Racism In Comedy And Entertainment Essay

903 words - 4 pages

Racism in comedy is not what it appears to be. What many consider to be racist in comedy routines, is not so. Racism is by definition a “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races,” (Dictionary.com). Stand up comedians known to touch heavily on the subject of race in their shows, such as Sarah Silverman and Dave Chappelle, should not be labeled as racist. They are just using the issue of racial stereotypes for its comedic value. “...Instead of discussing race, rape, abortion, incest, or mass starvation, they parody our discussions of them,” (Anderson). A possible reason such comedians are often labeled as racist is probably because the subject of race is still a very sensitive issue in today's society, which causes the public to act negatively to making fun of it. Because of the hostility caused by it, many would rather have it banned from comedy all together. But there are multiple reasons why such material in comedy should be accepted and allowed to continue as a comedic source. Topics of racism, prejudice, and stereotypes can be acceptable in comedy and entertainment because it provides commentary of society's views, exposes the absurdity of stereotypes, and it promotes communication of the subject.
One reason racism and prejudice are acceptable in entertainment is they give a commentary of racial differences and present how each group views one another. Stand-up comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman expose how they feel their demographic is being viewed. Sarah Silverman especially uses stereotypes against Jewish persons, like herself, as well as stereotypes against Jewish women to provoke thought and laughter in her acts. By doing this, she exposes what many people are thinking and assume is true. But instead of blatantly stating that those assumptions are not true (doing that is not funny after all), she exaggerates them to promote a sense of surprise and astonishment. For example, in Sam Anderson's article, he qoutes Silverman as saying, “Everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ, and then the Jews try to pass it off on the Romans. I'm one of the few people that believe it was the blacks.” Anderson follows the quote with a commentary of the logic behind it. “The joke exposes not the ancient perfidy of any particular race but the absurdity of blaming entire races for anything.” Responding in such a matter helps to confute some of the wrongful views about people.
Along with commentary, racism in comedy and entertainment helps to expose said absurdity of the stereotypes. Some stereotypes are most often portrayed in television. That type of publicity may further convince other that those incorrect assumptions are true. In reference to her Hispanic background and culture as it is displayed in the media, Judith Ortiz Cofer...

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