That’s true, that’s fine, but why can’t he relate to a white guy too?
October 8, 2014 9:21 AM   Subscribe

SLIMED! Author Mathew Klickstein not a fan of Nickelodeon's approach to diversity. I think it’s worse when they shove it in there. Sanjay and Craig is a really good example, which funnily enough is written in part by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi from Pete & Pete. That show is awkward because there’s actually no reason for that character to be Indian — except for the fact that [Nickelodeon President] Cyma Zarghami and the women who run Nickelodeon now are very obsessed with diversity. Which is fine — do what you’re gotta do, and Dora [the Explorer] was certainly something of a success, but there’s no reason for [Sanjay] to be Indian at all. No one working on that show is Indian. They’re all white. It’s all the white people from Bob’s Burgers and Will and Chris.

The Atlantic's Olga Khazan responds.

David Willis responds.
posted by emjaybee (223 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I really dislike his dismissal of Clarissa Explains It All, saying that it was only due to Sabrina The Teenaged Witch that people went back to Clarissa. Um, nope. Not for this girl.

But then again, it sounds like he has such a hard time relating to anyone who is not a white guy.
posted by jillithd at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2014 [20 favorites]


As a white guy, I'm pretty sure this dude would have a hard time relating to anybody. Because he is a jerk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [39 favorites]


Half the sitcoms on Disney channel now have an Indian kid thrown in for some reason. Same reason?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2014


there’s actually no reason for that character to be Indian

Funny. There's actually no reason why I'm white either.
posted by schmod at 9:28 AM on October 8, 2014 [159 favorites]


Ha. I read that guy's book last year as part of my big push to read at least 100 books... his book was a serious struggle. If I have to keep putting your book down and turning to Google to figure out who it is you're interviewing and what show's they're talking about because you think identifying people or filling in any missing details in the narrative will ruin your project, then you are not doing a good job. It's funny that he's so wrapped up in the divinity of the white male, because as a sample of the species, he's a terrible representative of how creatively gifted they are.
posted by palomar at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


thrown in?
posted by sweetkid at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is confusing. First he complains that no-one working on the show is Indian, then immediately backflips and says you don't need to be indian/alien/white to relate to or write those.

I guess I see where he might be coming from, but he deflates a lot of his own arguments. He's right to focus on whether a show is good or not, but then doesn't really address whether the shows are, instead opting for some concern-trolly tokenism fears.

Hmmmmm.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I read this yesterday. He seems irrationally angry that white people might have to identify with people of color, and unaware that people of color are constantly being asked to identify with white people.

I grew up with Speedy Gonzalez and his lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez as the only characters that looked like me on children's television. I'm glad things have changed.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2014 [117 favorites]


was made by all white people! Or Pete & Pete, which was all white people! I’m not saying white people are better at it or anything, I’m just saying that part of it doesn’t matter.
He keeps saying that the quality is the most important thing, and that the color and gender don't matter. But, then he keeps bringing it up. All the time.

I wish I had something snarky to say, but mostly, it just makes me sad. I had never heard of him before, and now I wish that were still the case.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2014 [20 favorites]


there’s actually no reason for that character to be Indian

The comments on the Jezebel article about this are especially great, especially this one;

"Ugh, like totally, dude. Sometimes when I'm going about my day, in an office that is predominantly white and a friend circle that isn't heavy on the South Asians, I'm just like "Wow. There is actually no reason for me to be Indian right now." Like how do Indian people even happen? It's just so fuckin' awkward, man. We just pop up and we're Indian, even if there is no reason for us to be!"

posted by sweetkid at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2014 [155 favorites]


Half the sitcoms on Disney channel now have an Indian kid thrown in for some reason. Same reason?

Yeah, what reason could there be for having diversity on TV? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by kmz at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


I grew up with Speedy Gonzalez and his lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez as the only characters that looked like me on children's television.

I totally value your actual point, but I'm also super amused by the idea that you're a mouse with a giant hat.
posted by threeants at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [159 favorites]


Nothing demonstrates more the need for diverse characters than the idea that someone who's not a straight while male must be in there for a specific reason. Especially because all too often, you'll see those same people remarking on being "colorblind" or "not seeing gender" or some crap like that, all without the self-awareness of how inherently contradictory that is.
posted by evilangela at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [47 favorites]


Yeah, the whole bit about "why can't an Indian person identify with a white guy?" was so, so backward and reminded me of my experiences watching tv in the late 80s and 90s when I was growing up. I was told there were no Indian people on TV because "no one wants to look at that" and "it's the market" blah blah.

I'm glad Indian kids today are seeing Sanjay and Craig and Aziz and Mindy and getting some representation out there.
posted by sweetkid at 9:33 AM on October 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


(changed tag "matthewklickstein" to a one-t "mathewklickstein."

Also one of the commenters in the original article said the Nick panel Klickstein was hosting at NYCC had been cancelled but I couldn't find any online confirmation.
posted by emjaybee at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2014


post is missing the White Whine tag
posted by poffin boffin at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [32 favorites]


My number one hope is that this dude's bizarre interview leads more people to the writing of the increasingly-bemused interviewer, Pilot Viruet, because she is great:

Tweet response 1
Tweet response 2
Tweet response 3
Tweet response 4

BONUS: Pilot's recent column on Girlfriend Intervention.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


My sister is 7 years younger than me and 27. She sent me a text about a year ago with a link to a youtube clip of Sanjay & Craig, it was something along the lines of:
"This is so amazing. We never had this growing up in Texas. He's Indian AND a cartoon AND not wearing a turban or serving someone tea. MORE OF THIS PLEASE!"
So yeah, stuff like this matters. It matters a lot.
posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2014 [36 favorites]


I grew up with Speedy Gonzalez and his lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez as the only characters that looked like me on children's television.

It's a shame you weren't watching Sesame Street, where Luis and Maria lived. Or The Electric Company with Rita Moreno. Or Villa Alegre...
posted by hippybear at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Related:

I also recall the one time my sister turned to me as a child in Toys R Us and asked me with a sad face: "Why aren't there any Indian dolls?"
posted by Fizz at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I grew up with Speedy Gonzalez and his lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez as the only characters that looked like me on children's television.

That reminds me of when Cartoon Network decided to stop showing Speedy Gonzales cartoons.

Cartoon Network/WB: Yeah, we're gonna stop showing Speedy Gonzales cartoons cause they're crazy racist.
Latin Americans: Nooooo! We love Speedy Gonzalez.
Cartoon Network/WB: Wait...you know it's crazy racist right?
Latin Americans: Don't take it off, we love it. Speedy is the best.
Cartoon Network/WB: Ooookay. *starts showing Speedy Gonzales cartoons again*

Taught me something about how expressions of racism are tightly tied to culture.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:42 AM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


I like how you can tell he's an asshole even before he gets to the whining racism just from the way he completely dismisses the interviewer's perspective about Clarissa Explains It All being hugely popular among her cohort of teenage girls as being merely an artifact of the "cult of Melissa Joan Hart", which—I don't think is a thing that really exists.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [44 favorites]


Aside from the diversity in the U.S. market a big reason for having non-white characters in tv programs is international distribution. There are lots of kids in India that would appreciate Sanjay being Indian.
posted by birdherder at 9:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Of course he's trying his hand at stand up.

Of course he is.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [29 favorites]


According to his twitter, the Nick Nostalgia Nite has been cancelled.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2014


I grew up with Speedy Gonzalez and his lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez as the only characters that looked like me on children's television.

It's a shame you weren't watching Sesame Street, where Luis and Maria lived. Or The Electric Company with Rita Moreno. Or Villa Alegre...


Yeah, but Sesame Street was only on for an hour or so a day. Then it was back to the Sea of White People (Mostly Dudes) and Ethnic Stereotypes! I mean, I'm white so I noticed the lack of girls more than the lack of characters of color who weren't offensive, but it's pretty blatant to me now.

On TV, they were still showing those Bugs Bunny cartoons with the African hunter character who was basically Sambo when I was a kid in the 70s. And yeah, Speedy Gonzalez. I went to see a re-showing of Song of the South with my grandma in the theater and nobody blinked an eye. It was pretty bleak.
posted by emjaybee at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


According to his twitter, the Nick Nostalgia Nite has been cancelled.

I just saw that and am laughing IRL
posted by Greg Nog at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2014


Indian!
posted by marienbad at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


"cult of Melissa Joan Hart",

lol. Speaking as someone who was all over Sabrina etc. and occasionally watches Melissa and Joey, if there is one, it's a very small one. And definitely didn't exist when Clarissa Explains it All was on.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I were Indian or Jewish, for example, and watched something where the characters are Jewish or supposed to be, and if it’s not specific to that, then I start to wonder, “Why are they doing this?” It becomes blackface.

That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also the creator of Doug likened the cancellation to a book burning
posted by crashlanding at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


To me, Nickelodeon was great growing up because boys and girls pretty much watched the same thing. As a boy, I loved Clarissa growing up because she was cool and funny. Yes, they could have done more for diversity, but in a world then of GI Joes and Barbies and now where there's Disney Channel marketed to girls and Disney XD marketed to boys, it was a nice era of kids TV.

However, on Nick Jr, they had Gullah Gullah Island, which was not only about a black family, it was about a specific subculture that has pretty much never been in pop culture otherwise.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


I haven't even gotten to any of the conversation that deals with race, and I'm already put off by this guy from this (paraphrased) exchange:

Q: People fondly remember Pete & Pete and Clarissa in particular.

A: That's not true, Pete & Pete is a good show that still holds up, and Clarissa was a cheesy sitcom.

Q: But a lot of people do remember Clarissa very fondly.

A: That's not true. Clarissa had a laugh track.


