Hasan Minhaj nails the Ashton Kutcher/PopChips dumb racist ad debacle (funny video)

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115 Responses to “Hasan Minhaj nails the Ashton Kutcher/PopChips dumb racist ad debacle (funny video)”

  1. Sarah Thomas says:

    He is completely, totally, unequivocally, 100 percent right. Asians are horribly represented in mainstream comedy. 

    Only two points to make – all mainstream comedy is racist. I don’t like saying it, but after 30 years on this planet I’ve come up with a really short list of exceptions, and one of them is Roseanne. This is because comedy writers are lazy, misanthropic, and deeply depressed, and you occasionally need a palate cleanser between courses of your all-you-can-eat buffet of ‘battle of the sexes’ misogynist humor.

    Secondly, I have a bit of a hard time with Asians as the ‘only’ clownable minority now. TLC is an entire television network predicated on the clowning of cultural and religious minorities.  And once I finish channel-flipping through all these Real Housewives of Jersey, Jersey Shore, Long Island Psychics, and Cake Bosses, I’ll tell you my feelings on Italian-American television portrayals. 

    • Jim Gaffigan is another comic who seems to do a very good job being funny at nobody’s expense (except his own). He doesn’t seem to pander to many racist or sexist tropes.

      • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

         Brian Reagan too.

        • davidmang says:

          Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Aziz Ansari, Chris Gethard and the entire gang on TGCS; really, any comedian worth his or her salt.

          I’ve been in comedy for going on seven years now, and I find the generalization that “comedy writers are lazy, misanthropic, and deeply depressed,” really somewhat crass and ill-informed. I’ll agree that there are big problems with what gets done in terms of racial humor on mainstream television (the video takes issue with Raj from Big Bang Theory, as do I), but that’s more a factor of big networks buying into shitty comedies rather than all comedy writers being miserable, prejudiced losers.

          • penguinchris says:

            I don’t disagree with you, but one point – I don’t see how Raj on Big Bang Theory is racist. 

            I can see how people would think so, but most people haven’t been scientists in major research universities. Raj is a stereotype, yes, but one that comes from 95% reality – I knew a grad student just like Raj.

            Not all Indian grad students are like that. But some are, and they’re endearing, funny, and fun to be around. Thus I think Raj on the show is a positive character, because most people don’t realize that foreigners at universities have any personality at all (and it’s telling that they never try to show Asians on the show).

            There have been a handful of times where they took it too far, and I cringed. But as a whole I think it’s a great character, and my favorite by far on the show.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Well, one thing stands out about demographic comedy in general:  if it isn’t funny, it’s probably offensive.  Stereotypes tend to be both offensive and failed humor because they’re just easy, not clever or thoughtful. 

    • Tommy Timefishblue says:

      I haven’t seen his recent stuff, but as far as I can tell a lot of Louis CK comedy is about him being like “Oh shit! I have tons of _____ privilege!” in a good way. Like, his comedy started out with racist/sexist jokes and he’s been deracisting and desexisting his comedy out in the open.

    • grimc says:

      Whether TLC is clowning the various groups in its shows is a matter of personal taste. We enlighted BB commenters, with our knowledge of highbrow cultural artifacts like Goatse, may see them as fools, but don’t kid yourself. There are just as many, likely more, who see the Housewives, The Situation, the Duggars and the rest as celebrities–in the good way.

    • grimc says:

      Whether TLC is clowning the various groups in its shows is a matter of personal taste. We enlighted BB commenters, with our knowledge of highbrow cultural artifacts like Goatse, may see them as fools, but don’t kid yourself. There are just as many, likely more, who see the Housewives, The Situation, the Duggars and the rest as celebrities–in the good way.

    • Ultan says:

      What is with this British thing of referring to Indians as “Asians”? They’re less Asians than Europeans are. India is a separate subcontinent from Asia, Europe isn’t. Most Indians are more closely related to other Caucasians than they are to most East Asians.

