaining watching Kulvinder grappling with his imaginary opponent.

  55. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    borat and ali g are meant to be uncomfortable. sacha b-c is certainly keen to combat anti-semitism, stupidity, hypocrisy, ignorance and intolerance – i think that is quite obvious from his work. on the other hand, i think people are quite surprised on quite how successful he manages to be!

    Yeah right, it’s just in the old tradition of laughing at foreigners — there’s nothing really challenging or truly confrontational about his work given his intended audience — unlike say Chris Morris, or Bill Hicks. Just pick easy targets and watch your intended audience “get” it. I mean, if he was so keen to combat “hypocrisy, ignorance and intolerance”, maybe he should pick targets closer to home.

  56. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

    The strange thing is that until 2005 Tintin in the Congo wasn’t even available. I had most of the Tintin books as a child (and still have them) and never saw the Congo one. I’d certainly agree that, generally, racism wasn’t one of Tintin’s problems. If anything, books such as Tintin in China challenged that – there is even a page where the Chang character challenges Tintin on his impression of China and the Chinese. Although it does then contain exclusively nasty Japanese characters – not altogether surprising in the setting of China in the Second World War.

    Yeah! I remember that: reading all the Tintin books when I was a kid (even the USSR one later on) but then seeing French editions with Tintin au Congo on them and thinking huh? And yes, Herge did side with the Chinese against the facist Japanese in Manchuria. But even given his more sympathetic treatment of South American native peoples, Arabs, Chinese, and Tibetans, some of his drawings of black people even in non-Congo books were awful (and I’m a major fan).

    The thing about the Prisoners of the Sun which KH mentions is that (and this is a spoiler) Tintin saves the day by predicting a Solar Eclipse which amazes the Incans so much that they spare the gangs lives. But the Incans were incredibly sophisticated astronomers and would have quite easily been able to predict it themselves.

  57. Zeno — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:45 pm  

    For all those who say that APu is a brilliant creation and a subverter of stereotypes, out in the real world he is used as the benchmark and template for a lot of racist abuse of Indians especially in America. That is what people are saying. If a Jewish or Black character had been caricatured in this way it simply wouldnt be acceptable. The joke is at the expense of Apu in the first place, listen to this stupid Indian with his funny accent. Sophisticates debate the merits of his characterisation, the Indian kid being hounded by white racist teenagers in the shopping mall or wherever feel the hurt. What we have in not acknowledging that is a complete lack of empathy. And also the way white people find it easier to stereotype and mock Indians than deal with them as equals, some of which goes over the heads of some of the white contributors to this thread, unsurprisingly.

  58. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    Apu isn’t stupid, he has a PhD.

  59. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:48 pm  

    丁丁在刚果

  60. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    I think “丁丁” is Tintin in Chinese

  61. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    Zeno – Jews are caricatured all the time. We’re always supposed to be shrugging our shoulders, speaking with Central European accents, and looking eloquently at the heavens.

    Oh yes.

  62. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Oy Vey!

  63. Anas — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Sorry, that was wrong.

  64. Manish — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    the Apu poster is advocating the repatriation of indian-americans.

    An ethnic caricature has a much greater impact in a land with one-eighth the number of desis (proportionately) as in the UK. Most Americans do not know desis personally, unlike in the UK. The approximate numbers: 2M out of 300M in the U.S. vs. 3M out of 60M in the UK.

    Well now im just confused

    That clip is great… except for the accent.

  65. Katherine — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

    some of his drawings of black people even in non-Congo books were awful

    Thinking back, I think you’re right about that. The instance that comes to mind is on one of his various sea voyages (can’t remember which book) where he overthrows some evil captain or other (probably Rastapopulous) and frees the poor schmucks stuffed into the hold. These men proclaim themselves to be, in some form of pidgin language, “poor Muslims” trying to get to Mecca. My recollection is that the depiction is of Africans portrayed as stupid and/or naive. Not terribly good.

    PS when I said Tintin in China, I did of course mean The Blue Lotus. And it wasn’t actually set in the Second World War, but in the period of Japanese aggression in China prior to that, but I can forgive my 10 year old self that misunderstanding.

  66. Manish — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:10 pm  

    Sunny, I think you have to remove the ban on the IP address, not just restore comments. I’m having to post through a proxy, and all the old comments are still hidden whenever I try to add a new one.

  67. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    Anas – No, you make my point.

  68. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 5:32 pm  

    An ethnic caricature has a much greater impact in a land with one-eighth the number of desis (proportionately) as in the UK. Most Americans do not know desis personally, unlike in the UK. The approximate numbers: 2M out of 300M in the U.S. vs. 3M out of 60M in the UK.

    That doesn’t answer my question, you’re asserting various things to Apu and the Simpsons without explaining why.

    As far as i can tell your argument is

    Apu doesn’t have a completely realistic accent; Ergo they’re calling him a Paki.

    To go back to post #10, is that anti-welsh? Is Patrick Stewart being bigoted towards the french by acting in an english accent? Is this bigoted against English people who don’t speak with the Received Pronunciation?

    As i said in #13 im mindful of the fact you’re saying a caricuture isn’t like the real thing, and i should really leave you to your lunacy. But im curious about what level you’re willing to take this to.

    That clip is great… except for the accent.

    So you aren’t going to throw a huff about stereotyping south asian relationships and fathers?! Well i suppose thats progress.

  69. El Cid — on 12th July, 2007 at 6:09 pm  

    Chairwoman, blame Jackie Mason

  70. Don — on 12th July, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    Just to offend any Columbian readers,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l7Zl6Uyuq4

  71. manish — on 12th July, 2007 at 6:44 pm  

    you’re saying a caricuture isn’t like the real thing

    That is a caricature. This is an insult. Apu is closer to the second.

    So you aren’t going to throw a huff about stereotyping south asian relationships and fathers?!

    Whatever gets Anupam Kher onto American TV is fine by me :)

  72. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

    That is a caricature. This is an insult. Apu is closer to the second

    No, thats a matter of opinion.

  73. Katy — on 12th July, 2007 at 7:14 pm  

    If a Jewish or Black character had been caricatured in this way it simply wouldnt be acceptable.

    Yeah, because that never happens ever.

  74. Jai — on 12th July, 2007 at 7:31 pm  

    Good point by Katy.

    It would be interesting to see the defenders of Apu on this thread attempt to defend a (hypothetical) black cartoon character, voiced by a white person, and portaying every outward “black” stereotype you can imagine — appearance, “accent”, mannerisms, occupation, the works.

  75. Jai — on 12th July, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

    Apu’s accent and mannerisms remind me of the “Mr Patel — Pakistani corner shop owner” impressions that Jim Davidson used to do during his “comedy” shows on TV back in the day.

  76. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 7:47 pm  

    It would be interesting to see the defenders of Apu on this thread attempt to defend a (hypothetical) black cartoon character, voiced by a white person, and portaying every outward “black” stereotype you can imagine — appearance, “accent”, mannerisms, occupation, the works.

    Don’t be dull.

  77. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 7:51 pm  

    Apu’s accent and mannerisms remind me of the “Mr Patel — Pakistani corner shop owner” impressions that Jim Davidson used to do during his “comedy” shows on TV back in the day.

    This is the level of banal insanity we reach when ‘racism’ is based on individual ‘impression’ rather than considered thought.

  78. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 12th July, 2007 at 8:00 pm  

    Jai,

    Well thats the thing about stereotypes of blacks. THey are never positive while stereotypes of Indians or Jews can be both positive and negative. You have, for blacks, the semi literate athelete, the entertainer (Sambo), and the criminal. Anything else and he/she is accused of not acting black.

    I love Apu. I loved that joked he made about how bad Maggie smelled by saying he should know because he was from India. Does India smell that bad?

  79. Kulvinder — on 12th July, 2007 at 8:40 pm  

    Just to reiterate im not against a critique of comedy that includes any racial undertones, but ill be damned if im going to do anything other than mock arguments that are essentially based around a cartoon character not having an accurate accent.

