Archive for March 8, 2011

Russell Peters and “Brownface”

March 8, 2011 12 comments

You might be aware of a rightfully maligned style of comedy known as Blackface.

According to Wikipedia..

Stereotyped blackface characters developed: buffoonish, lazy, superstitious, cowardly, and lascivious characters, who stole, lied pathologically, and mangled the English language. Early blackface minstrels were all male, so cross-dressing white men also played black women who were often portrayed either as unappealingly and grotesquely mannish; in the matronly, mammy mold; or highly sexually provocative. The 1830s American stage, where blackface first rose to prominence featured similarly comic stereotypes of the clever Yankee and the larger-than-life Frontiersman; the late 19th- and early 20th-century American and British stage where it last prospered featured many other, mostly ethnically-based, comic stereotypes: conniving, venal Jews; drunken brawling Irishmen with blarney at the ready; oily Italians; stodgy Germans; and gullible rural rubes.

So when does ethnicity based comedy crossover into “blackface” type material?

My answer is- when it dehumanizes a group rather than simply poke fun at them.

For example a comedian mocking jewish mothers for their obsession with academic success and guilt, does not cross the line as the subjects of his observation are still decent but somewhat flawed human beings. Similarly a comedian opining on the drinking habits of the Irish is not representing them as fundamentally subhuman beings.

Blackface type material is different because it is devoted to portraying the targeted group as subhuman, with no redeeming qualities. Using that criteria, it is my opinion that Russell Peters comedy acts IS “brownface”, though he tries to appear balanced by token offensiveness to other ethnic groups.


Why Unions Are Doomed: 1

March 8, 2011 3 comments

Some bloggers are now wondering if powerful unions would translate into a better deal for the average person. But the underlying problem few people ever mention is-

Unions would be popular and effective only if every working person was a member of some union or the other.

That is right, unions would ‘work’ only if their aggregate membership was universal. As long as some working people are excluded from the protection of union membership, there will always be enough resentment against unions for capitalists to use against them.

However unions, in their current form, have a fundamental problem.. they are exclusionary. Many of you might see that at odds with the stated policy of unions to expand their membership. But does it work that way? Unions want more members to get more dues and higher membership numbers, but as in the “Animal Farm” not all types of members are equal.

While I am not a big cheerleader for capitalists, unions in their current (and past) forms are not the answer. Neither entity benefits somebody like me.. or most of you.


FYI: Blog Postings

March 8, 2011 2 comments

I am currently exploring some new career opportunities, so my blog postings might temporarily decrease from 4-5 a day to 1-2 per day. But fear not, for I shall return to my old levels once things are more settled.

I find writing blog posts and reading other blogs to be the one thing that keeps me going, and sane.