      “Asian” in a racial/ethnic sense should be reserved for the peoples that come from East Asia. The problem is that the Pakistanis don’t want to be called “Indians”. Well, too bad, that’s what they are. Religion is the only difference.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        That’s a particularly US view.  When we say Asian, we mean Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc., properly called East Asian.  When people in the UK say Asian, they usually mean Indian, Pakistani, etc., properly called South Asian.  Kazakhstan, for example is a Central Asian country.

        • NelC says:

          For clarity, on the interwebs I’ve taken to calling that group of Asians South Asians, and the other Asians as East Asians. I hope the Central Asians don’t feel left out.

          • ocker3 says:

            In Goodness Gracious Me (a UK show about Indians, starring and created by Indians), they refer to themselves as South Asians, so I think there’s at least some precedent for your position.

        • Ipo says:

           So Vladimir Putin is the President of the largest Asian country. 

        • Ultan says:

          I understand it, it just seems sloppy to say “Asian” – when that could mean anyone anywhere from Labytnangi on the arctic Ob to sweltering Singapore – when the more specific and accurate word “Indian” is available.

          “Asian” as a contraction of “East Asian” is at least accurate and there are no good single-word alternatives. (I have a feeling that  “Mongoloids” wouldn’t be received well, and besides, it also has been used to refer to Native Americans.)

          It  seems nonsensical to call the Indian subcontinent “South Asia” when they are divided by the Himalayas, while at the same time saying Europe is not part of Asia, although they are only separated by the puny Urals. Shouldn’t the native Saami of Scandinavia be considered Asian more than the Aryans of Pakistan or the Dravidians of Tamil Nadu?

          Anyway, back on topic – the video isn’t particularly funny. Why should a Caucasian man who comes from the very most privileged class of  one of the largest nations on earth – India, America – take your pick – get to play the racially-offended gambit when someone else with slightly more privilege mocks a foreign character with yet more privilege? Isn’t it easier and more effective to mock how badly he did it, then move on to how badly he does everything? But Hasan can’t even get a cameraman who won’t cut off the top of his head, so we can’t expect too much.

          As for Anil Dash [really? no, too easy, I'm better than that] – what a pompous bore. Read the “About Anil Dash” section on his site and play buzzword bingo as you try not to vomit at the self-promotion of this revolting blowhard.

          • robuluz says:

            As for Anil Dash [really? no, too easy, I'm better than that]

            You know what? I doubt it.

      • Itsumishi says:

        Weird. In Australia Pakistanis would usually be grouped with the Middle Easterners. I guess for no other reason apart from the fact they’re constantly mentioned whenever Iran or Afghanistan make the news. Of course there is the mountain region in between, but I guess there isn’t much conflict on the India/Pakistani border worth reporting about.

        India here is just India. It doesn’t usually get classified as part of Asia.

    • Ipo says:

       Uhm, if Italian Americans are a minority, who is not? 

  2. BombBlastLightingWaltz says:

    Spot on old chum. Cue the Simpsons Quikie Mart.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9ItbbkHl5Q&feature=related

    One thing about comedy, it is always about a schlemiel getting it in the end, if not the schlamazle. Regardless of the abused back ground, jokes are always about some unfortunate getting the shaft. Sure it’s not nice but human characteristics appreciate the downfall of others in a social context that relates to levity, albeit that levity is not always focused on racial tones but it is lent.

  3. BombBlastLightingWaltz says:

    We can’t blame Ashton whatshisname, his agent and production team is to blame for putting a bland talentless actor in the role. 

  4. William Snyder says:

    okay so how are Indians a minority at 1.21bn ?

  5. chgoliz says:

    He had me at “suck my holy shish kabob”.

  6. Why is he “Indian Guy” WITHOUT an accent raging at how Indians WITH an accent sound in media? Would not be surprised if he has made rage-videos about how Apu sounds in the Simpsons.
    He makes no sense!

    • lovelystrangeness says:

      Um, because the “Indians” in question are white dudes in brown face…

    • Brainspore says:

      Would not be surprised if he has made rage-videos about how Apu sounds in the Simpsons.