We get it, you're not a fan of Clarissa. There are other people besides you, guy, your opinion is not science.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [42 favorites]


If I were Indian or Jewish, for example, and watched something where the characters are Jewish or supposed to be, and if it’s not specific to that, then I start to wonder, “Why are they doing this?”
As someone who is Jewish and grew up watching the exact same television this guy did, my reaction to Jewish characters was mostly "oh hey that makes ... four. Four Jews on the shows I watch."
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I. . . what? The reason for Sanjay to be Indian is because he's Indian. People of color don't have to serve a purpose to a white audience to exist, they get to be people who deserve existence all on their own! Why not wonder what the reason is for Craig to be a snake?
posted by KathrynT at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [42 favorites]


Then the interviewer talking to a Nickleodeon rep who said Clarissa was a massive hit when it first aired soooo
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


KathrynT, snakes are relatable. Snakes are an everyman. But too often these days, if a snake is trying to do stand-up, no one is interested. But the second a woman or minority starts talking, suddenly everyone LOVES THEM and isn't like OH I'M BORED BY THE SNAKE even though being a snake is NATURAL, it MAKES SENSE instead of being some INDIAN who is NOT A SNAKE
posted by Greg Nog at 9:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [80 favorites]


Q: But a lot of people do remember Clarissa very fondly.

A: That's not true. Clarissa had a laugh track.


Side note: I am really sick of the "audience laughter is always worse" meme today. Not everything needs to be wacky and weird and awkward, like The Office. Can't some shows be funny and about jokes? Those shows are better in front of an audience.

Also, "laugh track" assumes that there was no audience. There was an audience; it was taped in Orlando.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:52 AM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


How come none of the creatures on Ahhh! real Monsters where white dudes? I smell reverse racism.
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 AM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I read that and just kept saying, no, no. The interviewer tried to help but he was insistent.
posted by jeather at 9:53 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Today I learned that, per Mathew Klickstein, Telly on Salute Your Shorts was blackface. #themoreyouknow
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


The best part of reading that was mentally inserting all the painfully awkward conversational pauses that you just know must have existed during the actual interview.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [29 favorites]


There's no 'reason' for the character to be white, either.

Fuck this racist asshole.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Plus, she was a girl, and many of the people who are writing these blogs and editing these pieces are women — which is fine, it’s just the way that it is, and a lot of the publishing world is women.
...
[Nickelodeon President] Cyma Zarghami and the women who run Nickelodeon now are very obsessed with diversity.
...
You might not like this or care, but it’s very hard to be a man in the publishing world. No one talks about that. My agent: woman. My editor: woman. My publicist: woman. The most successful genre is young adult novels — 85% of which are written by women.
...
I’m starting to do stand-up comedy now and it’s hard to go up there and talk about how hard it is to be a guy. People don’t wanna hear it! A girl can go up there and talk all she wants about how hard it is to be a girl, and she gets applauded.
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2014 [23 favorites]


To just shove it in there because, “Uh-oh, we need diversity,” is silly and a little disgusting.

Children's television is one of the few places where forced diversity is a Good Thing. Kids need to see themselves reflected in the stories, and they also need to grow up learning that the world is a pretty diverse place. Teach it young and it will stay with them for life.

There were complaints a few years ago because one of the presenters on CBeebies in the UK (aimed at babies to eight year olds) was visibly disabled: she was born without a right forearm. Some parents seemed to think it would disturb their child to see her "stump". The truth is that young children are pretty open to difference, and--if the parents let it just be--the presenter would help normalize disability in the eyes of their children.

So yeah, as patronizing as it might seems, "one of everybody" is a great rule for children's television.
posted by Thing at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [38 favorites]


Please let this asshat inadvertently kill my generation's stupid obsessive nostalgia industrial complex.
posted by Think_Long at 10:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


As someone who is Jewish and grew up watching the exact same television this guy did, my reaction to Jewish characters was mostly "oh hey that makes ... four. Four Jews on the shows I watch."

That's just it, too. He makes the point that if they are going to have a character of a certain ethnicty/race then, they have to be fully embedded in whatever culture they are "supposed" to have. But, that makes no sense - unless you are deeply ignorant and cannot countenance the fact that a person of a certain race/ethnicity might not fully comport to your notions of who they are and what they like.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:01 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


I read the interview and...man. It starts off fine, talking about old Nickelodeon cartoons and then...wow. Klickstein just won't shut up, he keeps digging this huge hole and you think "OK, he'll recognize what he's saying at some point and be quiet", but no.

When an interviewer says to you "There’s no comparison between Sanjay and Craig and blackface" because of something you've said, maybe you should shut the fuck up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on October 8, 2014 [27 favorites]


evilangela: Nothing demonstrates more the need for diverse characters than the idea that someone who's not a straight while male must be in there for a specific reason.
I've been reflecting on this lately as I catch up on TV shows. The reason the Rich's youngest son is a cross-dresser (aside from Eddy Izzard's influence)? None. Not necessary to the plot in any way, even when it is commented upon. The reason Walter White's son is disabled? Because he is. The reason an Asian-American sergeant delivered a message to the head detective on Elementary? Because he's an actor hired for a role.

Wasn't like that when I was growing up. In fact, I remember my attitudes shifting from "Why would they use a black actor for this role?" to "Why did we ever care?". Feels good.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


He forgot to shit on Rugrats for being Jewish and having a Passover episode.
posted by Talez at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [24 favorites]


Dora [the Explorer] was certainly something of a success

Yes, "certainly something of a success". That seems like a fair and accurate assessment.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [33 favorites]


It's got to be really hard to have no one but yourself to blame your current position, I can't wait to hear some hot takes on that in stand up format!
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Latin Americans: Nooooo! We love Speedy Gonzalez.

Which makes sense to me. There's not a lot of identifiably Mexican cartoon characters from that era, let alone heroes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:13 AM on October 8, 2014


I'm having the same problem with The Mindy Project. They cast an actress who is obviously of Indian heritage in the main rôle, but nothing the character does has anything to do with her being Indian.
posted by Flashman at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


He forgot to shit on Rugrats for being Jewish and having a Passover episode.

For real, the fact that Jews could have our own holiday specials was a huge thing for tiny Dinty_Moore. And it wasn't some dinky straight to video thing that nobody had heard of! Everyone should be able to see themselves reflected in the media they watch and get their own holiday specials.

I also loved the crap out of Gullah Gullah island, but I remember that it was on at kind of an awkward time?
posted by dinty_moore at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the first Bar Mitzvah I had ever seen on TV was in an episode of Hey, Arnold!
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the last line of the article got cut off:

".... THE ARISTOCRATS!"
posted by schmod at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


His thing about why Clarissa isn't a classic is...because it was one of the few shows with a girl as the main character? And its fans were girls, who have now grown up to be women, many of whom write about pop culture or are otherwise engaged in making TV and stuff?

Is he just unable to hear the words coming out of his mouth?
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2014 [41 favorites]


Black people are blackface and white writers can write anything but should only write about white people. Also I guess it's tough being a man because of women? Got it.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


And its fans were girls, who have now grown up to be women, many of whom write about pop culture or are otherwise engaged in making TV and stuff?

duh, girls don't count and also have cooties
posted by poffin boffin at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


He forgot to shit on Rugrats for being Jewish and having a Passover episode.

No! Don't you see? Passover is a reason for them to be Jewish!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Scroll down
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm having the same problem with The Mindy Project. They cast an actress who is obviously of Indian heritage in the main rôle, but nothing the character does has anything to do with her being Indian.

Since it's Mindy Kaling's project, I'm confused as to what the problem with the show would be? They didn't cast her, it's her show.
posted by winna at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


I never want to hear anybody complain about how the media, specifically women in the media, more specifically "Social Justice Warrior" types, are always looking to start "controversies" like this. Because not only did this guy bring it up himself, but Pilot Viruet attempted to give him SO MANY OUTS and he was like "hey can you hand me another five shovels because I need to keep digging?"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:26 AM on October 8, 2014 [56 favorites]


I’m starting to do stand-up comedy now and it’s hard to go up there and talk about how hard it is to be a guy. People don’t wanna hear it!

Louis CK does this all the time. The last season of his show was a season-long musing on how hard it is to be a guy, and he won an Emmy.

Maybe the problem is that Klickstein isn't funny.
posted by muddgirl at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2014 [38 favorites]


Clarissa Explains it All was, of course, excellent and groundbreaking and wonderfully weird. Here's a recent A.V. Club look back at one particular episode.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's no 'reason' for the character to be white, either.

Fuck this racist asshole.


Uh, pretty sure the guy giving this interview is white and OBVIOUSLY he himself is the most interesting person so why would anyone ever want to watch anyone not exactly like this guy because he's so fascinating?

Oh, wait, shit, because they have a personality and/or soul. Damn. Fair point then.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Every time I see a clip from Goodness Gracious Me, I am reminded that it is one of the best shows ever, so thanks, sweetkid. Everyone should just go watch episodes of that instead of paying attention to this moron.

I don't know, racist dude is racist. I feel like I should care about this more than I apparently do, because I'm pretty invested in the counterargument, but this guy's only point is that white men are better than everyone else. It seems obviously false, but it's also a statement of such pure faith that it's kind of hard to have a conversation about it.

One thing I will say, though, is that he couldn't have picked a more hilarious example than "Pete & Pete is in the suburbs of New Jersey, it's a whitewashed area". New Jersey has the highest concentration of Indians and Indian-Americans in the United States; it ranks 1st by population percentage and 3rd by population number. New Jersey is, further, one of the most ethnically diverse states in the country: 2nd in Jewish population percentage, 2nd in Muslim population percentage, 3rd largest Korean population, 4th largest Chinese and Filipino populations. At 59.3% non-Hispanic white per the 2010 census, it is the 13th least whitewashed state in the nation.

I mean, what a surprise, a bigot is also factually incorrect. But not only is New Jersey the densest in Asian Indian population, during the period of time he is talking about, it was also the location of the most notorious hate crime concentration against that population for decades (the Dotbusters). The presence of Asian Indians in New Jersey has been a central topic of that state's racial dialogue for the last 30 years. So his choice of example is pretty funny to me.
posted by Errant at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2014 [39 favorites]


...the "cult of Melissa Joan Hart", which—I don't think is a thing that really exists.

