February 26, 2013

Mike and Molly insults Indians

I didn't watch the 2/25/13 episode of Mike and Molly, but I read about it on Facebook:[On the] Mike and Molly sitcom on CBS, Mike's mother said, "Arizona? Why would I move to Arizona? It's nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians."

That is the last time I will watch that show!
Gray Wolf adds:She went on to say the state was full of a bunch of Comanches. This statement should be retracted by CBS, because many people find that comment offensive. Not only to Native Americans, but it implies that the state of Arizona has only one race in it. The comment also refers to the state being full of nothing but a bunch of drunks.A Native Facebook friend posted this comment to the Mike and Molly page:Thank you, CBS, for granting your viewers more time with their families by promoting a boycott of Mike & Molly due to the racist comment on your show. "Arizona is a furnace full of drunk Indians." Really? Who approved of such stereotypical, negative promotion of Native people? As we are right now fighting in the House of Representative for the Violence Against Women Act with the Native Provisions attached, CBS is promoting negative stereotypes of our people on national television? What does that say about how you view us as Indigenous people who welcomed, fed, clothed and helped your ancestors to survive on our continent where you enjoy great prosperity today due to us agreeing to give up millions of acres of land and resources. Does your network really think it's appropriate to treat us with disrespect through the promotion of negative stereotypes? Please issue an abject apology and support the VAWA with Native provisions immediately since the sexual objectification of our women is symptomatic of the violence we continue to suffer with 1 of every 3 Native women being raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Shame on CBS! You can do so much better!

Deconstructing Mike and Molly

I saw and reposted the image above, which led to a discussion with some Facebook friends:Are they really that privileged, though? I don't really watch the show, but I thought the characters were supposed to be blue collar? Don't get me wrong, it was awful if this is what was said on that show, but isn't it also a stereotype that all white people are privileged. I mean, have you been to Oklahoma or West Virginia lately?

If I'm not mistaken, he's a cop and she's a waitress.
I don't know how privileged the characters are. But even blue-collar whites are somewhat privileged.

"Privileged" probably wasn't the best word to use in this context.Privilege isn't a matter of being rich or upper-class. It's a matter of being the "societal default setting" and getting the benefit of the doubt in situations where others don't.

Yeah, but as Rob pointed out, that wasn't what was conveyed in this. I mean the whole discussion about "white privilege" as a general societal concept and and whether someone is "privileged" are two different things. Also, I don't think whites in Appalachia, for example, get the benefit of the doubt all that much.

Fair enough.
The producers and writers have the real privilege here. White people can say whatever they want about Indians and not face repercussions.

Imagine the character saying, "Move to New York? The greedy Jews control everything there." Or using any other ethnic stereotype. The firestorm of protest would be instantaneous.

The actors could've and should've refused to film the scene with those lines. But they don't bear the primary responsibility. The producers and writers do.

Therefore, I'd say replace "fat privileged" in the image with "ignorant." Then it's fine.

For more on "drunk Indians," see Indians Testify About Negative Images and Drink's "Sexy Pilgrim & Indian Party."


Anonymous said...

If you're white, then there is some form of privilege, at least until the minorities become a majority, and people don't get nervous when you walk into a restaurant. Now, if you're poor white trash. Then, okay, you're stuck out just like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives today are continuing the fear mongoring and hate speech about America's youth, debt and future, but are they really talking about African Americans, Latinos, Native peoples and Asian whom have collectively, literally been murdered to gain freedoms and rights easily afforded whites? Are white Americans getting their lands taken away from Indians because after 500 years, Americans still have absolutely no knowledge about the reality of being victims, oppressed, wrongfully imprisoned or living under government tyranny. Do whites get their kids put into boarding schools by force, get their mouths washed for speaking English or get raped by a nun, preacher or priest?

Mike and Molly represent real white Americans to me! Its in their DNA to be racists!

Anonymous said...

wow it seems to me that people like to cry racist far too often. the comments that i have read here sound like you people are racist against "whites" as you call the

Anonymous said...

While this is a shitty comment, I feel like I'd have to know more of the context before I could render judgement. Is the character who said it meant to be sympathetic, or a terrible person? If she's supposed to be terrible, I can't get too worked up about it or view it as any kind of endorsement of racism. If she's sympathetic, that's a whole other ball of wax, and Mike and Molly should apologize.

Rob said...

It's racist against whites to point out their racism?! Don't think so, Anonymous #3.

For more on the subject, see:

Talking about race perpetuates racism?!
Whites fighting racism is racist?!

Along with:

Whites feel like a minority
Whites "sick of the race card"

Anonymous said...

Mike and Molly poke fun at themselves as obese people. Mike's mother is an unsympathetic character. It just shows her to be the sour individual she is in the show. I think people are overly sensitive about these comments. In the 70s when there was Archie Bunker, the Jeffersons, et al, it spurred conversation.

Anonymous said...

I'm of mixed race and do find the comment "drunk Indians" to be racist and uncalled for. The writers of Mike and Molly should be aware that this is not acceptable and should formally apologize. Personally I will no longer watch the show b'c of this very reason. It is also racist to say that being a middle class white person makes you "privileged" and if your poor and white then you are now "trash". Treating people the way you want to be treated includes talking about them or to them the same way you want to be spoken to. It's no different than being in a disagreement with a significant other, you attack the problem not other person or you aren't going to be heard anyway, you'll be tuned out and nothing you say will make any headway. I'd rather be effective and heard than non-effective, angry, and bitter, it's just no way to live. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die....useless and unproductive.

Rob said...

I addressed the differences between Mike's mother and Archie Bunker in the posting below. The short version is that there's no comparison.


Anonymous said...

"Privilege" does not only mean having a lot of money..THAT is what the maker of the meme was talking about