      Well, for one thing, Apu is SUPPOSED to be an overblown stereotypical caricature of a real human being. And he’s a character who was conceived over a quarter century ago. And a lot of people do find him somewhat offensive nowadays. And he’s STILL a much more sympathetic, well-rounded character than the ones in the videos shown above.

      •  I don’t say that Indians act like Apu, but Apus accent has some base to it!
        Just as people that come from Jamaica can have a distinct accent that gives you a hint of where they are from.
        Same for Indians with a strong accent, you can guess where they are from.
        And English people with a thick British accent…same thing.
        It´s a commercial, commercials overdo it so people watching it don’t start pondering over things like “Where is that accent from…” and instead they just go and buy those funny PopChips!

        • Brainspore says:

          I don’t say that Indians act like Apu, but Apus accent has some base to it! Just as people that come from Jamaica can have a distinct accent that gives you a hint of where they are from.

          Fair comparison. What do you think the reaction would be if Ashton Kutcher put on black face makeup and did a bad impression of a Jamaican accent? I’m guessing somewhere in between “absolute sh*tstorm” and “never work in this industry again.”

        • Brainspore says:

          I don’t say that Indians act like Apu, but Apus accent has some base to it! Just as people that come from Jamaica can have a distinct accent that gives you a hint of where they are from.

          Fair comparison. What do you think the reaction would be if Ashton Kutcher put on black face makeup and did a bad impression of a Jamaican accent? I’m guessing somewhere in between “absolute sh*tstorm” and “never work in this industry again.”

  7. andyhavens says:

    So why aren’t we upset about the SNL Swedish talk show sketch… they’re faking not just Swedish accents, but the language itself.

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/helga-lately/1400065

    • merreborn says:

      It really is hard to find humor in that sketch, when you consider the US’s long history of oppressing Swedes.

    • cdh1971 says:

      I don’t often get kinda/sorta personal with other posters, and this is the first time on BB I’ve done this…at least sober…more or less.

      Your question makes me wonder whether you’re ignorant, disingenuous, or both. 

       (Perhaps you’re trolling? If you’re trolling, my compliments! Subtle, well done  - I say this without irony, but with conviction.)Pic related…it’s what I visualized when reading your post. (if you’re trolling, again, well done!)

    • Ultan says:

       What about the Swedish Chef? Eem gesh de bork bork. Clearly an offensive stereotype, even if he does sound more Dutch than Swedish. Being damn funny just makes it worse. But “Dutch Chef” wouldn’t be funny, not least because the Dutch all seem to speak better English than Americans and their only competition in being sensible and boring is the Swiss.

      • Brainspore says:

        The Swedish Chef is more or less a stand-alone phenomenon. Swedish people in general aren’t stereotyped as “clumsy, incomprehensible culinary TV show hosts” the way Indians are stereotyped as convenience store clerks and tech support guys with gooofeee acshents!!

    • ocker3 says:

       Because the Swedes are European, the population of the USA has a strongly European ancestry, and a Swede probably doesn’t run into anywhere near as much negative treatment in public as a South Asian might, and heaven help you if you’re a Sikh, you’re going to get Lots of people asking you why your people bombed the twin towers.

  8. Jon Bakos says:

    Maybe it’s because the Grand Purpose of the United States, the whole thing since 1776 until now, is to convince the world that Ashton Kutcher is a terrible actor.  It’s all led up to this moment, and the racism was the final linchpin that was needed to complete the seal and blast the universe into Superland.

  9. Jon Bakos says:

    Maybe it’s because the Grand Purpose of the United States, the whole thing since 1776 until now, is to convince the world that Ashton Kutcher is a terrible actor.  It’s all led up to this moment, and the racism was the final linchpin that was needed to complete the seal and blast the universe into Superland.

  10. Ladyfingers says:

    That’s right white folks, just keep telling people what to find offensive or not. Eventually they’ll learn.

    • eldritch says:

      I.. your comment… confuses me?

      The video in question features a man belonging to an ethnic minority complaining about how his minority is being represented in mainstream advertising. Which “white folks” are you referring to as telling other people what to find offensive or not? …BoingBoing itself, for blogging this?

