Humor or Racism?
In “Fox’s Satiric Little Secret Finds a Growing Audience” (by William Keck, Feb. 24), “Mad TV’s” Debra Wilson says that “the Asian community is taking themselves much too seriously” when they complain about Alex Borstein’s Ms. Swan character. Here’s an open letter to Wilson:
You are an African American performer making fun of African American characters. Cool. That’s fine. Whatever. But Borstein is a white performer who dons Asian makeup and makes fun of Asians with an obnoxious nail salon-worker character (check the history of the character, she started out as “Ms. Kwan”).
Asian Americans have teamed up with African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans to help get more people of color on prime-time TV. African Americans have benefited greatly from this, Asians hardly at all.
We’re angry because not only are we barely visible on TV, when some white actress creates an annoying Asian character based on a lousy stereotype, the African American producer refuses to take her off the air, and we feel dissed and disenfranchised.
For decades (if not centuries), white performers have been dressing up as Asians to mock the way that Asian people look and talk (such as Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Jerry Lewis in “Hardly Working”). Ms. Swan is in this same, tired tradition. I see nothing cutting-edge about this kind of race-based humor.