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White Anti-Racism: No Hairshirt Necessary

Sans Hood Pass: Daniel Tosh

Daniel Tosh

Prick or Not a Prick? Who cares. He's funny.

To continue today’s previous train of thought:

If you haven’t watched Tosh.O yet, get to it! I’m a little embarrassed by how much I look forward to the Wednesday at 10:30 on Comedy Central television event. Daniel Tosh is definitely a prick on the show, and probably is in real life, but it’s just so funny. In a nutshell, he finds the funniest clips since Grape Stomp and multiplies their comedic value 10x by pushing the envelope of all social mores regarding race, gender, sexuality, obesity, poverty, drugs, everything. Also, there are a lot of clips of people falling. Annnnnyways, back to the point…

Tosh is white–as is most of his audience. If you watch the show a few times, you’ll gather from his asides about privilege/money that he had a fairly privileged upbringing which has not earned him a ‘hood pass.’ Instead of joking about race under the pretense that he has earned some sort of right or has a unique credibility, Tosh uses the audience’s cultural memory of race issues and their subsequent discomfort with white people making comedy involving black people to great comedic effect. He is fully aware that his bits involving black people have increased cringe potential because of the performance’s racial set up. IMO, he manages to avoid producing racist comedy by treating all different people as fair game, by exploiting the individual for his/her particular situation, and/or highlighting already apparent racial tension as opposed to creating it from scratch.

Other times, Tosh deftly (though not necessarily kindly) navigates issues of racial authenticity and stereotypes in more involved segments, as he does here while sending up Denny Blaze.Mr. Blaze is a white rapper (from the 80’s? he still has a mullet) who calls himself Average Homeboy and utters such gems as “I think it is a reverse discrimination to say ‘hey you can’t rap because you’re white’ but it’s ok to make a movie [called] White Men Can’t Jump but if you made a movie called Black Men Can’t Swim then there’s a biiiig [creates commotion shaking hands]”

At the moment, only one segment of the show strikes me as racist. In this clip, a 11 yr old black boy films himself instructing the viewer how to manipulate a tube of Smarties candy into a fake cigarette that actually puffs. (Genius, right? I wish I had thought of that!) The first joke Tosh makes is “I didn’t know Smarties came in menthol!” and while all the following jokes were standard fare about gateway drugs and how smoking IS cool, I just didn’t feel right about the menthol comment. I know there are many ways of explaining that it’s not racist, but it gave me a bad feeling in my stomach. I think the bad feeling had a lot to do with the fact that the subject is a young boy. So many kids of all races make fake cigarettes. There was nothing about this kid other than his skin color that prompted me to think of him as black. I’m never one to claim ‘colorblindness’ but I guess I really was disappointed that Tosh decided to make this clip about race when it could have just been about kids’ funny imitations of drugs.

Possibly relevant: I think I hate the ‘black people smoke menthols’ meme more than other race rumors because I hate hate hate menthols. Even when I smoked a pack a day menthols made me feel ill immediately and gave me a sore throat for days. It pains me to think that anyone smokes them.

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Filed under: On TV, Personal, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

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