      So confused.

      • Ladyfingers says:

         I was responding to the various  commenters here who express outrage that an Asian person was offended at something.

        • matt1shortsez says:

          I thought you meant the white people who run this site who posted this clip to let us know doing accents is offensive and racist.

          • Ipo says:

            tl;dr:

            Hah!  Take that Indianish Asians! 

            Now you know how it feels to have Ashton fucking Kutcher play one of you. 

            Is doing accents always offensive? 
            Which accents can can be put on without being racist? 
            Why are those accent imitations not racist or at least offensive? 
            Are there exact boundaries to determine? 
            I wish I was black for the purpose of attempting to do an offensive whiteface minstrel show to fathom that out. 
            Can that be done? 

            I’m a minority member  too.  Several. 

            As atheist, religious minority. 
            I once have been an undocumented “illegal” and exploited alien for years. 
            I’m of Danish ethnic minority in Southern Schleswig, an area that was Danish since the Angles had left it for the British Isles, until the Prussians and Austrians conquered it when the USA were already 88 years old, and when it “decided” to join the federation of German states the New York Times had an article about it. 
            I still feel very American. 
            I have German citizenship, which is cool, better than most, but I don’t identify as German much.  I have been an undocumented “illegal” alien for years. 
            Coming of age in Hawai’i, I’ve often heard “Haole” said to me with the same venom and disgust as when a cracker says “nigger”. 
            I’ve been one of those “crackers” too, having lived in the Deep South for a few years. 
            In my life I have on many occasions been the victim of crime, even physically attacked for no other reason than being from a different, and with that, wrong branch of the human family tree. 

            I know.  White people problems.  

            I remain feeling compelled to stand up for every minority’s equal rights. 
            (I even demand equal treatment for the extreme minority of the 1%.) 

            Everybody should try to understand that everybody else, even, and in this society particularly straight white males, make great allies in the fight for womens rights, gay rights and every minorities equal rights. 
            And everybody is of a minority somewhere and a foreigner almost everywhere. 
            And no minority stands a chance without the support of the other minorities. 

            And that is why racism, sexism, religious persecution, nationalism and many other isms are wrong, even when they come from the suppressed. 
            Wrong. 

            I even support anyone’s right to be outraged over insignificant Christopher Ashton showing his 1% ass. 
            I just won’t partake. 
            Just in the conversation.      =]

          • Ipo says:

            tl;dr:

            Hah!  Take that Indianish Asians! 

            Now you know how it feels to have Ashton fucking Kutcher play one of you. 

            Is doing accents always offensive? 
            Which accents can can be put on without being racist? 
            Why are those accent imitations not racist or at least offensive? 
            Are there exact boundaries to determine? 
            I wish I was black for the purpose of attempting to do an offensive whiteface minstrel show to fathom that out. 
            Can that be done? 

            I’m a minority member  too.  Several. 

            As atheist, religious minority. 
            I once have been an undocumented “illegal” and exploited alien for years. 
            I’m of Danish ethnic minority in Southern Schleswig, an area that was Danish since the Angles had left it for the British Isles, until the Prussians and Austrians conquered it when the USA were already 88 years old, and when it “decided” to join the federation of German states the New York Times had an article about it. 
            I still feel very American. 
            I have German citizenship, which is cool, better than most, but I don’t identify as German much.  I have been an undocumented “illegal” alien for years. 
            Coming of age in Hawai’i, I’ve often heard “Haole” said to me with the same venom and disgust as when a cracker says “nigger”. 
            I’ve been one of those “crackers” too, having lived in the Deep South for a few years. 
            In my life I have on many occasions been the victim of crime, even physically attacked for no other reason than being from a different, and with that, wrong branch of the human family tree. 

            I know.  White people problems.  

            I remain feeling compelled to stand up for every minority’s equal rights. 
            (I even demand equal treatment for the extreme minority of the 1%.) 

