html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Old school.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Old school.

Ernie says it better. Until we get to genuine respect, political correctness really is an improvement.

Update: It is always a good time to link to the blackface flowchart.


Blogger jens said...

You might enjoy (or be horrified by) the blog post you stimulated.

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, and most clear: damn, Jens, that page you pointed to was a MySpace page that did not crash my browser or hurt my eyes. It must have been a first. Only stupid ads about "one of your friends has a crush on you" clued me in before I clicked away.

Second, I agree with the MySpacer (gak, I never would have imagined saying that). Political correctness is often stimulated by a political situation. Thus in Germany and many other countries, things that push our buttons aren't offensive. Your standards aren't global, they're local in this regard. In a place where the group in question isn't a repressed minority, they might find it funny.

Just because something is offensive in one culture, it is not necessarily offensive elsewhere. Basically, Mister Wong doesn't bother me. Nor would an african site making fun of SWUBAs (Soft White UnderBelly of America, basically the stereotypical overweight, loud, obnoxious, sunburned, American traveler).

-- Tim.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

But Tim, the site bothers some people of the nationality it is caricaturing. (And me.) If you don't ACTUALLY MEAN to give offense, why use a logo and theme that does offend a lot of people? There is a whole world of non-offensive stuff to choose from.

Ernie was upfront about the possibility that native German and Chinese peoples may have different cultural biases. But to his and my eyes, that is a really offensive image. It is an old and charged way for an outsider to depict a people and outsiders should be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS and RESPECTFUL when depicting a people.

Also, the standard isn't how you would perceive it when you haven't had a lifetime of incremental or blatant slights and disadvantages from being stereotyped. The first couple times doesn't let a privileged person know how that feels when the next careless and offensive slight comes along.

We are likely agreed that this was ignorance and not malice. It isn't sophisticated enough to be malice. But it is a staggering level of ignorance.

9:09 AM  
Blogger jens said...

And ignorance is the answer. I am pretty sure the logo would NEVER have been selected if the possibility of offensiveness had been considered. But once it is selected, people get attached to it. Can you imagine anybody starting a NEW team today called the "Redskins"?

We are now in such a multicultural environment that are perceptions are MUCH more sensitive to that sort of thing than in most other countries. When you put up a logo of a black man, you actually expect black people to SEE that and react to it. There are many countries where there is no such expectation.

In Germany, when I was young there, there was, to the best of my knowledge, NOT A SINGLE PERSON of another race in the town in which I grew up (until 4th grade....I then moved to a place where we and our across-the-street neighbors were the only WHITE people for miles around - the neighbor boy was nicknamed "Pinky" (and never called by his real name "Jens", the first other Jens I had ever met) because he was the first white boy in town). The idea of offending a black person seems about as silly as worrying about offending a Martian.

I would guess the logo was a product of OLDER people, though. Germany took in a lot of Vietnamese refugees when Vietnam fell, so Asians are no longer as exotic there as they were when I was a child.

By the way, the depiction that goes with the "Negro Pharmacy", as offensive as it seems to American readers, would be associated with racial tolerance by a German. It is from a children's story where bad white boys were mocking that negro for his dark skin. A giant Santa Claus picked the boys up and dipped them in a gigantic ink well so that they were even blacker than the mocked boy.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right from feminism to racial relations. A busy week!

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Ozma said...

I don't know about Germany, but I lived in Taiwan for two years. There are almost no black people there (Taiwan has one of the most homogeneous populations on Earth) but most Taiwanese are extremely racist.

Many people asked me questions about black people like, "Is it true black people are much stupider than whites?" or "Is it true black people don't wash their hands after they go to the bathroom?" or "Why are black people so violent?" They were all completely serious, and were not intending to be offensive.

I think living somewhere without members of a certain ethnic group makes it much easier to be prejudiced. (I am white BTW).

4:37 PM  

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