Humor on “Ethnic” People and Political Correctness

Posted on September 8, 2011 by


If there’s a phrase that strikes a nerve of annoyance in me, it’s the phrase “political correctness.”

It’s a phrase used by individuals who “just” want to have fun mostly with people who do not come from their racial or ethnic categories, implying that by calling for the powers that be to remove something or merely pointing how racist and prejudicial something is, you’re being a tight-wad “who can’t take a joke.”  So basically if you’re offended, you’re feminized and seen as too sensitive.  The calls for restriction and/or removal of a racist or prejudicial thing make you seem like a “thought police.”

I don’t know, I think I’m a pretty easygoing, funny folk, however, I do cringe at these jokes leveled at ethnic and racial groups such as the one below.

Humor is always the shortest distance between two people.

The video wasn’t as bad after a 3rd time watching it.  The video is interesting in that it does bring out a demographic (international students from China)  that isn’t usually seen around college football.  Indeed, I think if there was more of a tone of discovery rather than of mockery, maybe the video wouldn’t have turned out so poorly.

I’m not here to “bring cultural sensitivity” to Asians and/or play “thought police”, I just want to point out a few dynamics at work.

I found the video “insulting” to Asians and Asian-Ams.  “Insulting” in that Asians didn’t appear to be in the joke, they are the joke, as performed in the sounding out of their accents and use of English.

The intended humor is dependent on the Chinese students fumbling with English expressions and barely understanding football.  The humor is dependent on them being barely able to communicate because of their performed “Asianness.”  So essentially, it’s their ethnicity, and the “performance” of their ethnic backgrounds that actually becomes the center of attention. Their use of English is continually questioned, which subverts any knowledge they may have.  They are just a bunch of fillers in a category that this host wanted to have his brand of fun with.

What I thought was the most insulting was at the 1:45 mark when the host pretends he doesn’t know what “fighting” in the context of a sports contest means.  Essentially, he’s making fun of the fact that he can’t competently use the word “fighting” correctly.  The Asian dude wasn’t born here so what would you expect?

If the tables were turned and this particular host was in China, tried to speak correctly (assuming that this no-name reporter doesn’t know how to speak Mandarin), while being a faceless American answering questions for some TV show about playing ping pong or having difficulty trying to solve some easy math problem.  It would show something that a lot of people around the world might believe:  (white) Americans are so stupid.

Posted in: Race, Uncategorized