            Everybody should try to understand that everybody else, even, and in this society particularly straight white males, make great allies in the fight for womens rights, gay rights and every minorities equal rights. 
            And everybody is of a minority somewhere and a foreigner almost everywhere. 
            And no minority stands a chance without the support of the other minorities. 

            And that is why racism, sexism, religious persecution, nationalism and many other isms are wrong, even when they come from the suppressed. 
            Wrong. 

            I even support anyone’s right to be outraged over insignificant Christopher Ashton showing his 1% ass. 
            I just won’t partake. 
            Just in the conversation.      =]

          • Off White says:

            I took it exactly the way Fingers intended. It always amuses me how quick so many white folks are to play act at being an offended minority. They want all the glory of complaint without doing the heavy lifting of centuries of oppression. Hey, I know there’s plenty of economic oppression  involved, but its not the same thing.

            Just to be clear, I’m pretty darned white myself.

    • eldritch says:

      I.. your comment… confuses me?

      The video in question features a man belonging to an ethnic minority complaining about how his minority is being represented in mainstream advertising. Which “white folks” are you referring to as telling other people what to find offensive or not? …BoingBoing itself, for blogging this?

      So confused.

  11. Ladyfingers says:

    That’s right white folks, just keep telling people what to find offensive or not. Eventually they’ll learn.

  12. eldritch says:

    Yeah, gotta say, shitty comercials, pointless and not even well executed racial stereotyping, really very sad and nothing to defend there.

    But I am curious as to why Mr. Minhaj believes that “no Indian people talk like that”, with that sort of accent. Ashton Kutcher did a really terrible rendition of that particular accent, akin in degree of crapiness to Dick van Dyke doing his terrible Cockney accent in Mary Poppins, but the accent he is utterly failing at reproducing is itself a real thing. As a kid, my pediatrician was an Indian expat, a very kind, intelligent, amazing man, who had just that sort of exceptionally thick and stereotypical accent, to the point that it was sometimes hard to understand what he was saying if he wasn’t focusing on his enunciation.

    We absolutely should not put up with stupid marketers and advertisers trying to turn cultural quirks into money or exposure via lazy and negative stereotyping. But at the same time, I would hope that we can also admit that said cultural quirks do exist, and that we can and should respond to them appropriately. Making absurd and stupid snack food commericals is clearly not an appropriate response.

  13. eldritch says:

    Yeah, gotta say, shitty comercials, pointless and not even well executed racial stereotyping, really very sad and nothing to defend there.

    But I am curious as to why Mr. Minhaj believes that “no Indian people talk like that”, with that sort of accent. Ashton Kutcher did a really terrible rendition of that particular accent, akin in degree of crapiness to Dick van Dyke doing his terrible Cockney accent in Mary Poppins, but the accent he is utterly failing at reproducing is itself a real thing. As a kid, my pediatrician was an Indian expat, a very kind, intelligent, amazing man, who had just that sort of exceptionally thick and stereotypical accent, to the point that it was sometimes hard to understand what he was saying if he wasn’t focusing on his enunciation.

    We absolutely should not put up with stupid marketers and advertisers trying to turn cultural quirks into money or exposure via lazy and negative stereotyping. But at the same time, I would hope that we can also admit that said cultural quirks do exist, and that we can and should respond to them appropriately. Making absurd and stupid snack food commericals is clearly not an appropriate response.

    • hypnosifl says:

      But I am curious as to why Mr. Minhaj believes that “no Indian people talk like that”, with that sort of accent.

      Because “like that” was referring specifically to the type of accent done by Ashton and others who do similar-sounding poor imitations of an Indian accent. He wasn’t saying there aren’t people who talk with a strong hard-to-understand Indian accent obviously, he even started the video with his own rendition of a strong Indian accent.

      • penguinchris says:

        Yes, but… Kutcher and others who attempt it are trying to copy a real accent. Of course Indians don’t talk like white people trying to talk like Indians, they talk like Indians.

        It is, in fact, a nonsensical argument. The accent exists in reality. The fact that Kutcher and others can’t do it justice is irrelevant!

