January 16, 2001 7:12 PM   Subscribe

CrackerJap is a web site run by three guys who were hassled by Nintendo for using "Pokemon" in an HTML Meta tag in a file they no longer used online. Their web host killed their site instantly and they've only just found new hosting in the last few days. [There's a second reason they're interesting, inside.]
posted by Steven Den Beste (16 comments total)
I found a link to them because of that incident with Nintendo. However, once I looked at the site I found a lot else. In particular, the three guys go by nicknames they apparently have chosen for themselves and none of them are traditionally considered complimentary (let alone "politically correct"). The site name is concatanation of two of them, "Cracker" and "Jap", both of whom are twenty. The third guy is 45 and is called "Gramps". (At age 47, I resent that. [grin] Anyway, it's OK because he looks older than I do.)

I was raised to think that "Jap" was as nasty as "Nigger". My parents were WWII generation and "Jap" was what US servicemen called the Japanese they were fighting (comparable to "Kraut" for the Germans) during the war. The question I'm interested in is this: if someone of an ethnic group uses a racial epithet to refer to himself, and positively embraces the term, is it in poor taste? I think it's pretty cool that Izumo calls himself "Jap", frankly.

But given that Nintendo is a Japanese company, and the wounds run deep, I wonder if maybe that is what they were really objecting to.

The site isn't pornographic, as Nintendo claimed, but it does use more than its share of profanity for emphasis, which of course is their right. My favorite part is the comic strips done by Jap, which poke fun at all three of them. Here's the first one, so you can read them in order.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:29 PM on January 16, 2001

By the way, despite their disclaimer, Pokemon does actually appear on their site. Once. In a satirical setting. Which is fair use.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:37 PM on January 16, 2001

The question I'm interested in is this: if someone of an ethnic group uses a racial epithet to refer to himself, and positively embraces the term, is it in poor taste? I think it's pretty cool that Izumo calls himself "Jap", frankly.

I don't think it's cool. I think the word's pretty much always in poor taste. I don't think much of these guys' sense of humor. Disclaimer: But that's just how I feel. I don't like the N-word either, whether it's coming out of a racist's mouth or a rapper's. It's dicey territory, this anti-P.C. impulse toward reclamation and rehabilitation of slurs.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 7:53 PM on January 16, 2001

My freshman year of college, I was housed in the only all-male dormitory on campus. We had more than our share of name-calling on the floor, but since we all practiced equal discrimination, we gave as well as we got. It was a bonding experience for the guys, since we put all the stereotypes out in the open, to show how stupid they all were.

And we ended up with great nicknames for each other at the end :)
posted by pnevares at 8:16 PM on January 16, 2001

And for the record, I'm not too crazy about the C-word, either. Slurs and insults are easy ways out in public discourse. Then again, the line between public and private communications has blurred. I think of enjoying the old Saturday Night Live bit with Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase, the free assocation skit that turns into the manic back-and-forth exchange. I like Chris Rock's "Bring The Pain" as well. So I guess I'm confused, or a hypocrite. Hmm.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 8:17 PM on January 16, 2001

I don't know what the C-word is. Cracker? I got called a cracker all the time when I was a kid, I never could get angry about it. Then somebody said it who wasn't joking around. Everything is all about pronunciation.

Now I can think of a million different C-words. Any word that needs to be identified by its first letter and a hyphen probably isn't part of my vocabulary anyway.
posted by thirteen at 8:27 PM on January 16, 2001

e-mail, b-boy, a-life, o-ring, c-note, x-ray, g-man, t-bird, u-boat, v-8, i-node?

Sluggy Freelance is funnier.
posted by rodii at 8:45 PM on January 16, 2001

It'd be hard for me to take someone calling me a "cracker" seriously. It sounds so ludicrous. I suppose it's intended to be a reference to saltine crackers and being as white as one, but there are so many different kinds of crackers. I like the chocolate grahams myself. Excuse me, I meant "African-American grahams."
posted by kindall at 8:54 PM on January 16, 2001

rodii: Well... Guess I didn't put that quite right. I could say that some of those don't NEED to be hyphenated in polite company, but I have no idea what a b-boy is. a-life, and i-node are likewise mysteries to me. I am guessing the "v" stands for vertical, but am not 100% sure.

I will never disparage the noble hyphenated word again!
posted by thirteen at 8:57 PM on January 16, 2001

George, would you bowdlerize Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, which is one of the finest pieces of literature in the English language?