Spoken like someone who never ritually burned a Ferg-Face effigy inside of a pentagram drawn in day-glo puffy paint, amirite?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:31 AM on October 8, 2014 [23 favorites]


Jazmine Hughes post at The Hairpin on this is great, and the ending is funny (and also a reality I would be on board with)

If race and representation don't matter, then here's a totally arbitrary list of programming I'd like to see: a daily hour-long program called John Cho Standing Around Being Really Attractive. Parks and Recreation with just Tom, Donna, and April, The View with just Rosie Perez and Whoopi Goldberg, The Office with just Stanley. Laverne Cox with a talk show. Dancing With the Stars But The Only Star is Harry Shum, Jr. Mindy Kaling would be the Shonda Rhimes, Shonda Rhimes would be the Aaron Sorkin, and Aaron Sorkin would be just some dude watching from home. A girl can dream!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:31 AM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


To just shove it in there because, “Uh-oh, we need diversity,” is silly and a little disgusting.
Well, there are a few silly and disgusting things in this article, but using an Indian-American actor in a sitcom isn't one of them.

Also, I don't see how they got away with making Ren a chihuahua. The show's creators didn't even include any canines OF ANY BREED! It's like they were just trying to throw a bone to Big Dog.
posted by drlith at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Scroll down

well I hope you're not implying that his previous work reflects any deep-seated issues he has with women
posted by Greg Nog at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


I think his point is that it would be better if Nick hired an indian-american writer to make a show about indian-americans and their experiences, rather than to just throw an indian-american character into a random show... and I don't disagree, but man, could he have explained it any worse?
posted by Huck500 at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


D:

oh god what
posted by poffin boffin at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


well I hope you're not implying that his previous work reflects any deep-seated issues he has with women

There is literally no clearer window to a man's soul than his small-press-anthologized erotica.
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2014 [42 favorites]


I'd have a little sympathy with the point that diversity is best started in the writing room and extended into the cast, but sadly that's not the point this racist made.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think from here on out, when I encounter a dude explaining why he isn't wrong, he just hasn't explained himself thoroughly enough, I'm going to react by dumping green slime on his head.
posted by almostmanda at 10:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


this dude is like justin lookadoo levels of creeper
posted by poffin boffin at 10:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I got one sentence into that description and backclicked so hard I think I broke something.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Since it's Mindy Kaling's project, I'm confused as to what the problem with the show would be? They didn't cast her, it's her show.

I believe Flashman was being sarcastic.
posted by schroedinger at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm having the same problem with The Mindy Project. They cast an actress who is obviously of Indian heritage in the main rôle, but nothing the character does has anything to do with her being Indian.

I think this is a joke? Also, there are actually many things about her being Indian, especially the place Indian Americans occupy in our culture, most of which prob go whizzing over the heads of non Indian American audience members, but there's plenty else for them to identify with.
posted by sweetkid at 10:36 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ragdoll, oh creepy, creepy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:37 AM on October 8, 2014


I think from here on out, when I encounter a dude explaining why he isn't wrong, he just hasn't explained himself thoroughly enough, I'm going to react by dumping green slime on his head.

I don't know if that will work, and here's a detailed list of why not...
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


the heinous lookadoo saga for anyone who is feeling nostalgic for hilarrible things
posted by poffin boffin at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be willing to bet that he doesn't think of himself as racist.

And he's probably confused and hurt that people are calling him a racist.

I imagine most racists are.
posted by el io at 10:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, hey, and part of that A.V. Club discussion I linked above is... Pilot Viruet.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:43 AM on October 8, 2014


Latin Americans: Nooooo! We love Speedy Gonzalez.

Well, yes. Speedy Gonzalez is a heroic, smart character who always triumphs over the bad guys - who are usually representative of white America/authority in some way. It's Slowpoke Rodriguez who gets most of the criticism, and he's not in all of the cartoons.
posted by mightygodking at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


D:

oh god what


WHY DIDN'T HE JUST CALL 911? THAT IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU FIND SOMEONE PASSED OUT IN AN ALLEYWAY! JESUS CHRIST! There is not an exception for people with "silken hair". Fucking God.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sorry, "silken blonde hair" which makes sense because there's no reason for her to have coloration in any way according to this guy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:45 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think his point is that it would be better if Nick hired an indian-american writer to make a show about indian-americans and their experiences, rather than to just throw an indian-american character into a random show... and I don't disagree, but man, could he have explained it any worse?

I kind of do disagree though. There are certainly experiences I have had as an Indian-American that are unique to that status, but for the vast majority of the part, I'm pretty much American first and Indian second. My heritage shades my experiences, but the dominant culture informs them to a much greater extent. Of course I'd prefer to have more Indian-Americans in the writer's room -- I'd prefer to have more of everybody in various writers' rooms -- but I'm less zealous about the idea that only Indian-Americans can write Indian-American characters than I used to be. 3rd- and 4th-generation Indian-Americans are pretty much Americans; the assimilating melting pot is still very much a thing, despite the concerns of bigots who see political correctness as a destruction of the American social fabric.
posted by Errant at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'll just leave this here for your dangling participular amusement:

"Having at a young age already left an indelible mark on the realms of television, radio, film, arts therapy, journalism, publishing, and fashion, artistic prodigy Matt K[lickstein] was born in 1981 and grew up in Lake Forest, California."
posted by drlith at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


His thing about why Clarissa isn't a classic is...because it was one of the few shows with a girl as the main character? And its fans were girls, who have now grown up to be women, many of whom write about pop culture or are otherwise engaged in making TV and stuff?

That's the not so hidden mindset behind a lot of geek/fan entitlement, made crystal clear: it only counts if it's about white, straight guys. Everything else that's popular doesn't count but has been made popular through manipulation by the p.c. police and feminazis in Hollyweird and those New Yorkers, with the emphasis on the silent J in New.

It's all part of the Republican Culture Wars, whose tropes and theories have been stewing through internet geek culture since the mid-nineties.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't know if that will work, and here's a detailed list of why not...


posted by almostmanda at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Having at a young age already left an indelible mark on the realms of television, radio, film, arts therapy, journalism, publishing, and fashion, artistic prodigy Matt K[lickstein] was born in 1981 and grew up in Lake Forest, California."

Most influential fetus ever!
posted by winna at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh, hey, and part of that A.V. Club discussion I linked above is... Pilot Viruet.

That's the weirdest thing about this; she was obviously the right person to interview this guy because early-90s Nickelodeon shows are so clearly her wheelhouse, and she's really into chatting excitedly about how much she loves old Nick stuff.

This was not hardball; the dude took the most softball book-promotion interview he could have been given (and to extend the baseball metaphor a little further) rather than knocking it out of the park, proceeded to instead grotesquely fuck the ball.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [68 favorites]


Yeah, he was the centerpiece of Forbes' "One Under One" list that year.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


I am honestly now wondering how much of his event getting cut has to do with his weirdass rant at the interview, and how much of it has to do with his weirdass rant at the interview leading people to search his name on Google, Amazon, etc. and the corporate heads realizing that maybe a guy who didn't bother to use a pen name on his transgressive erotica isn't the best evangelist for leading a celebration of children's television.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2014 [24 favorites]


I think his point is that it would be better if Nick hired an indian-american writer to make a show about indian-americans and their experiences, rather than to just throw an indian-american character into a random show... and I don't disagree, but man, could he have explained it any worse?

I think you're giving him far too much credit. People who drone on about how hard it is to be a white male these days and "Political Correctness run amok!" don't typically have the best of intentions when it comes to improving diversity in society.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I’m starting to do stand-up comedy now and it’s hard to go up there and talk about how hard it is to be a guy. People don’t wanna hear it!

Louis CK does this all the time. The last season of his show was a season-long musing on how hard it is to be a guy, and he won an Emmy.


Louis CK's show taught me a lot about the hardships of being a white straight male. I'm serious, I honestly think my dating life has improved because of that show, because most of the people I've dated are white straight males in their 30s and 40s. I love how that show acknowledges that his experience is the default and also examines what that means and the anxieties it can cause.
posted by sweetkid at 10:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [20 favorites]


"Some of these other shows — My Brother and Me, Diego, and Legend of Korra — it’s great that they’re bringing diversity into it now. ... But you know those shows are not nearly as good as Ren and Stimpy, which was made by all white people!"

so, is he basically saying no one will be nostalgic in the future about this current crop of shows because they're diverse "for no reason" and therefore not as good?
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:54 AM on October 8, 2014


Facebook page for the oral history event he was to host. It has indeed been cancelled. Some entertaining-to-horrifying comments there.
posted by emjaybee at 10:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Facebook page for the oral history event he was to host. It has indeed been cancelled. Some entertaining-to-horrifying comments there.

My favorite is "At what point did you think that interview was actually going well?"
posted by griphus at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


There are some few roles in the performing arts that are defined by their ethnicity. Othello, of course, is one since his otherness is part of what drives the plot. Hamlet, on the other hand, is not defined by his ethnicity and could easily be played by the best actor (or actress) available.

A bulk of characters on TV tend to be more like Hamlet - not in writing quality but in the sense that their ethnicity has absolutely no bearing on the plot. In theory all that should matter is whether the acting is any good or not.

The rationale I hear for not casting from a more diverse pool of performers is "well our audience would never accept somebody of that ethnicity in the lead." I've heard the same rationale used for casting, for example, Asian men exclusively as martial arts experts and nerdy best friends.

This is allowing the assumed racism of your audience to dictate your casting choices. It's great that there are more people in television willing to break the color barrier and to just cast good actors. With each success, the assumption about audience racism recedes a little and the casting door opens a little wider.

Let the people in America who only want to see white people acting slide into the dustbin of history. They might whine and complain about how unfair diversity is but there's going to be less and less of them around, so that whining will grow very quiet perhaps even in our lifetimes.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]



I think his point is that it would be better if Nick hired an indian-american writer to make a show about indian-americans and their experiences, rather than to just throw an indian-american character into a random show... and I don't disagree, but man, could he have explained it any worse?


But they didn't "throw" anyone onto anything "random" - the creators wanted to make a show about a kid and his snake, and they made the kid Indian American, because that is a type of American that is available to be in a show. And they have an Indian American actor doing the voice.

