Tonya Jameson of the Charlotte Observer recently penned an article with an interesting title: “Why Don’t White People Mind Being Stereotyped?”. I’m not quite sure how to react. There are all sorts of thoughts going through my head. For the record: I have no idea if the film in question is funny or not – but I do think that the Wayans brothers have had some good humor in the past. They’ve also had some pretty bad attempts at humor.
First and foremost, I’d have to say that the answer is that if a couple of comics, who happen to be black, feel like making fun of a particular social group of people, who happen to be white, I can live with it. It’s humor. Even if they think that about my particular stereotype (whatever that may be), why is that such a bad thing? Being able to look – and laugh- at ourselves is a great gift. We could all do with skins that had a little more thickness.
The next thought has to do with the suggestion that white people have a rights organization – roughly analagous to the NAACP for blacks. I think that is a tremendously bad idea. I’m all for equality, but continuing to create more and more divisive groups can’t be a good thing. That isn’t to say that the NAACP or other groups haven’t done good – they have. But we’re all in this together, people. If we can’t talk to one another and laugh at one another, it’s never going to get any better. Having an organization dedicated to making issues where there shouldn’t be any isn’t the answer.
The final thought I have really concerns me. Ms. Jameson acts as if we should be outraged because someone is making fun of a particular subject. So what? Being able to laugh at yourself is perhaps the most useful virtue of all. If we all take ourselves so seriously that we can’t even appreciate a little humor, as low-brow as it may be, then it’s never going to end. We need camaraderie, and understanding, and respect – but outrage doesn’t breed any of those things. Can’t we just have a laugh and not be concerned about what sinister message is being sent?