Sam Clemmons was probably the best writer the US has ever produced, and he was born in 1835 in Missouri and saw slavery for himself. And he didn't like it. And it shows in his writing.

I can't find it now. Somewhere out there on the web is an unpublished story by him where he transcribes an event which struck him strongly. His actual pages are shown as JPGs, along with a transcription in text. He was sitting on his porch with his family after dinner, along with their servant who was a freed slave. And he asked her an innocent question (something like "Have you known sorrow?" or words to that effect) and then she told him things about her life he hadn't known. It is deeply affecting, because she describes how her husband and children were auctioned off, one by one, to go separate directions and never see each other again. And then, after the war, when she had lost hope, she chanced upon one of her sons who had grown up. And she ends by saying "No, Mister Clemmons, I ain't known sorrow. And I ain't known happiness, neither." Clemmons reproduces it as she told it, which means he used his gift of tongues to reproduce the words she used and the way she pronounced them, and the story brought tears to my eyes. The fact that he wrote it down and preserved it makes clear that he thought it was important too. I wish I could find it again.

His books preserve for us what those times were like, albeit in many cases with humor. Huckleberry Finn has a major character named "Nigger Jim" because that's how they spoke then. Would you change that? "Black Jim"? "African American Jim"? No, NO I say.

Better to put a fig-leaf on the Statue of David, and paint clothing on all the figures in the Sistine Chapel.

To automatically object to a word without considering its context is wrong. In some contexts the word may be offensive, in others benign, while in others yet it may be great art.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:41 PM on January 16, 2001

I FOUND IT! (dances with joy!)

Here it is! A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:27 PM on January 16, 2001

thirteen: b-boy, defined. and intonation's key, true.

den beste: context? yeah, i consider it. i hope you enter the mention i made before about the skits and the comedy routine into the record. i throw myself upon the mercy of the court of public opinion -- and beg for clemens-y!

am i'm not touching "huckleberry finn"! sam's the man. i'm not about to ban a thing. sheesh. i'm not that type of n-word. ;/)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 10:55 PM on January 16, 2001

As a reader of meta-filter, and boyfriend to an very avid reader by the name of THC, I was surprised to see my link on the page. Let me clear up a few things: Jap and I are both 21, we're just too lazy to update the page with a simple 'birthdate' and call it quits. (that might seem like a 12 year old saying, "I'm twelve, but I'll be 13 in 2 months", but I think that one little year matters a lot
in this case) It was originally just Jap and I as staffers, then gramps came along, and who wouldn't want to team up with him. Something I think is kind of funny is all the attention our Nintendo thing is getting right now. It's been months since it happened (despite the post here saying we just got up a few days ago), and no one paid it any mind, despite my trying to publicize it. I suppose it's
all thanks to for getting the word out, and being the only place to even catch what happened. Now with all that cleared up, let me address our racial slurs. I guess it offends a lot of folks, but those it does offend aren't really the patrons we are trying to sale our wares of funny to. On the same token, we aren't the kind of site they want to visit, so it all works out eh? I think, just like most of you have said, there is a line you shouldn't cross. It might also seem played out to claim we are trying to open folks sensitive little minds by being so anti-P.C., but the fact is, it's just not the case. As everyone can see, we do this site for the purpose of our entertainment just as much if not more so than for all of you out there. Love us or hate us, we'll still be a Cracker, a Jap, and an Old fart named Gramps tomorrow. Our names suffice as a description of who we are, and if you really want to look into it, define our generations (Gramps is the mediator) embracing of all people as simply that. I think I speak for all of us when I say that race isn't even something I pay attention to, because it doesn't (read: shouldn't) exist.
posted by Cracker@crackerjap at 11:01 PM on January 16, 2001

Thanks, Steven, for the link to the Twain piece. Good stuff.
posted by Optamystic at 11:07 PM on January 16, 2001

'teen: I cheated. I wouldn't really hyphenate alife, inode or email.
posted by rodii at 5:31 PM on January 17, 2001

I'm sorry, I'm still giggling over the "African-American grahams" comment in the opinion on the different saltine crackers up there...

Speaking of white slurs, noone mentioned "honkey", which I used to hear all the time on The Jeffersons when George would get pissed at that old white guy who lived next door with his African-American wife. I never quite got why that was supposed to be offensive. And "peckerwood" was slightly harsher and rolled off the angry tongue a little better but was still a bit confusing as to origin.
posted by evixir at 8:39 PM on January 17, 2001

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