Saturday, April 07, 2012

My all-time favorite sitcom joke

It's from AMOS & ANDY, a show from the '50s that is way too politically incorrect to ever air on commercial television again.   But this joke killed me when I first heard it, and makes me laugh every time.  And don't worry.  It's not racist.  Just cruel. 

I often talk about how important the set-up is in constructing jokes.  This is a perfect example.  It's the set up that makes this gag work.  At least for me. 

45 comments:

Al said...

I remember being a kid in the 80's when we first got a VCR and Amos & Andy tapes became available. I'm black, as were my parents (shocking I know) and when they showed us Amos and Ndy they said to remember two things. That the shows were often horribly racist and often ridiculously hilarious!

mcp said...

Perfect example of the "Urkel Principle" in action. This is where a minor character is so funny, they take over the show. The first instance it happening is of course The Kingfish on "Amos and Andy." After a while, they could have called the show "Andy and the Kingfish."

So, why not call it "The Kingfish Principle?" This is because "Amos and Andy" is "The Birth of a Nation" of sitcoms. "Amos and Andy" is a much funnier sitcom than "The Birth of a Nation" is a watchable movie today. But, the TV "Amos and Andy" is still linked to blackface humor even though all the cast were Afro-American.

By the way, there is some debate whether "Amos and Andy" or "The Goldbergs" were the first sitcom. "Amos and Andy" was on the radio first but as a drama. "The Goldbergs" were funny first.

Michael said...

The gag is stupendous, and so is the delivery.

Beyond the complaints about Amos & Andy when it was on TV, remember that the creators who did it on radio were white.

Last night, on Antenna TV, I saw a Jack Benny rerun from 1963 about how he met Dennis Day. It turns out he was working in a Chinese restaurant and did a perfect imitation of a Chinese man taking an order over the phone. It was hilarious and troubling at the same time.

But it reminds me of the time I met Chuck Jones, the great Warner Bros. animation director, and somebody asked him about racist cartoons. He dropped his head and said quietly, "We didn't know any better." We should have, of course. But I can tell you from studying history that, just as each generation writes history differently, each generation's attitudes also affect its comedy.

Paul Duca said...

I'd love to be there the next time you drop by Debbie's parents and see how her mom treats you.

Thomas said...

Surprised the other actor didn't crack.

Johnny Walker said...

Haha! I was looking for it, and I still didn't see it coming. Brilliant.

Clint said...

Some years ago I was working for the CBS Video Library at a time when they were doing a thriving business releasing TV shows on VHS tape via subscription. Believe it or not, serious consideration was given to trying a release of the Amos 'n' Andy shows. It never happened, obviously, due in part to anticipating that reissue of the series would not go over well in some quarters, but also because the show had been out of circulation for decades and it was going to cost a great deal of money for CBS to go back to the original elements of those shows and create new transfers.

Funny thing about the CBS Video Library, with shipping and handling, each VHS tape subscribers received cost them around $25. And that was for just three to four half-hour episodes. Yet the program was very successful. These days I hear people grumble about paying that much for an entire season of a series on DVD!

D. McEwan said...

Great gag. Loved this show when I was a wee lad, though I also didn't understand why Amos, a minor character on the TV sreies who didn't even seem to be in every episode, got top billing, and George "Kingfush" Stevens was the whole show, doing routines with Andy that were just modern versions of Sir Toby Belch cheating money out of Sir Andrew Aguecheek's idiot pocket from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, only since those characters are seldom played black, no one calls it racist.

As a kid, I saw no difference between the funny black people on Amos 'n' Andy and the funny white people on every other show. They all had ugly mothers-in-law and shrewish wives, and if there was much difference between The Kingfish and Sgt. Bilko, it got past me. Comedy is seldom flattering. But I don't think I ever heard anyone say Sgt. Bilko was Anti-Semetic, despite his being a Jew who was obssessed with money. (Same with Jack Benny.)