    It is pointless to denigrate a work simply because you have the impression of it being bigoted without actually justifying your arguments in any depth. Why does it matter if a white man provides the voice of a black, asian, or jewish character? As i’ve said above i don’t get Borat, i don’t get who im meant to be laughing at and Sacha Baron Cohen’s interviews have never really explained the humour. I don’t however say that a Jew shouldn’t ever impersonate someoone from Kazakhstan. It isn’t the accent in Will and Grace that makes me question it, rather its the objectification of gay men into accessories for certain types of straight women (‘i want a gay best friend’ etc). It isn’t Cohen’s almost certainly incorrect accent that makes me question his work its trying to understand what hes laughing at and why. If you want to say his work is smirking at the camera as the rich/famous/powerful make idiots of themselves fine, but i still don’t get the Kazakhstani character – or the joke when his victims aren’t rich/powerful/famous.

    I don’t care whether Apu’s accent is accurate, i want to know with an argument that has some depth, why its racist. Rohin wrote an article that i essentially agreed with that argued why Apu wasn’t racist. His personality is as filled out and interesting as any other Simpsons characters. To Matt Groening’s credit he isn’t a two dimensional immigrant. He is neither portrayed as someone who is completely wholesome nor is he portrayed as a perpetual villain.

  80. Chairwoman — on 12th July, 2007 at 8:52 pm  

    Kulvinder – Sasha Baron-Cohen just isn’t funny. And if humour has to be explained, well it isn’t funny either.

    Bikhair – The ‘Trouble’ channel is crammed with programmes that, in my eyes, have positive images of black people. Perhaps the images of Jews that you see as positive, I would see as cringe-worthy :-)

  81. soru — on 12th July, 2007 at 9:01 pm  

    out in the real world he is used as the benchmark and template for a lot of racist abuse of Indians especially in America

    No doubt true, but I don’t see how you can avoid that in any situation where some group only has a single popular representative on TV.

    The name ‘Leeroy’ used to be (maybe still is) used as a term of abuse for black kids, at a time when the only popular black character on UK TV was the afro’d kid from Fame.

    I doubt there was anything particularly offensive about his character that caused it: anyone else out there as the first would likely have been the same.

    Don;t complain about the Simpsons, complain about the 50 or so other programs, especially in the UK, who statistically should have an Apu but don’t.

  82. Katy Newton — on 12th July, 2007 at 9:51 pm  

    Why does it matter if a white man provides the voice of a black, asian, or jewish character?

    It doesn’t.

    I wonder if those who find Apu racist because the speaker isn’t Indian raise similar objections to black or Asian people playing any role other than Othello in Shakespeare performances? It’s called “acting”. We used to think it was a talent worth watching rather than some sort of studied insult against an identified subset of humanity.

  83. Katy Newton — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:03 am  

    Apu is one of the nicer characters on the Simpsons anyway, isn’t he? Perhaps I’m missing something.

  84. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 9:28 am  

    Katy,

    Would you be okay with a character on The Simpsons fitting the following description, as per your mother’s post #62 ?

    Jews are caricatured all the time. We’re always supposed to be shrugging our shoulders, speaking with Central European accents, and looking eloquently at the heavens.

    **********

    Why does it matter if a white man provides the voice of a black, asian, or jewish character?

    It doesn’t.

    It does matter if the “impression” the white man is doing panders to the most insulting, extreme stereotypes of how people from such groups allegedly speak.

    I hesitate in playing this particular card, but maybe this issue really is something only Asians here could understand. Many of us grew up regularly being on the receiving end of white people doing “bud bud” impressions/insults towards us, especially towards our parents, and there are still English people around who smirk slyly when they hear an older-generation Asian (or one of the younger, more recent influx from India in IT and the medical profession) speak with an obvious Indian accent.

    Not to mention the preponderence of Jim Davidson/Bernard Manning-type “comedians” doing similar impressions in the British media when we were younger.

    I agree completely that Apu’s personality is actually very positive and the depiction is quite subversive. The problem, however, is with his outward persona. I can’t speak for other Asians here, but I find it very uncomfortable indeed to watch him, at least when he opens his mouth.

    This issue, and the impact it has on Asians in the US, has actually been debated extensively on Sepia Mutiny a number of times. If you want to get a clearer picture of why it is so offensive to many Asians (especially over there) then I recommend you check out that blog. There’s actually a discussion on the 7-11 controversy underway on SM right now.

    I wonder if those who find Apu racist because the speaker isn’t Indian raise similar objections to black or Asian people playing any role other than Othello in Shakespeare performances?

    No Katy. You need to understand that it’s not the fact that the speaker isn’t Indian which is the problem, but the way he speaks.

    *********************

    Kulvinder,

    Stop being such a patronising jerk. You need to watch your tone; you are in absolutely no position to speak condescendingly towards me. I’m beginning to get the strong impression that you enjoy being contrarian just for the sake of it.

    If you want to make a point, make it politely.

    *************

    Insulting portrayals of Indians is actually a lot more common in the American media than it is here in Britain; there’s a lot of nonsense which became unacceptable here a long time ago, and it’s only now that the US is beginning to catch up. Prime positive examples are the Indian character in the American version of “The Office” and, especially, Dr Mohinder Suresh in “Heroes”. The latter is quite a radical turnaround for America, in terms of both his persona and his personality (if any of you watch that show then you’ll know what I mean).

  85. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 9:35 am  

    I think the moral of the story, if the comments are anything to go by, is that — to a great extent — one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Categorising stuff as ‘racist’ can be unhelpful when it is not so clearcut. It also belittles the term.
    It’s a bit like paedophilia. We all know the difference between a random predator or an abusive dad and a 21 year old who sleeps with an older-looking 14 year old — and yet they’ll all end up on the same sexual offenders’ register.
    I think reclassifying racial crime as ‘hate crime’ so that it includes prejudices against gays, etc, is the way forward. Otherwise the discussions can get tedious and circular.

  86. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:01 am  

    Thank you for withdrawing your remarks about Tintin, Chairwoman. His adventures brought a lot of pleasure to people and helped them to learn about other cultures.

  87. Kulvinder — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:49 am  

    Stop being such a patronising jerk. You need to watch your tone; you are in absolutely no position to speak condescendingly towards me.

    I’m laughing. Online.

  88. Katy Newton — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    Jai, Jews are caricatured all the time and I have seen it many times and it genuinely doesn’t bother me, generally. It’s the intent behind it that I look at.

  89. Chairwoman — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:16 am  

    Jai – No you don’t have to be Asian to understand it. I understand perfectly. The Sweeney featured an occasional recurring Jewish character who was played by a non-Jewish actor (I think it was Anthony Valentine) who factored the eye-rolling, shrugging and almost mittel-european accent into his interpretation. His wife was a cross between Beattie and Barbra Streisand, who also did eye rolling, shrugging and spoke in a perculiar way, dripped diamonds, and was always on the way to or from Brent Cross.

    Was I amused? No. Was I incensed? Indeed.

    Rumbold – I made no comment on Tin-Tin, it was Herge with whom I took issue. I didn’t withdraw my comment, but neither did I see yours. I certainly do not say he was a Nazi sympathiser because he stayed in Belgium. The Belgians, like the French had well documented ‘undergrounds, that actively worked against the Nazis. But because there are writings, by him, and nothing to do with Tin-Tin, where he talks about his prejudices.

    Before you talk about how much pleasure he has given to many, may I remind you that I was severely harangued by virtually everybody on this site because I said that as a child, over 50 years ago, I loved my Golly, and had no idea that it was supposed to be a black man, or that there was something degrading about it.

    T S Elliot was a great poet, Ezra Pound a great author, Henry Ford a great car manufacturer. It didn’t stop them all being rabid racists in general, and antisemites in particular.

  90. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    Comment 53 for my previous request Chairwoman. Again, please provide some links to your claims or withdraw them.

  91. sid — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    If Asians can take the piss out of regional accents and stereotypes why can’t Matt Groening, who never uses crass stereotypes which is why people laugh with. Sacha Baron-Cohen uses crass stereotype to laugh at. Subtle difference.

