Saturday, February 7, 2009

Walk a Miley in My Shoes [VIDEO]


J-Logic said...

word!!! say it big bro SAY IT!!!

Tristan said...

I like the things you have to say. I came across your site via Disgrasian and I'm very glad I did.

CapitalistRebel said...

*Posted this on Huff but wanted to respond directly to your site.

With all due respect, I still have a few problems with your position on this (non)issue.

First off, it's not even entirely clear what she was doing in the photo. What if her and all her friends were acting like they were stoned and had squinty eyes? Did she admit she was trying to imitate Asians?

As I said in my response to your last post, I am a Pakistani-American and am well aware of the prejudice that exists in this country. It is real and should be addressed. But when people start making a federal case out of a goddamn photo of a teeny bopper celebrity, it diminishes the legitimate claims of racism made by others. Furthermore, this is just fodder for conservatives who paint liberals as whiny, overly sensitive wimps who can't take a joke. What you are really advocating in your posts is censorship and, as a progressive, I think we need to support freedom of expression- even when it is offensive.

Being a Muslim, I am appalled at what Dutch Politician Geert Wilders has said about my religion. However, I think it is a big mistake for the courts in the Netherlands to be prosecuting him. Unless someone is openly promoting violence against a particular group, they should be allowed to express themselves.

One last question.. I understand that you are passionate about music, are you equally as offended by hip-hop artists calling women ho's, making derogatory remarks about gays, and using the N-word? Should they be censored as well?

BTW- loved your original title for the post. Shame HuffPo didn't let you use it.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

Capitalist Rebel--Thanks for taking the time to write. Let me respond. First off, I don't excuse her because her actions caused a lot of pain to those offended. And, most importantly, they're a barometer of the acceptability of this type of racial mockery and stereotyping.

You can make the comparison to the art of rap music using offensive nomenclature, but I'd then ask you to apply that litmus test to the entire film and TV industry. I don't. I consider hip-hop, rap, movies, television--and Howard Stern--art. If I'm offended, I turn it off. Honestly, if Miley Cyrus was a comedian, I'd have just not laughed. Unfortunately, she's not joking.

As for censorship, I don't advocate it at all. However, I do advocate those offended by said gestures demonstrate their discontent with their wallets and avoid said artist. I didn't even say Disney should remove Cyrus--that's their call and they'll make it using a very unemotional financial calculus.

As for being an oversensitive wimp, I'll speak for myself and the dozen or so friends that posted their disgust with her gesture by saying, "Who you calling a wimp?" (Kidding). But seriously, it's precisely that dismissive tone taken by the apologists that's most unsettling--hence my video.

CapitalistRebel said...

Thanks for responding!

I think you made a good point regarding the difference between artistic expression and what Ms. Montana was doing in that picture. I'm still not convinced that it was her intention to mock Asian people, but I certainly see where you are coming from. I'm curious though, if she and her friends put on some XXXL white tees, fitted caps, and threw up a "westsiide" W, would you consider that an offensive gesture stereotyping African Americans?

I also read your post talking about your visit to Israel. I thought it was very fair and well written.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

CR--Interestingly enough, I've seen exactly that type of impersonation/mockery before. We all have, every Halloween. Non-blacks with Afro wigs and do-rags, or dressed as ("Mexican") cholos/gangsters. It's a common costume. Yeah, sometimes if bothers me, but on a smaller scale.

I saw photographs recently of a group of Asian American kids dressed in afro wigs, plus some "black culture" props, and I thought to myself, "this must be how these kids see black people." Not sure if I'm right in that assumption, but there's a good chance those kids have a limited exposure to African Americans. And their version is what they see in videos, and in the more overt examples on campus.

The real difference is that those kids are not in a place of such massive influence as Cyrus. And their platform is buffered by a massive student body that will call them on their actions if they deem it over the line.

So, if the question is would I apply the same standard, it depends. This is about nuance. But viewing a photo of a group of rich and influential (by extension because of their proximity to an international star) white kids mocking Asians (sans any Asians acting in unison) is far more offensive. And the result is far, far more hurtful--as evidenced by the outrage among my AA friends. You must remember that Miley Cyrus is akin to a corporation, whether she likes it or not at 16. She's a brand, so her reach and impact is far reaching. It's as if McDonalds made fun of Native Americans--the overall impact of that is a thousand times the scale of an individual slight, if no more personally painful.

This isn't about PC, but when an act like Cyrus' is seen as completely benign by a large segment of the population, then you have to wonder how deep the lack of sensitivity goes. Or how entrenched the lack of empathy is.

P.S. Re: Israel. Thank you.

Jerry said...

Given an opportunity,and the parenting that she deserves,I am confident that Miley will learn from her racial insensitivity.
The younger generation has not acknowledged the degredation that thier ancestors fostered under the oppressive force of white supremacy,thus,they are prone to believe that this type of racial taunting is benign,playful behaivor,or even an excersize in thier "first amendement right to freedom of speech".
More disturbingly,many teens and young adults feel like racial epitaphs are "terms of endearment".
I had first-hand experience with this type of behavior from teaching college,at an art school in Southern Cali with a lot of students that migrated here.

We need to raise our kids more effectively,so they can transform all aspects of society.This type of behavoir is way "old school",and obsolete.

Get ready for more "No Joke!" cartoons.

danielle said...

i totally love this video. great job. i completely agree with everything that you've said, especially on the point that it's not about what non-asian people think should or shouldn't be offensive.

if you've never been called jap, nip, gook, chink or whatever, you don't know how it feels. i have (yes, been called all those things!) and i assume it stings just as much as being called nigger. i've also had people scream "go back to your country!!" at me while just walking down the street. (as cool as japan is, sorry i don't really want to move there, this is my country.)

what the dismissives are lacking is compassion. it's not about over-sensitivity. if people have compassion, they can understand when something is a joke to someone else, and when it's not. i have no right to tell you it shouldn't hurt if someone calls you nigger.

as for capitalistrebel's comment that "I'm still not convinced that it was her intention to mock Asian people." Trust me, SHE IS MOCKING. i think i learned that it was offensive when i was about 5 years old. she should have learned it by now. if you had done this to someone asian, i'm sure you'd learn real quickly too that it's offensive. it's not for YOU to say she's not mocking. at least have that much respect for those affected.

and raymond, keep pumping out these flip videos. love it!

btw, this topic reminds me of last night's Hardball when they were discussing Eric Holder's comments about we being a cowardly nation when it comes to discussing race. Did you see it? something in the video reminded me of it...can't wait to hear your comments on the issue.