People Are Pretending To Be Culturally Aware SJWs When In Reality That Needs To End

People Are Pretending To Be Culturally Aware SJWs When In Reality That Needs To End

"It's a time in our culture where people love to pretend they're offended." - Matt Groening

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Earlier in October, I was devastated and frustrated to learn that Apu Nahasapeemapetilon may be cut from "The Simpsons." However, it turned out to be just rumors spread by Adi Shankar, producer of "Castlevania." Al Jean, a senior writer who has been with "The Simpsons" since episode one, shot down those rumors by tweeting: "Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show."

The controversy and criticism of Apu surfaced after the 2017 documentary "The Problem With Apu" in which filmmaker and comedian Hari Kondabolu expressed his disapproval of racist elements like Apu's accent and job. A few months after the documentary aired, "The Simpsons" responded with a quick remark at the end of one of their episodes: Marge attempted to change a bedtime story that she was reading to Lisa in order to make it politically correct. Lisa objects and Marge asks what she would rather her do. Lisa responds with, "It's hard to say. Something that started a long time ago decades ago, that was applauded and was inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" And then a framed picture of Apu is seen next to Lisa.

Many, including Kondabolu, were not happy with that scene or the way the show handled the criticism. Kondabolu turns to Twitter and posts "Wow. 'Politically Incorrect?' That's the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked?" in response to Lisa's comment. So, creator, Matt Groening replied, "It's a time in our culture where people love to pretend they're offended." Best. Statement. Ever.

I have not seen Kondabolu's film nor do I ever plan to. Kondabolu and anyone else's feelings and opinions are valid and shouldn't be brushed off; however, this show needs to be watched with a grain of salt. The only reason why it's okay to have slightly racist characters in "The Simpsons" is because they make fun of everybody equally. If they only took jabs at Indians then the show would never have become what it became. They don't just throw those jokes in there for cheap laughs. They are commenting on exactly what their audience is thinking and making fun of the stereotypes themselves. After all, it is a satirical show. They make fun of almost every race, ethnicity, culture, subculture, sexual orientation, gender, accent, political stance, and profession. Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu and many others, believes "The Simpsons over the years has been pretty humorously offensive to all manner of people. They've done a really good job of being, shall we say, uniformly offensive without being outright hurtful."

Now I admit, I may have a more blunt sense of humor that can appreciate the artistry of a well-created joke even if it is slightly offensive. Maybe I just have tough skin or no heart. But as a person of fully Chinese descent, I have never once been offended by any of the Chinese or stereotypically Asian characters on the show. Cookie Kwan, number one on the west side, has never offended me with her stereotypical Chinese accent and pushy demeanor. Several times Homer has equated getting good grades or being obedient to being Korean or other Asian ethnicities, and other "low-hanging fruit" comments. A Chinese couple, who were clearly Americanized, put on "the act" for Homer when he stepped into their Chinese restaurant and said things like "You not come long time!" with exaggerated Chinese accents and a costume change.

Azaria rightly says, "the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people ... about what they feel and how they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been." But the greatest part of this whole issue is that it seems like fans of the show in India have no problem with Apu's character. This is exactly what happened in an opinion piece I wrote in response to the controversy over high school senior Keziah Daum wearing a traditional Chinese dress to prom.

Everybody in America seemed to have an issue with it, but everybody back home in China, including myself, loved it and saw it as a young woman appreciating Chinese fashion wanting to show off its beauty on a very important night in her life. Several Chinese-Americans retweeted "my culture is not your prom dress," but residents of China didn't see it that way. Something about being an American citizen makes people hypersensitive to their other racial identities.

Sidharth Bhatia, Mumbai-based founder-editor of "The Wire," is quite a fan of Apu. When asked his opinion on the matter, I think he hits the nails on the head: "The controversy about the stereotyping is classist snobbery - Indians in America don't want to be reminded of a certain kind of immigrant from their country - the shopkeepers, the taxi drivers, the burger flippers. They would rather project only Silicon Valley successes, the Wall Street players and the Ivy League products, with the proper accents, people they meet for dinner - by itself a stereotype. The millions of Apus in America, the salt-of-the-earth types, with their less 'posh' accents, are an inconvenience to that self-image of this small group of Indian-Americans."

As hard as it is to swallow, Apu may be based on stereotypes but there are many real people like him out there. Yes, he owns a convenience store, speaks with a strong accent, has an arranged marriage, and practices Hinduism. But he's also a hard-worker with a Ph.D., a ladies man, and an excellent singer.

