Thumbnail photo via Flickr users Dave and Margie Hill
In this column, I’ve chronicled all manner of racist, pseudo-racist, racially insensitive, and vaguely pornographic videos. With just a modicum of effort, you can watch such modern classics as “DISRESPECTFUL NIGGER GETS THUMPED,” “typical nigger behavior,” and that toe-tapping ditty, “Quit your bitchn’ nigger!” by Johnny Rebel.
YouTube isn’t just a place for racists to express themselves knowingly. It’s also overflowing like a backed-up port-a-potty at EDC with candid videos of racist rants filmed without the subject’s knowledge or consent. The latest clip to burn up the charts on TRL (Total Racism Live) is of an unnamed black tour guide in San Francisco who lays out a poorly considered thesis on why Chinatown is unlivable (spoiler alert: a lot of problems are related to ginseng). The tourists watching this spectacle are said to be German. Some of them applauded her screed. German tourists cheering on a black woman saying racist things about the Chinese? It sounds like either the world's worst happy hour bar joke or the world's best episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
To this furious woman, Chinese people are loud, plentiful, smelly, and do weird things like eat frogs and walk around their neighborhood. They also enjoy dragons, which seems to be the last straw for her. Maybe she's a character from a shitty fantasy novel and a dragon killed her parents. Or maybe she was just drunk off whatever is in that bottle she's holding. I hate to speculate, but that’s all I can do since the tour guide is not named, the tour bus company is not identified, and I don’t even know if this video was shot recently. Why let that get in the way of our anger?
I wouldn’t say it’s irresponsible to post a video like that. It’s irresponsible to pay your credit card bill a month late, leave your baby locked in a hot car, or put a tarantula down your trousers. It just seems pointless at first glance. Whenever videos like this Chinatown clip are released, the same tired dance begins anew. A smug laptop monkey embeds the video and proceeds to tell his or her audience that they “can’t believe racism still exists in 2014.” This is, after all, the Blessed Age of Obama. How can anyone be so oblivious to the fact that we won? Actually, yes. I can believe it. There are racists in every country. Yes, even you, Luxembourg. Don’t think I forgot about you! Some of my best friends are probably racists secretly plotting against me while I sleep. Dave will be so disappointed to find out that we got him KFC gift certificates and a cotton gin for his birthday, they must say.
These accidental racists become mini-internet celebrities overnight. Who can forget our angry stripper friend from upstate New York seen above? Or the "crazy, rude, and racist" woman in Boston screaming "fucking Allah!" after an incomprehensible fight with a convenience store clerk? When I pulled up the New York stripper video, I had to sit through a trailer for Dumb and Dumber To before I could watch the real thing. It was a reminder that tragedy in our culture can often double as entertainment. These videos get hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of views. If the comments are indicative of the overall audience for these little nuggets of heaven, the average viewer is either appalled that someone could be so racist or eager to hear someone use the word “nigger” and really mean it.
So, if you are not the kind of twisted bastard who amuses themselves with rhetorical violence, then what are you watching this stuff for? It’s probably the same reason middlebrow people watched Honey Boo Boo: to feel superior to someone appreciably less "cultured" than they are. Well, I’m not racist, am I? Shame on them! I must show all of my friends how horrible these people are immediately, and across multiple social media platforms!
I don’t begrudge anyone their Mussolini moment of masturbatory bliss, but there are so many of these videos online. What are we learning now that we've seen some poor fool call someone a "chink" yet again? That old white people sometimes say awful things in public? That certain small towns have an issue with race? Why not question the entire concept of outing racists if it’s going to happen no matter what?
That’s the very thing I asked myself when I decided to stop doing This Week in Racism back in July: What’s the point? Believe it or not, I was hoping to never write another one of these columns for the rest of my life.
OK, thanks. For those of you who have never done a weekly column about prejudice and hatred—or for those still convinced that everyone in the world is hopelessly in love with each other like in a fucking Nancy Meyers movie—it’s hard.
The news is overwhelmingly about atrocities of one form or another—and that's not even counting the Cathy comics or the box score for a Laker game—but race issues are especially distressing, since the heart of the matter is that some people don't like other people because they look different. Who wants to be reminded that this planet is full of spiteful, nasty, cruel beings with only one desire: to see you fuck off and die? Why subject oneself to bigoted, prejudiced imagery? What sane person would want to write about that?
And yet, here I am, bringing back a column that's brought me much mental anguish, that's encouraged people to call me all sorts of names that start with the letter "n," and made me reconsider my desire to live on a such a bleak planet. I'd leave, but I can't get a WiFi reception on Jupiter.
I think we all just want to try to make sense of this nonsensical existence. That’s why we post and watch videos of hateful people saying awful things. It’s why we’re collectively fascinated by serial killers, rapists, and war criminals. We just want to figure out why. This column is my feeble attempt to solve that puzzle.
The Most Racist Tweet of the Week:
Follow Dave Schilling on Twitter.