Sunday, April 18, 2010

Doesn't the "Obama = monkey" thing ever get tired?

A young Australian found himself in the media spotlight this week for twitter comments comparing Barack Obama to a monkey. The President was being interviewed by Kerry O'Brien for the 7:30 Report and Nick Sowden, issued these tweets:

"I'm not sure why they paid kerry to fly to america, if they wanted an interview with a monkey surely a Ferry to Taronga would have sufficed."

"If I wanted to see a monkey on TV id watch Wildlife Rescue."

Below is an interview with Sowden from The 7pm Project in which he discusses the controversy that arose. The guy has that special something that makes me want to slap him around the face several times.

If you spotted the obligatory "I'm not racist, I'm down with coloured people" statement, 10 points for you.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure why this made the news. If I was conservative and a conspiracy theorist I would suspect the media were using it to have a dig at the Federal Opposition, since Sowden at the time was a member of the Queensland Young Liberal National Party. But whether or not he is aligned with any major party, Sowden appears to be a nobody who likes to say controversial things to get attention. And the media duly gave it to him (as I am now - don't worry, the irony is not lost on me).

Is he actually racist? Who knows. Perhaps he is exercising a kind of "hipster racism"; using racist stereotypes in a detached and ironic way to mock them. If that is so, the problem still remains that not everyone is necessarily in on the joke. If you're going to be perpetrating these kinds of racist ideas, you better make damn sure that you lay the irony on thick enough for all to see. Otherwise you're just part of the problem.

The story was reported in The Age, where you can also read the comments that accompany it. As usual, it includes a bunch of people saying things like "How come it's not racist to call a white person a monkey, but it is when it's a black man? What a double standard."
Read a f***ing book, I say to them, and hopefully they might eventually grasp the idea of historical context.

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