Through everything the show has faced, I am very glad that "The Simpsons" is proud of their work and unapologetic for the controversy that they produce. Like Lisa says, what exactly are we supposed to do? There's always going to be somebody somewhere offended by something that somebody else says or does. I'm not at all saying that people deserve to be marginalized and made fun of and that people should just get over it because it's funny. But what I am saying is that people are just too sensitive nowadays, especially seeing that it took 30 years for people to get offended by something that has stayed essentially the same for decades. Groening's perfectly frank comment is addressed to people who think it's cool and perhaps politically correct to be offended by everything in fear of looking ignorant. And look where that's gotten us.

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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For The Displaced Cultural Sectors Under Attack

Pockets of cultural diversity need more than just tourism—they need preservation to remain pivotal regions exemplary of a country of immigrants.

arjunt
arjunt
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If I was blindfolded, thrown into a car, and brought to a certain street in Chicago, I could tell you just from the smells and sounds that I was at Devon Avenue. The combination of the distinct smell of Indian spices and sound of Indians speaking one of their hundreds of languages is most prominent along Devon (pronounced Day-vawn by the parents). While many come here to buy Indian clothes for cultural events, there is much more afoot than a mere exchange of currency for goods.

For as much as Devon is reminiscent of a bazaar with several restaurants, shops, and salons, it's also a multi-ethnic cultural hub where one finds Jewish, Pakistani, Indian, and several other communities coexisting together along one particular street. Much like any metropolitan area's Chinatown, Devon Avenue gives you a bite-sized experience of a foreign country. The rich cuisine, fine cloth materials, and only slightly unorganized traffic and parking are qualities that, though unsettling for many Americans, make an oftentimes discomforting and unfamiliar nation seem to immigrants just a little more like home.

The cultural nostalgia continues within the shops. One particular shop displays mannequins in their windows, each one adorned with jewel-embellished attire that resembles that of a king. When I visited the shop with the family to get wedding clothes, the men and women managing the store were initially busy attending to other customers, but when we stopped to look at their male attire, two saleswomen came over to woo us into buying the lavish products. They spoke in Hindi, a language I've only heard while visiting India or watching Bollywood films with the family. As they spoke to me, I looked them in the eyes and nod, but I secretly had no clue what they're saying.

It's not just the spoken language that sent me back to the Motherland; the way they spoke and the aggressiveness of their sales pitch was just as noteworthy. My mom mentioned several times how we were just there to look and not interested in buying anything, and each time, the women shut down her hesitancy and assured her that we'd end up back here after looking at every other shop. My parents asked my brother and me what we thought in Gujarati, a specific province's language, but one saleswoman somehow interjected in the same language. As we bargained to whittle their outlandish prices down, she asked us our names and complimented us based on their mythological meaning. Everyone always says they want personalized service, yet it didn't seem possible to have service that was too personal—that is, until now. Despite the invasive sales work, their insistence and speed with which they responded to us is straight out of all the sari shops I saw in India. The slice of welcoming culture made the rude sales bearable.

Well beyond our departure, the shopping experience remained on my mind as a heartwarming account of encountering a depth culture in the most unlikely of places. Visiting cultural pockets like Devon within a larger metropolitan area is a mini excursion into that is foreign to some, but welcoming to everyone who comes while respecting the residents and their culture.

Many of these cultural pockets are unfortunately facing grave issues that challenge their cultural significance. Miles south from Devon is Pilsen, a heavily Latino neighborhood in Chicago with a rich cultural background that is facing unprecedented gentrification. A University of Illinois-Chicago professor concluded that from 2000 to 2016, new housing projects and spikes in property expenses contributed to over 10,000 Latino residents moving out of the region as more wealthy white residents filled in. Local restaurants are declining as more chain businesses are taking over. Signs warn residents to know their rights should they face threats from ICE agents or raids. Beautiful wall graffiti acts as a mirror image of anti-gentrification messages made in response to the process of cultural disintegration.

The threat of gentrification is sadly not unique to Pilsen, as many of these sectors face an incoming crisis of culture. As a nation, these pockets of minority populations and cultures are not just to be respected but appreciated for bringing elements of their culture to a completely different country and enhancing its diversity. If everyone truly loves going to their Chinatown or Kris Kringle Markets, then we have to work to preserve regions like these, lest they be made more sparse than they already are.

arjunt
arjunt

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