I mean the problems are several: we need more diverse writing/production/management in media, yes, but also that doesn't mean someone's "throwing" anyone in if they decide to do a show and make someone a certain ethnicity. I haven't seen Sanjay and Craig but from what I hear they're doing a good job with it. It's important to have Indian Americans writing and making art about their own experiences, and it's important to have Indian Americans represented in art others create, but the level can vary from "this guy is Indian American" to "lots of specific things about Indian American culture" and both are okay, as long as there's some attention to character and nuance and it isn't Apu.
posted by sweetkid at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


But why is the other guy A SNAKE?
posted by briank at 11:01 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd be willing to bet that he doesn't think of himself as racist.
And he's probably confused and hurt that people are calling him a racist.
I imagine most racists are.
I spent a fair amount of time really frustrated and confused when various people I follow and read talked about "white supremacy." I was totally comfortable talking about how bad racism was, and I understood "white supremacy" as, you know, neo-nazis and shit. So when they would toss that phrase around it frustrated me. Why, I wondered, where they talking about what I thought was relatively benign stuff in language that seemed better suited to Stormfront BS?

This kind of thing -- the conversations where black or female or asian or any non-normative characteristic require some sort of ironclad justification for their inclusion in a work of entertainment -- was what helped open my eyes. It revolves around the idea that whiteness (and to a lesser extent male-ness) is fundamentally a default and that everything else is a deviation from that default. This chucklehead lays it out in a way that's unambiguous and easy to see and impossible to brush off because he was so persistent in explaining and expanding on his folly. But it happens in lots of other contexts, too, and that's what those folks I was frustrated at were trying to explain.
posted by verb at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


rather than knocking it out of the park, proceeded to instead grotesquely fuck the ball.

Maybe if the ball had been alive and conscious, he wouldn't have even wanted to fuck it.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:03 AM on October 8, 2014 [19 favorites]


Oh, here's a question for the journalists in the crowd: in this sort of press-release-interview scenario, as far as I am aware, it's generally acceptable/ethical to smooth out the natural overlap in conversation (interruptions, breaks, etc.) to solid questions-and-answers as long as you don't significantly distort what either party has said, and you don't misrepresent which answers go with which questions. Is that right? Because if it is, the only reason to actually have the final copy of the interview read like this:
But if there’s a good show about a white guy and then a good show about an Indian kid, what would be the difference if both are good quality, like —

We’re going back in circles. I feel that it’s exploitative and I feel that it’s predatory.

I think it’s mostly to get kids to —

You’re saying, “If it doesn’t matter, then why not let them be Indian?” I’m saying, “If it doesn’t matter, why make them Indian?”
Is to make it really clear that the person you are interviewing will not stop cutting you off.
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on October 8, 2014 [28 favorites]


It revolves around the idea that whiteness (and to a lesser extent male-ness) is fundamentally a default and that everything else is a deviation from that default.

Right, but the flip side is that if you have "ethnic" characters that don't deviate from that default, then you're white washing.

And the flip flip side is that if your character is named McGinty, they're not expected to have a St. Patrick's Day episode.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2014


Maybe if the ball had been alive and conscious, he wouldn't have even wanted to fuck it.

When this conflicted milquetoast discovers a baseball from the sandlot sitting in his front yard one night, he decides to bring it inside to nurture it back to health. But when he discovers that the base ball is a sex base ball, Oliver has to make a decision: Will He Fuck The Base Ball
posted by Greg Nog at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2014 [33 favorites]


will he comb the barbie doll wig he put on it after it becomes disheveled from his creepy humping
posted by poffin boffin at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, is this a safe place where I can tell everyone I thought Ren and Stimpy was gross and boring? Like, I understand it has stylistic value and is probably the coolest thing an 8-year-old boy has ever seen, but after you hit 30, maybe you should start reassessing the BEST CARTOONS EVER rankings in your head, especially if you fancy yourself some sort of Nickelodeonologist.
posted by almostmanda at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


will he comb the barbie doll wig he put on it after it becomes disheveled from his creepy humping

Oh man Cast Away is never going to be the same.
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


The thing that most annoys me about his event cancellation is that he's failing to deal with the repercussions of his comments. He's acting like he's being persecuted by those diversity feminazi meanies when the cancellation was totally voluntary. It's not like there's a gang with hoods and burning crosses in his yard. If you can't deal with the criticism, maybe it's because you've never in your life had to deal with any crap.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:20 AM on October 8, 2014


...especially if you fancy yourself some sort of Nickelodeonologist.

I fancy myself a bit of an armchair Nickelodeonologist, and regarding Ren and Stimpy I can say that the show is super-important in the sort of ground it opened up for plot and characterization and levels of entertaining unpleasantness in cartoons -- there would be no Spongebob without Ren and Stimpy, in my opinion -- and also, generally a masterwork of animation (Kricfalusi is a genius) and a great pastiche of 50+ years of cartoons that came before it.

All that being said, I have literally no idea how that cartoon appealed to more than like 10% of the viewing audience, especially kids who were just idly watching TV. No idea at all. I'm surprised it went on as long as it did and I'm equally surprised it aired prime-time on Nickelodeon.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2014 [27 favorites]


Also, is this a safe place where I can tell everyone I thought Ren and Stimpy was gross and boring?

YUP. One thousand percent agreement. Who in their right mind would argue that Ren and Stimpy is going to be more fondly remembered than Legend of Korra or Dora the Explorer?
posted by protocoach at 11:23 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


griphus: that makes ... four. Four Jews on the shows I watch."

Ah... Ah... AHHHHH!

crackle of thunder
posted by dr_dank at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2014 [51 favorites]


Even Othello doesn't need to be a Moor. He just needs to be of a different ethnicity from everyone else.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Weird. I have no idea how he didn't predict exactly the negative reaction he got.

I wonder how he'd analyze the cartoons of my childhood (early 70s, mostly). Lots of "ocean of white guys", but "Fat Albert" was a mainstay, and Little Rascals re-runs.

Johnny Quest was my first exposure to Indian children on TV. I couldn't even tell you if it was well done or not, because I haven't seen it in nearly 40 years. Wikipedia says that the actor who played him in the 1990s reboot thought it was good to see an East Indian on TV that wasn't a bad guy, so there's that.

It gets even odder when you go back another generation or so. Seeing old shows from the 1960s and forward, where the obviously ethnic roles were played by obviously british actors is disconcerting, at best.
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2014


Also, is this a safe place where I can tell everyone I thought Ren and Stimpy was gross and boring?

Yes, but we may look at you funny for the rest of the day.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wow, this is museum-quality Terrified White Guy stuff:
Plus, she was a girl, and many of the people who are writing these blogs and editing these pieces are women — which is fine, it’s just the way that it is, and a lot of the publishing world is women.

. . .

No one says this about sports — they do sometimes, the owners — but sorry, that most basketball, football players happen to be black. That’s just the way that it is. Publishing, too! You might not like this or care, but it’s very hard to be a man in the publishing world. No one talks about that. My agent: woman. My editor: woman. My publicist: woman. The most successful genre is young adult novels — 85% of which are written by women. That discussion doesn’t really come up when it’s the other way around. It is 2014 now. It’s not 1995. Political correctness needs to change.
I'm just grateful we've gotten to where people point and laugh and dude's show gets canceled instead of it being doesn't-even-need-to-be-said normal. Progress!
posted by languagehat at 11:28 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


I mean, NOW I think that R&S is tedious and shrill and annoying but it doesn't detract at all from the fact that the first time I saw it (and this goes for south park as well) it was Brand Fucking New in so many ways that were really groundbreaking and influential.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


Even Othello doesn't need to be a Moor. He just needs to be of a different ethnicity from everyone else.

But, but...Why can't a white person be a different ethnicity from other white people? This is why no one has nostalgia for Othello.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


All that being said, I have literally no idea how that cartoon appealed to more than like 10% of the viewing audience, especially kids who were just idly watching TV. No idea at all.

You have to put them in context. At the point R&S came out, cartoons were... not like that. They were usually heavy on the product placement, super sterilized and very mainstream. R&S came out around the same time Beavis and Butthead (and the simpsons) but they represented just a groundbreaking new world at the time.

I don't think R&S have held up that well over time, but god, there in 1991, they were a breath of fresh air. Of course, I was 19 then, so it is possible to overstate things, but R&S really that much different from the things around them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:32 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


> "Pete & Pete is in the suburbs of New Jersey, it's a whitewashed area ..."

I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey and HAHAHAHAHAHA no.
posted by kyrademon at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


But, but...Why can't a white person be a different ethnicity from other white people? This is why no one has nostalgia for Othello.

Oh they can, they just need to black up, like Laurence Olivier.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, is this a safe place where I can tell everyone I thought Ren and Stimpy was gross and boring?

I DON'T THINK YOU'RE HAPPY ENOUGH!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm genuinely surprised that some people were able to find some "point" they're giving him the benefit of the doubt of poorly articulating. There is no point. The whole rant is based transparently off the frustration of his status as a white guy seemingly starting to matter less. He almost says so straightforwardly, when wondering why Sanjay has to be Indian, directly implying that white is the justifiable default.

Anyway, I'm surprised that guy is my age. He seems way to young to have the PC PTSD that defines Gen X white guys these days. Though it'd make sense if the creators of those nostalgia shows like John K (who complained about the same things that Klickstein did) are his heroes.
posted by deathmaven at 11:40 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that he's arguing that people of color should be writing shows acted by other people of color, but since children of color can totally identify with white boys, all audiences can watch the "real" shows that are all-white all-male instead, because those are the best shows, and no one has to worry about those icky other people.
posted by jaguar at 11:45 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Half the sitcoms on Disney channel now have an Indian kid thrown in for some reason

If by half you mean exactly one (Jessie), then yes, you're absolutely right.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


He also wants Poc to behave in stereotypical ways because otherwise it's not realistic, it's just creepy blackface. Apparently.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


"there would be no Spongebob without Ren and Stimpy"

I actually liked R&S when it first came out, but I would gladly sacrifice it on a flaming alter to have been spared the square.
posted by drlith at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was a pretty big Ren & Stimpy fan back in the day (I was 14 in 1991) but I'll gladly admit that it was only worth a damn for the first six episodes, and tailed off significantly from there. And the less said about the Kricfalusi-spearheaded 2000s reboot on Spike, the better. R&S was influential as heck, but those first six episodes were pretty much lightning in a bottle, never to be replicated. Nickelodeon's had plenty of shows that were as good or better than R&S, if not necessarily as inspired.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]



It seems to me that he's arguing that people of color should be writing shows acted by other people of color, but since children of color can totally identify with white boys, all audiences can watch the "real" shows that are all-white all-male instead, because those are the best shows, and no one has to worry about those icky other people.


