Thursday, November 30, 2006

Do Comedy Central's news shows perpetuate racist stereotypes?

Last night I watched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report at their 8 and 8:30 pm re-air times. As always, I took their commentary as sarcastic, but I wondered whether the rest of their audience did so . . . The commercials that played during the shows made me think that the individuals in Comedy Central's audience probably aren't all considering such shows to be satire. Among the commercials were one of Chevy's "This is Our Country" commercials. This particular commercial was less controversial than those which used images of the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina. This commercial used a ranch fence as a timeline for American history, the camera continuously panned left to right, through chronological eras of white ranchers with their Chevy trucks. Another commercial was for Comedy Central's Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

But it wasn't the commercials alone that made me think that the spoof news shows may do more to perpetuate racist stereotypes than to undercut them. It was the way that Stewart and Colbert portrayed the stereotypes and way the audience laughed at them. The stereotypes were mainly of Middle Eastern people, Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis, Lebanese, and 'general Arabs.' The comics seemed more to be making fun of the people than the stereotypes and the audience seemed to be going along with it, it really disturbed me. Again tonight I watched the re-runs of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. This time there were less segments which employed Arab stereotypes for laughs, the stereotypes focused on the US political system, and they were funny, I enjoyed them. Maybe I'm too sensitive, or maybe the shows are racist, what do you think?


Kerim said...

The Daily Show has been making a lot of fun of itself for failing to have a very diverse cast of "reporters" - although they did recently introduce "senior black correspondent" Larry Wilmore whose been doing a great job. To be honest, the most jarring things I've heard Stewart say are about Germans.

Anonymous said...

That's right what Kerim says