Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Racist



[Re-worked... to make it a little less of an angry rant] 
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Anger. My only reaction to the comic strip above, published on the Dilbert website for 31st October 2011. How callous and insulting the use of a short line "I grew up in India" at the right (wrong?) place could be, I hadn't realized before this. 
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The comments below the strip weren't helping. Quite a few geniuses had commented to the tune of "I am an Indian and I laughed along with this joke. It needs to be enjoyed in the right spirit."
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Right spirit? Right spirit, my a**. The joke was not only offensive for us who have had the privilege of a very blessed & protected childhood in India but twice as offensive for the unfortunate fellow citizens of our country who have very real issues with drinking water & health. Not a joking matter at all, for whatsoever reason.
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Asok, the intern character from India, is a simpleton targeted for laughs with his nauseating diligence and his eager-to-please attitude, a counterweight to the scheming work-shirking Wally. That much I accept is a necessary aid to keep the story flowing.
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But this wasn't humour or even if it was, it didn't seem like it. Humour presents an opportunity to cross the line of Political Correctness. But it matters, it really does, how it is put across and who does it. I have been a frequent reader of Dilbert myself and though the quality wavers a lot, it had never stooped to the level of racial mud-slinging like this before.
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As a cartoonist, Scott Adams reserves full right to say what he wants to. What I find very unfortunate is that a mainstream and popular artist like him didn't think twice about portraying such an unacceptable point of view, normally the preserve of white supremacist websites and such like. 
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Yes, there are comedians like Russell Peters who consistently make fun of  the cliched Indian qualities, but his Indian origins help him to be a more suitable man to make jokes about Indians. A smart insider's self-criticisms can be superbly funny. An over-smart outsider's unwarranted comments come off as ugly and racist.
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2 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

Hmm, as you said, it's just a comic strip, and perhaps I would take it as a joke. But, yes, sometimes, it hurts, but then, we do make jokes about the Americans as well, don't we? :) Oh and, I would be interested to know about your uncensored thoughts.

Roy said...

In my opinion, this didn't feel like a joke at all. It was more of a calculated insult.