Yeah, it's one of those "if you don't like it, why don't YOU write and make all these shows POCs? Why do we have to shove you in we just want to write about like, a guy, and a girl, you know, a simple thing." You know, we, the white people, about simple things like white people.

And then the argument always somehow goes on to be like "then we'll need to include people with no arms, and people in wheelchairs, and purple people, and when does it stop?"

Like...I have never understood why my ethnicity is the same thing as someone having no arms, except that it's all "weird" I guess to white people.

But also, sure, let's have a show about someone with no arms. The show can even have nothing to do with his disability. I mean why the hell not?
posted by sweetkid at 11:52 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I was describing the perfection that is Sanjay and Craig to a friend, and he had a harder time accepting a show about a boy named Sanjay than he did a talking snake.
posted by lekvar at 11:52 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


He goes from this:

"Why does someone who’s making something about a black person need to be black? Why does someone making a show about an Indian person need to be Indian? Why does someone making a show about women need to be a woman? If you’re making something about an alien, you don’t need to be an alien to do it. That’s ultimately what it comes down to: They will connect with the character no matter what. "

To this in the space of 2 questions:

"But the people who are making it are not. Look, I love the Bob’s Burgers people, I just don’t understand why they feel that they need to do that. Why not have it be Indian creators doing it, and have it more about the Indian culture and Indian-American culture?"But the people who are making it are not. Look, I love the Bob’s Burgers people, I just don’t understand why they feel that they need to do that. Why not have it be Indian creators doing it, and have it more about the Indian culture and Indian-American culture?

I think he hasn't really thought his ideas through. But he has that in common with a lot of people, we form ideas and just run with them. I hope that whatever exposure this gets helps reinforce the viewpoint that there is no default race for a character (whether it be white person for a main character, East Asian person for a martial arts teacher or Indian person for a convenience store owner) and to mix things up a little. I'd also hope that in trying to defend himself he puts a little more thought into what he actually thinks and either take a second stab at trying to articulate it or realize that he was just wrong on this one and say that.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


he had a harder time accepting a show about a boy named Sanjay than he did a talking snake.

what did he say?
posted by sweetkid at 11:54 AM on October 8, 2014


But also, sure, let's have a show about someone with no arms. The show can even have nothing to do with his disability. I mean why the hell not?

Isn't that basically Homestar Runner?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [32 favorites]


You’re saying, “If it doesn’t matter, then why not let them be Indian?” I’m saying, “If it doesn’t matter, why make them Indian?”

This person doesn't seem to be very self-aware of what they are actually saying. If it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter. They're saying "They should just be white if them being not-white isn't central to the plot."
posted by yonega at 11:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Related:
5 Disney Princesses Reimagined As Caucasian
posted by neroli at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I mean really, does he know that Walt Disney was not a talking fox? Or a ballet dancing hippo? I don't want to shock the poor man but is he aware that Chuck Jones is neither a mischievous roadrunner nor a determined but incompetent coyote. Does he know that no actual dinosaurs were consulted throughout the entire run of the Flintstones?
posted by poffin boffin at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


Johnny Quest was my first exposure to Indian children on TV. I couldn't even tell you if it was well done or not, because I haven't seen it in nearly 40 years.

I loathe the way "Oriental" has been saddled with racist baggage, but Hadji Singh is pretty much a class A example of why the term was coopted. His very name implies a Sikh who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca. Also, he's adept at Fakir displays. He might a well have been called Southeastasian Boy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:01 PM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Who in their right mind would argue that Ren and Stimpy is going to be more fondly remembered than Legend of Korra or Dora the Explorer?

Especially that very special crossover episode, Legend of Korra the Explorer.
posted by The Bellman at 12:04 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Little known fact: Gábor Csupó, Arlene Klasky and Paul Germain are all ageless talking babies.
posted by griphus at 12:05 PM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I mean really, does he know that Walt Disney was not a talking fox?

teach the controversy
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on October 8, 2014 [25 favorites]


I thought this, from the original article comments, was worth highlighting:

basement61

Hi everyone,

Sanjay & Craig Character Designer here... This guy could not be more ignorant and misinformed if he tried.
"They’re all white. It’s all the white people from Bob’s Burgers and Will and Chris."
I'm not sure where to start when addressing this statement. Our show is most definitely not all white people... We do have indian crew members, and the only person on our entire crew of over 50 people to have worked on Bob's Burgers is the shows Co-Creator Jay Howell... literally nobody else has worked on Bob's... not a single person... ever. I feel embarrassed for this guy.

posted by emjaybee at 12:08 PM on October 8, 2014 [59 favorites]


Who in their right mind would argue that Ren and Stimpy is going to be more fondly remembered than Legend of Korra or Dora the Explorer?

Considering that the crossover audience for those shows is probably very, very small, it seems like a pointless question.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:13 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


But also, sure, let's have a show about someone with no arms. The show can even have nothing to do with his disability. I mean why the hell not?

Isn't that basically Homestar Runner?


For the record, Homestar's disability has nothing to do with his lack of arms.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:14 PM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


The weird thing about Klickstein's comments is that he seems to approach the question of the race/ethnicity of characters on different Nick shows as if they're real people who auditioned to be on Nick and Pete & Pete got on because they're just naturally better and Sanjay got on because of affirmative action, or something. That's just weird.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:16 PM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: "Laverne Cox with a talk show."

Hnnnngh yes
posted by boo_radley at 12:20 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


emjaybee: "I thought this, from the original article comments, was worth highlighting:

basement61

Hi everyone,

Sanjay & Craig Character Designer here
"

Hahaha! Between this and the interviewer getting a Nickelodeon spokesman on the record with "yes, Clarissa was a HUGE hit, massive.”, it's like two Marshall McLuhan "You know nothing of my work." moments in one.
posted by mhum at 12:20 PM on October 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


Especially that very special crossover episode, Legend of Korra the Explorer.

The Legend of Dora
posted by Small Dollar at 12:26 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


All I can say is, the multiple Avatar series are some of Nickelodeon's finest cultural treasures.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:27 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Weird. I have no idea how he didn't predict exactly the negative reaction he got.

Cocaine's a hell of a drug.

I just imagine Pilot Viruet having the same expression and tone of voice that Terri Gross had when she interviewed Fever Simmons.

And for what it's worth, MY childhood had Ark 2, Space Academy, Space Sentinals, Cosby Kids, Mighty Isis and Wonder Woman. I don't think modern diversity compares all that well.
posted by happyroach at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know, racist dude is racist. I feel like I should care about this more than I apparently do, because I'm pretty invested in the counterargument, but this guy's only point is that white men are better than everyone else. It seems obviously false, but it's also a statement of such pure faith that it's kind of hard to have a conversation about it.

I get this, but I care because of an interest in discussing representation whenever this sort of thing comes up, not necessarily just for a chance to point and say RACIST or whatever. Obviously this guy is in way too deep to really change. He's so basic he doesn't understand his own points, and seems to think that anything related to diversity is because "we" "have to" ("we" being white people and "have to" being because law suits or progressive points). Like, it can't at all be because there are actual people of color who have real positive experiences seeing themselves well represented in media. That can't be a thing. Everyone's just happy with Apu and Peter Sellers in The Party.

But prob like you Errant his Indians Indians Indians focus got my attention in its specificity, and I'm really heartened that the general reaction to this was "what an out of date crank" not "well, why DO we need to "throw in" Indians". I mean things are changing fast for Indian Americans/South Asians, there's a lot more representation, but it's still like ten people. It's just when you're the dominant group it's like "whoa, they're EVERYWHERE" because you didn't have to think about it at all but now you have to think about it a tiny little bit.
posted by sweetkid at 12:36 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


One of my best friends was a director on Bob's Burger. He directed many episodes in the first season (including the pilot episode!). He also happens to be Asian. He'll be very surprised to hear that only white folks were responsible for the creation of the show.
posted by cazoo at 12:41 PM on October 8, 2014 [24 favorites]


I don't know, racist dude is racist. I feel like I should care about this more than I apparently do, because I'm pretty invested in the counterargument, but this guy's only point is that white men are better than everyone else. It seems obviously false, but it's also a statement of such pure faith that it's kind of hard to have a conversation about it.

I get this, but I care because of an interest in discussing representation whenever this sort of thing comes up, not necessarily just for a chance to point and say RACIST or whatever.


I think I was unclear in my statement. I was musing on the fact that I don't care as much as I normally would or think I really should, which is interesting to me, but I was most definitely not trying to say that you or other people shouldn't care. I, like you, am very glad that people care, that people are invested in this discussion, and that the reaction is what it is. I was absolutely not trying to say that this is irrelevant, just that I find myself unusually blase about this particular incident, and I apologize for any implication otherwise.
posted by Errant at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2014


The thing that's so weird about this is that when he talks about the representation of people with disabilities, he mostly gets it right (i.e. South Park treats Timmy and Jimmy as just another couple of kids in the class, whereas something like I Am Sam was just horrible). Why is it so difficult for him to view people of color in the same way?
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:44 PM on October 8, 2014


As a purple Canadian fortune teller, it was a great comfort to turn on Pinwheel in the 80s and see someone who looked like me.
posted by dr_dank at 12:44 PM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


The weird thing about Klickstein's comments is that he seems to approach the question of the race/ethnicity of characters on different Nick shows as if they're real people who auditioned to be on Nick and Pete & Pete got on because they're just naturally better and Sanjay got on because of affirmative action, or something. That's just weird.

That affirmative action metaphor is dead-on. The subconscious mindset of people like this guy is: white men deserve media representation by default, but women and people of color have to "earn" it. Of course, they're inherently less deserving, so most of the time when you see them being represented it's because of some lefty's insidious affirmative-action-for-fictional-characters plan.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:45 PM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


Clearly, we need to start the pendulum swinging back and honoring homogeneity as a value.

Wait, no, we don't. We really don't.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:46 PM on October 8, 2014


it was a great comfort to turn on Pinwheel in the 80s and see someone who looked like me

YES finally some representation for tiny blue and red french hat people
posted by poffin boffin at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I remember learning the term "unmarked case" several years ago from a discussion of a review of Julian Comstock on Making Light, and feeling very very happy that there was a term for this concept I was only barely able to express and was not particularly good at providing examples for.

