6 Racist Things That 'Non-Racist' People Always Say
According to the news cycle, there are a few things you can count on happening every day. Somebody out there is angry about a reboot of a beloved childhood franchise, somebody out there is definitely masturbating in a McDonald's drive-thru, and somebody is (correctly) asking Americans to talk about diversity. Hopefully, we're all taking that last one seriously.
And if we aren't taking discussions about diversity seriously, then it might be because our eyes are glazed over from seeing some of the same bullshit arguments over and over again. So let's take a step back and have a conversation about the conversation itself.
Here are six things everyone needs to stop word-vomiting in discussions about diversity.
"This Is About The Sanctity Of Something!"
Does your heart get angry when a beloved character gets a race or sex change in a movie adaptation? Do you think the sex and race of a character are sacred? Like, "Holy Word of God" sacred? If so, are you five years old?
You're probably used to laughing at hypocritical religious types, like the proprietors of a bakery who refused to serve gay couples, but had no problem celebrating dog weddings. Apparently, Jesus' final commandment was "Love one another as I have loved you, and as my two dogs Buster and Miss Thang have loved each other since their wedding day. Amen."
But at least that bakery was taking a stand about a real religious tenet, and not a sliver of pop culture. Unless we've decided fandoms are religions now, no one should be arguing that a character's race, sex, hair color, or anything is sacred. They're FICTIONAL CHARACTERS.
Just because her name is Mary doesn't mean you should worship her as such.
A lot of people are going to tell you that their biggest problem with the alleged Mary Jane casting choice in the new Spider-Man movie isn't about race, but simply that the character has to be a redhead. And yet these same comic experts aren't going to have a problem with how Mary Jane and Peter should already be married in the Civil War timeline, or that they are supposed to meet in college and not high school, or anything that has to do with her internal character or plotline. Forget everything else; it's the hair color that's sacred.
"Oh, what does he know?!"
When Michael B. Jordan was cast in Fantastic Four, the media and fans were more focused on reporting racist tweets than the sheer audacity of turning a movie about a stretchy man and guy made of rocks into something gritty. While we're obsessed with the "accuracy" of the races, shapes, and colors of superhero movie characters ... we don't seem to give a humping shit about the actual stories.
Apparently, "sanctity" only applies to hot-button or superficial details, especially details that grab headlines. Speaking of Ghostbusters ...
For the record, I objected to the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot long before there was even a trailer. This is why I sympathize heavily with anyone hand-waved as a "whiny manchild" for not liking the trailer. But I still can't get past the strangely aggressive, often derogatory response the trailer received ...
Granted, every trailer nowadays sucks just as bad, but still ...
What confuses me isn't that everyone hated it ... but that we never got this same level of outrage for the equally shittastic Terminator Genisys or Star Trek Beyond teasers. Leslie Jones, an actress who came the closest to embodying the casual tone of the originals, somehow got the brunt of criticism over the reboot. It was as if the mob raging about Ghostbusters being another soulless reboot didn't truly care about the principle of that sentiment.
Who would've thought this ghost was the nicest monster she'd deal with?
And on the flip side, there were countless tweets and Jezebel comments from people vowing to see the film solely to counteract the first group -- suddenly making a silly movie from my childhood a strange culture war over the holiness of ghost blowjobs and engorged demon mascots. GHOST BLOWJOBS ARE NOT HOLY.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 6
"You're Shoehorning Diversity!"
Go to any article about adding a transgender, female, or not-white character to a movie or game, and scroll down to the comment section. Actually, don't. You're a busy person, and all you'll see is people criticizing the decision for "forcing diversity," or "shoehorning" in the characters. But don't worry. According to these same people, they're "totally cool" with having diverse characters ... as long as they logistically "fit the story" about magic assassins Forrest Gumping through a series of historical events.
Oh, come on! Everyone knows that only MEN ziplined around London rooftops.
But here's the thing, friendo: These whiny caricatures of dissenting voices I'm cherry-picking from a sea of internet comments? They aren't wrong. When the top-selling video games are all about war and professional sports, there's going to be a whole lot of creators awkwardly attempting to reach wider audiences. And the same goes with movies, since the onslaught of superhero films we're stuck with for the next two decades were adapted from comics in which the majority of characters were originally white.
So yes, comic book movies like Fantastic Four and this new Spider-Man are absolutely shoehorning in diversity ... but only because the people in charge aren't fucking idiots.
The people hiring the people in charge, on the other hand ...
There's a reason nearly every Stephen King character is either a professional novelist or monster-faced sociopath -- writers write what they know. So when you have an industry that is predominantly one demographic, there's going to be a visible and sometimes-awkward push for more diversity. Because not only does diversifying your characters do better with audiences, but it also makes the story way less boring.
There are only so many times I'm willing to play as this one dude.
