10 December 2007

Racism outside the species

Can an alien species be racist? How about a hominid subspecies? If you are like me your immediate knee jerk reaction is "No, of course not." And may go further to say Alien species are designed to be unique unto themselves the product of new worlds, and environments, and as for hominid subspecies or early humans they actually existed their portrayal would be based on the past. Surprisingly this is not the case both Alien and Early Humans/Hominids portrayed in media have been accused of being objects to continue racism or make racism acceptable. You may have heard of the latter causing quite the uproar in the form of Cavemen a struggling sitcom on ABC. This sitcom was inspired by a series of commercials produced by GEICO which at the beginning of the commercial advertized that getting GEICO service was "so easy a caveman could do it" the commercial ends with the announcer out to dinner with two Cavemen at a fancy restaurant apologizing profusely and proclaiming "I didn’t know any of you guys were still around". These commercials continue showing the plight of the cavemen who on tv and media are portrayed as being dumb while they seek to prove they are the same as anyone else. The alien in question is the character known as Jar Jar Binks in the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The purportedly racist quality about said alien was not his appearance but in the manner of his speech. One memorable line I can remember is when Jar Jar introduced himself "Mesa Jar Jar Binks Mesa you humble servant." Jar Jar continues to speak in such a fashion which was said to be similar to slaves in Early American history. A good example of the speech is in the book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain who lived during that time. Huck’s companion in the story Jim typically called N***** Jim is a runaway slave . Now while this character had no outwards characteristics that would indicate that he is a African-American stereotype he has mottled pink and white skin. But I suppose some traits could be classified as African-American stereotypes if stretched such as his ability to jump high distances or the odd swaying motion in which he walked could almost be considered a hood inspired swagger. However on the other hand it could also be extrapolated that the alien can jump so high because he is more adapted for and the peculiar way in which he walks could be just that his body structure is different from our own which when confronted by angry protestors is what George Lucas said. On the other hand it could be said that no creation made is not tinged by our culture. However often sci-fi is often used to break down barriers as opposed to put them up. So we must ask ourselves should we be continually aware of potential racism in non obvious media or, accept that it may not be racism at all?

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