    Apu is a compound of many Indian stereotypes but is fully drawn as a character and is not a caricature. Jai, don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little bit. You once accused me of reacting like an “stereotypical shouty uncle-ji”. Why can you use stereotype and not the Simpsons?

  92. Sahil — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    A really good article about Herge and Tintin from the New Statesman:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200401260030

    And an academic analysis:

    http://www.gwu.edu/~uwp/fyw/euonymous/06-laserrobinsonfinal.pdf

    From Phillip Troutman.

  93. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

    Excellent New Statesmen article Sahil. I have not read the other one yet. Unless someone can come up with contradictory evidence, I think that Herge’s reputation has been saved.

  94. Sahil — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

    The academic article is really worth reading, its not just about Herge but also a good piece about war time propoganda.

  95. Chairwoman — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    Rumbold – I will withdraw because I can find nothing that proves or disproves what I have said.

    It’s a bit like those items one hears on the news at 6am which never surface again.

    And I loved my Golly. So there.

  96. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

    “And I loved my Golly. So there.”

    Ha ha.

    Thanks Chairwoman; sorry for pressing you, but I really do love Tintin so needed solid evidence.

  97. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    91. good points sid

  98. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:32 pm  

    i suppose if being a ‘minority’ is a central part of your identity you won’t be able to take these things lightly, because you’re a bit paranoid that this means you were always not really ‘welcome’.. its taking that group level bashing very personally – which some people obviously do. probably same reason why so many Muslims were so personally offended at the portrayal of some man many centuries ago.

  99. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    and before people say oh we minorities weren’t welcome, im not suggesting that wasn’t the case, but that even in groups where everyone is from the same tribe, one section will take the piss out of the other for i dunno, having longer noses or something.

    what im saying is that this sort of thing appears a lot in group social psychology – you have all of this without people being inherently ill-disposed towards someone. now of course if people feel that some is already ill-disposed towards them, then i suppose they will not be taking this with a pinch of salt, and building on their already negative feelings.

  100. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    anyway as I keep saying, the people who have come up with the most ‘indian’ stereotypes as we all know are the Indian subcontinent residents themselves. ( ourselves!) gujju bong etc. etc. so on and so forth i hardly need remind everyone. i’ve had far more what could be taken as negative comments about being bengali from fellow subcontinenters than anyone else ever. “fish-eating” folk and all that sort of stuff. yes i could take offence but what’s the point. Now if we are going to have this discussion about ‘racism’ seriously then I think Sunny and others will also have to acknowledge that incredibly widespread behaviour as racism too. And it is prevalent over here in some even more concentrated ways – e.g. the so-called dhaka/sylhet groupism/racism situation.

  101. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    so it seems to me – that the issue is about perceived “out-group” making ‘fun’ and stereotypes, but intra-”group” making fun of is something else. so it all comes down to how you define ‘group’ – at the boundary of an ethnicity or what.

  102. Kismet Hardy — on 13th July, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    I only found out from my daughter the other day that Sly and Gobbo in Noddy used to be the gollywogs before political correctness went loopy. Enid Blyton was racist, but after watching Bernard Manning’s unnerving programme last night, it’s pretty obvious they’re all dying

  103. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

    i dont really see how people can assume an author was racist in themselves because they are portraying a racist society?

  104. sonia — on 13th July, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

    just shows that we have a particular way of reading literature as ‘truth’ not as representation – (for whatever set of reasons)

  105. Kismet Hardy — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    I see where you’re coming from Son. I used to abide by the tedious notion that Morrissey for a brief, stupid while. He does what you say about portraying society, warts and all

  106. Kismet Hardy — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:08 pm  

    Well that made sense

    I used to abide by the tedious notion that Morrissey was a racist for a brief, stupid while.

  107. justforfun — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

    Sonia @ 103 – a very good point – you seem to be making alot of common sense points on all threads – whats happened? :-) or are the rest of us just getting worse.

    Justforfun

  108. Chairwoman — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

    Kismet – I refer you to my # 95 :-)

  109. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:48 pm  

    If Asians can take the piss out of regional accents and stereotypes why can’t Matt Groening, who never uses crass stereotypes which is why people laugh with.

    For the record, I happen to think The Simpsons is great. I’m also well aware of Groening’s habit of utilising stereotypes; the (in)famous “Homer goes to Brazil” episode comes to mind.

    Look, there are some slightly different dynamics between the UK and the US with regards to Asians, mainly due to the different histories the two nations have with the subcontinent and its inhabitants. This is a slightly complex issue, a lot of it’s common sense so you can figure it out for yourself, and if you really want a detailed explanation then I recommend you trawl through Sepia Mutiny’s archives as I mentioned before. Plenty of our American desi cousins have already hammered this topic out.

    Following on from that, American South Asians get racial hassle from white people too (and object to Apu due to the caricature it perpetuates), but for somewhat different reasons than what occurs on this side of the Atlantic.

    All I’m saying is that as a British Asian, given the history of ridicule and prejudice which we had to face for a very, very long time indeed (yes I know, to some extent we still do, especially due to the events of the past couple of years), Apu’s outward persona touches some nerves with me. Frankly it creeps me out whenever he opens his mouth and that f******g exaggerated sing-song bud-bud accent comes out. I’m not actually oversensitive about alleged racial “insults”, and I don’t scream “racist” at the drop of a hat, but hell, it even p*ssed me off when I saw Simon bobbing his head about and doing the bud-bud impression whilst sitting next to Tre in the car during The Apprentice recently. Simon, of course, is not actually a racist by any means and obviously thinks the world of Tre, which is touching to see.

    However, seeing/hearing a white person imitating a caricatured Indian accent makes my blood run cold, probably due to negative personal experiences along those lines during my lifetime (especially when I was much younger), combined with seeing other Asians suffer due to being on the receiving end of that crap and the wider historical connotations of such behaviour within the British media in the past and within British society/culture historically. That’s my opinion, whether any other Asians here react the same way is up to them, but that’s the way it is.

    the people who have come up with the most ‘indian’ stereotypes as we all know are the Indian subcontinent residents themselves.

    Correct, although I don’t engage in that kind of behaviour myself. It’s much worse back in India, though.

    ***************

    Katy,

    Jai, Jews are caricatured all the time and I have seen it many times and it genuinely doesn’t bother me, generally. It’s the intent behind it that I look at.

    Okay. In this matter I seem to be on the same wavelength as your mother in post #89.

    Well, apart from the matter of the Golly.

    ************

    Kulvinder,

    I’m laughing. Online.

    Good for you.

  110. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    Taking this back to the main topic re: 7-11, for those interested in the American (South) Asian angle, check out the following:

    http://www.ultrabrown.com/posts/the-cnn-clip

    http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/004561.html

    (The second URL includes links to multiple threads discussing Apu on Manish’s Ultrabrown blog).

  111. Chairwoman — on 13th July, 2007 at 4:06 pm  

    I LOVED MY GOLLY!

  112. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    , it even p*ssed me off when I saw Simon bobbing his head about and doing the bud-bud impression whilst sitting next to Tre in the car during The Apprentice recently.
    Considering he was doing it straight after Tre had done it, you haven’t really got a leg to stand on Jai.
    I guess you are just reinforcing Sonia’s point about Pavlovian conditioning. We all have our crosses to bear.
    I remember wanting to punch John Cleese repeatedly when he explained how he and Prunella Scales came up with the idea of Manuel, as a result of their experiences in hotels. I had to be restrained from giving the tv a good kicking.
    At the end of the day — it’s not worth getting hot under the collar about.

  113. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    Considering he was doing it straight after Tre had done it, you haven’t really got a leg to stand on Jai.

    Not quite, El Cid. An analogous situation is how it’s acceptable among black American comedians these days to use “the n word” as part of their routine, but not for a non-black person (especially a white person) to do the same.

    There’s a difference between an Asian person putting on a “just arrived from the subcontinent” accent, and a white person mimicking him immediately afterwards, complete with bobbing-head movements (which, incidentally, Tre hadn’t done).