That's why anyone accusing movies and games of "forcing diversity" isn't wrong ... but they're still missing the point if they think the solution is to do it less. Because if we want to stop shoehorning diversity, we first have to see more of it behind the scenes ... which we can't do without appealing to a larger spread ... which we can't do without shoehorning in characters who appeal to a more diverse audience. Otherwise, we're doomed to a world in which white guys talk down to people about racism.
On a totally unrelated note, anyone interested in writing for Cracked can sign up here.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 5
"PC Culture / Oversensitivity Has Gotten Out Of Control!"
Clint Eastwood recently said that we were living in what he called the "pussy generation" -- an overly PC era of "walking on eggshells" and an inadvertent pitch for Kanye West's next album title. As he puts it, the world's definition of what's considered racist has changed since his childhood -- an apparent jaw-dropping revelation for the 86-year-old millionaire. But it isn't only Space Cowboy who's harping on the times. There's a whole slew of old, straight, white comedians also complaining that people can't take a joke anymore -- as evidenced by a new documentary called Can We Take A Joke?
Sure. If it doesn't suck.
That's right, guys. Even comedy innovators like Jim Norton, Gilbert Gottfried, Adam Carolla, Penn Jillette, and Lisa Lampanelli are speaking out about this totally new, in-no-way-indicative-of-the-natural-progression-of-society problem that's never before plagued a nation. How else would you explain that the parrot from Aladdin isn't knocking it out of the park anymore?
It's a bad sign when you're reduced to competing with spiked Faygo for the attention of Juggalos.
And it's more than comedians from 20 years ago who are feeling the sting of PC-fascism, as many people on Reddit have also taken to reminiscing about the good ol' days when shows like The Simpsons and King Of The Hill totally "nailed" the outrageous outrage culture that society has devolved into.
Truly, these caricatures of dumb middle-aged men were prophets of their time ...
Because obviously it's the modern world that's off the mark, and not how the people posting these share the same ideology as a bunch of rich writers from 20 years in the past. But for some hilarious reason, we still get completely oblivious headlines and observations like this one from Daily Caller:
Six if you include "David Spade is a smug dick that everybody hates."
The Jeremy Piven '90s comedy PCU wasn't some Blade Runner-esque vision of a dystopian future, but an observation about the annoying PC college culture happening in the '90s.
And you know what? Thanks to that anti-racism/sexism "meat is murder" pussy generation in the '90s, we're now living in a world in which LGBT Americans have equal marriage rights. We have a world in which different ethnicities are better represented in the media. The food we eat has become more diverse. And that's why it's so hilariously insulting when someone acts like we've "gone astray" from the good ol' days when people could say what they want. Because anyone nostalgic for the '90s probably doesn't really remember what it was like. Just like how anyone criticizing the "violent" Black Lives Matter for not living up to the Civil Rights movement is taking part in historical irony.
He had a dream, but other people needed to wake the fuck up.
But perhaps MLK's cause was much more dire than BLM's today. After all, modern America is all a part of the same big rainbow of unity ... if only these PC knuckleheads would realize that ...
"We're All On The Same Team!" AKA #AllLivesMatter
There have already been so many attempts to explain why saying "all lives matter" is misguided that I'm not even going to try to talk about it in this column. It's an absurd, baby-like semantics argument akin to the "guns don't kill people" slogan that drags the gun debate down to a fucking definition war. Of fucking course all lives matter, you butterfucks. The conversation that BLM is trying to have is more complex than that. But chances are that the #AllLivesMatter people know this, which is why we don't see them rallying against #BlueLivesMatter for singling out one group of people the way they do Black Lives Matter. In other words, trying to broaden the argument to "everyone matters" is doublespeak hogwash used by people who lack a rational argument.
When Glenn Beck is urging understanding, you know you fucked up.
It's important to stress how goddamn damaging this argument is to the conversation, and not only because it exists on a baffling logistical plane, but because it's also deeply insulting to people who are trying to represent their race. It's the hashtag equivalent of saying that you can't be racist because you "don't see race," when that would make you super-racist if it were true. Because race exists. And pretending to be some benevolent deity who sees everyone as equals is grossly ignoring the hardships that disproportionately affect specific ethnicities in this country.
While you're not seeing race, black people are seeing way too many jail cells.
Coming down on Black Lives Matter for not being invested in every life is a playground tactic. They are an organized group with a specific list of demands and principles concerning police brutality against minorities. You're free to disagree with them, but to condemn them for not redefining their message is garbage. As is this:
Yeah ... about that, Ray ...
Criticizing Black Lives Matter for not focusing on black-on-black crime is like criticizing Mothers Against Drunk Driving for ignoring pedestrian-on-pedestrian fights. It's like demanding a handjob from your plumber because your dick resembles a pipe.
"Why Isn't There A White Lives Matter / Straight Pride Day, Then?"