The only thing that struck me odd as a child was wondering where all the white people were. Amos 'n' Andy seemed to take place on a planet without white people, and I knew of no such planet. It did not occur to me however to wonder where all the black people were when watching other shows. We knew where they were; in the kitchen making dinner. It wasn't until puberty that I began to see what was wrong there.

I remember one gag. The Kingfish was on trial for something or other, and Andy was called to the stand as a character witness. He was asked how he had first met The Kingfish, and he said: "I was at a carnival and I wanted something to eat, so I reached into my pocket to get my wallet and shook hands with The Kingfish."

Speaking of racist gags on Jack Benny, I've also been watching a ton of Benny on Antennae TV lately, in fact, one I recorded last night is playing as I type this. On an episode with The Kingston Trio, they do a lenghthy sketch set in the Tiajuana Jail. The Tiajuana Chief of Police was played by that famous Mexican actor Vitto Scotti with his usual Italian accent. His deputy was the well-known Hispanic actor Benny Rubin, and their cop was the deeply-Spanish Don Wilson in "swarthy" make-up. God forbid an actual Mexican should have snuck onto the set, even as a dress extra. After all, where would they find an actor of Mexican descent in Los Angeles? (Do I need to add that Mel Blanc was a prisoner in the cell with Jack, a lawyer named "Sy," who felt Jack should sue. "Sue?" "Si." "NOW CUT THAT OUT!")

Scotti is on the phone and taking notes from orders delivered over the phone: "Bring the wetback," he says.

Benny Rubin was right on it. "Someone tried to swim across the reevir?"

Scotti: "No, that was my wife. She told me to stop by the laundry. I was to leave the dry cleaning but bring the wet back."

Jack had not entered yet, so he was spared this awful joke. Later, when Scotti makes some other lousy gag and Benny exclaims: "That's the worst joke I ever heard," the short member of The Kingston Trio said: "You should have been here for the wetback joke."

Just remember that whenever Jack travelled with Eddie Anderson, if an hotel said Eddie couldn't stay there, Jack wouldn't stay there either.

chris mcdermott said...

God I remember just LOVING the cadence of Kingfish's line readings...I think I was too young to walk but remember being riveted to this show on the TV. This and dancing cigarette packages always seemed to get my attention. And "From the land of sky-blue waters...." -- Hamm's Beer commercials with the bear...

Brian Phillips said...

It's pretty obvious that this show's tone was raised when Dan Harmon stopped being the showrunner.

Just kidding.

I doubt that "Amos 'n' Andy" will get reissued anytime soon. It is a hot-button issue.


Still a funny gag, though.

In more recent times, there was a similar row over "The Secret Life of Desmond Pfeiffer". Some saw the American version of "Blackadder", others saw a show set in slavery times and refused to see any humor whatsoever.

Johnny Walker said...

It's worth noting that Blackadder never crossed a line like that. Although the fourth season was set during the First World War, it was very careful in its depiction of it to not disrespect the hell that those who fought in it went through.

Speaking of political correctness, I recently watched (and enjoyed) the first season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". How wonderful to see a show hit "hot button" issues while still being completely politically correct. A smart and refreshing show!

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a line in Bo Diddley'. "Signifying Blues" descrIbing someones wife: "Looks like she's been hit with and ugly stick." Response: "But man she sure can cook!' But "Amos 'n Andy" is an all time classic...

Anonymous said...

