Sunday, March 30, 2008

North Dakota: Where Offensive Happens

A simpler time and place treated skits with blackface and simulated homosexual acts with reverence; they were even embraced. Frank Sinatra's legacy reminds us of this golden age.

While far-off this period in entertainment history may seem, apparently present day North Dakota is providing the backdrop for a racist renaissance.

Students at North Dakota State University recently put on a skit where a white student, in blackface, played the role of Barack Obama. In the same sketch two other students, wearing cowboy hats, reenacted a scene from Hollywood's endearing tale of two friends' gay love on the range, Brokeback Mountain.

After a predictable public outcry, the classic “ignorant hick defence” was employed. A school spokesman said the students involved were from rural North Dakota communities offering little diversity.

And the worst part? The show wasn’t even funny. Josh Reimnitz, the NDSU student body president, said "I didn't know what the point was of the entire skit.”


Michael said...

One of the other bloggers on Highbrid Nation, Juan Perez, wrote about those idiots in North Dakota putting on blackface and honestly I"m not too surprised. Unfortunately as a black man I'm well aware that these type of things happen when there are no black people to witness them. Yet somehow mainstream tries to pretend racism is fading away. It's not fading away, it's just hiding. The days of the KKK are gone but have been replaced with a more passive version where people can do outlandish things like the frat in ND and then they can just turn around and say "sorry we didn't mean to be offensive" and everyone lets it go. This is what Obama is dealing with right now, a nation with tons of racists who don't even know they are.

Gord said...

That's entirely true, and it's sad because ignorance is so often a viable excuse for blatant bigotry (as in this case). Society has arguably moved beyond the confines of institutionalized close-mindedness; now one must outright choose to be misinformed. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still totally willing to take that route.

PCism has seen racism move to the dinner table from the business table. It's preached to kids at home, but now avoided in the street for fear of our hypocritical society's repercussions. As you said, it's hiding, but still obviously there.

The worst part is I don't necessarily know which scenario's better, the old or the new.