    A gentleman on Sepia Mutiny who goes by the username “Floridian”, and is from what we call “the older generation”, made an excellent point on another recent SM thread related to the 7/11-Apu controversy. The link (along with the rest of that thread) can be found here: http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/004568.html#comment149474

    …..But I think his point is so eloquent and well-made that I am going to paste it verbatim, as follows:

    “73 · Manjula on July 12, 2007 03:12 PM · Direct link
    “Don’t any of us know an uncle who reminds us of Apu?”

    Sure you do, and here’s the irony. Apu is as humorous to us uncle types as he is to the rest of America, and that raises a question about self-deprecating humor in general. It is funny only when directed at oneself, politically incorrect and cruel if coming from others.

    I have heard many different races crack the same tired joke about their carefree attitude towards punctuality – Indian Standard Time, Cuban Time, Black People’s Time. But who in their right mind would tell an African American that their race is incapable of being on time, and which African American would smilingly accept this joke if it comes from “others,” a white person, for example?

    That’s why one needs to differentiate between the personal and public when it comes to humor that profiles a race or group. One has to take a public stand against it even if one enjoys it privately. Here is a scenario. Apu mercilessly gouges his customers. The Jewish people have been unjustly accused of the same trait since the days of Merchant of Venice. But have you ever seen a Jewish gouger on TV? Doting Jewish moms YES, shallow status consciousness such as “my son, the doctor,” YES, but gouging is a NO-NO. I can only imagine how many Jewish groups the producer of such a show would have to fend off if he created a modern-day Shylock. I think the network President will be fired first, and class action suits filed next.

    We need forums such as SM, if not to fight back but at least to take a polite but firm stand. The future of our children depends on it.

    Anyway, this is now going off-topic. Again, I recommend folks check out those links I supplied in #110.

    Thank you, come again.

  114. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:56 pm  

    I think Tre did bob his head Jai.
    You’ve got issues! Chill out hun

  115. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:13 pm  

    Re: Tre — No he didn’t.

    No issues mate; like many British Asians, I just react badly when I see a caricatured depiction of the American equivalent of the Indian corner-shop owner, complete with grossly exaggerated Indian accent. You can blame decades of similar “comical” portrayals in the British media for that, along with “putt-putt-ding-ding” insults which many, many British Asians and their parents/older relatives had to deal with.

    I think that expecting Asians to tolerate the notion of white people laughing upon hearing a very stereotyped “bud-bud” accent is a little too much, regardless of how “subversive” the character concerned may actually be. And I wouldn’t expect many 2nd-generation Asians to grin & bear it if confronted with an English person imitating an alleged “Indian accent” either.

    Those days are long gone, buddy.

  116. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    Well if you’re going to resort to smug and triumphalist usage of “buddy” and “mate”, I’m going to have to smack your batty publicly:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVjQeDnuhBY&mode=related&search=

  117. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:26 pm  

    *bobs head smugly*
    (We’re all friends here aren’t we, mostly, and so were Tre and Simon, and that’s the point ultimately. In a successful multicultural society you can drop your guard and rib each other’s cultures. If you don’t like it, you can go down the lawyer-infested U.S. route.)

  118. Jai — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:30 pm  

    Not exactly much head-bobbing on his part there, hombre…..

    And bear in mind that he knew he was on TV, and was aiming to win the show. I doubt he would’ve done himself many favours if he’d told Simon to f*** off, although he didn’t exactly roar with laughter either after his friend’s “impression”.

    Buddy, mate, etcetera…..

  119. El Cid — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:33 pm  

    what you wearing jai?

  120. Chairwoman — on 13th July, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

    Jai – Just you and me then.

  121. sid — on 13th July, 2007 at 8:18 pm  

    I feel more offended by the type of crass streotyping that depicts fathers as being stupid, self-obsessed, simpletons who are incapable of connecting with their kids and have large, bald yellow heads, which we all see as Homer Simpson. This is the kind of caricature that makes me and many young fathers cry into our pillows at night.

    Its an outrage!!!!!

  122. Sunny — on 14th July, 2007 at 3:33 am  

    I’m outraged that people are outraged over other people’s outrage!

  123. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2007 at 3:49 am  

    Not quite, El Cid. An analogous situation is how it’s acceptable among black American comedians these days to use “the n word” as part of their routine, but not for a non-black person (especially a white person) to do the same.

    Nigger? Only dull people think only ‘black people’ include it in jokes.

  124. Flying Rodent — on 14th July, 2007 at 4:17 am  

    As a Scot, I find Groundskeeper Willie the funniest character by far, and the episodes that feature him most heavily are among my favourites.

    His accent is terrible and the writers clearly know nothing about Scotland, but I still found the one where his mum and dad both had beards hilarious.

    As they say, There’s nary a beast that can escape a greased Scotsman.

  125. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2007 at 4:29 am  

    nb from above i searched ‘nigger’ on youtube and this was one of the first postings that came up. I pretty much agree with all the sentiment expressed. Saying ‘n-word’ is ridiculous, and as a euphemism it covers up what the real issues are. That wasn’t the only video posted by black americans on that very point, and i think the idea that a word can uniformly and universally be ‘rejected’ by a group of people on every level is actually incredibly patronising.

    The underlying assumption is in itself more racist than the word; people who even have a problem using it in a non-slur context are more or less advocating the idea you can’t say it or the ‘black people’ will go insane and beat you up.

    I’ll more or less give up on the BBC if we ever reach the stage where a Radio 1 producer wants to question the use of the word ‘Paki’ in a news story.

  126. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2007 at 4:52 am  

    This was also interesting, not only for the views expressed but also because i’ve never seen a multiple camera set-up on the internet. It actually added a real depth to the recording.

  127. Jai — on 14th July, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    Chairwoman,

    Jai – Just you and me then.

    Looks like it. Unfortunately, some sections of Indian society do have a streak of masochistic types who will refuse to condemn negative behaviour towards Indians by people from other backgrounds, and will even try to excuse it.

    And, as you and I both know, there are also still some sections of British society who will make excuse after excuse to justify their own casually racist attitude towards ethnic minorities and their refusal to change their behaviour even if the other parties object, eg. “It’s just a joke”, “Don’t take it so seriously”, “X doesn’t mind, so why do you ?”, etc etc. Hell, we’d still have to endure the delights of bigots like Jim Davidson in the mainstream media if people hadn’t stood up to this kind of weaselly sophistry.

    Kulvinder,

    Only dull people think only ‘black people’ include it in jokes.

    Only desperate and unprincipled people resort to ad hominem tactics. “Dull” indeed. I think you know very well that intellectually I can run rings around you blindfolded.

  128. Chairwoman — on 14th July, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    Jai – Ah, the ‘don’t take it so seriously ploy’.

    I am thinking of a time that I was sitting with my former white English (I am describing her as she her self would) best friend. We were watching the Oscars. Stephen Speilberg was on the red carpet. Former BF turned to me, ‘You’ve got to admit Speilberg looks so Jewish…’. ‘and?’ said I ‘Yeah, but so Jewish!’. ‘Just looks normal to me’. ‘Yeah, but just look at him…’.

    What I should have done was get up and leave. But I didn’t. I never felt the quite the same again, and even now it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

  129. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2007 at 7:22 pm  

    Only desperate and unprincipled people resort to ad hominem tactics. “Dull” indeed. I think you know very well that intellectually I can run rings around you blindfolded.

    As long as you’re making an argument…

  130. Anas — on 14th July, 2007 at 7:26 pm  

    I’ve realised why Herge’s attitude towards Black people seems to be different to those of other non-European cultures. It’s bleedin’ obvious! Belgium occupied a large part of Africa and was even responsible for one of the greatest genocides of the 19-th -20th centuries in the Congo, so dehumanisation of those who were being colonised was obviously going to be part of Belgian culture as it is in every country that is a coloniser.

