April 07, 2016

No excuse for Ralphie May's rant

A Facebook discussion of Wreck-It Ralphie's diatribe against Indians. It occurred before we knew exactly what May had said:

I'm waiting to hear the context that makes this acceptable.

Sounds like he adds a coda at the end of his rants. Maybe something like, "But really, folks, hating people is bad. Don't be like the people who say these things." That's not nearly enough "context" to make the previous rants okay.

You can't have a stereotype-to-explanation ratio of 5-1 or 10-1. If anything, it should be the other way around. You can repeat a stereotype if you spend enough time explaining why it's wrong.That is basically what he is saying on twitter, he is saying that the entire joke is him imitating racist people who were mad about goodfellas losing to dances. I have seen his act before, and i can actually accept this because blatant racism isn't usually part of his act. However, he still needs to own those other comments that are just as ignorant.Okay. Sounds a lot like hipster racism to me. Like, "Someone else is racist, and I'm just repeating what they say. Ironically, that is, to mock them. And I had to go on ranting for three minutes to show how racist they are."

Why it's still wrong

Who cares who won the Oscar 25 years ago? It's not relevant to anyone today. It's ancient history.

May chose to build a routine around racist beliefs. He provides a fig leaf of an excuse, then spews a bunch of racist comments. And his cover is, "That's what someone said 25 years ago."

As you said, his Twitter comments show how he really feels. His real beliefs aren't far from his "ironic" beliefs--if there's any difference at all. He sort of understands that something bad happened to Indians, but that was long ago and now they're to blame for their problems.

And after his so-called apology:

As I said before, a single punchline is no excuse for what comes before that. He didn't even say he was imitating others who were upset at Dances with Wolves. Rather, he said he was upset about it.

So again, how does this 25-year-old "grievance" justify a racist rant? A: It doesn't.

Some questions for Ralphie

When Delores Schilling sought questions to ask May on her Native Trailblazers radio show, I e-mailed her the following:

1) May says he's been doing his Dances with Wolves joke since 1992. This so-called joke sounds like a pretext to do a racist rant about Indians.

If the subject of the 1992 (actually 1991) Oscars isn't outdated and irrelevant already, when does it become so? In 50 years? A hundred? Why shouldn't listeners assume what I just said: that May is inventing an excuse to vent his spleen against Indians?

2) Has May heard of hipster racism? It's defined as doing or saying something racist, then claiming it was ironic, satirical, or a joke. How is this any different from what May does?

"Indians are drunk losers," he seems to be saying, then "Ha ha, just kidding." Well, why should we take the "just kidding" part more seriously than the "drunk losers" part? Racists have a long history of dressing up their beliefs as fiction or humor. Why shouldn't we assume May is telling us what he really believes in the guise of comedy?

3) If May's so-called jokes depend on his reaching the punchline, isn't that a comedic failure? The jokes are insulting, insulting, insulting until the punchline, which magically renders them not insulting? What if listeners feel the punchline doesn't work? Or they miss the punchline because they leave in anger?

Isn't May's "thinking" here rather shallow and stupid? Isn't it like saying, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it"? Does he seriously claim he has to sling horrible vulgarities to show how others sling horrible vulgarities? Is he such a pitiful comedian that he can't think of another way to make his point?

4) May's tweets indicate he's still blaming Indians for the poverty and alcoholism they suffer. Which is just about what he said in his racist rant. Why should we believe there's a difference between his "jokes" and his beliefs when they're so similar?

Rob Schmidt

1 comment:

Chief Talks to Frogs said...


White man make-um joke about red man, this is old travesty visited upon our people since days when Brother Eagle soar towards Mother Moon. Big heap-um funny, white man think. But in truth, he bring misery and sadness to the Red man, just like the river brings the crocodile to the elk.

The ancestors commend you on your work fighting for the Red man. May you have the strength of the bear, the courage of the wolf, and the wisdom of our people.