One thing nearly all people who find "Amos 'n' Andy" racist have in common is that THEY'VE NEVER SEEN THE SHOW. So what was the series about? Well, Amos was Mr. Upright Citizen: a highly respectable family man who loved his wife and daughter and supported them all as an independent taxi driver. His role on the series was largely as narrator as his life was so exemplary and free of conflict that few story lines could be developed around him. His greatest moment came in the Christmas episode in which he explained "The Lord's Prayer" to his young daughter, Arabella -- a magic moment so poignant that it was actually released as a Columbia 45 RPM record. Most of the stories centered around the Kingfish, who loved to devise get-rick-quick schemes, and kind, good-hearted Andy, was was gullible and trusting enough (at first, at least) to fall for them. Bilko and various cronies, Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello and countless other comic pairs used variations on exactly the same plot device plus others pioneered on Amos 'n' Andy (shrewish in-laws, etc.) -- but those shows are considered PC today because the actors were all white. On Amos 'n' Andy, almost every upper crust role was filled by black talent -- doctors, teachers, etc. NONE of them were negative black stereotypes except the slow-moving janitor at the Kingfish's Lodge Hall. Yes, some of the series regulars were cartoonish (the lawyer Calhoun, the kingfish's disapproving mother-in-law, etc.) but those were all caricatures of PERSONALITY types present in ALL races -- not just blacks. The TV show was brilliantly written and acted by a first rate cast who vividly brought to the small screen what had been for decades radio's most popular sitcom -- so popular, in fact, that movie theatres used to stop films and pipe in the 15 minute live broadcasts simply to keep audiences from staying home to hear the program! The TV special and video "Anatomy of A Controversy" (featuring comments from Jesse Jackson nd others) vividly displays the fact that "Amos 'n' Andy" was no more racist toward blacks than "The Honeymooners" was toward whites. (You can view it on Hulu at http://www.hulu.com/watch/48119/amos-n-andy-anatomy-of-a-controversy) The jokes and scripts on "Amos 'n' Andy" were NOT based on race. They instead made fun of personality types and comic quirks present in ALL cultures. BTW, the funniest scene in the whole series showcased neither Amos 'n' Andy nor the Kingfish. It was when Calhoun got roped into pretending to be the Kingfish during an interview. The real Kingish, hiding in a closet, tried to feed him yes or no answers to each question via a series of knocks. But then when someone in another room decided to hang up a picture by pounding in nails -- well, you get the idea. It's brilliant embarassment humor -- and, of course, had nothing at all to do with race.

Anonymous said...

Very funny. Re: delivery, if there'd been NO beat, however infinitesimally tiny here, after "that good," it would've hit the ultimate sweet spot for me.

John said...

There was an effort in the early 1960s to revive the show, as Gosden and Cornell, along with Amos & Andy writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher took advantage of the boom in made-for-TV animation to sell an animated version of the show, called "Calvin & the Colonel" to ABC for the 1961-62 season (Connelly & Mosher already being in ABC's good graces because of "Leave It to Beaver")

(Here's one of the episodes, which were shot in color but aired in B&W and used some of the same scripts as the original radio show. MCA owned the series, so I believe NBC-Universal owns it now, but like the original Amos & Andy TV show, it's not getting a video release anytime soon).

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Interesting that he calls the beauty shop owner "Madame Walker", after Madame CJ Walker, a beauty product entrepreneur (if I were Niles Craine or Diane Chambers, I'd say entrepreneuse) who was the first black millionaire in the country

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CJ_Walker

q1605 said...

That's so perfect. You think you know right where it's headed and then after the beat "BLINDSIDED"!
AHahahahah
They don't make'em like that any more.

The Milner Coupe said...

I'm white, raised in Hawaii. I learned early on that the differences in races were to be at least acknowledged, sometimes celebrated, but never ignored or worse yet denied.

Regardless of the overpowering PC culture we live in now days, races and cultures are not the same. In the islands we tended to make the most of each cultures idiosyncrasies when it came to humor. As long as it wasn't mean, pretty much everything was fair game.

Try picking up an album by Rap Replinger called Poi Dog if you get the chance. You'll see what I mean. No one was safe and it was/is hilarious.

I think maybe the term racist is used a bit to easily by folks now.

As everyone has said, Amos & Andy wasn't racist, but I don't think a bunch of funny fat bald guys badly portraying Mexican stereotypes on Jack Benny was racist either.

Thanks for the video Ken.

D. McEwan said...

"The Milner Coupe said...
I don't think a bunch of funny fat bald guys badly portraying Mexican stereotypes on Jack Benny was racist either."


