[Note: I’m probably being far too lenient to Soap here because he was so entertaining, and my thoughts are kind of scattered at the moment, but here goes]
When I watched the AX comedy panel, many of the comics presenting their material had aspects of race in them. I reacted very differently to their various approaches, laughing at some, being confused by some, and being extremely uncomfortable with others.
One in particular that almost made me queasy was a routine about black people as done by Trung Truong ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0Vcl3BYpNM ).
brilliant move, he came upon Batman and the Boondocks.
He comes up with an origin story - Bruce DUane and his parents coming home from a 2pac concert, and being shot over fucking Nikes, and going to live with his “Old black grandpa” in the “Duane Manor”. “He learns karate, kung fu, kool-aid“
So what will he be? He’s black, he’s scary
He comes up with the title “bat-nigger”, his reasoning being that “bats are black and scary”. Cool move, buddy.
So what about his villains? […] instead of Harley Quinn, some crackwhore!
This shit was fucking uncomfortable as fuck, and I’m not even in the group he’s being fucking racist against. He’s affirming stereotypes about “ghetto-ness” everywhere, as if that in itself is funny. It’s not.
Then we have Soap, who also talks about race, but in an extremely different way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqstpdvlaUU&feature=relmfu
He does have some racist shit that he mentions
“…so I broke in and robbed them because I’m Mexican. That’s a joke; that’s not true. I’m not Mexican”
but I think that it’s fundamentally different than Truong’s approach. Where Truong tries to tell people what it’s like to be black, Soap makes the listener realize that they are automatically assigning these stereotypes and subscribing to these popular images.
This guy is going to be so angry when he wakes up and thinks he’s black
This isn’t saying that black people shoot each other over Nikes like Truong’s routine does, nor making dick jokes. It’s pointing out the basic reality that being black in the US is a disadvantage in a white-dominant society, rather than trying to affirm racist stereotypes as if it’s funny.
Soap’s approach is still abrasive and perhaps questionable at times, but a vast improvement.
I wanted to close out the joke with a Jewish impression, but I didn’t have a furnace. [pauses] What? What? Jews like furnaces. I mean, how else could they destroy the evidence that linked them to 9/11?
The link to a traumatic and extremely powerful event for the lives of many is reprehensible, and would certainly be out of line for any holocaust survivor, but at least he demonstrates the absurdity of anti-semitic conspiracy theories by juxtaposing prejudice towards Jews with the most massive and terrible result of prejudice against Jews. He plays the stereotypes off against one another as if to say that they are ridiculous.
…I didn’t notice this before for whatever reason, but the evil universe in the American version [of an anime] all the evil creatures come from is called the nega-verse [pauses] the nega-verse. That’s so racist, you know? Like, in San Francisco, we just call it Oakland.
I feel that this again plays on popular conceptions of who the bad guy is without actually falling into the trap of subscribing to them (but it may likely be a more subtle way of being racist)
In summary, Truong speaks about black people. He speaks about what they do, what they act like, and how they are in a way that is extremely uncomfortable and pretty bad. Whereas, Soap tends to talk about popular conception of race more than subscribe to it. There are problems with both, but Soap’s approach is much more entertaining and less racist while still speaking usefully (in some ways) about race.