At any rate, Klickstein could stand to learn about it but he'd probably just feel affronted by it: "But of course the default person is straight, white, and male!"
posted by johnofjack at 12:48 PM on October 8, 2014


Just because it's so great and such a counter-balance to this tool, here's Dan Harmon on being forced to make Community's writer's room half-women.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:52 PM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]



I think I was unclear in my statement. I was musing on the fact that I don't care as much as I normally would or think I really should, which is interesting to me, but I was most definitely not trying to say that you or other people shouldn't care.


No, I got that. Wasn't trying to call you out at all.
posted by sweetkid at 12:57 PM on October 8, 2014


And for what it's worth, MY childhood had Ark 2, Space Academy, Space Sentinals, Cosby Kids, Mighty Isis and Wonder Woman. I don't think modern diversity compares all that well.

I don't know all those shows but diversity doesn't just mean nonwhite people. It's definitely, definitely better for South Asian/Indian Americans right now.
posted by sweetkid at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


> My favorite [Facebook comment] is "At what point did you think that interview was actually going well?"

Mine is where someone talks about "the Nostalgic community," which I had no idea existed other than during PBS pledge drives.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know all those shows but diversity doesn't just mean nonwhite people. It's definitely, definitely better for South Asian/Indian Americans right now.

Well, IIRC, Ark II, Space Academy and Space Sentinels had Asian characters. But, point taken. I'm not sure even so that that overall, diversity has improved all that greatly. Then again, after the last year, I may be more pessimistic than usual.
posted by happyroach at 1:32 PM on October 8, 2014


"the Nostalgic community,"

this sounds like the title of a melancholy novel about a small fishing village or something.
posted by The Whelk at 1:34 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


This guy just might be one of the laziest people. I am so glad he got massively burned with the cancellation.

...I think that that can be predatory. I would be offended if one of the friends on Clifford the Big Red Dog had a friend who was in a wheelchair. I understand the idea of “There’s someone like me,” but … it’s necessary [that the show is] actually saying something, doing something with it...
Clifford the Big Red Dog had a character, Mary, in a wheelchair. And the spin-off, Clifford's Puppy Days had a character, Mr. Solomon, a wheelchair bound writer. What this guy classifies as "no point" was the whole POINT...people are people.
posted by Emor at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


So yeah, as patronizing as it might seems, "one of everybody" is a great rule for children's television.

Indeed. The unum in E pluribus unum is not Latin for White Guy, despite how the system was set up originally for white male landowners. All the waves of immigration (willing and unwilling) over the years have been accompanied by fights to make the United States live up to its own myths.

If a show is on United States television in 2014, has an all-white cast, and isn't set in the ethnic/historical equivalent of Neolithic Norway, there is no excuse not to have actual Americans on that show. Americans can be any color. In the not-too-distant future in fact, fewer Americans will be white than aren't.

America is strong because of its diversity, not despite it. The unum is not the only important part of the motto -- it's the pluribus that makes the United States what it is.

Some people don't get it and probably never will.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:43 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Pete & Pete is in the suburbs of New Jersey

Yo but apropos of not muchj, nope. It was partially filmed there. It is set in a nonsense world. But it is based on the childhoods of the two writers who both grew up in extreme upstate NY.

"There is a lot of weather in your show.

WM: We grew up like 30 miles apart from one another, so we were both instilled with this upstate New York concept of growing up, which meant all four seasons and nature nearby. All the things that make up Wellsville are our collective memories of upstate New York. That there were four seasons was important to us -- you know our last episode, "Saturdays," it's just a crappy winter day, it's that kind of cold that gets into your blood. When I grew up and you heard it was going to snow you would just pray for a legendary amount of snow; when you're a kid and there's a thunderstorm you want it to be the most amazing thunderstorm ever. We had a lot of shows that had that kind of weather. And it made our surreal episodes seem more real -- when kids look cold because they are cold, and you can see their breath and they're shivering, even though the story was about some completely bizarro idea, it helped ground everything. If it had been sunny all the time, it would have felt a little more lighter-than-air than we wanted it to be."

I don't think this has much to do with the racism thing. Or maybe it does. I don't know. But it wasn't set in New Jersey y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:49 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


huh that's interesting Potomac Avenue. But yeah the guy's point about "New Jersey is just really white" is still crap.

but he didn't know where the show was set? Damn, lazy is right.
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on October 8, 2014


I feel like you guys need to cut this guy a little more slack. It's really hard to give an interview with your head shoved all the way up your ass!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:55 PM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


There are some few roles in the performing arts that are defined by their ethnicity. Othello, of course, is one since his otherness is part of what drives the plot.

So Patrick Stewart, really, really, really wanted to play Othello. But he couldn't because he's white and that fucks up the play. So he was all sad for a long time, until, genius idea - make every other character black! Bam! Now he's good to go.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:58 PM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


> "but he didn't know where the show was set? Damn, lazy is right."

This is a self-styled Nickelodeon expert who does not think Clarissa Explains It All was a popular show that people remember.
posted by kyrademon at 2:07 PM on October 8, 2014 [19 favorites]


Yeah I'm pretty sure 40 minutes on Wikipedia would give me the same level of Nick Nowledge this guy seems to have.
posted by PMdixon at 2:13 PM on October 8, 2014


That Rag Doll monstrosity is like Jeffrey Daumer fantasizing about being able to order takeout instead of having to cook for himself.
posted by jamjam at 2:18 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


That interview made a LOT more sense once it was pointed out that the liklihood is he is very high on something very illegal.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:21 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love that I can read the "this interview was edited for length and clarity" disclaimer on the interview and hear Pilot Viruet straining so hard to be diplomatic.

I'm imagining the scene as the interview was getting cut down:

Viruet: Dude, this guy just took a giant racist dump all over so many characters that so many kids identify with. There's no salvaging this. Can I just add "Klickstein continued to be an incoherent bigoted fuckwad who couldn't take a hint" on to the end?

Editor: I wish you could , but we've got to at least try to keep up appearances here.

Viruet: (sigh) Fine. I'll work on it.

And then she managed to say her exact original sentiment, in so many words. Beautiful.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:25 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


The weather was one of my favorite things about Pete & Pete! Growing up in southern California, the all-four-seasons, almost-all-white America Pete & Pete evoked was totally foreign to me, and the main part of its appeal to be honest. I wasn't a devoted watcher of the show, but when I did watch it, I liked to sort of just sink into the atmosphere of its surreal, foreign-to-me Americana.

Anyway, I'm legitimately offended that this dude dares to compare Ren & Stimpy to the likes of Legend of Korra, and by extension, Avatar the Last Airbender. Fuck you buddy, both those shows transcend children's programming to be good art that tackles substantive issues without talking down to their audiences. I have genuinely learned more about redemption and forgiveness and making hard choices from those shows than I have from any number of other ostensibly adult shows.
posted by yasaman at 2:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Conversely, I would prefer that my own love for Ren & Stimpy not be tarnished by association with this ignorant shitpants.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yea the best thing about this horrible interview was learning who Pilot Viruet is.
posted by sweetkid at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


The Clarissa thing is revealing because the question is about which shows get the most attention, which is a metric wholly separate from perceived quality, but he keeps arguing the point as though he thinks that Clarissa wasn't very good or ground-breaking. Like he can't admit that the show is popular just because he doesn't like it.
You’re saying, “If it doesn’t matter, then why not let them be Indian?” I’m saying, “If it doesn’t matter, why make them Indian?”
It's like he's so close to an epiphany here, or perhaps just a realization that if it doesn't matter then maybe it's not worth arguing about so much.

It's also not a good idea to try to put yourself in the position of a minority and pretend that you know how you would feel or act:
I think that it does the culture a disservice. If I were Indian or Jewish, for example, and watched something where the characters are Jewish or supposed to be, and if it’s not specific to that, then I start to wonder, “Why are they doing this?” It becomes blackface.
If I were Jewish, I feel like I'd get tired of this world he's describing where the only depictions of Jewish people are those where their Jewishness is inherent to the plot, like they always have to deal with veiled prejudice or something, and I'd wonder when someone would allow a Jew to exist on TV just like white people are without having their whiteness be inherent to the plot.

But the whole point is that I'm not Jewish, and neither is he, and maybe we should listen to the actual groups in question instead of arguing from these dumb hypotheticals.
No one says this about sports — they do sometimes, the owners — but sorry, that most basketball, football players happen to be black.
I don't have any objection to the content of this sentence, except to say that no interview that approaches the fact that most pro basketball players are black has ever, ever gone well, particularly when the topic of the interview has nothing to do with sports. If this interview had been broadcast, and it was just playing in the background, this sentence would've bored its way into my head, and I would've stopped eating dinner and said to my girlfriend, “hold on, we need to watch this, because a trainwreck is about to happen.”

PR firms: if you're sending an author to an interview about anything, you should give them an index card to hold during the interview, and on that index card should be these words: “If you hear yourself talking about how most basketball players are black, stop.”
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


This guy should tattoo it on his hand.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:43 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just watched an episode of Sanjay And Craig since this thread was the first time I'd heard of it...... WTF
posted by yonega at 2:44 PM on October 8, 2014


That was one of the things I loved about Ghostwriter as a Jewish kid in a not-at-all-Jewish place. "Oh yeah, I'm like Lenni!" Except Tina was much cooler.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:55 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I were Indian or Jewish, for example, and watched something where the characters are Jewish or supposed to be, and if it’s not specific to that, then I start to wonder, “Why are they doing this?”

Just to go back to this gem, as an Indian American the only time I wonder "why are they doing this" is when the character is a stereotype - taxi driver, honor killing situation, convenience store owner (and of course always with an accent).

Often on Law and Order type shows you go "hey! Indian guy!" (for the uninitiated, your parents often said this while watching TV growing up, so it's at first almost an unconscious continuation of that) and then suddenly it's like ugh, he's not just some guy or a lawyer or something, he's honor killing or something.

If it's just a regular person who happens to be Indian American (with American accent) I'm basically like YAYYY THEY ARE DOING THIS

Also, again, hate his assumptions that "we" and "they" are all white people.
posted by sweetkid at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


Of course, Nobody's Asian in the Movies, you know.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:03 PM on October 8, 2014


"The thing that's so weird about this is that when he talks about the representation of people with disabilities, he mostly gets it right (i.e. South Park treats Timmy and Jimmy as just another couple of kids in the class, whereas something like I Am Sam was just horrible). Why is it so difficult for him to view people of color in the same way?"