        • hypnosifl says:

          You call it “irrelevant” a “nonsensical argument”, but what do you think it is that Hasan Minhaj is trying to argue, exactly? He was making a humorous video that attacked Ashton simultaneously for being offensive and also for not doing a very good job on a comedy level, so it’s relevant to the second part. But I do think the shittiness of the accent is arguably at least somewhat relevant to the offensiveness, insofar as it’s probably an indicator that Ashton just lazily copied stereotyped impressions of indians by other white people, as opposed to at least spending a little time studying the accents and mannerisms of real indians.

  14. Obviously he’s right — of course I wonder how effective this particular video would be if this Indian were restricted from deploying black American slang like “come correct,” “killin it,” “clowning” … 

    • hypnosifl says:

      Using some slang terms that originated with black Americans isn’t offensive in the same way as doing a stereotyped “impression” of a black American would be, so if you’re saying there’s some hypocrisy here, I don’t see it.

      • I don’t think he’s a hypocrite — I feel the same way about him as I do about Das Racist, the (mostly) Indian group of rappers from Wesleyan that he briefly showed in the video — they are relatively privileged people who feel some sense of ownership of black street culture because there’s a sense that it’s become “pop culture” — Bollywood’s not there yet, but when it is, will Ashton still be offensive? (Is Das Racist just as appropriative as Atmosphere / 3rd Bass?)

        • sheetpaper says:

          You mean Wesleyan, not Wellesley.

        • hypnosifl says:

          Do Das Racist do “impressions” of black rappers, totally altering their speech patterns when “in-character” so that every word out of their mouth is calculated to match the stereotype, and is totally different from the speech patterns they use when out of character? If not, I really don’t see the comparison to what Ashton did at all. If there were some individual slang terms from Bollywood that became popular and Ashton incorporated them into his everyday speech, hardly anyone would be offended, “appropriation” of elements of another culture you actually like and want to incorporate into your own persona is nothing like mocking imitation for comedic purposes.

          • I say this as a fan of DR — yes. Today’s highly-educated rappers, in general, talk differently behind a mic. They talk more “black.” It’s really that simple, and while it’s ubiquitous, (and near-universal across nationalities) that doesn’t make it less pernicious an agent of reinscribing old, bad ideas about black people. Just because Ashton’s brownface was reprehensible doesn’t let everybody else off the hook — certainly not in today’s media climate where most of us are part of the problem. 

        • You don’t seem to understand the concept of mockery.

          • Certainly Ashton’s caricature was more overt, but I personally think we’re arguing degrees of intensity, not two totally different animals. The idea that people who mean well can nonetheless “make a mockery” of something is well established. Just because I see it somewhere you don’t doesn’t mean the concept itself is beyond me.

          • Certainly Ashton’s caricature was more overt, but I personally think we’re arguing degrees of intensity, not two totally different animals. The idea that people who mean well can nonetheless “make a mockery” of something is well established. Just because I see it somewhere you don’t doesn’t mean the concept itself is beyond me.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You don’t see a difference between adopted language and mockery?

  15. jaysonelliot says:

    I’m really looking forward to hearing about the next time Ashton tries to hang out with the cool startup kids in Silicon Valley and finds himself in a room full of Asians ready to call him out for his brownface.

  16. Genre Slur says:

    Man, the number of posts here trolling for caucasian equality is making me want to puke. Fucking ‘hanks’, always looking for a ‘leg up’.

  17. Genre Slur says:

    Funny link, by the way.

  18. matt1shortsez says:

    Is anyone offended when Russel Peters does those impressions of various nationalities?

    • millie fink says:

      I’m guessing your question is rhetorical?

      Answer, either way–in many cases in the U.S. and Canada and Europe, when white people and non-white people do the same thing, they’re not actually doing the same thing.

      De Facto White Supremacy: we’re soaking in it.

  19. Kelly M says:

    Um… have we totally forgotten about Italians and the Irish here?  Any time I see one of those Olive Garden ads w/ “grandpa Tony” and the rest of my “big Italian family” I cringe a little.

    Now I’ll go back to eating my Lucky Charms, though its damned hard to scoop them with my shillelagh.  Of course, it would help if I wasn’t so smashed… because I’m IRISH!  