Neither Vitto Scotti nor Benny Rubin were fat or bald, and the greaqt Mel Blanc was hardly obese, and had some hair. Don Wilson, yes, he was fat and bald. And given the broad, Mexican, "Speedy Gonzales" accents they were doing, and the fact that there was no reason not to cast actual Mexicans in the roles, I'd have to say a faint breath of racism still attaches to it, even without a joke centering on "Wetback".

Anonymous said...

Anon said:

"One thing nearly all people who find "Amos 'n' Andy" racist have in common is that THEY'VE NEVER SEEN THE SHOW"

Really? You mean this one? There were a few incarnations, genius:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_mGHk0epmc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

You can't pick and choose your history, weirdo. Regardless of your secret good intention, it's always better to stick with the truth, even tho you may deem it too complicated or some to understand.

Johnny Walker said...

One of these days Ken is going to post something that's going to bring about World War III... And, the funny thing is, it's going to be a Frasier anecdote.

Allow me jump on in there with my own mini-rant:

While racism is, of course, a very real and ugly thing, "race" doesn't exist in the way that most people think it does.

No scientist can look through your genes and tell you what your "race" is. In fact, that there's no agreed upon definitions of "race". Caucasian is a race as much as, European is a race, as much as Irish is a race, as much as "blue eyed" is a race. Yes, really.

So what is "race"? Simply this: Any shared genetic background. From national heritage (e.g. country) to having freckles in your family.

Get ready for the biggest wham to your brain: Neighbouring African nations have less in common with each other, genetically speaking, than a European nation and an African nation.

That's right: The most common definition of race, skin colour, is amongst the most meaningless.

So when someone says, "differences in races", I immediately have to wonder what they're referring to.

As for political correctness, I'm a huge fan of it. I honestly believe that those who aren't don't understand what "PC" actually means (as I previously pointed out, shows like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia are actually very politically correct - showing you can laugh at serious issues without mocking anyone but those that don't understand them), or are, well, you know...

British comedian Stuart Lee does some great bits on political correctness. Well worth looking up (mainly because he's hilarious).

Johnny Walker said...

One of these days Ken is going to post something that's going to bring about World War III... And, the funny thing is, it's going to be a Frasier anecdote.

Allow me jump on in there with my own mini-rant:

While racism is, of course, a very real and ugly thing, "race" doesn't exist in the way that most people think it does.

No scientist can look through your genes and tell you what your "race" is. In fact, that there's no agreed upon definitions of "race". Caucasian is a race as much as, European is a race, as much as Irish is a race, as much as "blue eyed" is a race. Yes, really.

So what is "race"? Simply this: Any shared genetic background. From national heritage (e.g. country) to having freckles in your family.

Get ready for the biggest wham to your brain: Neighbouring African nations have less in common with each other, genetically speaking, than a European nation and an African nation.

That's right: The most common definition of race, skin colour, is amongst the most meaningless.

So when someone says, "differences in races", I immediately have to wonder what they're referring to.

As for political correctness, I'm a huge fan of it. I honestly believe that those who aren't don't understand what "PC" actually means (as I previously pointed out, shows like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia are actually very politically correct - showing you can laugh at serious issues without mocking anyone but those that don't understand them), or are, well, you know...

British comedian Stuart Lee does some great bits on political correctness. Well worth looking up (mainly because he's hilarious).

Johnny Walker said...

Here's a video of Stuart Lee:

Stuart Lee: Political Correctness Gone Mad

Anonymous said...

Johnny walker:

"So what is "race"? Simply this..."

Why are you giving an unsolicited dissertation on race with no citations whatsoever, as if you're an expert in any way related to the subject? Do you have any idea how psychotic you appear?
Next, why not give us a rant about lack of affirmative action remedies related to Asians and Jews being underrepresented in the NBA, since black people just happened to, for some evil social manifestation, cornered the market as entertainers in the basketball industry. The NBA is a racist organization, and this needs to stop.

