Whose laughter was Chris Rock courting at the Oscars last year?
What makes these things (references, accents) pass for jokes is when they are told in close proximity to Asian immigrants (or the children of these immigrants—somehow it doesn’t matter which).That some of our finest and most progressive comedians have pandered (intentionally or not) to White America’s worst impulses is disappointing but unsurprising. In a country that depends economically, culturally, and socially on the otherization of immigrants, it doesn’t matter why or how Asian-Americans are different from other Americans.White America enjoys these jokes for the very reason that they are bad. It matters only that they are different, incomprehensibly so.Comedy is not my field of specialty, but it seems like a reference to karate is not enough to qualify as a joke.The same can be said of intoning an “Asian accent.” An accent itself is not particularly funny.Why would he recall throwaway comments he made to a young stranger over a decade ago? Find what we have in common with one another and circle around it a couple times until someone else comes along to whisk us away? The only way Cross could completely forget this error judgment would be if, in his 2007 worldview, saying “ching chong” and referencing karate were as neutral to him as conversations about the weather, mutual friends, the latest i Phone update.The only way he could not remember that he had demeaned and belittled his friend’s girlfriend is if he believed the joke to be something so universal that she, too, could laugh at it.Comedian and writer Charlyne Yi accused David Cross of directing racist comments towards her — but he has no recollection of the incident.“I think about the first time I met David Cross ten years ago & he made fun of my pants (that were tattered because I was poor),” Yi, 31, tweeted Sunday.(#Rashomon.) The thought process behind this bit is presumably something along the lines of: “There are racists out there.They would say things like [insert demeaning racist words in a different pitch and accent]. I’m just a jokester.”These types of “Asian jokes” border on nonsensical, and yet they are everywhere.