    • retepslluerb says:

      Same with Germans. Nearly every time Americans or Britons mock privacy-violating legislation, someone comes up with a clever accent.

      • Ladyfingers says:

        To be fair, though, received pronunciation has been America’s go-to for representing villainy in any given context as long as I can remember, to the point that in English-language movies about, say, Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, the good Germans and Russians sound American and the bad Germans and Russians do the hot potato thing. I mean, Robin aristocratic fucking Hood was played by Costner without even a concession to accent.

        As a person with reasonable enunciation, this particular cliche makes me want to hurl things at the screen.

  20. rugshd says:

    Hmm it’s funny cause it’s so bad… and who’s to blame more, Kutcher or the producers? If he didn’t do it someone else would have.

  21. matt1shortsez says:

    This ad was pulled from New Zealand TV a few years ago after complaints from the public.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BK9cXajiD0

    I find it still reeks of racial mockery even though it is an Indian man in the ad. I think it’s not Ashton’s rotten performance but a wider issue of repressentaton of  ‘others’ in mass media that’s at stake here.

    • Ladyfingers says:

       I think (I THINK) that a lot of white people actually regard the Indian accent/stereotype as being very charming and endearing. Obviously it’s horribly patronising, but it’s probably not always meant badly.

    • Ladyfingers says:

       I think (I THINK) that a lot of white people actually regard the Indian accent/stereotype as being very charming and endearing. Obviously it’s horribly patronising, but it’s probably not always meant badly.

      • millie fink says:

        Yes, but it’s effects that matter, not intentions. 

        When white people focus so much more on the latter, they’re showing that they’ve yet to graduate from Racism 101.

  22. Drabula says:

    I’m curious how Peter Sellers’ The Party is viewed in this context.  My Indian girlfriend liked it. Does that matter and make it OK for me to say “birdie num-num” to her all the time? 

    • cdh1971 says:

      My Indian friends and acquaintances don’t find ‘The Party’ offensive because it is an attempt to portray a stranger in a stranger land – one could place a German, French person or Scottish person in the role. 

      The Man-Tan used in The Party is similar to the weird little moustache used by the actor portraying  Hercule Poirot. 

      My point is that Peter Sellers portrayed a foreigner having the same sort of time anyone else might have in another culture – his character was not meant to mock East Indians.

      Ashton Kutchner’s portrayal was meant to mock Indians, in a really obvious way. More like the sort of toilet-joke humour associated with black-face minstrel shows or the white fraternal organization black-face parties that used to be more common, but are still held —  albeit on the down-n-low. 

      Edit/P.S.

      Also – Seller’s character was dressed in a business suit, knew English well and etcetera.

      If his character had a ridiculously big Sikh turban, had a sitar strapped to his back, acted wild-eyed and in one moment screamed ‘Allah Akbar’ then in the next moment gave some sort of pseudo-Hindu wisdom invoking Krishna, then I think my friends, and your girlfriend might be at least bemused.

  23. teapot says:

    I suspect Indian comedian Russell Peters would disagree with Hasan’s ideas about how Indians sound.

    I hate Kutcher. He is a douche. Anyone who wants to replace Charlie Sheen has to be… but I am worried about the PC sterility that is sweeping popular culture. Should we now ban Tropic Thunder or White Chicks because it’s not socially acceptable to play anyone but your own race?

    Will it get to a point where Sean Penn would be booed out of Hollywood for playing someone with a mental disability a la I am Sam, or for “posing” as a gay man for his portrayal of Harvey Milk? I don’t mean to invoke the slippery slope fallacy here but it is seriously something worth considering.

    EDIT: I can see this is a divisive topic as it’s already been closed but ill answer Antinous & Ladyfingers with a question: Do you think Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi was in bad taste? It’s not a parody so it is a bit different.. But it’s a white guy playing an Indian guy and doing a damn good job of it, no?

