June 18, 2008

Seinfeld does Indians

Jerry Seinfeld gives us his take on Indians, stereotypes, and political correctness in this episode from December 9, 1993.

Seinfeld--The Cigar Store Indian (S05E10)



Comment:  You can read about the episode here. I haven't seen it, but I gather it's mostly about other things and the cigar-store Indian is merely a subplot.

A quote about political correctness suggests the theme of this episode:

Jerry:  "You know, I don't get it. Not allowed to ask a Chinese person where the Chinese restaurant is! I mean, aren't we all getting a little too sensitive? I mean, someone asks me which way's Israel, I don't fly off the handle."

Assuming a Jew knows everything about Israel is a stereotype, but it's not a major stereotype. How about if someone asked Seinfeld: "If you're Jewish, how come you don't have a big hooked nose?" Or, "Is it true your people killed Jesus?" Would he be blasé about that too?

Seinfeld's complaints in the episode don't do him any credit. He should be concerned about his cigar-store Indian buffoonery and his "Indian giver" comment. But he shouldn't be concerned about mentioning restaurant reservations or ticket scalping. The line between what's offensive and inoffensive is pretty clear here. Seinfeld is an idiot if he can't see it.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

1 comment:

shugundala said...

Seinfeld's not the idiot. You are. Is asking a Chinese person for directions offensive?