Roy Perkins, impartial dogcatcher said...

Two points to bear in mind, when debating whether "Amos and Andy" was racist:

First, this is a concern that dates back to the original radio series, which had an all-white cast doing broad caricatures of black voices. (This led to a truly bizarre movie, CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK, in which creators & stars Freeman Gosden & Charles Correll play Amos & Andy in blackface--and, presumably so that they will not be conspicuous, all the other roles are also played by white people in blackface.) Gosden & Correll were the main forces behind the TV version, and there was concern at the time that their notions were old-fashioned. Famously, one of the cast members erupted, after being repeatedly corrected by Gosden on his line readings, "You're a white man telling a colored man how to act like a white man acting like a colored man!"

Second, the contemporary objections raised by the NAACP and like groups were really more about the fact that "Amos and Andy" was the only network show at the time with African-American stars. What bothered people was having the race represented ONLY by con men, dolts, and harridans. If there had also been black equivalents of "Dragnet," "Bonanza," and "Father Knows Best" on the air, the attitude would probably have been, "Okay, the clowns have their place, too."

Roy Perkins, impartial dogcatcher said...

By the way, "Amos and Andy" was not the only radio show that had white actors playing black characters. The oddest example was "Fibber McGee and Molly," on which the McGees's black maid, Beulah, was played by a white man, Marlin Hurt. She was so popular that she was spun off to her own series, in which Hurt also played her (black) boy friend and her (white) employer.

Hurt died suddenly from a heart attack in 1946. He was so obviously the whole show that one is surprised to find that it continued without him--but, as a sign that the times were changing, his replacement was Hattie McDaniel. (Alas, she played only Buelah. America was apparently not ready for a black woman playing a white man.)

Johnny Walker said...

Ah, the pleasant, cowardly people people who comment here. Such joy you bring to the world. What light you shine into the darkness. Please don't stop posting, your intelligence and wit would be sorely missed.

I know this may sound weird, and I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I actually only come here each day to read your insightful comments (sorry, Ken!). The fact that I was your target today makes me feel so warm and tingly.

I only wish I knew you in real life so I could bathe in the warmth of your personality each day. How blessed your friends and family must be.

Obviously I realise the reason you post anonymously: You're more than aware that if we knew your real name you'd be catapulted to celebrity, hounded by fans and paparazzi each day. I believe that you fully deserve such attention and adoration of millions, but I know you fear that it would only get the in way of your important work. You're a true artist.

Please don't ever stop throwing around your insults and abuse. The world would be a much darker place without you in it.

VP81955 said...

The TV special and video "Anatomy of A Controversy" (featuring comments from Jesse Jackson nd others) vividly displays the fact that "Amos 'n' Andy" was no more racist toward blacks than "The Honeymooners" was toward whites. (You can view it on Hulu at http://www.hulu.com/watch/48119/amos-n-andy-anatomy-of-a-controversy)

The irony, of course, being that a few years ago, "The Honeymooners" was revived with black characters (a movie that, like the film version of "Bewitched," deservedly sank into obscurity).

By the way, "Amos and Andy" was not the only radio show that had white actors playing black characters. The oddest example was "Fibber McGee and Molly," on which the McGees's black maid, Beulah, was played by a white man, Marlin Hurt. She was so popular that she was spun off to her own series, in which Hurt also played her (black) boy friend and her (white) employer.

Hurt died suddenly from a heart attack in 1946. He was so obviously the whole show that one is surprised to find that it continued without him -- but, as a sign that the times were changing, his replacement was Hattie McDaniel. (Alas, she played only Beulah. America was apparently not ready for a black woman playing a white man.)


No, we had to wait nearly a quarter-century for that -- the casting of the J. Edgar Hoover character in "Bananas." Thank you, Woody Allen.

The Milner Coupe said...

