My musings on the mainstream media and culture.

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Attention Racists! “Muslim” is a Religion, Not a Racial Slur

Miss America 2013, Nina Davuluri, "accused" on the Twittersphere of being a Muslim

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, “accused” on the Twittersphere of being a Muslim

Here’s my latest theory on racism in America.  Since the 1970s, and especially since 9/11, there’s been quite a bit of anti-Muslim hatred in America. My theory is that this racism falls into two categories.

First, there is anti-Muslim rhetoric that is the same thing as anti-Islamic rhetoric.  Proponents of this type of rhetoric oppose Islam and the people who follow it.

The other type of anti-Muslim rhetoric? It’s not about followers of Islam per se.  Rather, I suspect that many people who spew hatred about Muslims do not actually know what “Muslim” means. It seems that Americans have come to see the word “Muslim” as synonymous with “brown-skinned foreigner.”  Or at least with brown-skinned foreigners who don’t fall easily into a category with whom many Americans are familiar.  People from Mexico and China aren’t often “accused” of being Muslim.  But people from Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Kenya — and Americans who descend from people from these nations?  They’re all a bunch of “Muslims.”

And when I say that some Americans don’t understand that Islam is a religion, I don’t mean that these people are ignorant about the details of Islam. I mean that there’s a certain percentage of the population that literally doesn’t know that Islam = religion, just like Christianity = religion.

What made me conclude this? Just look at the bizarre anti-Muslim comments that spread throughout Twitter after the crowning of Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri. This woman is an American woman of Indian descent.  Like most Indians and people of Indian descent, she’s not a Muslim.  And yet you’d never know that from reading Twitter after the pageant. Here’s a representative tweet that declares that Miss America is a “Muslim”:

Miss America Muslim

Of course, in lieu of actual information about Islam, Americans with this mindset “know” that Muslims are associated with terrorism.  Hence, the Twittersphere was abuzz with accusations that Miss America is a terrorist:

miss america terrorist tweets

Of course, this all relates to anti-Obama rhetoric that Barack Obama is a Muslim.  Barack Obama has stated clearly that he’s a Christian, so people who “accuse” Obama of being a Muslim are (1) believers in the conspiracy theory that the president is lying about his religion and is part of a secret Muslim takeover or something like that, or (2) do not understand that “Christian” and “Muslim” are mutually exclusive categories.  For people who define a Muslim as a “brown-skinned foreigner,” and who know that Obama’s father was from Kenya (and who was, indeed, a Muslim), then of course Obama’s a Muslim.  I mean, just look at him!

Obama flag

Among other things, this makes for a more socially acceptable way to use a racial slur to describe the president. After all, it’s not socially acceptable to call him the n-word, much as some people would like to do this.

Of course, part of what’s infuriating about the “Miss America is a Muslim” rhetoric is that it demonstrates ignorance about the world. Anyone with basic knowledge of geography and culture knows that India is not located in the Middle East, and that dissimilar countries like India, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya can’t be lumped together as one homogenous group of brown-skinned people.  But it’s more than just cultural ignorance.  The “Miss America is a Muslim” rhetoric points to the birth of the term “Muslim” as a racial slur directed at an ill-defined group of brown-skinned people, some of whom of actually Muslim and some of whom are not.

Drunk TV, or What if All TV was like Drunk History?

Drunk History
Think that history documentaries are too stodgy? Clearly you haven’t been watching Drunk History. On this new Comedy Central sensation, historical events are recounted to the audience by graduate students who are extremely drunk.  Famous actors are cast to star in the drunken storytellers’ tales.

To me, the humorous part about Drunk History isn’t that the storytellers are drunk.  It’s the juxtaposition.  Drunk History is done in the format of a crusty history documentary. You know, those documentaries that are narrated by professors blazer sleeve patches and monocles?  Replace the narrator with someone who’s falling down drunk, and you have humor through juxtaposition.  Here’s a scene from the early days of Drunk History, before it made its way to Comedy Central:

Of course, it’s not for everybody. My mother, a former social studies teacher, watched Drunk History for about three minutes and promptly left the room.

But this makes me wonder. What if all TV were like Drunk History?  Maybe Comedy Central has kicked off a new genre.  Maybe we’re all so fed up with Reality TV that we’re ready for a paradigm shift to Drunk TV. Here are just a few of the many possibilities for Drunk TV.

Drunk Cable News

Wolf Blitzed?

Wolf Blitzed?

Filling up 24 hours with news is next to impossible, so a good deal of that time is devoted to people yelling loudly at each other about their opinions.  That’s old already.  Instead, why not replace the Sean Hannitys of the world with drunk commentators who say things like,

“Dude, what the f**k are we gonna do about the Middle East?”

“I know, man!  We’ve been fighting one f**king war after another there since that Ayatollah sh*t!”

