W. Kamau Bell is one of San Francisco’s top standup comedians, and a good friend to The Sound of Young America. He wrote this provocative note on his myspace blog, and I thought it was perfect to share with you. What do you think?
Sarah Silverman is racist.
I put this sentence at the end of a bulletin I posted recently. And the funny thing was the amount of responses that I got to that comment and not to the bulletin itself. (Though at this point I don’t even remember what it was about either.) I put it in randomly. It was a thought rolling through my head at the time, but not because it was a “joke”. I actually do believe it.
ANYWAY… Here’s my point. First of all despite what people may think since I am a comedian, I don’t have any INSIDE information as to her racism. (I have only met her once BRIEFLY several years ago, and like much of that alterna-stand-up crowd, she seeeeeeemed nice at the time… but then why wouldn’t she?) I just saw her movie, Jesus is Magic, and I was… well… not so much stunned as I was disappointed in how racism is apparently becoming chic amongst the hipsters. (I guess if they can make Coldplay hip ANYTHING is possible.)
Watching her act I was just left cold by how racist jokes are apprently OK when they come out of a mouth of a beautiful woman who allegedly coats them in IRONY, but somehow when Larry the Cable Guy does his red state/redneck jokes(some of which are racist), David Cross and Lewis Black speak out aganst him in Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone is the same magazine that places the mantle of both Lenny Bruce AND Richard Pryor on Silverman’s shoulders.
To quote Eddie Murphy in RAW, “GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!”
Sarah Sliverman NO PERCENTAGE of either Lenny Bruce OR Richard Pryor. (I have to believe that she would admit to this.) Those tw GENIUSES used the topics of race and sex to criticize the status quo AND to further the discussion of these topics along, not to just titillate as she does.
There is NOTHING wrong with titillation as long as it is not dressed up as intelligent social criticism.
It’s not that I don’t think she is funny. I GET THE JOKES. In fact, that is most of my problem… After listening to all of her racist jokes in her movie, I walked out thinking, “I GET IT, SARAH! All the stereotypes about black people are TRUE. Thanks for the update.” I’m sure many would say that I am missing the ironic twist… YOU’RE CORRECT! After five or six of her jokes supporting the same stereotypes that have been perpetuated in the U.S. for four hundred years, I COMPLETELY MISS THE IRONY. Her comedic point of view on race seems so simplistic and unevolved. I would think her act was BRILLIANT… if she was twelve… or if it was out of the mouth of a comedic character who is CLEARLY an idiot… you know, like Andrew “Dice” Clay. His first album is still hilarious
The experience of watching her movie was all made the more pathetic for me due to the fact that these jokes are performed in front of a mostly white audience. (I say mostly, because I did actually see ONE black guy in the audience. And yes he was laughing… maybe because he came with white people.)
The ultimate tragedy of this is that Hollywood clearly not only condones this, but sees it as brilliant. In a time of incredible comics like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and… (Well, I guess that’s all we have for now.) who are clearly links to Bruce and Pryor AND are working hard to advance society’s conversation about race it is painful to see Silverman SOOOOO celebrated. I will conclude with what I often say in situations like these, if me and all my friends (comics, performers, musicians, and artists) were as successful as her I wouldn’t even blink an eye at her antics.
And YES, I know her act isn’t all about race, but anyone familiar with her knows that it’s basically 70% jokes that put down women and 30% jokes that put down minorities.
I’ll leave it to someone else to cover that other 70%.
Kamau can also be heard regularly with Kevin Avery on Live 105’s morning show in San Francisco, reviewing movies as “Siskel & Negro.”