    PS Ipo.. this is not intended as snark.. just helping you out. The word you want is “ceased” not “seized”.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Given open casting (as opposed to SNL’s limited casting resources), what possible reason would you have for casting someone of a different race if the person’s race is their distinguishing characteristic?

      • NelC says:

        Yeah, if you want Indian comedy, hire an Indian. In the UK, you’d get someone like Sanjeev Baskhar to play the part and actually write the ad (the comedy parts, anyway), and you’d get the funny and exotic without the lazy racism. Not that Asians get that much exposure in British advertising, but when they do, at least they’re real Asians.

        I don’t know who the go-to guy would be in the States; Minhaj?

      • Ipo says:

        Comedy, persiflage, satire, mocking. 
        It’s classical theatre. 
        It’s art when an artist does it, even if you don’t condone it because its offensive. 
        You know who else thought limiting artistic license was a good idea? 

        Of course, when Kutcher’s ilk does it it has seized to be art.
        /snark

      • Ipo says:

        Comedy, persiflage, satire, mocking. 
        It’s classical theatre. 
        It’s art when an artist does it, even if you don’t condone it because its offensive. 
        You know who else thought limiting artistic license was a good idea? 

        Of course, when Kutcher’s ilk does it it has seized to be art.
        /snark

      • PaulDavisTheFirst says:

        *if* the goal was to clearly have one person portray a variety of racial stereotypes (possibly racist stereotypes, but lets leave that for a second), who would you cast? or are you going to insist that such a goal is a priori ill-formed?

    • GrueHunter says:

      On the contrary, Russell Peters would agree with Hasan’s idea that non-Indian people should just quit mocking Indian accents already:

      “Just so you know, Indian people are fully aware of what their accents sound like.  We don’t actually need you…we know what it sounds like.  We know it’s not the coolest accent in the world, you know.  You’re never going to see two Indian guys in a club standing around going ‘Hey man – aren’t we cool?  Don’t we sound really hip?  We are going to meet all the bitches tonight!’”

      • penguinchris says:

        That argument makes perfect sense… Hasan Minhaj would surely agree, but the way he poses the argument in this video isn’t the same, and his argument doesn’t really make sense as stated.

    • Ladyfingers says:

      The point of the black/brown/white/yellowface in movies like Tropic Thunder and White Chicks was to parody the racism of black/brown/white/yellowface. There are very few movies barring early versions of Othello or so on where race-posturing was not meant specifically in a derogatory way.

      Also, it’s one thing for a straight man to pose as a gay man, and another thing entirely to mince around like a screaming queen at gay men’s expense.  And not all mentally handicapped people are visibly afflicted. There’s nothing really wrong with casting a normal person as mentally handicapped providing you don’t cast them in make-up to appear more Downsy.

      The Farrelly brothers, weirdly enough, are pretty good at mining this territory for the humour its offensiveness can cause.

      • matt1shortsez says:

        So we’ve established that it’s not okay to parody other people or use make-up in a way that makes someone look ‘more downsy’.

        • Ladyfingers says:

           It’s fine to parody other people, it’s not fine to parody other races.

          There are actors with Downs, it’s possible to hire them for the part of someone with Downs. Casting a non-Downs person to play a Downs person is pretty tasteless.

    • David Speller says:

      But Russell Peters is Canadian!

  24. NelC says:

    I’ll just leave this here: Going out for an English

  25. bklynchris says:

    I am going to make this very, very simple for everyone here unclear on the concept of racism as defined in Minhaj’s video.  The people of color who share the said ethnicity that is being portrayed by a white person/s are the ONLY people who get to say it is NOT racist.  Its called agency.  The people LEAST able to define this racism are white people.

    btw-when white people mention the term “politically correct” most people of color take that as code that you are admitting you are racist.

    You can still be racist, as a person of color I can say we are totally used to it and admittedly also guilty of it, just cop to it.

    Key and Peele had it right when they said that the closest thing to a racial epithet that is as powerful as the many they mentioned for African Americans, is to call a white person “racist”.  All the verbal squirming here confirms as much.

  26. slashdottir says:

    Ashton Kutcher is painful to watch no matter what he’s doing.

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