  131. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 12:55 pm  

    There’s a big difference between casual infrequent and — in the strictest, dullest sense — racist ribbing /humour some picklers are referring to and Jim Davidson. Weasly sophistry indeed!
    Chairwoman — Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Larry David et al have made careers out of sending up Jewish stereotypes. Why is that? Are they shameless whores? Or just very funny people?

  132. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

    Mind you, these things do need to be handled with care.
    I was just doing some research into probably Larry David’s most risque episode of Curb your Enthusiasm, and one of its funniest, when he finds out he was adopted and dreams he is in fact a gentile, leading to a whole personality change. I particularly remember the difference in attitude to things of a mechanical nature. So I Googled it.
    The following link is a fair summary of the plot — unfortunately the source is not what I would have wanted!
    http://tinyurl.com/2cwj4l

  133. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:08 pm  

    Of course, the good thing about racial stereotypes is that they are there to be broken.
    Anthony Nesty, Vladimir Klitschko, Maggie Thatcher, Reggie Kray, Kismet Hardy, Vijay Singh — none of them fit the mould.
    And thanks to al-Qaeda, the 1970s image of British Asians as passive and perennial bully fodder has gone the same way as the dodo. That’s a joke by the way.
    A more apt example is Amir Khan, who I watched last night — live and direct. How the white working class/Asian crowd cheered in unison. No amount of intellectualising can ever match that.
    So who knows, maybe the first Jewish F1 team is only a matter of time.

  134. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

    That’s an odd selection of people.

    Although I would like to say that Kismet Hardy does fit a mould – I made a cast of his belly some years ago, which I keep in my garage to store my large watermelon collection.

  135. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    Sounds like it could also double up as a baptism font

  136. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    Chairwoman — Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Larry David et al have made careers out of sending up Jewish stereotypes. Why is that? Are they shameless whores? Or just very funny people?

    Because they do it with affection and self-knowledge, and don’t resort to stereotypes. They are indeed very funny people, Jackie Mason in particular.

  137. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    He does so.

    Mr. Mason insists, without apparent irony, that stereotypes are based on genuine “cultural differences” that “have nothing to do with civil rights.” No one, he says, returning to his comic mode, blames black people for the fact that there’s never been a Chinese tap dancer. “They love to press a shirt.”

    For more http://tinyurl.com/2x3tox

  138. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    El cid – That link gave me a bit of a shock.

  139. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

    Actually, to a point I agree with him.

    When he’s talking about the average Jewish man’s ability to do absolutely nothing in the DIY line, he’s absolutely on the ball.

    “They love to press a shirt.” is obviously an appalling thing to say, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chinese tap dancer.

  140. Jai — on 15th July, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

    There’s a big difference between casual infrequent and — in the strictest, dullest sense — racist ribbing /humour some picklers are referring to and Jim Davidson.

    There’s also a big difference between a group of racist thugs firebombing an Asian family’s house, and a middle-manager in the some large company who doesn’t give a job to a particular Asian person because he feels threatened by Asians who are smarter and more educated than him (but he would never admit this). It still doesn’t justify their behaviour; the root cause is still the same, even if the degree of bigotry and manifestations differ.

    The very fact that a white person would make a “joke” at the expense of Asians, specifically referring to some aspect of the latter’s background, knowing that what they’re doing is morally unjustifiable, knowing that the “joke” is indeed offensive to the target but “dping it anyway”, is an indication that something is wrong with the perpetrator’s attitude.

    Fundamentally, it’s a form of bullying.

    Weasly sophistry indeed!

    That’s exactly what it is.

    It’s staggering the lengths that people will go to in order to excuse and rationalise what they are fully aware constitute unethical actions on their part. But then, an excess of ego does result in some people becoming unable to admit to being wrong, or to apologise for their wrongdoings. It’s even worse if they subsequently attempt to turn some of the blame back on the target of their alleged humour. “Weaselly” is an understatement.

    “Don’t be so politically-correct”. There’s another modern turn-it-back-on-the-target tactic sometimes used by such people. Excuses upon excuses.

  141. Jai — on 15th July, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    but “dping it anyway”,

    Typo, should obviously say “doing it anyway”.

    *********

    Chairwoman,

    re: post #128

    I’m very sorry to hear about that. It’s a pretty nasty experience when you happen to be friends with individuals like that, and they interpret their friendship as supposedly giving them a get-out clause to make such (allegedly “harmless”) remarks to you.

    Taking advantage of people’s good nature in that manner is never an acceptable way to behave.

  142. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

    get a life jai

  143. Jai — on 15th July, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

    Outstanding counterargument.

    Thank you for proving my point exactly.

  144. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    Jai, as you know I’ve been AWOL for quite some time on PP. But just going by this thread, can I ask something?

    You say a white person doing a bud bud sing-song accent “makes your blood run cold”, right?

    So what about when a brown person does a piss-take sing song Welsh accent, or Jamaican accent, or Scottish, or deep South or…etc

    What about when I do a silly bud bud accent, I’m neither white nor brown?

    If there’s clearly no malice behind an impersonation, why is it so harmful?

    I am quite an accent king. My speciality is flawless Afrikaans. It’s not offensive. Rory Bremner does accents, but he does them well and it’s not offensive. So are you just criticising poor imitation?

  145. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    Jai, don’t make me embarrass you again

  146. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

    Because they do it with affection and self-knowledge, and don’t resort to stereotypes. They are indeed very funny people, Jackie Mason in particular.

    Is this the same Jackie Mason who advocated genocide against the Palestinians? writing:

    We have paralyzed ourselves by our sickening fear of “World Opinion,” which is why we find it impossible to face one simple fact: We will never win this war unless we immediately threaten to drive every Arab out of Israel if the killing doesn’t stop…

    We are brain-dead if we accept the idea that we have to guess which Arab is our next killer. We are not obligated to victimize ourselves by letting the Arabs play Russian roulette with Jewish lives. Israelis are constantly asked the same obnoxious question: “How can you throw the Arabs out — where would they go?” The answer is, if they don’t care whom they kill, why are we obligated to care where they go?”

    Now that is racist and certainly not light fun. Personally I’d say that comment puts Jackie Mason higher than Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, Roy Chubby Brown, whoever, in the evil racist scumfuck stakes. And I don’t think he’s funny either.

  147. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

    Anas – Did he say that as part of his act, or as his personal opinion?

    As for whether you find him funny, I am surprised when anybody who doesn’t at least have a good smattering of Yiddish finds him funny.

    By the way, did you actually read what he said? And in what way is it worse than Jews being forbidden to live in Saudi and Libya, or preachers at Friday prayers telling their congregations to kill Jews? Unpleasant as you may find his statement, he’s not suggesting mass murder, he’s only suggesting a threat. Leading Muslims make far stronger statements. Is it more acceptable if they have the cloak of the clergy about them, and say it in Arabic or Urdhu?

    You’re on shaky ground here.

    Anyway, we’ve only got a week to solve the Middle East problem, as, if things go according to plan, I’m going into hospital for 5 to 8 weeks on Monday 23rd, and I don’t know if I’ll have internet access.

  148. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:13 pm  

    Anas – Did he say that as part of his act, or as his personal opinion?
    As for whether you find him funny, I am surprised when anybody who doesn’t at least have a good smattering of Yiddish finds him funny.
    By the way, did you actually read what he said? And in what way is it worse than Jews being forbidden to live in Saudi and Libya, or preachers at Friday prayers telling their congregations to kill Jews? Unpleasant as you may find his statement, he’s not suggesting mass murder, he’s only suggesting a threat. Leading Muslims make far stronger statements. Is it more acceptable if they have the cloak of the clergy about them, and say it in Arabic or Urdhu?
    You’re on shaky ground here.

    I’m sorry CW but I find your apologetics for JM’s disgusting statement hilarious –btw, you can read the link that I gave above for more details (what does it matter what context he said it in anyway?). There’s no way to get past it, he is advocating removing the Arab population of Israel which is ethnic cleansing/genocide according to the most commonly used definitions of those terms. And ethnic cleansing, even the threat of it, is more than just “unpleasant” — you don’t just force a whole ethnic group of people to leave a country by shouting through a megaphone and telling them to leave. What he said is repugnant, why can’t you just accept that without making statements that suggest that I’d be OK with it if some Muslim said it? That’s ad hominem! Jackie Mason is a racist bigot and comparing him to other bigots doesn’t make him less of one.

