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The Daily Show – racist? or just childish name-calling?

The Daily Show – racist? or just childish name-calling?

With the unveiling of new UK TV channel More4 came the chance for UK viewers like myself to finally get The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and its’ unique dose of irreverant wit, fresh on our screens, five days a week.

So I settled down to watch it sometime last week, only to watch a segment called Say No Moor, about the battle to house the battleship USS Iowa in San Francisco. The person who was against the idea was a rather “flamboyant” San Franciscan councillor, while the person representing the organisation which wanted the USS Iowa moored in San Francisco was a Ms. Wong.

The rest of the piece was fine, but I was cringing when the reporter/comedian Nate Corddry started making fun of Ms. Wong’s surname, using jokes that my maths teacher would do all the time back in the un-PC 80s. I’m rather surprised that the Daily Show, which I presumed to be avid eager watching for all intelligensia adults in the USA, would stoop to jokes this low. You used to be able to watch the segment online but I think it’s been taken off. Which is a shame.

So is it still OK to use someone’s surname like Wong as a joking starting point? And is it racist or just cruel?

Having said all this, I seem to be the only one on the blogosphere centering on this point. Everyone else seems far more concerned with the general lampooning of San Francisco.


  • That seems about right for the Daily Show. A lot of their skits go that direction if there's an opportunity for it.

  • Be that as it might, it is still racist. My favorite way of making uhhh, white people, to understand racism is to make white racist joke in front of them. 9 times out of 10 they don't like it a single bit. I guess they don't like their own medicine.

  • Mate of mine was on that Anne Robinson quiz thingy a few months ago. She mercilessly ripped the piss out of his speech impediment for the 3 rounds he lasted.

    I don't see her laughing at "spackas in wheelchairs" when they have disabled contestants on. Bitch.

    Face it, Andy. If people think they'll get a laugh out of something without getting trouble then they will. I'm sure they'll figure out their mistakes when one psycho nutball goes over the edge and knifes them on their doorstep for it. Just make sure it's not you, cos I don't think you'd last long in prison 😉

  • I have a problem watching the Daily Show because, yes, sometimes they are racist and intolerant, while at the ame time ripping the politicians and media who are also racist and intolerant. The sad thing is, that's still considered okay in the U.S. Pisses me off. I am ashamed to be a white American woman.

  • But don't you think when they "seem" to be racist, they are really making fun of racists? Kind of like "All in the Family" which was a parody of racism. Does no one else get that?

  • Surly,

    that is totally how it should be viewed. What's up the English, forgotten what irony is??

  • Adrian

    Yeah, some people think it's ok to be offensive as long as they're offensive indiscriminately.

    What they don't get is that racist jokes, same as fat jokes, same as lisp jokes (see above) – are just obvious. And obvious isn't funny, except to a childish mentality, where it's actually just being offensive and getting away with it because you're smiling.

  • A New Yorker

    Ok, I work with the Daily Show. I was on vacation when that particular segment aired, so I don't know the specifics…. but most of the daily show interviews are made up — often the questions asked aren't the actual ones that are answered. (which you can clearly tell as the interviewer changes clothes, hair color, etc as the perspective changes) I often wonder what people think when the daily show calls them for an interview… They aren't my favorite part of the show… but to me, they are making fun of the racists.

    It was also Nate Cordry's second or third story ever and he is realted to the popular Rob Cordry…. and I haven't seen him since.

    Not every show is going to hit it every time. But Stewart and OReilly got in to it last night… What a schmuck! (OReilly, and I can vouch for that first hand!)

  • > …. but most of the daily show interviews are made up — often
    > the questions asked aren't the actual ones that are answered.

    She did respond rather airily to what Nate said, along the lines of "I haven't heard that since high school". I'd have been quite bloody annoyed, myself.

    can you get a copy of the segment to show us? 🙂

    > They aren't my favorite part of the show… but to me, they are making fun of the racists.

    But that's like saying that in order to make fun of Al-Qaeda, you have to adopt their tactics…

  • Any chance of a link to the clip, anywhere? It sounds like they're behaving like a bunch of berks, but I really want to see it so I can judge for myself.

  • I tried to find a link – it was there the day after broadcast but it's disappeared since, as far as I can tell.

  • I get your point about Al-Qaeda. I think the only time it's appropriate is when it's somehow relevant to some current event, not when it's excessive or without a point.

  • carpefula

    I'm fairly sure that the Daily Show's "racism" is ironic.

    Look at South Park, the reason it gets away with so much is because no ones get off scott free. They attack themselves, ethnic minorites, canadian…you name it ….they insulted it.

    I think that shows like this that show "no mercy" and just insult everyone actually have a positive effect. It's put everyone in the same barrel and teaches people to laugh at themselves.

  • some guy

    I actually stumbled across this thread while searching for some racist jokes against white people, but I became interested and decided to post. First –
    >But that’s like saying that in order to make fun of Al-Qaeda, you have to adopt their tactics…
    Actually, it's like saying "One way to make fun of Al-Qaeda is to adopt their tactics." Isn't that almost exactly the definition of satire? It's not absurd at all. You gotta look at the whole picture. In The Daily Show, the reporters are somewhat akin to characters in a sitcom, despite their ostensible professionalism. In their interviews and many other sketches they are made out to be the morons, overly confident and always a least a little off. Their racist remarks are meant to be taken in that context – by creating dumb, ignorant reporters and then having them make racist remarks, the show IS making fun of racists.
    Second –
    >I am ashamed to be a white American woman.
    I hope what you meant to say was, "It pisses me off that humans would treat each other this way." I mean, there are people in every race and every nationality who do things that make other people of their race and/or nationality cringe, because they know that those bad things will, however wrongly, be projected onto them. Of course it's angering to see, to say the least, but surely it's no reason for you to feel personal shame?

  • I think Surly's original comment is right — I think the humor there was supposed to come from how childish the question was. The viewer wasn't expected to say, "Ha…that's funny…Wong!" They were supposed to cringe, and say, "wow…I can't believe that reporter just made fun of her name…" They're trusting (perhaps wrongly) that you know that they're not actually blatantly racist, and that the childishness is obvious; that's where the humor is coming from.
    Understand that most of the interview sketches get their humor from presenting two sides, one that is blatantly ridiculous and one that is generally sane, and then the interviewer acts as if the ridiculous one was sane, and vice versa. Nate Cordry put a spin on it by making the interviewer character very naive; I think the childish "Wong" jokes were supposed to reinforce that. It was leading toward the "sailor" ending.

    Not my favorite brand of humor usually, but there it is.

  • Jim Kehoric

    I think you’re all being a bit over-sensitive. Does your mother still tuck you in? Racism won’t go away, it’s been around since the beginning of time. You’ll be saying next that those killed in bombings are ‘bombist’ because they didn’t agree with a suicide bombers ideoly next.

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