From the interview, he works with people with disabilities. So he knows them, he sees the diversity and humanity. But without any exposure to, say, Indian kids, all he can think is WTF, that kid seems white!

Which, yeah, I kept thinking that because this was posted here, there must have been a revelation at some point in it — I do think that tossing in a token character is really lazy writing, and that being able to differentiate beyond, like, skin color or gender presentation is part of building a good character. Someone upthread mentioned The Mindy Show and that has a ton of stuff in there specifically about being from an Indian family.

I'll also say that another reason this stuff is important is because kids growing up now have even more diverse friend groups than I did growing up, and mine was already fairly diverse. Having a broad set of characters really does reflect more of how I experience the world. I'm a straight white guy, but I have Indian friends, I have Asian friends, I have black friends, I have Latino friends, I have female friends, I have queer friends … And while there's some joking about racism and sexism and homophobia, it's not, like, the main focus of our interactions — they're just people I've known for a while and get along with. Having diversity be a small part of my interactions with friends is just kind of the norm, and I think it's that way for an increasing number of people. So it's not a big deal that Sanjay's an Indian kid, you know? My Indian friends all have white friends, and each person's the protagonist of their own inner narrative. Why not have them be protagonists on TV too? It's not like they're Amish and disconnected from broader American culture.
posted by klangklangston at 3:15 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I keep going back to his nonsensical statement that Jersey suburbs are the whitest of the white and I realized that right here is an actual person who actually can say "I don't see race," because to him, people who aren't white don't even register as existing. And if he's forced to acknowledge that they do, it's this huge and unrealistic inconvenience requiring the sort of suspension of disbelief that normal people need to accept interstellar travel.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:17 PM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


Speaking as a human born with the name Craig, when I first heard about the Craig in "Sanjay and Craig" being a talking snake I thought "well, it's not the worst association with my name (remember Craig Kilborn?)". But I did wonder about the idea that "a kid whose best friend is a talking snake" becoming one of the most prominent Indian characters ever, just because of the quite racist 'snakecharmer' stereotype. I watched it, thought it was good, could be better, but if Sanjay's ethnicity had been anything else, it could've been worse.

Missing from the discussion is "Doug", the cartoon that debuted the same week as "Ren & Stimpy" and "Rugrats", where the title character was the only one with flesh-colored flesh; his romantic interest, Patti, had blond hair and dark brown skin, his best friend Skeeter was blue, the school bully was green, there were various purple people around and even Doug's own family members were more orange or pink than 'natural skin tone'. Now how much more diverse can you be than that?

And as a kid raised in an almost-all-white suburb in Los Angeles in the 1960s, I felt like I could relate to the environment of "Pete and Pete" better than most and wondered "how OLD are the guys who created this?"

I am old enough to realize there really is a rather narrow slice of the population for whom The Old Days are The GOOD Old Days, and if you really think things were really better back then, to quote another white cultural icon, "you might be a redneck".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hence his stupid comments about blackface; the idea of a nonwhite person who is not a grotesque racial or ethnic caricature is so alien to him that it might as well be a white person in black/brown/yellow/etc face for no discernable reason.

what im saying is that wow this guy is like king of the fucking douches with douchelegions fighting for all douchedom beneath his spring breeze scented banner
posted by poffin boffin at 3:22 PM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


A doucheducken?
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Regarding the state that Pete and Pete is set in: the "King Of The Road" episode canonically tells us, by way of the license plates, that it is set in "The Sideburn State".
posted by Greg Nog at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


no ducks
posted by poffin boffin at 3:31 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder what this guy would have to say about Russell, in Up. He’s an Asian kid, but because he’s isn’t a super kung fu whiz and doesn’t have a grandfather who is the owner of a mysterious Chinese pharmacy and doesn’t consort with magical dragons and doesn’t appear to be chained to his books to get all A+, all the time, he’s clearly a token diverse character SO WHY IS HE ASIAN?!?!?!

Seriously, though, I’m an Asian-American guy who was in my early 20s when I saw “Up,” and let me tell you, realizing that Russell was Asian-American for the first time made me so incredibly happy.

I might have grown up eating with chopsticks at home (and still do) but I also ate tons of McDonald’s and wanted to be a Boy Scout and went to my senior prom and had bad beer at my first frat party and to see this kind of experience (well, not the frat party part) shown on screen in a matter-of-fact way was so validating, even as a twentysomething.
posted by andrewesque at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2014 [29 favorites]


I 100% acknowledge that this is a terrible derail but here is my favourite UP fanwork, and may you all enjoy hours of gross sobbing over it just as i have.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:45 PM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


there’s actually no reason for that character to be Indian

There was a game a couple years ago called Rogue Legacy where your character would have genetic traits like "Gigantism" and be twice as large for that playthrough. One of the traits was "homosexual" and on the Steam forums someone complained that this trait didn't do anything until another user responded, "That's the point.". Sometimes characters are gay because that's who they are.

Same with the Indian character- He's Indian because he's Indian, like my neighbor is black because she's black. That's what the world looks like.
posted by GilloD at 4:21 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


especially if you fancy yourself some sort of Nickelodeonologist

I misread that as Nickelodeontologist for a second, which put my mind in a weird space.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:44 PM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


You might not like this or care, but it’s very hard to be a man in the publishing world. No one talks about that. My agent: woman. My editor: woman. My publicist: woman. The most successful genre is young adult novels — 85% of which are written by women.
...
I’m starting to do stand-up comedy now and it’s hard to go up there and talk about how hard it is to be a guy. People don’t wanna hear it! A girl can go up there and talk all she wants about how hard it is to be a girl, and she gets applauded.


Why the fuck does anyone care about anything this guy has to say? Ever?

More importantly though, i can't help but read from the available statements and description of the book he's written that this guy sounds like an actual honest to goodness woman hater. Like, full bore, the misogynistic equivalent of a guy who wouldn't live nextdoor to a brown person.

I'm sort of amazed that you can be that openly hateful and still have a public voice in 2014. I mean, i'm also not surprised because realistically the world is a fucking awful depressing place but WOW. Dude has some fucking issues he needs to work out.

His persecution complex is actually sort of funny at first, until you realize that it's rooted in that intense fucking hatred.

poffin boffin: the heinous lookadoo saga for anyone who is feeling nostalgic for hilarrible things

That is like, the perfect mefi thread. Holy shit.

It's like the awesomer than expected season finale to a show you love. Everyone is just so on point with the snark and fucking lolarious.

Also wow, what.
posted by emptythought at 4:59 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


poffin boffin: I 100% acknowledge that this is a terrible derail but here is my favourite UP fanwork, and may you all enjoy hours of gross sobbing over it just as i have.

NO

I HATE YOU

i did not come to this thread ready to get plowed by the feeldozer ;_;
posted by emptythought at 5:01 PM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Top Nickelodeonologists today report that after lengthy study they've found you can do that on television.
posted by The Whelk at 5:23 PM on October 8, 2014 [20 favorites]


protocoach: YUP. One thousand percent agreement. Who in their right mind would argue that Ren and Stimpy is going to be more fondly remembered than Legend of Korra or Dora the Explorer?

It may not seem like it now, but it is a historically significant show that will be remembered. It's like, the original star trek or something. Without ren and stimpy there wouldn't just be no spongebob, there'd also be no rick and morty or bojack horseman or a million other shows like that.

A lot of people don't like ren and stimpy or south park, but they really did do a lot of stuff no one had done before and regularly push the envelope in a way that shifted the overton window so that even milder shows could do stuff that previously would have seemed ridiculous or gotten shot down.

It was also very much an age thing. I watched a bunch of that show when i was like... 6-10, and like the other people on here who watched it in their preteen years i remember it pretty fondly. My mom, on the other hand, thought it was fucking stupid and awful.

So yea, i think both things you're saying can be true. They're not mutually exclusive. Legend of Korra will be fondly remembered for different reasons than ren and stimpy. It's like comparing coffee to beer.
posted by emptythought at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find it funny that he named his book about Nickelodean nostalgia after a gag in a show that wasn't even made by Nickelodean, just rerun by them. Some pop nerd he is.

Everyone knows that Canadians are responsible for the awesome of being slimed.
posted by jb at 6:03 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I remember watching You Can't Do That On Television and wondering why they all talked so funny. And my cousin's Canadian. I dunno, I remember the 80s as mass confusion. I don't understand how people had things together enough to like, have watched Sixteen Candles and stuff.
posted by sweetkid at 7:18 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I remember the 80s as mass confusion

p sure everyone alive today feels the same way
posted by poffin boffin at 7:23 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


There was a game a couple years ago called Rogue Legacy where your character would have genetic traits like "Gigantism" and be twice as large for that playthrough. One of the traits was "homosexual" and on the Steam forums someone complained that this trait didn't do anything until another user responded, "That's the point.". Sometimes characters are gay because that's who they are.

Not strictly true, the "gay" trait did have a few effects:

Reverses which statue (knight or lady) grants the chicken leg or mana potion in waypoint rooms.
Changing who greets the player as their lover in the final cutscene.

posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2014


When I was a kid, my parents loved Ren & Stimpy (they got a huge kick out of Log for some reason) but I thought it was coarse and refused to watch it. Same thing with the Simpsons, actually. They gave me a Simpsons baseball cap and I even tore the Bart Simpson decal off of it because I thought he was horrible.

But I fucking LOVED Clarissa Explains It All. One of my happiest memories growing up is when my parents and I were sitting on the living room floor eating mac & cheese and they let me pick what to watch on TV and OMG CLARISSA HAPPENED TO BE ON. I don't really understand why this guy doesn't get why children's television had (and has) plentyyyyyy of room for shows about smart, interesting, thoughtful preteen/teenage girls, and would assume that a children's sitcom centered around a character like that wouldn't be popular? Did he miss that Hannah Montana and the Wizards of Waverly Place were massive hits, too? Bizarre. Even if I were somehow not offended by the bigotry he's spewing, I would never want to buy his book about Nickelodeon because he seems to know literally nothing about childrens' television.

