Racism and TV are as old as TV. Racism alone, of course, was invented with radio. But there was a good deal of time during which you'd never see anything even remotely multicultural on TV the vast majority of the time, and people thought they were being pretty progressive by watching Benson. And then they'd watch All in the Family, and that was OK because Archie Bunker, though racist, was also a twat, so when he met Sammy Davis Jr., you always knew Mr. Davis Jr. would come out of it OK. Time passed, sitcom producers started realizing you could feature characters who weren't whiter than bleached Wonder Bread and the world was a fine place.
And yet, even today, in 2012, you can find shows creeping around that seem to not just exist in a vacuum, but revel in just how intolerant or ignorant of race they are.
The National Geographic Channel, in a bid to outstupid TLC, A&E and the History Channel, all of which are a black morass of clusterfuckery and board certifiable fucktardation of a degree damaging to the very fabric of society and possibly even reality itself, has introduced the Ralph "Karate Kid" Macchio produced atrocity American Gypsies, a show so devoid of purpose, Kardashians can only see it from their peripheral vision when they're medicated. Did that make sense? Yes. Just take a second with it.
Like every other would-be reality show that focuses on an ethnic group, this show is offensive to mankind. But also, it seeks to dispel the myths and stereotypes you know about Gypsies (or "Romani," if you want to pretend to be politically correct before you jump ass first into the racist cistern of dribble shits that this show tosses at you) by replacing them with all new and worse stereotypes. Or, in some cases, just confirming them anyway. For instance, you don't think all Gypsies are fortunetellers, do you? Do you, you crass, ignorant fool? Ha ha! A Gypsy curse on you then, for the family in this show actually runs a chain of psychic shops. Fortunetellers. Pshaw.
I see in your future: shitty ratings!
Taking a cue from the way TLC presents Toddlers & Tiaras, as though the offensive content was not even their doing, American Gypsies features random fistfights, vandalism, hairy people in suits yelling at each other and the baseless, soulless mantra that somehow, for some reason, family is the most important thing in the world. Because that's apparently what ethnic stereotypes believe when there are 20 of them crammed around the dinner table eating a meal grandma woke up two days ago to prepare, and that makes them not monstrous or awful because hey, they love their momma. So did Norman Bates.
Most of the trailers feature a scene with one of the characters bashing in the windows of an SUV in stark contrast to the myth that Gypsies may be hotheaded. In fairness, it is superior to cursing someone with lycanthropy, but it's still a dick move, Gypsies. In another, an old Gypsy caricature of a woman is seen stroking someone's palm and proclaiming that all Gypsy women are psychic. All of them. But you'd know that if you were a Gypsy, wouldn't you? You would have seen it in your tea leaves.
If it's hard to see any of those old, terrible stereotypes the show seeks to overcome here, it's because they're hidden behind too many crystal balls and hairy, brutish forearms. The only surprising thing about the show is that, after watching it, you probably still retain legal rights to your firstborn and there won't be a shantytown set up in your yard. You learn nothing about Gypsy culture beyond the fact that they seem to be angry, violent frauds, which may not be the best "look what you didn't know about us!" message to give people.
In researching this article, I hadn't thought to include Glee at first. In fact, on the surface, Glee looks like a damn musical U.N. of shit I'd never watch. But it also looks like they have someone from almost every ethnic background available on the show and dammit, they're all so full of song. But then it was pointed out to me that every non-white character is such a non-white character that it's like the producers had actually just come here from an albino world and were so taken with the novelty of people who weren't white that they had no time to look into or care about their cultures at all. Hence the two Asian characters on the show have the same last name. The Jew's last name is Ben Israel and he's as sexually deranged as Gladstone. The Latina cheerleader is actually named Santana Lopez, possibly because they had to cut Conchita Luisa Mexicasa out of the script. There's even actually an Irish exchange student who is immediately believed to be a leprechaun.
Faith and begorra, I'm motivated to sing Carly Rae Jepsen.
The reason you don't want to think of Glee right off is the reason half of you rolled your eyes at that last sentence. Oh come on, no one believes the Irish kid is a leprechaun, that's a joke. Of course it is. Just like the awkward Jew with the afro, the black girl who always sings the big gospel notes, the gay kid with the great fashion sense, the overachieving Asian, the fiery, underprivileged Latina, the cheerleader who is so dumb that she has a negative GPA and so many others. Everyone is a something on this show.
One episode revolved around a Jewish girl wanting a nose job to look like one of the white characters and actually, sincerely included a duet of the two girls singing "Unpretty"/"I Feel Pretty." Now I'm not one for subtext, but I think the genuine sentiment here from the show was that you can be pretty, even as a Jew. That wasn't what they meant, but it's exactly what they said. Hey Jew, don't feel bad you look so Jewish, you're beautiful. We're all beautiful just the way we are, even if we're not normal. Hell, the episode this happened in was called "Born This Way."
Another episode entitled "Asian F" is about one of the Asian characters getting an A-, which is so terrible that his father demands daily drug testing for him. And that's such a great example of why Glee continues to skirt under the radar, because they made that ridiculous stereotype the focus of an entire episode like that somehow ameliorated the stupidity of it existing. As though Glee's producers think that by shoving their parade of characters and their intense stereotypes in your face, rather than having them be subtle, it's cool, because they're acknowledged. But that shit's kind of wack, yo.