Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who Played the Race Card Here?

I was wondering - really wondering - what got Mike Tate so upset. What did Scott Walker do that amounted to a "calculated defiance of our state's deep tradition of tolerance ...."

It turns out that someone in his campaign tweeted a music called "C'mon, Ride the Train" and the dancers in the video were African American. There's a postracial response for you. I get it. If there are black dancers, the video is supposed to reduce the President to his race, but that's an interpretive choice and not a very compelling one.

Given our sensitivity on racial measures, I wouldn't have done it but I hardly think that the fact that some one chose otherwise is racist or "in defiance" of our tradition of tolerance.

But to help things along, I suggest that the Walker campaign use the following video.


Anonymous said...

An overstatement by Tate, sure, but I think you know why it wouldn't be effective to use the video you linked -- the GOP base tends to actually identify with and like that video, making it less effective as a tool of mockery.

What made the video used by the Walker campaign an effective tool of mockery is that it looked different and comical to Walker supporters, at least those who tweeted it.

Was that racist? Well, it's clearly the cultural "blackness" (skin color of dancers, type of music, style of dancing, etc.) of the video that makes it different and comical to a Walker supporter, making it hard to argue against a soft form of racism, even if it's easy to deflect the charge of "calculated" racism made by Tate.

Display Name said...

Of course, Shania never recorded "C'mon N' Ride It". You linked to a user-created video that takes clips from Shania's "I Ain't No Quitter" and replaces the music.

Go ahead. Tell us why it's "Ha!" to suggest the original video is the President's response to Tell us why Walker's staffers were passing it around and laughing. Tell us why your video link would be just as funny. Tell us why Walker's communications director isn't 100% careful about what she tweets.

Standard Contradictory Disclaimer™: Given our sensitivity on racial measures, I wouldn't have done it... But why can't Walker's communications director do it?

Rick Esenberg said...

Well, it's good to know Shania didn't record it although not so pertinent here. I think the reason that it may be funny is that the train has - at least to date - been advanced by a lot of happy talk. Don't worry about whether it makes sense, just ride the train. The use of some rail skeptics (including me) of the Simpson's Monorail song is another - and better - example.

The idea that a "Walker supporter" is "softly" (whatever that means) racist is an unwarranted assumption. Some things are just funny.

And the "disclaimer" is not contradictory. I wouldn't have done it because I understand that there are people who will call things "racist" even when they aren't and, in light of that, it wasn't worth the trouble.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason that it may be funny is that the train has - at least to date - been advanced by a lot of happy talk.

Wow, you really dug deep on that one, Rick. So it's not poor taste, it's just poor humor?

What's different about the Simpson monorail song is that it's trying to be funny. The entire song is a spoof on the monorail, and a mockery of the town having it sold to them. There's a big difference between that and the use of a song that is entirely serious, and not in any way trying to be funny -- except for that it may look silly to some. (And, let's not forget, the comment indicated it was "President Obama's" response to Walker, not Barrett or even rail supporters as a whole.)

The idea that a "Walker supporter" is "softly" (whatever that means) racist is an unwarranted assumption

For starters, I think it was pretty clear what I meant by "soft" racism -- the subconscious kind based on thinking something that's not culturally familiar to you looks comical, as opposed to the conscious and purposeful kind charged by Tate.

Second, don't be so overdramatic. You know I'm writing about this instance, not someone's overall personality or belief system. You can be a perfectly good-natured and culturally-sensitive person who does something that plays off racist undertones.

For the record, I don't think it's that big of a deal. The communication director for Walker apologized for it, let's move on. But I just wanted to comment on your typical use of an extreme (Tate's comments) as a foil for an entire point of view, making it easier for you to dismiss that point of view as over-the-top or clearly missing something.

Display Name said...

So you're saying your Shania video is just as funny, too, because it's using happy dancing to promote riding the train, and Brickman and Bader's clip is funny because that sort of music and dancing Just Doesn't Make Sense and wouldn't it be funny if the President did that? If you believe that, I bet you also believe that Shania wrote "From This Moment" just because it was pretty and without any hopes that it would sell and sell forever as a wedding song. It must be a seasonal affliction. Summer sunshine, suburban lawns to be mowed, a Republican's thoughts turns to retweeting softly racist jokes about the President.