“It’s all about oil, dude!  It’s all about f**ing oil!”

Note:  this would work better with some commentators than others.  Wolf “Blitzed” Blitzer would be a riot.  So would Rachel Maddow.  But we probably don’t want to see Sean Hannity drunk.  The rage potential would be just plain dangerous.

Drunk Food Network

I know, some of the Food Network stars already seem a little drunk, like Rachael Ray, and don’t even get me started about Guy Fieri:

guy fieri drunk

But wouldn’t it be more fun if the cooks on the Food Network really were drunk?  “OK, dude.  What was I doing here?  Oh yeah, making pesto.  It looks kinda like it”s missing something.  Oh yeah, let’s add some parmesan cheese.  Just throw it right in the blender, as much as you want, like three or four pounds or so.  Now let’s press the button on the blender… OH S**T!!!  @#$%!!! I forgot to put the top on the blender.  That’s going to be a mother****ing mess to clean up.”

Try not to vomit on the antiques.

Try not to vomit on the antiques.

Drunk Antiques Roadshow

Antiques Roadshow is a great concept.  People dig up old stuff from their attics and bring them to this travelling roadshow of stodgy appraisers.  The appraisers tell them how much their junk is worth, and sometimes it’s worth quite a bit.

The problem with Antiques Roadshow is that it’s on for about 8,430 hours per day, and PBS really needs to mix things up.  Why not hand out cocktails to the appraisers and the junk-wielding masses before the show?

“Dude, I found this piece of c**p chair in my attic.  I didn’t think it was worth s**t, but my old lady made me bring it in.”

“Well, your old lady is one smart lady!  This chair is from the Eduardo period.”

“Dude!  The Eduardo period?  Does that mean it’s worth, like, millions and zillions of dollars?”

“Indeed!  Millions and zillions of dollars indeed… but oh dear.  The value is now greatly decreased, now that you’ve vomited all over it.”

Drunk House Hunters

"B**ch, that's one ugly f***ing house!"

“B**ch, that’s one ugly f***ing house!”

As I’ve written before, House Hunters is predictable and boring.  Most of the people buying houses want the exact same kind of countertops, bathroom fixtures, and floors.  As they walk through the houses, couples make the same “witty,” gender-stereotyped comments over and over again.  “Oh, honey, look at that massive walk-in closet.  it will hold all my stuff.  But where will your stuff go?”

it would be a whole lot more interesting and honest if the House Hunters looked for houses while drunk.

“Oh, honey, look at that big walk-in closet. It will fit all my shoes.”

“Huh. We’d have plenty of room for your shoes if you hadn’t spent half the down-payment on your f***Ing designer shoe collection.”

“What the f**k is that supposed to mean?  How much f***ing money do you spend on beer?”

“I wouldn’t have to drink so much if I didn’t have to listen to you talk about your f***Ing shopping sprees all the time.”

Drunk Weather Channel

Weather TV is weird.  Once in awhile, something huge like a tornado or a hurricane happens, and people are glued to their TVs.  But most of the time, Weather TV is just a bunch of people talking about the weather and saying inane things like, “Well, it’s going be another scorcher out there today!”  These inane things would be a whole lot more funny if the meteorologists were blasted.

Of course, this might be closer to reality than we think.  Search for “drunk weatherman” on YouTube, and you get a surprising number of real weather clips:

Drunk Sportscasters

beer at baseball gameSome of the best sports commentators out there are drunk guys.  They’ve had a few beers at the ballpark and they’ve got something say to that @#$% outfielder who belongs in the Little League and that @#$% manager.  Some of these guys are actually pretty funny.  Maybe they ought to be covering actual broadcasts.

This would be especially effective in covering baseball games, which last on average for 4,380 hours.  Even the best color commentators run out of interesting obscure statistics to discuss, so why not liven things up with some drunk guys?

Drunk C-SPAN

I need a drink just looking at this image.

I need a drink just looking at this image.

Our electorate would be much more well-informed if we only watched more C-SPAN.  Unfortunately, other than watching suburban city council meetings on Cable Access Channel 17, there’s nothing more dry imaginable.  About the only thing that would drive up C-SPAN’s ratings would be drunkenness.

Drunken commentators, drunken Senators, it doesn’t matter.  Drunk political debates would be especially cool.  Especially Vice Presidential debates.

So… Drunk TV Anyone?

Of course, this is all just wild and silly speculation.  Or is it?  There are an awful lot of cable TV hours in need of content.  Is Drunk TV any less likely than the fact that there are dozens of shows about pawn shops, prison life, redneck child pageant queens, and cupcakes?  And hey, they’re already using alcohol to get reality TV contestants on shows like The Bachelor to act like idiots.  Sadly, the intelligence level of so much of our TV is so low that getting everyone on TV drunk may not be that big of a change.

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