Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A pigment of your imagination?

I wrote this joke article back in May, for a magazine that died before it could even publish its first issue.

Since I didn't die and the article is still here, why not let you guys read it, eh?

If we had all only stood up earlier to oppose Ashton Kutcher’s career in the first place, perhaps none of this would’ve happened. Earlier last week, a Popchips commercial starring the Punk’d producer as an obnoxious, brown-faced Bollywood character was pulled amidst cries of impropriety for having offended some pundits, the most vocal being NY tech writer Anil Dash and LA comedian Hasan Minhaj.

Now obviously people with a (potato?) chip on their shoulders still ain’t got over Apu from the Simpsons - but this here is a fine example of reverse racism and political correctness at its most absurd – the pedantic overreaction to an ad that is not so much racist, as it is plain stupid.

Face it, the joke simply wasn’t funny. When Robert Downey Jr’s outrageously black and black-talking Tropic Thunder (2008) character Kirk Lazarus was telling Ben Stiller to “never go full retard”, audiences everywhere said it was the shits. Hell, Russell Peters makes millions going around impersonating his own kind to a much more humiliating effect – but he’s actually Indian so nobody takes offence.

What’s the lesson here? Well, if you’re gonna make fun of a minority, do it with some semblance of intelligence. If you’re gonna put on an exaggerated Indian accent, twist your fingers and bobble your head, make sure there’s something clever behind it. Kutcher’s not a racist and neither is the Popchips CEO who issued the public apology – but it’s when ill-advised ads like these get green-lit that people jump to fuel the fires of misinformation.

So the next time you think it might be racist when Kal Penn or Aziz Ansari bleach their faces white to star in a decidedly FUBAR South Asian sequel to 2004’s White Chicks - take it easy! It could well be just a pigment of your imagination.