Which is your immediate reaction:
(a) Appreciate the skill and talent of the young star to inspire his team to the win?
(b) Grumble because you support the team that he helped defeat?
(c) Shrug, change the channel and watch something else?
(d) Get on twitter and make a joke about how due to his race, you think the player’s penis is probably quite small?
If you answered (a),( b) or (c), you are probably a normal and well-adjusted human being. Answer (d) and you might have cause to wonder: Why did my mind go there? It’s a basketball game. It doesn’t really have anything to do with penises.
If you answered (d), you are probably Jason Whitlock from Fox Sports, who today apologised for his offensive tweet.
Now, since Twitter is the world's premier forum for idiots to express their every idiotic waking thought to the world, I tend to forgo commenting on racist tweets. Gosh, someone tweeted something stupid and offensive? I'm amazed. Who would have ever imagined such a thing could happen on a medium on which the two most commonly-used words are probably "OMG" and "LOL"?
But I thought this deserved further comment for a couple of reasons.
First, why are so many people obsessed with Asian men's junk? As I've mentioned before on this blog, the vagaries of internet search engines mean that a disturbing proportion of the views I get everyday are people googling "Asian cock" or "is Ken Jeong's penis real?" (And yes, it's rather saddening to be the go-to blog for people who have nothing better to do but obsess over Ken Jeong's tiny genitalia. But I digress.)
But I understand why someone who watched The Hangover would have some fascination with Ken Jeong's tackle. But it's less clear perhaps why someone like Jason Whitlock thought to make an Asian-dick-joke after watching Jeremy Lin torch the Lakers for 38 points. It's also less clear why he thought it was funny. Or why he thought the world needed to hear yet another Asian-dick-joke at all.
Don't get me wrong, I’m quite open to humour based on ethnic stereotypes. Yes, such jokes can often be extremely offensive, but within the right context and with sufficient level of wit, they can be extremely funny. I admit: I’ve certainly made my share of Asian-dick jokes in my time, often about myself. A Chinese-Indonesian close friend of mine once quipped about me, after hearing me sing, "He has the soul of a black man but the genitals of a Chinaman". Come on, admit it, that's some funny shit.
The problem is that within a form of humour that by its very nature dances around the borders of what is racially offensive and inappropriate, not everyone is clever enough to tell an ethnic-stereotype-joke that is funny and witty enough to transcend its inherent uncomfortableness.
And the context around which the joke is told can go some way to making it more acceptable or less. If Jeremy Lin was caught making a sex tape, or made Ken Jeong-style nude cameos in films, it might be somewhat understandable (and sadly inevitable) that someone is going to dredge up the small-penis stereotype in a joke. But when a basketballer who happens to be Asian-American scores 38 points in a game, I’m not sure why the first thoughts of someone like Jason Whitlock appear to be all about the sex he thinks Jeremy Lin is going to be getting, post-game (which is unlikely to happen anyway if Lin’s very public religious beliefs are any indication), but also about the dimensions of Lin’s genitalia in such a situation.
Just think on that for a second: if you watch someone produce a fantastic basketball performance and immediately start thinking about how big his penis is, that's probably something you need to sort out with your therapist.
The Asian penis in popular culture
"Tim Tam from Vietnam". Or, how NOT to make jokes about Asians.
Race, IQ and penis size