    Best of luck for your hospital visit.

  149. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:14 pm  

    Chairwoman, that’s bull. What he (is alleged to have) said is offensive and stupid. He is suggesting that ALL Arabs don’t care who is killed, so no Jew should care what happens to any Arab.

    I never said that stops him being funny. The sad fact is some shits in this world can also be funny – we are not wrong to laugh at them if their joke isn’t offensive. It’s very easy to say that if someone is an ugly human being, we should find all they do ugly. But it’s rarely the case.

    Anyway, back to Mason. Just because Arabs have told their congregation to kill Jews that makes what he said OK? Just by the by, but are these Palestinian imams multi-millionaire entertainers who play packed-out crowds in Vegas and Madison Square? I’d say that makes what Mason’s saying more dangerous.

    And best of luck as well for the hospital visit – here’s hoping your doctors are better than me!

  150. Don — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:15 pm  

    CW,
    Best of luck. And there is a good chance of bedside internet access, the NHS started ‘rolling out’ (euch) a programme of access about five years ago.

  151. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:19 pm  

    Net access in hospital is piss-poor Don. Most beds now have a TV-Internet-phone device, but it charges four thousand pounds per second. If it’s working.

    However! If you’re at a teaching hospital then you’re likely to have a wireless network you can use and don’t let people tell you you can’t use your mobile. Apart from a few old pieces of kit, there’s no evidence to suggest mobiles are unsafe in a normal hospital ward (i.e. not ITU) – so use away!

  152. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    Here’s the original source for the quote from Jewish World Review:

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/mason010603.asp

  153. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:12 pm  

    I saw Jackie Mason on stage twice, and I thought he was very funny. But then I remember laughing at Frank Carson, so…. Well it was a titter really, and no I didn’t go out of my way to see Frank Carson. I didn’t buy tickets to see him at the Felixstowe Palace or whatever. It was just some corporate do where he stood up and said a few words.
    In hindsight Jackie does have JD/BM tendencies. On the other hand, most of his material is based on his own community not someone else’s (much like Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy).
    Anas, you were also a bit quick to launch an attack on CW considering she backtracked a bit following her first comment. But I guess any excuse for a bit of I/P, eh — or am I confusing you with someone else?
    Your comment though has prompted a thought, and that is that people say a lot of things in anger which they might not mean subsequently or which reflects a particularly divisive situation. And there’s no more divisive issue than I/P.
    E.g., If someone threatened one of my loved ones, I may well have reacted in a way which I later regretted.
    That’s the problem with impersonal internet-based debate. Once an opinion is recorded and can be googled, it acquires a virtual permanence which might have little bearing with reality. Shame Jackie isn’t here to defend himself. People make allowances for others when they know them well, which brings me back to comment #25.

  154. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:22 pm  

    Anas, Rohin at al – I agree that it’s a crass thing to say, and yes it’s suggesting threatening ethnic cleansing, but it’s not genocide.

    Seriously, I may be pedantic, but words are used incorrectly all the time.

    Genocide means exterminating a whole ethnic group solely because they are that group. I am sure if there were death camps and crematoria in Israel somebody would have found out by now.

    Fascism means a dictatorship, it doesn’t mean being extremely right wing or racist, although fascists are generally both.

    When these words are used incorrectly, they are cheapened.

    Thank you for your good wishes, hopefully I will be less of a chair woman when the treatments over. I am going into a major teaching hospital in North West London, so perhaps there will be wi fi.

  155. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:35 pm  

    Anas, you were also a bit quick to launch an attack on CW considering she backtracked a bit following her first comment. But I guess any excuse for a bit of I/P, eh — or am I confusing you with someone else?

    Huh? What? We’re talking about racism in comedy and someone mentioned JM. Was that or was that not a racist statement Jackie made? When did CW backtrack? I’m sure she can speak for herself.

    Your comment though has prompted a thought, and that is that people say a lot of things in anger which they might not mean subsequently or which reflects a particularly divisive situation. And there’s no more divisive issue than I/P.
    E.g., If someone threatened one of my loved ones, I may well have reacted in a way which I later regretted.

    Hah! Now you’re making excuses. I’m sure if Jackie’d said the same thing about black people or some other race — like if he’d called for all the Pakistanis to be kicked out of the UK — you wouldn’t be so understanding. The fact is that Jackie, a multi-millionaire, hugely prominent, world-famous comedian, in an article for in JWR (which isn’t that obscure as far as I can figure) calls in no uncertain terms for the removal of Arabs from Israel — something which is not in the realms of fantasy but which is actually openly discussed as the “transfer” option by prominent figures in Israel, including politicians. As far as I’m aware Mason has not retracted this statement, even though it is well-known. I find that shocking. Seriously, Cid, would you have defended a prominent white South African comedian who during aparthied talked about kicking the blacks out of parts of South Africa so quickly? Or a prominent Sudanese figure who said something similar about Darfur? Maybe that kind of pervasive attitude to IP is the reason I keep bringing it up so much.

  156. Chairwoman — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:43 pm  

    Anas – No, No,No!

    We will never win this war unless we immediately threaten to drive every Arab out of Israel if the killing doesn’t stop

    I have cut and pasted your own quotation. The operative word is threaten. I also don’t see anything about killing, exterminating, or depriving of life in any way.

    Bad as it may be, it’s just not in the same league.

  157. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:45 pm  

    Actually CW, let me be even more pedantic. From the article I linked to in my initial post:

    The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines as genocide, “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”:

    “Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (Article 1)

    Moreoever, under the Convention, “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” is a punishable crime. (Article 2)

    If you take the part about “Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, then you can’t tell me Israel hasn’t been pursuing a widespread such program over the past few decades — especially recently in Gaza.

    Now, ethnic cleansing if it isn’t by definition genocide, involves the forcible removal of a group of people from land based on their ethnicity — and this would neccessarily involve actions that come under the cited definition of genocide. Could you “drive every Arab out of Israel”, without “[c]ausing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” on a scale that would not be deemed genocidal?

  158. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    CW, if you read the rest of his article you’ll see he’s implying more than just a threat:

    ” How can you throw the Arabs out, where would they go?” The answer is if they don’t care whom they kill, why are we obligated to care where they go?

    If a gang of killers lived across the street, would you allow them to keep throwing bombs through your window until you can find them another apartment? Are we morally obligated to become a real estate agent for every Arab suicide bomber? We are not obligated to accept a new, slower Holocaust as the inevitable fate of our people. Jordan did not take a poll of world opinion and neither did Kuwait before they routed the Palestinians out of their countries.

    Why would he answer the question asking where the Arabs would go if he was just talking about a “threat”. In fact what would be the use of threatening something if it was obvious it wouldn’t be carried through? Surely that wouldn’t work as a deterrent.

  159. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:55 pm  

    Whatever way you look at it CW, whatever damage limitation you try to work on his words, Jackie Mason is a racist bigot.

  160. Kulvinder — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

    How sad (yes, irony) he apparently is that far to the right. Without derailing this thread further into I/P. This is his website, which links to his blog, which links to his youtube channel. Oh well its probably because hes old.

  161. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 6:58 pm  

    No and no.
    And I’ll leave it at that.

  162. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    Let’s drop Mason shall we? I think we can agree that what he said was silly, no need to split hairs.

  163. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:05 pm  

    Let’s drop Mason shall we? I think we can agree that what he said was silly, no need to split hairs.

    It was more than just silly, and I wish Mason was dropped permanently. But yes, this thread is getting a little too heate.

  164. Anas — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:05 pm  

    heated

  165. HemelExpat — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:29 pm  

    Great discussion. As a huge Simpsons fan I have to say that I err somewhat self-indulgently on the side of Rohin’s early PP article. I think Apu, as several have suggested, needs to be seen within the context of a show that mercilessly caricatures the various social and ethnic groups portrayed by its characters (which is, of course, the key to good social satire). But when you take him out of that context (as racists, unfortunately, are wont to do), he becomes a horrendous stereotype, PhD notwithstanding.