This is going to seem like an abrupt turn, but I'd like everyone to check out this annoying-as-fuck video defending the use of CGI in movies.
Along with taking nearly eight minutes to convey something that could have taken three, my biggest pet peeve isn't that what they are saying is wrong, but that it completely misses the point of why people get annoyed with CGI in movies. Specifically, it misses that the overbearing digital effects industry has put countless makeup and animatronic companies out of business.
That's why celebrating practical effects is the internet's way of pushing back on that dominance. Because CGI is the "popular kid" in this scenario, and defending it is so far from brave that the video in question has over ten times the views as any other video made by that YouTube channel.
You might as well follow it up with, "10 Reasons Why The Popular Kids At School Are The Coolest."
Seriously, guys. CGI doesn't need you to defend it. It's doing fine. It's almost as if some people are confusing CGI for the underdog against "big practical," when the case is exactly the opposite. And imagine if this trend spread, and stunt-heavy movies like Fury Road were flooded with complaints that CGI was being "underrepresented." Like, imagine a hypothetical internet list of "amazing practical effects" where the top comments where people whining that it was "only fair" to create a second list focused on CGI effects. That would be super dumb, right?
"Getting sick of all these practical effects warriors cramping my CGI style."
Sorry, fellow white people ... you're CGI. That makes whitewashing the racial equivalent of adding walkie-talkies to E.T., or making Greedo shoot first. It's far more offensive due to the under-representation of the thing you're replacing. We don't have a #WhiteLivesMatter movement or Straight Pride Day for the same reason we don't celebrate it when a movie replaces a practical effect with the already-prominent CGI.
This makes Johnny Depp the CGI Jabba the Hutt of this film.
All too often, the effort to balance an unbalanced system is confused for "reverse racism" or discrimination, and suddenly we get the groups in power trying to claim that they're treated unfairly or being made to feel shame for their race. So to my fellow white guys: You can absolutely have pride in your heritage, gender, and race. But keep in mind that, historically speaking, we've had a lot more time and freedom to do so than others. Stop being such fucking babies and let minorities and women be action heroes too -- ideally in films with real stunts in them.
Of course, it's hard to explain that "white" and/or "male" privilege is a thing when the average person might go about their day claiming to see little evidence of it. Because to a lot of people ...
"Modern Society Is Too Obsessed With Race And Diversity!"
The entire lottery system exists because the average person is psychologically unable to grasp probability and statistics. The idea that there's some collection of data that can boil your fate down to a number is downright alien compared to the much easier confirmation bias we use to affirm our day-to-day assumptions and hopes.
This is why it's often so cringeworthy to bring up the term "white privilege." The racism we're now talking about tends to deal with overall statistics and institutional biases instead of anecdotal evidence of hate. This kind of racism isn't about what individual white people observed in classrooms and the workplace -- it's about hard numbers and trends. Which means it's invisible to the people who aren't experiencing the problem.
And remember, for a lot of white people in minimum-wage jobs, the world doesn't seem racially unbalanced at all. Especially when you're some teenager whose first ambassador to authority happens to be this guy:
This year's college freshmen have had a black president since before they started growing underwear hairs.
Also, notice that the previous paragraphs were written as if my audience was white, as if I was explaining something to young white people. Anybody else wouldn't have needed the reminder of what white privilege looks like or how it works. So see above for institutional racism.
Shockingly, people in the 17-34 age range aren't doing that great at racial issues once you scratch the surface-level question "Are you a racist?" Old racists own up. Younger racists don't know when they've got offensive beliefs, because they aren't arguing for cross burnings and church razings. When discussing Stop and Frisk, the wage gap, media representation, and the War on Drugs, younger people aren't always aware of their own prejudices.
Just because they're not hanging him from a tree doesn't mean he's fine.
From a distance, we can say that our grandparents and parents had it easy. OF COURSE black and white kids should be able to go to school together. OF COURSE the Civil Rights Movement was correct and good and got everything right. OF COURSE MLK should be remembered as "the best person of the 20th Century, hands down." History has proved all of this. To be on the wrong side of those issues was to be an idiot.
Also on the wrong side: complaining about protesters blocking traffic while making their point.
We're still idiots about that, unfortunately.
Today's youths(?), youngins(?), baby-adults(?) are in the middle of a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement -- one that challenges the rights, privileges and biases that sprung out of the 1980s. We're in the middle of a movement, and the most privileged among us don't have perspective yet. It's like trying to measure the the curvature of the Earth in a cornfield. The fact that we're obsessing over the math of the curvature doesn't mean it can't be done or isn't important. Especially when there are giants among us shouting that we're missing the big picture because we can't see beyond our tiny worldview.
David is an editor and columnist for Cracked. Thank him for solving racism on his Twitter.
Also, follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.