Addressing D. McEwan's response,

Oh brother. I was a bit to broad with my description of the cast of the Jack Benny show. But my point more specifically was that they WERE the cast. And most of the comedy came from the aspect that they weren't actually Mexicans. I consider it a good thing that Sid Ceasar never brought in an real eastern European or a real German to replace him when the script called for a dictator.

If every culture gets pissed at being poked at once in a while, I guess I should be hunting down every non-swedish actor spouting Ya ya and urdy urdy urdy.

Each time Richard Pryor used his 'white guy' voice, it didn't make me mad, it made me laugh. And while 'Kill Haole Day' did encourage me to stay home on the last day of school every year, I never felt the need to develop a chip on my shoulder, a bad attitude, or a God forbid new organization (NAAWP?). And before you get your panties in a bunch, I support the NAACP.

It's just that I think people need to get over themselves a little and lighten up.

Aloha

Groucho said...

@anon Mr Walker was referring to Mr Coupe's use of the word race.

Johnny Walker said...

True, but I didn't want to single out The Milner Coupe (even though I quoted him). A lot of people have used the term "race" here. It's a very commonly misused word. People seem to think that "race" exists, when actually it doesn't (outside of the mind of those who would like to classify us all).

I find it fascinating that informing people we're actually all the same, according to everything we know from science, is enough to garner wrath from some.

Although I guess I must be pretty naive to think there wouldn't be some who wouldn't like hearing that.

Janice said...

Yuo're right, Ken. It is cruel :) I can't laugh at cruel stuff anymore.

I was a kid when Amos 'n' Andy were on radio and TV. I wanted a dad just like Amos, who would sit and talk with me and read me stories at bedtime. I thought then that Amos's daughter was the luckiest little girl on earth, and I still do.

cadavra said...

It's always baffled me that Amos 'n' Andy, Rochester, et al, are considered "racist" despite their obvious intelligence, but nobody seems to have a problem with Flavor Flav, Katt Williams, countless rappers who can't even put a complete sentence together, and a myriad of movies and sitcoms that feature black characters far more grotesque than anything from the "bad" old days. Anyone remember "Homeboys From Outer Space?" Yeesh.

Anonymous said...

Groucho:

"@anon Mr Walker was referring to Mr Coupe's use of the word race."

I was addressing Johnny floating in here as if he were leading a TED conference, pulling his favorite neurotic bon mots out of his ass as if we're his audience eager to her it.

"..but guess what? Here's the secret about races... You're welcome!"

Offering an opinion is one thing, but being an ignorant patronizing douche like Johnny is just rude, to say the least. Minorities don't need his "help."

Anonymous said...

Cadavra, great point. I remember seeing "method and red" and thinking, "this is the most self-serving minstrel show since steppin' fetchit." Where was the outrage?
It went beyond highlighting stupid black rednecks. It was like a mean-spirited black Beverly Hillbillies.

Johnny Walker said...

@anonymous I'm sorry if you didn't like what I posted. I still don't understand why it upset you so. It was directly relevant to the discussion. People saying things like "celebrate the differences between the races" is actually very ignorant, and, unfortunately, racist (although I completely understand it was well meant).

Seeing as science has now conclusively shown that there's no such thing as "races" in the way the term is commonly used, it becomes clear that defining someone by their skin colour/heredity is a uniquely human bit of nonsense.

The fact that someone has black skin is as relevant as someone having blue eyes. You wouldn't say, "we should celebrate the differences between brown eyed people and blue eyed people" because you'd sound crazy. It would imply that you believed eye colour says something about personality.

Sure, there are CULTURAL differences between people, but, (and sorry to sound like a broken record), defining someone by their race is actually continuing the myth that allowed people to justify racism to begin with. ("Those people are a different race to me, so it's acceptable to treat them like dirt.")

I'm not trying to "help" minorities as much as share and interesting piece of information that I've picked up on my travels, that's relevant to those who care about, or are interested in, such things.