    Tintin is different, not only because there is no satirical self-awareness but also because it is historical and not contemporary. I think the CRE made a huge mistake in insisting it be taken off the shelves completely, as the subsequent spike in sales of the book demonstrates. But they were wrong in their understanding of the book as well as in strategic terms. I have this edition (complete with warning wrapper), but I also have a PDF file of the still-unavailable 1931 b&w original. Believe me, the one they’re selling at Borders is nothing by comparison, but both have their place – not in the kid’s aisle, to be sure, but certainly elsewhere in the store, although still only with the warning label.

    Why do I have not one but two copies of this piece of racist pro-colonial propaganda? Because I’m a historian. If the 1931 original were still in print, I’d assign it to the students in my “history of colonialism” class, but instead I print off some of the most offending pages and have them analyse the racist assumptions. They learn how deeply colonialism was infused into European society and culture, as well as more generally how our ideas of “others” can be shaped via insidious and unexpected sources – which, I guess, brings us back to Apu. Hmmm…(reconsidering)

    PS no, I won’t share the 1931 PDF, since I’m loath to compound the probable copyright violation that put it in my own hands (via eBay)!
    PPS To the best of my knowledge, it is pretty harsh to label Herge a fascist. He was a low-level collaborator in that he chose to continue working under Nazi occupation (as did Sartre in Paris), but he never showed any agreement or admiration for Nazi ideas. In fact, it appears that part of his motivation for the late 1940s “sanitized” reissue of Tintin in the Congo was his horror at Nazi crimes.

  166. Sunny — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:36 pm  

    Rohin, did you see GreatBong’s article on the issue? He agrees with Manish and, referencing your article, disagrees with it.

    http://greatbong.net/2007/07/15/thanking-for-coming-again/

  167. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

    Yup I commented below! I said I’ve been meaning to explain my feeling properly for a few weeks (I somehow feel like I’ve become an unofficial pro-Apu spokesperson as that piece has been referenced all over the place, so I should say my piece!)

  168. Kulvinder — on 15th July, 2007 at 8:03 pm  

    From the comments of #167 about the indian call centre/transformers movie. Hollywood has been shooting for low-brow americana for the last 50 years; the arab scumbags and token blacks have all had their say. To be perfectly honest if you watch mainstream movies you deserve whatever STD you catch :(

  169. Kulvinder — on 15th July, 2007 at 8:13 pm  

    nb im not saying don’t be offended by such characterisations, but i am saying its a little late to huff when you laughed whilst others huffed. The level of exploitation was far higher in, say, Notting Hill, a movie which wanted a ‘trendy’ area of london…just without black people in the background (let alone as characters)

  170. Katy — on 15th July, 2007 at 8:15 pm  

    I was going to take all your vowels away – all of you – and tell you that you could have them back when you’d calmed down.

    But now you all have calmed down.

    Booo.

  171. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 8:24 pm  

    Manish makes a fair case but it falls well short of compelling. The context is U.S.-specific and doesn’t travel. I also don’t get his hurt over the helplessness of a shopkeeper being robbed — surely that cuts across race. Actually, I also don’t get why he doesn’t like the fact he had an arranged marriage — is it rare among U.S. Indians? Excuse my ignorance.
    I’m sure the creators would kill the character off if they felt it was having an adverse social affect, in the same way Loadsamoney was killed off and Clockwork Orange was pulled in Britain.
    There is also the Ice T/Blaxploitation argument.

  172. Rohin — on 15th July, 2007 at 8:35 pm  

    Katy I like to think it was my calming influence.

    I wanted to talk about devoweling. I know the email said it makes people near incomprehensible, but I think not. Remember we are the txt msg gnrtn n wR fn wth vwlss sntncs.

    I just watched some more Simpsons over dinner. Surely the most stereotyped character on there is Wiggum. I know people use his lines against cops as taunts because I’ve done it myself. He just doesn’t have one stock catchphrase like ‘come again’ so it never caught on.

  173. zucchini — on 15th July, 2007 at 9:44 pm  

    We should learn to embrace the stereotype, Indians have no sense of humour…or do they ?

    Watching the repugnant Bernard Manning Obituary doc last week on CH4, I could’nt help but think that the medium that made his name, also allowed him the airtime to try and redeem himself (which he did’nt, but then people on their death beds usually don’t go without a violent struggle of some sort…), also sidestepping another previous doc’ where he went to India (CH4?).

    Bearing in mind CH4s record recently on race issues this seems like another instance of playing a “double game” – criticising the likes of Manning, but then also giving them airtime, maybe for the sake of ratings but also maybe to placate right wing elements in society.

    Today it occurred to me that I’d prefer 100 Mannings over the kind of submerged racism which exists these days – he told jokes and as he pointed out, his family did no actual harm to anyone, and can anyone prove that his jokes directly or indirectly resulted in acts of racist violence or resulted in attitudes that were not already there, ingrained for generations ?

  174. Clairwil — on 15th July, 2007 at 9:53 pm  

    Well I think Still Game win with possibly the best depiction of a shopkeeper, let alone an Asian one, ever!

  175. zucchini — on 15th July, 2007 at 9:53 pm  

    For the record, I don’t have a problem with APU per se – it’s up to us (us as in Indians) to re-dress the balance as regards our stereotypes or not – not non-Asians who will inevitably make a hash of it (though on a global scale, I admit…)- Europeans in Hindi cinema invariably come out as Imperialistic buffoons wearing silly hats, for example and are just as embarrassing…

    The Simpsons artfully throws the worst stereotypical attitudes in the face of the viewer and highlights them for their absurdity.

    However, I did jump when Homer was looking through a book in the library and remarked that he just seen Apu (a Poo)in it – was this an overtly racist comment about his colour, or just a writers slip of the pen, or am I being overly sensitive ?

  176. Clairwil — on 15th July, 2007 at 9:59 pm  
  177. El Cid — on 15th July, 2007 at 10:10 pm  

    Today it occurred to me that I’d prefer 100 Mannings over the kind of submerged racism which exists these days

    It’s not clear what you mean by submerged racism and even if you could define it, it would be open to question as is clear from this thread. In any case, I don’t imagine you’ll cling to that view for long.
    Lest we forget:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/15/newsid_3043000/3043439.stm

  178. sahil — on 15th July, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    Rohin let me say again, your initial article on Apu was brilliant, much kudos =)

  179. HemelExpat — on 15th July, 2007 at 11:44 pm  

    Sahil, don’t you mean much kodos? ;)

  180. sahil — on 16th July, 2007 at 1:08 am  

    Sahil, don’t you mean much kodos? ;)

    :D

  181. Jai — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:28 am  

    Rohin,

    Jai, as you know I’ve been AWOL for quite some time on PP. But just going by this thread, can I ask something?

    I’m going to mainly have to refer you to the link supplied by Sunny in post #167, along with the subsequent comments on that blog’s thread. It pretty much reflects my own point of view.

    You say a white person doing a bud bud sing-song accent “makes your blood run cold”, right?

    Yes, because for a very long time indeed — and to some extent it still happens — such activities were used as a way of deliberately undermining and insulting British Asians of all generations (particularly the elder folk), not just as a way of insulting “the other” but also motivated by notions of racial superiority.

    So what about when a brown person does a piss-take sing song Welsh accent, or Jamaican accent, or Scottish, or deep South or…etc

    Potentially all rude and inconsiderate, particularly in relation to ridiculing Jamaican accents. Brits of African and Caribbean origin have also been on the receiving end of racially-motivated abuse and ridicule as we all know, including imitations of their alleged accents (or exaggerated versions of them).

    If, historically, such actions have generally been motivated by a desire to elicit laughter at the minority group rather than “laughing with them”, then it’s unacceptable. Regardless of whether the target’s Jamaican, Welsh, or whatever.

    What about when I do a silly bud bud accent, I’m neither white nor brown?

