Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The Vast Gulf Between "Iconoclast" and "Fuckstick"
Sorry if I've been absent lately. Squirrels ate my Internet connection. No, seriously.
There seems to be a recurring theme in our national dialogue that, just because you're being all contrarian and edgy, you're "speaking truth to power." Like I said before, its major resurgence seems to be tied to South Park blending its typical foul-mouthed humor with the creators' libertarian beliefs -- it's a lot easier to paint Al Gore as a raving, Ahabesque lunatic than to concretely refute global climate change, after all. But it's always been there, in some way or another, from Andrew Dice Clay on down. We've only really begun to notice it now that people have decided to make a career out of attacking "political correctness" (which, one could argue, was a conservative attempt to reinterpret what had theretofore been a self-mocking liberal buzz word so that they could get away with making fun of multiculturalism).
Needless to say, this is one of those cases.
Yes, that's a T-shirt comparing Obama to a monkey. Yes, it is incredibly racist.
Or is it? (Answer: yes, it totally is.)
Norman acknowledged the imagery's Jim Crow roots but said he sees nothing wrong with depicting a prominent African-American as a monkey.
"We're not living in the (19)40's," he said. "Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears -- he looks just like Curious George."
That's right; we're not living in the 1940s. Which means that when someone breaks out the tired old canard of African-Americans resembling various species of ape and monkey, we are expected to figuratively beat them with reeds.
But here, of course, is why shit like this still happens:
But his defenders are just as resolute. Mulligan's is a refuge, they say, in an otherwise hypersensitive world. Smoking isn't only allowed at the bar, it's expected.
"This place is a diamond in the rough," said Gene McKinley, a Woodstock engineer among the patrons Tuesday. "People here are genuine and honest. It's the one place I can go without having to worry if I'm offending someone."
Okay, here's a brief guide for those of you with two brain cells to rub together: if it makes use of racist imagery for humor without ironically reappropriating it to make a point about its own foolishness, it's racist. If you use such material on a regular basis and consider it funny, then you're not "hiding from the PC police," you're being a racist. You are not being witty, funny, and you are not fighting "the man." You are just wallowing in your own shit and expecting the rest of us to compliment the pleasant vanilla fragrance you're sporting.