You've repeatedly stated that I'm "ignorant" and implied I'm talking nonsense. I can provide you with many links that go into detail about what I'm talking about if you'd like to learn more. Otherwise I'd appreciate it if you explained precisely HOW what I've said is ignorant - what have I said that is factually incorrect?

Finally, you have no idea of my own personal status as a minority/majority in society, so please don't pretend that you do.

Bob "Melon" Melonosky said...

I spend a lot of time at the beach and I have never seen a grapefruit lying in the sand that's been floating around for a few weeks in the ocean then dried out in the sun.

When she said, yes -- I thought that was the pay off.

Roy Perkins, impartial dogcatcher said...

Cadavra is not, in fact, making "a great point." There is one huge flaw to his argument, which is that no one is actually attacking "Amos and Andy" while defending rappers. The controversy over "Amos and Andy" occurred FIFTY YEARS AGO! It has been a dead issue ever since. The only time the subject ever comes up now is when white guys either get nostalgic and feel a need to say "Well, I liked it, but that doesn't make me racist," or want to use it as a stick to attack current African-American performers, as cadavra did.

Anonymous said...

Johnny,

How about giving an example of a blue-eyed group of men who dominate a particular sport exclusively, not owing to geographical factors?
Then explain to us why blacks dominate the NBA.
Then how about a link that describes the process of how science has debunked the theory of race? And finally, what is your specific definition of a "racist."
Thanks in advance.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
Johnny,
How about giving an example of a blue-eyed group of men who dominate a particular sport exclusively, not owing to geographical factors?
Then explain to us why blacks dominate the NBA."


Well, Anonymous Coward, I know a large number of black people who can't play basketball for crap. If being good at basketball is a racial characteristic, then ALL black people should be great basketball players, and no one else.

Which race is it that doesn't know how to type their own names? In other words, what is your race, Mr. Anonymous.

"cadavra said...
It's always baffled me that Amos 'n' Andy, Rochester, et al, are considered 'racist'..."


I was unaware that anyone considered Rochester "racist." News to me. Possibly news to the late, great Eddie Anderson as well.

Johnny Walker said...

Well I'm thankful that you were somewhat courteous this time, and asked a reasonable question, too.

What you've done is exchange one physical attribute (skin colour) with some others (speed and height, for example in basketball). Although they may coincide with a tiny minority of individuals, they can only be seen in any meaningful capacity when competing at a world champion level (e.g. The NBA).

In other words: Everyone with African ancestry (or as you would like to put it, "black race") is not automatically born with superior basketball skills to everyone else.

Likewise, someone with Jewish ancestry is not automatically miserly with money. Someone with British ancestry is not automatically reserved. Someone with Australian ancestry is not automatically hate Aborigines. And, just for added flavour, someone who is gay does not automatically act effeminate.

Since you asked: I would consider someone arguing with the above statements to be racist (or homophobic) - either through innocent ignorance or wilful ignorance.

In other words: There is no correlation between physical characteristics (like skin colour) and other characteristics.

Here's some further reading for you, just so you know I'm not just pulling "bon mots out of my ass":

University of Virginia: AAPA Statement on the Biological Aspects of Race

"Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogeneous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past."

American Anthropological Association
Statement on "Race"


"Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them."

"Historical research has shown that the idea of "race" has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today scholars in many fields argue that "race" as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor."

Hardvard Review: What is "race"?

"Despite the prevalent belief in biological races, overwhelming evidence proves that race is not biological. Biological races like Negroid and Caucasoid simply do not exist."

And one last link:
PBS.org: What is race?

I hope that answers your questions satisfactorily. Please let me know if not.

cadavra said...

"The controversy over "Amos and Andy" occurred FIFTY YEARS AGO! It has been a dead issue ever since."

Well, if that's so, go tell CBS, which still keeps the show locked away in their vaults, much as Disney does with SONG OF THE SOUTH. It is true that many people who cry "racism" haven't actually seen the shows in question, but that doesn't mean the issue has gone away.

And I wasn't "attacking" current African-American performers. If they wanna do their minstrel shows, fine with me. Just don't give them a pass while hammering great Black performers of the past.

