The 5 Most Bafflingly Racist Shows on TV Right Now
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.
You could write a multivolume epic that Peter Jackson would spend the rest of his life filming about the use of racist characters in professional wrestling and in the end you'd have the most ridiculous story anyone had ever seen. In the past, the brain trust behind WWE wrestling willingly had men dress up and pretend to be voodoo priests, headhunters and African tribesmen because that's who people who eat ham in their hands want to see grapple with men who wear panties in front of crowds. They even had Mexicans ride to the ring on lawnmowers. Progressive! As time went on, they started allowing black, Hispanic and Middle Eastern employees (or at least guys dusky enough to be considered Middle Eastern) to be actual people instead of curious doodles found at the bottom of KKK pamphlets, and that was seen as even more progressive.
And his tag team partner Ooga Booga.
In 2012, you'd hope all that would be gone, but the WWE is nothing if not attuned to the mentality of people who have little mentality to speak of, so they play to trends. Like having a Texan character who sits at the U.S./Mexican border and attacks Mexicans.
He literally kicks a Mexican back into Mexico there. It's so insanely offensive that it literally becomes funny because your brain just refuses to believe that really happened. The WWE is so in love with racist storylines, they actually made a Mexican racist character named Alberto Del Rio who came to America legally and hates all you lazy, shiftless illegals, even if you're an illegal Irishman. See how they turned racism on its head there? Oh wait, no, they just did the same thing again.
Speaking of Mexicans, here are some Mexican-Americans:
Don't you feel a swell of racial pride, Mexican-American Cracked readers? I mean, if you can read this with your sunglasses on and without that bandanna falling in your eyes. You have those on, right? Well, if you're a guy. If you're a woman, I guess you just need to worry about all that eyeliner blinding you.
Now a few instances does not a conspiracy make, but there's also R-Truth, who's played as a black street thug; Cryme Tyme, which was a team of black street thugs; and Jinder Mahal, who may be a Sikh or Bengali or something pretty curry-related, since he wears a turban and has that last name and all, sort of like the Great Khali but not. Hell, there's even a dwarf named Hornswoggle who pretends to be a leprechaun, but only because they had no need of an Oompa Loompa.
Elsewhere in the WWE you have the proud Japanese warrior Lord Tensai, who is portrayed by a stocky white man. In late July he posted a video online in which he was driving to a WWE event with his chauffeur, the actually Asian Sakamoto. Tensai lets us know it's dangerous to let an Asian drive and smacks him in the head, telling him to open his eyes. See, cuz he's squinty. Get it? You don't get it? Try to think like someone who gets a boner when they see their cousin and now imagine what you'd think the first time you saw an Asian person. Now you get it.
Me love cultural insensitivity long time.
To help ameliorate this tasteless joke, WWE announcer Jerry Lawler took time out of his intense schedule of calling wrestling matches to add his own joke that when Tensai smacks Sakamoto, he changes his name to Sum Ting Wong. Clearly they have some Jeff Dunham-level comedy minds working behind the scenes over there, and likely just as many hands in asses.
The Hillbilly Renaissance
No, that's not an actual TV show you can watch, but only because it hasn't gone to film yet. Give it time. However, across numerous networks there's a bizarre fascination with the lives of rural Americans, which is to say backward folks. I went to Tennessee before, I ate breakfast at a Waffle House and I had a beer at a bar, and during the entire trip, not once did anyone wrestle a possum, a coon, a gator, a pig, a duck, a catfish, some shrimp or anything else you'll see on episodes of Hillbilly Handfishin', Swamp People, American Hoggers, Duck Dynasty, Big Shrimpin', Rocket City Rednecks and God knows what else.
Rednecks and hillbillies aren't a race, of course, and that's why they're perfect TV fodder. They're like you and me, only they dropped a chromosome in their other overalls so it's fun to watch them eschew grocery stores in favor of wrestling their dinner into submission and trying to think without pooping.
Is there a good reason for the influx of so many shows that focus on unusual people with unusual jobs out in the middle of Bumfuckleberry County? Well, someone's watching them, so that's all the reason the networks that air them need, and the people on the shows aren't nearly as dumb as they pretend to be -- one of the guys on Rocket City Rednecks used to work for NASA, for God's sake.
The only reason I lumped all the shows together is that they're all basically the same thing: Oh my God, look at that cousin fucker somehow walking upright and doin' stuff! You could call that cynical, but if there were a show about a family of East Coast accountants, no one would give a Kentucky fried possum's ass about it. Incidentally, if you're counting, that's two jokes about cousin love, and I stand by each one.
2 Broke Girls
I will preface this by stating that I will fight anyone who speaks ill of Kat Dennings, and then I will ransack your wallet to help pay for some sandwiches for her because I will take her out for sandwiches whilst stepping over your ungracious carcass any day of the week. That said, has anyone who is involved with this show, including the Asian actor, ever met an Asian person before? Look at this terrible shit:
Holy shit he's Asian! Someone call a zookeeper to get this goofy fuck off the streets! Har! No, really, what's going on there? The actor is from San Francisco and speaks perfectly clear English except on the show, where he's Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa. His character has been designed specifically as an Asian stereotype -- he's a workaholic nerdlinger with an iPad who speaks like he just rolled out of the fortune cookie factory and is surprised to find a lack of bamboo in our crazy, Western world. The fact that he's not wearing a funny hat, kung-fuing Kat Denning's breasts and quoting Confucius while throwing ninja stars at rice-encrusted pandas just means I probably stumbled on a plot twist for next season.
The blatant racism in the show wasn't lost on pretty much anyone on Earth who's actually seen it, and you can read articles about it in The New Yorker, on Jezebel and in this particularly enlightening summary of a press junket for the show in which the creator insists it's all OK because everyone gets made fun of and he himself is gay, so how could what he does be offensive? How could a gay man be racist? Go on, get your abacus, try to explain it. You can't.
Arguably, the show creator fighting to prove that his racist character isn't racist is slightly more offensive than this being a happy accident. Maybe if he'd been raised on Vietnam-era propaganda or some such he'd have a reasonable excuse for why this happened. But insisting that the character has dimension, and that this is part of his dimension (also known as the Ching Chong Charlie dimension), is on par with letting Rob Schneider have a show about life in a Hispanic family, which of course would never happen.
For more from Ian, check out 8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape and 7 High Tech Products And Their Cheap Ass Ingredients.