Parody is not license to be racist

Recently, some Republicans thought it would be a brilliant idea to distribute a CD to members of the Republican National Convention containing a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro”. The general response was about as predictable as the sunset, and rightly consisted of outright condemnation over such disgusting and overt racism. But get this: the excuse of the Republican who distributed the song was that it was a parody.

Really? A song sung to the same tune as the pop hit “Puff the Magic Dragon” is parody? Anyone with two neurons to rub together can figure that out. Yes, “Barack the Magic Negro” is parody. Racist parody. Racism and parody are not mutually exclusive, so asserting that it’s parody isn’t a defense against the actual charge. The rebuttal thus rings completely hollow. The idiot should’ve just apologized instead of offering this pathetic attempt at an excuse, thus digging the hole even deeper.

If the Republican Party wants to recover from the doldrums they’re currently languishing in, they might want to stop being openly racist. Most people don’t like that. Just saying.

6 Responses to “Parody is not license to be racist”

  1. drinian Says:

    Well, your post prompted me to finally go find an actual copy of the song to listen to. Have you?

    And, I can’t really peg this as “racist.” It’s certainly not clever, witty, or even reasoned. But I see its point, and I see what they’re making fun of: the perception (at the time) that leaders of the black community were jealous of Obama, because he had succeeded, quickly, where they had failed; that somehow it makes one less “black” if they have not been mired in poverty.

    Or did I miss something?

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yeah, you missed the part about a bunch of old white men from the south yucking it up over something with the word “negro” in it. This isn’t nouveau racism, it’s classical racism, like from the Civil Rights era, and easily identifiable as such. Go ask a black person what they think of this song.

  3. drinian Says:

    I’m sorry, using the word “negro,” especially when this particular usage was originally popularized by the LA Times in an article written by a black man, does not automatically throw some sort of racist switch.

    Suggesting otherwise has a chilling effect on reasoned discussion of real issues of race in this country. Your comment implies a privileged vocabulary and set of topics that white people, by reason of their skin color, should not have access to.

    The “magic negro” is a real sociological term that, in fact, is more a criticism of white people than anything else.

    And, finally, my 85-year-old grandfather occasionally uses “negro” to describe some of my old schoolmates when he’s asking what they’re up to these days, the way one might use “Greek” or “Chinese.” No malice intended. It’s an outdated term, like “colored,” but I don’t see the NAACP rushing to change its name.

  4. Ed Says:

    There was a very stupid discussion going on on imdb regarding the ethnicity of Olga Kurylenko, of all people… ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1385871/board/thread/94342427X ) Before most of the messages were deleted there were comments about her having black blood… The wonders of fake tan, oh well… Anyway, a Brazilian guy had a comment there saying something like: “here in Brazil we classify girls only as ugly or good looking, this one belongs to the second group”.
    My point here is that the best way to deal with racism is to just ignore it. There’s no point in arguing about it.
    Skin colour is just another of those inconsequential thing to make fun about, like religion… I don’t see anything wrong about a good funny joke about black people, yellow people, blue people or the like.
    I did not bother listening to the song, so I won’t comment on it. If it makes fun of anybody then it’s up to them to say if they feel offended or not and then for it’s author to apologize if it went too far.
    On another note, I’m still trying to understand American politics. Why would a political party that wants to be taken seriously, that has supposedly set itself out to run the country on behalf of all it’s citizens, distribute CDs with jokes? That doesn’t make any sense to me…

  5. knacker Says:

    there actually are blue people, they’re some sort of indigenous people in the really high mountains I think in asia somewhere. their skin is blue because their veins cluster so close to the surface of their skin. it’s an adaptation for low air pressure, and they can exist and thrive at heights that normal white people can’t.

    yellow people are usually jaundiced.

  6. Ed Says:

    It’s been too many days without a post from cyde. I was really looking forward to a post on this day that Obama became president. Come on Cyde, we miss you.
    America seems to be changing and electing a “black and white” president is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s see now how many years it will take for an atheist to be elected…