Anonymous said...

To Johnny Walker...

Your citations are pretty skimpy. That is, they share conclusions without scientific citations, just like you did.

You cite PBS, Johnny? Really?
Also, regarding your poor application of citations, Ian F. Haney Lopez is a social scientist, not a geneticist.

We're trying to keep this related to science. Not the "best guess" of some sociologist. You might have tried citing Dr. Richard Lewontin, since he discovered the human genome. At least you'd be in the right arena.

Also, I notice some of your citations to these flimsy essays are over 10 years old.
A lot can be discovered about the genome in 10 years, Johnny. I suggest you try to keep up, otherwise you appear to be a lazy thinker at best, or not very bright at worst.

In the meantime, I suggest you do some research on recent studies of twins, and how the scientific conclusions of assorted twin studies might challenge your poorly informed views regarding race.

You also might try starting here as an appetizer:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/14/opinion/14leroi.html?_r=2&ex=1268542800&en=bd4affa4aea0f85c&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

You might also want to talk to professional dog breeders, and horse breeders. Their technical expertise that allows them to create dogs with specific physical, emotional, and mental attributes might surprise you. I'll bet you thought French Bulldogs are exactly like Italian Greyhounds, if given the same chances Greyhounds have. And Greyhounds are almost exactly like Australian Shepards, if only they had sheep to herd at puppyhood.

Or to extrapolate, an Australian Aborigines could be president of the United States, if he just had rich parents and an ivy league education–and if your grandmother had wheels, she'd be a fine wheelbarrow.

Just because you don't like the idea of "race," perhaps because if it were true, eugenics might come back into fashion, with neonazi's not far behind isn't a good reason to ignore scientific facts. Many people think it's a great reason, which is why the general media (and you) avoids it like the plague.

You can try to avoid the facts, but you can't avoid the outcomes of facts. Facts don't care what you think, Johnny. Realizing this helps you reason like an adult.

Try it sometime.

Johnny Walker said...

Wow, now I just feel embarrassed for you.

You accuse me of not citing myself properly, and then link to a New York Times Opinion piece.

I just want to savour that for a moment.

*ah*

Not only that, but the article has some lovely choice quotes relating to how Dr. Lewontin's theory have been proven correct by modern genetics.

The author does state his opinion that races within humans exist (acknowledging that he's going against his peers) but notes that it's not as simple as merely looking at someone's skin colour.

Which goes directly against your assertion that "black" people are a race (as proven by their dominance in the NBA).

He says race can be used to as shorthand to describe inherited genetic traits, and indicates that this could even possibly be one day drilled down to ancient tribal origins.

The funny thing is, if you look back at the post for which you decided to label me "psychotic", you'll see that I fully acknowledged race as a shorthand for the passing of genetic traits. (You even quoted the part of the post where I did.)

Isn't it ironic that the very thing you initially argued with me against, is the very thing the article you posted, argues for?

I'm having another moment...

Finally, your comparison of humans with dogs is equally laughable and offensive. We're all well aware of the personalities that can be developed by man-made breeds. Such things are far from applicable to humans for reasons that are, yet again, explained in the article you linked to.

To summarize: You can't just Google a NYT Opinion piece, post a few facts you learned from the article, throw in a few insults for good measure, and suddenly declare yourself an expert.

Just let it go, man. If you're not going to apologize, do yourself a favour and just walk away.

Dale said...

One day when I was 6 I was playing with my mates when another friend came rushing in and said "a chinese family moved next door to Michael!". We were so excited and jumped onto our bikes and peddled to the house.
Having arrived, this group of 6 year olds parked outside and waited. Eventually the whole Chinese family came out on the porch and waved. We all waved back. Rode away and never thought about racism.
As a 6 year old I learned Chinese people were friendly. I learned people are people. Racism disturbs me. Political correctness also disturbs me. John Cleese summed it up well on the Fawlty towers extras.