    Offensive if you personally don’t (a least partly) identify with being Asian. However, I believe this is not actually the case, correct ?

    If there’s clearly no malice behind an impersonation, why is it so harmful?

    The impact on the other person is key here. If it hurts them, makes them embarrassed, self-conscious, or generally uncomfortable (and this is often the case in relation to friends too — it’s not right to put them in a position where they have to grin politely due to their friendship with you whilst, inside, they don’t like what you’re doing), then you shouldn’t do it. Even if there’s no maliciousness in your own motivations.

  182. Chairwoman — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:36 am  

    Well said, Jai. But I still feel it’s just you and me.

  183. sonia — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    seems to me this thread is proving that some people think that the bud bud accent is inferior and thats why people shouldn’t make ‘fun’ of it. if you didn’t think it was inferior there would be no reason to not laugh back at the people who thought it was strange. different accents may seem strange to people – and people point to what is strange – that a) shows how uncosmopolitan they are – which is something they should be embarrassed about and b) just because there is someone who thinks im inferior doesn’t make me so. feeling ‘hurt’ about it somehow implies that you have internalized that to some extent. yes i can see you would feel hurt because you don’t want people to make fun of you but have some faith in yourself.

  184. sonia — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    frankly the problem for a lot of british asians/american desis i feel is that they make fun of the bud bud accent themselves in the context of FOBs (fresh off the boat)and they probably think it’s inferior in much the same way as a lot of them think india is generally inferior, so naturally they don’t like it when someone else makes fun of the accent!

  185. sonia — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:57 am  

    i mean look at how all these indians when they go off to ‘amrica’ act when they go back. then the ones who go off to britain and then go back to india and say ‘ah but we’re not really indians anymore, we’re british’ – see that’s why in britain, if someone made fun of their accent, they’d feel peeved, because they don’t feel like they fit in, but they want to really. That’s the crux of the matter -its not the making fun of the accent per se, its the feeling like you are some kind of outsider, and not wanting to feel like that, and feeling annoyed at someone else for pointing to what = you yourself – are probably annoyed about.

    its all about belonging.

    racism comes in in a wider context i feel – so those who feel they have not been made welcome – will be feeling extra sensitive about their accents.

    that’s my psychological analysis in a nutshell.

  186. sonia — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:58 am  

    if you’re happy enough with being an ‘outsider’ then i can’t see for the life of me why you’d care when some oik pointed to the fact that you don’t speak like them.

    !

  187. sonia — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:59 am  

    and why should everyone conform and have the same accent in the first place anyway? i cant understand why if people feel upset about people making fun of accents they don’t get the dumb thing in the first place is all these people speaking like each other, all this conformity.

  188. Anas — on 16th July, 2007 at 6:14 pm  

    My mum saw the actor who played Naveed, Sanjeev Kohli, at a bus stop on Byres Rd and shouted out excitably “look, it’s Naveed” much to my embarrassment and Kohli’s amusement.

  189. Jagdeep — on 16th July, 2007 at 6:23 pm  

    I expect ones position on this might be informed on whether or not you experienced racist abuse in your life accompanied with exaggerated caricatures of an Indian accent and mannerisms. I don’t think any of the white people who have posted here ever have, so they probably dont understand or appreciate that aspect of the argument. You wouldnt expect them to, not having experienced racism like that at all.

    I remember when Jim Davidson used to do a character called Chalky who was a caricatured fried chicken eating, lazy Jamaican man with an accent straight out of plantation imagination. You couldnt get away with that today, or the spluttering hook nosed Shylock.

    At the end of the day, ones reaction to the Apu stereotype will depend on life experience in that respect, and so from that angle, you wouldnt expect white people to understand.

  190. Jai — on 16th July, 2007 at 7:15 pm  

    Sonia,

    racism comes in in a wider context i feel – so those who feel they have not been made welcome – will be feeling extra sensitive about their accents.

    The kind of behaviour we’ve been discussing is equally offensive to those of us who do not have “foreign accents”, including Asians actually born in this country.

    However, some of your other points are spot-on, especially the whole insider/outsider dynamic.

    Jagdeep,

    I think your post #190 succinctly sums up the crux of the issue perfectly. Well said.

  191. Jagdeep — on 16th July, 2007 at 7:18 pm  

    Well Jai, I don’t think the character of Apu is racist in intent at all, the Simpsons is very sophisticated. However I do think that the caricature probably does contribute to the racist ridicule of Indians especially in America — because white people have an easy ready made template to abuse and mock and bully Indian kids or whatever. So I can see that side of the argument too.

  192. Jagdeep — on 16th July, 2007 at 7:24 pm  

    There is a good scene in Harold and Kumar when these two stoners, one Indian American, one Korean American, go to a corner store and watch it getting robbed by a bunch of racist white kids giving it loads of Apu shit, and they satirise that well, and Kumar gets the upper hand on those racists in the scene.

    But that stuff is rampant in America and it flies alot of racist shit that people have to put up with. That’s the reality. I can see that. I doubt the Simpsons people even realise that though, they certainly don’t intend to create a mainstream coon caricature for a tiny minority in America, in fact they probably want him to represent good things. So it’s quite complex.

  193. Jagdeep — on 16th July, 2007 at 7:27 pm  

    So it probably says more about the immaturity and latent racism in a section of white America and their hostility towards Indians than it says anything about the Simpsons producers who are very intelligent, witty, and sophisticated in their satire and comedy.

  194. El Cid — on 16th July, 2007 at 10:06 pm  

    At the end of the day, ones reaction to the Apu stereotype will depend on life experience in that respect, and so from that angle, you wouldnt expect white people to understand.

    As usual Jagdeep, you are a paragon of good sense.
    However, I would say that this white man — and I’m sure I’m not alone — does understand enough to have never done a bud bud accent in his life (unless it’s to wind Jai up) or disrespected an Asian shopkeeper for being Asian.

    I defend Simon’s right to do the bud bud playfully with his mate Tre after he himself did it. It might have suggested that Simon had perfected it in non-Asian company, but then he seemed to be a wannabe impersonator who did a lot of accents and a harmless clown. I also defend the Apu creation because it is just one parody among a myriad of parodies. It’s a judgement call. I guess we are in agreement

  195. Clairwil — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:21 pm  

    Anas,
    That’s hilarious. I have a relative who goes up to actors from soap operas and updates them on any affairs and plots going on behind their back as if it’s real.

    I also have an in law who was bodily removed from Harvey Nicks in London for abusing Paul and Heather McCartney.

  196. Jai — on 17th July, 2007 at 10:26 am  

    El Cid,

    However, I would say that this white man — and I’m sure I’m not alone — does understand enough to have never done a bud bud accent in his life (unless it’s to wind Jai up) or disrespected an Asian shopkeeper for being Asian.

    Considering the fact that you’ve never met me, don’t know me from Adam, and — since our previous interaction here on PP has been very limited indeed — I’m certainly not your friend, it is curious why you think it is acceptable for you to engage in such behaviour to “wind up” random Asian strangers across the internet when you at least appear to have sufficient common sense and decency not to do that to someone in person.

    However, as Jagdeep said earlier, this is one of those issues which would be impossible for a white person to properly understand, which probably explains why you still “don’t get it” (including why an English person shouldn’t even do “bud-bud impressions” to a clenched-teeth-politely-grinning Asian friend, or why Apu’s outward persona would be so irritating to many Asians despite the underlying subversive nature of his depiction).

    Time to wrap this thread up, I think, especially as Rohin’s already started a separate Apu-related discussion on his own new thread.

  197. El Cid — on 17th July, 2007 at 12:23 pm  

    Jai,
    You take yourself way too seriously

  198. Katy Newton — on 17th July, 2007 at 12:48 pm  

    this is one of those issues which would be impossible for a white person to properly understand

    I am white but Jewish. El Cid is white but Spanish. Some white people are white but fed up with being mocked as chavs by other white people. I don’t think that’s fair, Jai, and you know I love you.

  199. Addie — on 9th August, 2007 at 7:46 pm  

    BUD BUD BUD.

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