If Obama keeps being stingy with his quips and smiles, and if the dominant perception of him is that you can’t make jokes about him, it might infect his campaign with an airless quality. His humorlessness could spark humor.
Maureen Dowd’s July 16th column in the New York Times.
You have to wonder why White liberals want so bad to mock, ridicule, or satirize Barack Obama.
Ever since the New Yorker cover dropped, there’s been this indignant, petulant whining about a perception that, well, people can’t take a joke. That somehow if you don’t like the cover, then you oppose all satire, have no sense of humor, and/or are some crazy zealot for Obama.
To be sure, there is a large block of Obama’s core supporters who think that his presidency alone will end racism, save the economy, and make them, his supporters, the coolest most moral White people on the block. They are crazy. Delusional. Deeply problematic. I’m wit that.
But there seems to be this hysteria around what you can and can’t say about a Black Presidential candidate that ignores the reality that, yes, life is simply different when you are Black. That political cartoons mean something different when they are about a Black candidate. That jokes mean something when they are about a Black candidate. That speeches have two meanings…or three even (the meaning peoples of color hear, the meaning White folks hear, and the intended meaning).
White people, liberals especially, seem incapable of grasping this fact. And worse, they are resentful of it.
Why you so eager to make fun of Black people? Is it that serious? Does it make you rethink tasteless jokes about White candidates that get by because White folks don’t bear any burden of their whiteness? That those images in no way reflect on the rest of White America?
Columns like this insult the intelligence of peoples of color. They presume that we must see the world the way White liberals do because it makes it easier for…that’s right…White liberals. If you allow White folks carte blanche to make jokes, that’s progress.
White people, liberals especially, are all about “we should be the same,” meaning that everyone should be like them and see the world the way they do.
Idiots like Jimmy Kimmel saying in Dowd’s column that not telling jokes about Obama is “reverse racism.”
You would think we’d just ask you to be thoughtful and acknowledge that some things aren’t funny to a people who were enslaved, freed, then made second-class citizens by law. That exaggerated images of Black women’s lips and Afro might remind us of a time when these images were the only images anyone saw. Images that have colored (pun intented) perceptions and self-perceptions of what people’s features mean and say to this very day.
Oh wait, that’s exactly what we did.
I think most reasonable Black folks (and frankly, there are more reasonable ones than folks recognize) have a healthy sense of humor about life. We call it coping.
It’s not that you can’t make a joke. It’s not that Obama doesn’t have a sense of humor (anyone who has seen him speak knows that’s not the case). But yea, caricatures of blackness as satire walk a fine line of reinscribing negative stereotypes. Just the way it is.
You wanna tell a joke about Obama. You wanna satirize. Step your game up. Work harder at making the joke funny and not offensive. Do like LL, come out swingin wit a Mama Said Knock You Out reboot of your comedy game.
It is possible. Aaron McGruder, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do it every damn day. And I think the difference is that they have enormous respect for their subjects. Most of this shit you see, the New Yorker cover, late night comedy folks, it’s just self-centered. It’s about no one else but themselves. The New Yorker cartoon is really only funny to like-minded liberals.
And that’s who they care about anyway.