So I was in a particularly good mood earlier today, for no real reason, and inexplicably I started whistling “Zippity-doo-dah” to myself. It’s a catchy, happy song, despite its origins in Disney’s nefarious “Song of the South.” I caught myself happily whistling along with Uncle Remus, merely celebrating my good day, and I stopped and asked myself: does this make me racist?
Weighing heavily on my mind is the recent controversy in the video game press surrounding Newsweek blogger N’Gai Croal’s comments over the Resident Evil 5 trailer. To sum up everything, the RE5 trailer shows the game basically taking the Resident Evil 4 formula of whitebread Leon Kennedy killing Spanish-peasants-turned-zombie into an African village, where whitebread Chris Redfield apparently kills African-peasants-turned-zombie. Croal, a prominent fixture in the gaming press and a black man, leveled some harsh criticism at the trailer, which he believes contains “classic racist imagery.”
Personally, I didn’t see any elements of racism in the trailer. Chris Redfield is a character from previous RE games, and while putting him in a situation where has to kill hundreds to thousands of black villagers may not have been the brightest move, the developers of the game are Japanese and don’t have the same sensitivity to race that we have in the US. But then again, that’s one of the points that Croal makes: the imagery was there, and loads of gamers were indifferent to it, or didn’t even notice it.
I don’t agree with Croal, but I’m hesitant to say so, for fear of throwing my voice in with the Asshats of the Internet that vocally and immaturely dismiss his opinions. Between some posters’ comments in the firestorm kicked up by that interview, and the fact that just last night I ran into one of the many pre-pubescent racists on XBOX Live (an unfortunately frequent occurrence), it’s apparent that racism still taints our culture. And, like Stan on South Park, I completely admit that I have no way of ever knowing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of it. But I’m also saddened that unreasonable political-correctness permeates any discussion about race and media. I can’t seem to shake this feeling that if I respectfully disagree with Croal on this issue, Al Sharpton will personally come to my front door and call me a bigot. Is that unfair of me to say, or is it a justifiable position?
According to a recent study, it may be a more common belief than we realized. The study showed that white people may actually develop aversions to dealing with black people, because of a fear they might accidentally say something offensive. I’m well aware that it’s been less than a generation since an entire group of people were treated as second-class citizens. Actually, “second-class” citizen is way too generous to describe the way black Americans were treated in the days before civil rights reform. So maybe, the wounds really are still too fresh, and I’m out of line, or asking too much. I honestly don’t know. But is there any such thing as a happy medium, or a “proper” way to discuss race and race relations in America today? Will there ever be?
And seriously, didn’t anyone listen to Barack Obama?
So I’ve got this stupid song from the #2 most racist Disney character ever (according to Cracked, anyway) stuck in my head, and I honestly wonder if I should feel guilty about it. It is just a song, right? Or is it? And where the hell is that bluebird that’s supposed to be on my shoulder, anyway?
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