Knock Knock, who's there?: Racism

by chloe langlois on October 19, 2015 - 10:47am

In Nathan Robinson's article “Schumer's unfortunate ‘Train wreck’ lesson: Amy's casual racism isn't one of her bad habits to overcome” published on salon.com in 2015, the actress and  mostly comedian Amy Schumer is said to defend herself for her racist comments found within the movie she wrote and stars in. Robinson explains how the comedian wanted her characters to be racist but that they never actually cross the line of what is considered wrong. Furthermore, the author explains that although Schumer's intentions may not be bad, the audience is still enjoying and laughing at racist jokes. Throughout the movie, there are scenes of common acts of racism such as rejecting being racist because one has friends of another color. Robinson argues that it is possible to tell a joke about race without it being negative because there is a difference between what subjects are being targeted and that it can be used to show how horrible racism is. Furthermore, Schumer is said to defend herself further by stating that she was trying to use the same tactic as the other comedians who are said to have successfully done so. Robinson ends on the note that in the case of this movie, the racist jokes cannot be forgiven. Schumer does not address or debrief the audience about the racist jokes and stereotypes, although she may have meant well with her intentions, she did not actually do any good.

            I agree with Robinson’s hypothesis that the actress/comedian, Amy Schumer, is not doing anything good by using racist humor in her movie. It seems that today, the media has no boundaries and this affects everyone negatively; no matter what race or age. As Robinson explained in his article, the people watching Schumer’s movie laughed along with the jokes even though they were based on racist stereotypes. It is not just adults who see these types of movies, children get a hold of them too. It may not seem like that big of a deal but it is but according to Erin N. Winkler, children absorb what they see and hear in their environment and this shapes their world view. Furthermore, if public figures such as actresses, producers, or comedians declare that using racist jokes are fine as long as they do not cross the line, will that not be something that children take serious? Children look up to these figures and if not careful the wrong morals will be learned. What is this line anyways; how far does it go? If people such as this comedian are forgiven for using other people’s identities for humor, will this not show that racism is not that severe? Yes it is true that humor can be used in great ways but the topic at hand is to severe and sensitive to be used so loosely. Besides, the jokes are targeted to those who are in the minority. When will all this end and how? If the media continues to find excuses for why so many derogatory themes are shown as acceptable, how will it ever stop?

Robinson, N. ( 2015, July). Schumer's unfortunate “Trainwreck”lesson: Amy's casual racism isn’t one of her bad habits to overcome. Salon.com. Retrieved from: http//www.salon.com/2015/07/20/schumer_unfortunate_trainwreck_lesson_anys_casu...

Winkler, N. E. (2009). Children are not colorblind: How young children learn race. Pace, 3(3), 1-8

Comments

This article response caught my attention because of the title. Although I did not see the link with the actual response it remains a very interesting and eye-catching title. I agree with your opinion on the topic of racial jokes in media. Amy Schumer’s movie is intended for adults but it is inevitable that children will be able to see it. Adults are able to see past the racial slurs and find the comedy while still understanding that in the wrong context the jokes in the movie would be seen as incredibly racist. Children cannot do this differentiation and it leads to them believing these jokes are acceptable and in fact true. Parents do not often talk about the sensitivity of race and racism with their children which leads them to develop their own prejudices. With famous people in our society producing and promoting movies that are comically racist children follow this and do not understand the consequences that come with these jokes. The main issue that concerns me is that racism is becoming a bigger and bigger issue and with people who are meant to be role models to the young members of our society are making films like this it is only worsening the social problem.

A bit of a stilted title, but upon further reading it is a decent summary of the article (and it grabbed my attention, so kudos I suppose). Comedians are infamous for exploiting offensive and bigoted stereotypes as a cheap excuse for comedy, and then go on to justify it with statements on how 'they're not serious', or better yet; 'people just can't take a joke'. In the article, Amy Schumer doesn't seem apologetic about her jokes, instead choosing to defend them with flimsy responses. It buys into a larger problem with dismissing racism as a joke that really has nothing to do with children. Adults are the target audience and influenced by these movies in particular. It is naive to think all older people are going to seriously analyse the content they watch, especially when this type of comedy is so prevalent. It is adults who are encouraged to laugh along and not speak up because 'it's just a joke', it is adults who are raising children and shaping their worldviews. Casual racism in a children's show would be absolutely appalling, but how much better is it when adults can't recognize the seriousness of it enough to educate their children?