Oh, and Gullah Gullah Island was a really cool show (which actually got a long, multi-person shout-out on the radio earlier this week -- what's up with the zeitgeist?) but it *was* on at an awkward time. IIrc, its slot was at the tail-end of Nick Jr.; it was kind of the transition show from the morning Nick Jr. block to the afternoon Nick block. So kids who were already school age weren't going to be able to watch it daily.

Oh, and as to representation -- I'm Jewish, knew literally zero other Jewish kids growing up, and LOVED seeing Alia Shawkat play a Jewish girl on the short-lived and not at all note-able otherwise show, State of Grace, because it was the first time I remembered seeing a character that was American, Jewish, and also not, you know, about to be murdered by the Nazis or something. There were probably other examples, but that was the first time that I remember a children's show that actually explored what it meant for an American kid to be Jewish but also in a way that didn't "other" her. I mean, Hannah Rayburn is not the most important character in the world to me or whatever, but it's not as though kids don't notice the differences between TV World and Actual World and wonder whether the kind of like the stuff that TV World tries to edit out is the stuff they should be ashamed about in their own lives. They definitely DO notice when TV World chooses to represent something about Actual World that it doesn't usually, and it is meaningful.

And imo representation is important on all axis when it comes to kids' programming because they choose *so* little of their life circumstances -- not just in terms of their gender/sexuality/race but also more subtle or relatively mutable life circumstances. Kids are for sure going to notice and it's going to be meaningful to them whether the households on the shows they watch are depicted as two parents/suburban/middle-class-to-wealthy/native-born/biologically related/homogeneous, etc. My FAVORITE show as a young kid was Ghostwriter, and part of the reason for that was because it was legitimately inclusive (and I identified best with the characters on that show compared ot the characters on any other show on during that time). But I think generally, PBS tried harder in terms of being inclusive than most other kids' programming did. Though that might also be rose-colored glasses, too, because that tended to be my favorite network.

Anyway, this guy...his life is going to be downhill from here. This interview is like...a "my kingdom for a horse" moment. Hmm kind of makes me want to see Network again or something, maybe to do a compare and contrast.
posted by rue72 at 7:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just came in here to say that, growing up half-Jewish and celebrating Christmas/Hanukkah and Easter/Passover, the Rugrats Passover and Hanukkah specials meant so much to me. Especially given that it was Tommy Pickles who was half-Jewish - Tommy, the hero! Tommy, the bravest and noblest of talking babies! And that he had specifically a Jewish mom and a gentile dad, just like me? And that Didi's parents reminded me of my own grandma? It was amazing.

I wasn't even bullied or discriminated against or anything like that. I didn't feel alienated from society. I wasn't even particularly Jewish: never went to Hebrew school, to this day haven't set foot inside a synagogue, didn't celebrate any Jewish holidays but Hanukkah and Passover, and even those celebrations were really half-assed. But it still meant a lot to me to see myself reflected in Rugrats. So I can imagine that it would mean much, much more to a little Indian or black or Hispanic child.

Also, I wanted to be Clarissa, but so did everyone else, so that's not really worth mentioning.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 8:55 PM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


rue72: I was just out tonight talking to some friends (and a lovely stranger) about Ren & Stimpy, because the woman I hadn't met before was talking about how she'd gotten in trouble for watching it, and I was thinking, I grew up in a house where what we watched was pretty monitored, and Ren & Stimpy was HUGELY popular, particularly "Log."

Here's why: I was born in 1980, the youngest by far of four siblings, who are between 6 and 11 years older than I am. Ren & Stimpy wasn't just a grotesquerie, it was chock-full of 1970's tv references, which I for the most part didn't get at the time, but for my folks, holy shit. Balls-out satire of the shit they had to watch ad nauseum with the first three kids, and now with the easier fourth one they get jokes about it? Very refreshing. "Log" was just particularly beloved because it was making fun of the omnipresent Slinky ads from the day.

So maybe that's where your parents got it as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:35 PM on October 8, 2014


God, I'm not sure this belongs here, but now I'm thinking back on how incidentally "tokenist" my classes were in elementary school in northwest Houston growing up. The student body was overwhelmingly white, of course, but there were, in my memory, exactly one black girl, one black boy, one asian girl, one asian boy, etc. for indian, middle-eastern, etc. There were, obviously, a lot of Latino students, though they were generally in the ESL program and the separation there definitely showed itself in middle school and high school, where there might as well have been two separate populations. There were also a lot more Jewish students than you might expect if you don't know that part of Houston, which has a sizable (though far from majority) Jewish population.

Still, I remember, as an 8 or 9-year-old, when a couple of twin girls I knew, who were Jewish, were picked to sing "Go Tell it on the Mountain," at a school holiday pageant, and feeling horribly distraught by how messed up it was for the music teacher to have made them sing such a distinctly Christian song. I remember telling my parents about it, and them being distraught by that as well, which may well have been the first seed of my later liberalism.

But, and this was true then as it surely is today, schools are not monolithic, and even if the music teacher was being awful there, other teachers made up for it, teaching about Judaism and other traditions and holidays not as something exotic, but just as ways people lived that were all equally valid and, you know, aspects of our friends and classmates, but not even as cloying as that seems.

And that, combined with, as I said, that "incidental tokenism", really meant a lot to my growing up, now that I think about it. Crystallyn was not "the black girl," but was not just the smartest kid in our class, but also incredibly empathetic and kind to me at several times when I desperately needed someone to be kind to me. Don was not "the black boy," but was one of the kids I talked about Ninja Turtles with on the slide a lot. Judy wasn't "the Chinese girl," but the girl I hung out with at her parents' restaurant all the time, playing with the supplies in the back room and laughing like crazy. Robin wasn't "the Indian kid," but the guy who helped me keep perspective during 7th grade.

These were all kids who, in the words of Mathew Kickstein, didn't need to be anything other than white, but they were, and I can't even begin to judge the impact of that on me. I heard a number of times growing up, and since then, that racism is taught, and I think there's some truth to that - nobody is born thinking that Mexicans are lazy or Jews are money-hungry or any number of other hateful stereotypes - but the concept of "otherness" is innate. I remember as a toddler being punished for cheering against a black couple in the Newlywed Game just because they were black, which was abhorrent to my family, thank God. Tolerance has to be taught too.

So, as a white kid, learning that your friends are fundamentally like you, and then learning about Hannukah, Jainism, their Saturday morning Chinese school classes, and that there are even Democrats in Houston, Tx later on, is so, so key. It probably also doesn't hurt to be worshipping Hakeem Olajuwon while he's ruling the NBA finals while simultaneously observing Ramadan.

And this is such a weird thing for Klickstein to not get. Just as Clarissa showed how perfectly fine it was to be nerdy and weird and also a million other things, Sanjay and Dora are now doing the same things for millions of kids, and for those who aren't growing up in such a perfectly-cast-for-diversity world as I did, these sorts of shows might be their best window to understanding our humanity's fundamental similarities. I mean, come on, did this guy not grow up with The Cosby Show, at least?

Diversity in what kids see on tv is immensely important for kids finally seeing themselves represented. But it is also important for the white kids on the playground talking about Dora, or Sanjay, or Urkel, forgetting for longer and longer moments that previous generations' social boundaries are supposed to mean anything at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:23 PM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Pilot rules and is always entertaining on twitter. Quite an interview.
posted by SarahElizaP at 11:39 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lookadoo news from summer 2014: Speaker Who Said "Dateable Girls Shut Up" Arrested in Puke-Stained Car
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:09 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Has Klickstein responded to any of this? I haven't seen anything. Though given how much he screwed up a softball interview, probably smart of him not to say anything else.
posted by jeather at 5:58 AM on October 9, 2014


I have a lot of Indian kids who come to my library, and I don't have a lot of media to give them with Indian characters, so I am thrilled that there are starting to be characters on TV that they can relate to. We have play area in the children's room, and I am desperately trying to find Indian dollhouse dolls to match my white and black dolls. But I can't find anything online! Where are the Indian dolls? I am just looking as a matter of professional interest - I can only imagine how frustrating it would be if I was shopping for a child.
posted by Biblio at 6:01 AM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The best part of this is that Klickstein, despite being a mouthpiece for dismissing the importance of diversity in media representation, is a redhead with average looks, which might be a big part of why Pete & Pete stands out for him so much. Clarissa was also known for having a redheaded boy as the butt-monkey.
posted by deathmaven at 6:39 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Biblio, this place has some.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is one of the many things that irritates me about modern fandom, especially retro fandom for shit I liked as a kid: some self-important dipstick proclaiming themselves 'experts' on something based on the all-too-common idea that really, really liking something makes you best qualified to talk about it. In this case it's more than just obnoxious, because not only does he not know much about the shows and network on which he claims expertise, but he clearly doesn't understand what made these shows so good, plus he has some head-slappingly ignorant ideas about race and gender on top of it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:58 AM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


"I'm an expert on all things Nickelodeon...Everything from Ren to Stimpy!"

*"Fair warning: I have many misconceptions about Ren & Stimpy."
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:39 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


rue72: "Alia Shawkat play a Jewish girl on the short-lived and not at all note-able otherwise show, State of Grace, because it was the first time I remembered seeing a character that was American, Jewish, and also not, you know, about to be murdered by the Nazis or something"

First of all, that was THE BEST SHOW EVER. Second of all, I was too old for the target demographic when it was on but I still loved it with all the love because I'm a Catholic girl with a Jewish best friend and seeing so many aspects of our friendship on TV was novel and delightful for me! (And also I was at the time living in North Carolina after growing up in the more Jewish parts of the Chicago suburbs so that aspect of the show was ceaselessly amusing to me too.) Representation matters!

It also included the greatest line in the history of television. (Sorry for the low quality of the clip.) Happy Yom Kippur, y'all!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is one of the many things that irritates me about modern fandom, especially retro fandom for shit I liked as a kid: some self-important dipstick proclaiming themselves 'experts' on something based on the all-too-common idea that really, really liking something makes you best qualified to talk about it.

Uther, thank you for explaining a phenomenon that has irritated me ALL MY LIFE but heretofore could not articulate.
posted by winna at 6:42 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The sickest possible burn: following up the interview with an interview with the creator of Clarissa Explains It All
posted by Greg Nog at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


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