Avenue Q wins Tony for Best Musical

I
am not going to pretend that I have seen this show and that I can
actually judge it or its creators’ intentions, but I will give my
standard knee-jerk reaction. I have heard the song, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist.” (Or as the Asian Character Christmas Eve
says, “Evlyone’s a ritter bit lacist!.”) From what I gather, the show’s
writers are a lot a bit racist. It seems to me to be the curse of the
entitled hipster at work. I think there is something clever and
somewhat true in the song’s lyrics, but then it proceeds to introduce a
shockingly awful FOB-by stereotype.

One review from New York Wire reads:

“We’ve
got a raunchy, supposedly comic, supposedly hip musical about types
(actually stereotypes) that you find in New York, or any big city.
There are the usual suspects: gays, blacks, racists, feminists, Asians,
college dropouts, interracial couples, and sex–lots of sex. And this
motley group do numbers that try to satirize contemporary issues, songs
intended to be witty, even fashionable like “Everyone’s a Little
Racist,” “If You Were Gay,” “I’m not Wearing Underwear Today,” “The
Internet is for Porn,” and some self-depreciating numbers about their
own personality. All of which may be chic in the mind of the creators,
but more often the numbers are offensive rather than clever.”

It
seems like the show’s creators use the uiseofpost-modern referential
humor to mask the fact that they are just perpetuating the Ching-Chong
broken English character for the sake of laughs. I hope it isn’t true,
but I’m pretty sure it is. (Actually, I had a friend tell me of his
experience watching the show:

” i went with my girlfriend
and her mom and we walked out in the first fifteen minutes and got a
refund. it’s total racist crap. should have known as soon as i saw the
Asian girl married to a white guy wearing a kimono with a fake FOB
accent.”

Just thought I’d bring it up in case any of
you were planning on coming to New York and wanted to see an
award-winning show. They describe the show as a “Sesame Street for
grown-ups” yet I don’t ever remember watching “Sesame Street” and feeling oppressed. Maybe that’s what’s “grown-up” about it.

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27 thoughts on “

  1. That was the one part of the show that was disturbing to me (well, that and having Gary Coleman as a character). To top it off, the Asian character’s name is Christmas Eve, which sounds nowhere near Japanese.I listened to the performance at the Tonys and the actress actually toned down the accent. Wonder if she was more self-conscious when playing to a televised audience.

  2. hey — you didn’t even SEE the damn thing, 2shitz! and don’t even TRY the “sell-out” angle, glass-house-dweller…anyway, C. saw it with me (during our honeymoon) and she loved it, too! and she’s more militant than you and your blog put together, sucka…!

  3. What is the over-simplified assumption I’m making? What is this false given that I’m operating on? Because you fail to see that I was actually asking a question and addressing it to Asian males, you accuse me of indiscriminate criticism and oversimplification of matters. What I’m questioning is not simple at all. It’s very complex and difficult. It’s the central question in my original post. What is masculinity? You addressed every tangent (particularly aiming to find my particular neurosis or something in my past that could “explain it all away,” even in your second response), but not that main issue. Your language suggests that your ego (“I am quite confident of my masculinity…” Was I questioning anyone’s confidence?) and unyielding, traditional views on masculinity (“…you mistake ‘the Asian males’ desire to be seen as human in too simplified a manner — as you describe it ‘masculine.’ ) are the real obstacles in having a dialogue about masculinity and how it shapes the world. This is not an attack on Mike Kang the human being, and I wouldn’t describe my post as a “diatribe.” My entry may not go down as “The Blog that Changed the World,” but my blog is my space. I write things down for myself, which others can choose to read and react to.

  4. Dys, Just because you like the show, doesn’t make it NOT racist. I used to love Hong Kong Phooey, doesn’t mean it isn’t messed up.And according to Hongita, there is no war.

  5. Mike2 — how *dare* you equate my love for Avenue Q with Hong Kong Phooey! Your condescending analogies continue to provoke rage and division within the community! I demand that you resign from the position of site-editor of “Mike2Cents” while The People democratically elect a new editor to resume your duties…(And, for the record, I *don’t* think AveQ is racist. And just because you *say* it’s racist, doesn’t mean it is — especially when you haven’t even seen it. It’s like if you liked chocolate ice cream and I told you it contains partially hydrogenated palm oil which could lead to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and you said that your brand didn’t contain partially hydrogenated palm oil, and I said it does and you just don’t want to believe it! Get it?)

  6. Hmm…the reviews and such make this show seem so progressive and funny. I had high hopes for it, but I guess it crosses that boundry between satire and maliciousness.Too many people seem to get those mixed up and find it funny to boot.

  7. Hmm… I saw one Korean play, they cast a bunch of Non-Asians with a heavy FOB accentand had them speak Korean throughout the entire play, just to see how much they’d struggle. Seemed it worked, made the audience laugh, I think people like being ‘racist’, just a matter of whether you’re the subject or object. When I hear people stutter in Korean, I’d say ‘shut up, go back to your country.’

  8. Dys, It does contain hydrogenated palm oil! It’s right there on the side of the package! When two of my friends have confirmed it. And the one review corroborates it. And I cringe when I hear that damn song. And I cringe when I see the picture of that actress in her Kimono. And I cringe when I think about her saying “Evlyone’s a ritter bit lacist!” I believe there must be something wrong.So whether you believe it is racist or not, I find it offensive and unworthy of my support. If only for the fact that it is an offensive Asian stereotype written by non-Asians for non-Asians (except you and Carla who enjoyed it immensely). End of transmission.

  9. DUDE — i’m not telling you to support it! i’m broadcasting a differing, honest opinion! I’m not being contrary just to be contrary here!and there are a lot more people than “me and Carla” who enjoyed it. people we know. intelligent fucking people. SO SUCK IT UP, LISA SIMPSON!

  10. Dys, I guess that’s my whole point, Mr. Anger Management. I’m sure there are good things in the play. It looks clever. But then they sneak in something fucked up and it just depresses me.It’s like when I used to sit through film classes and revere “Birth of a Nation” by DW Griffith for inventing the use of cross-cutting in editing narrative. The subject of the film is still fucked up despite the parts that are innovative. It just makes me feel bad. I wish it didn’t. I’m glad that you were able to overlook it, but I think that stems from you hating the Japanese.

  11. yo Mike- you are totally right (by the way, i’m the who walked out of the show that he quoted) Avenue Q is totally a racist show. what did you think was funny about it DYS? the line from “everyone’s a little bit racist” where the white guy says “why can’t the fucking Mexican busboys learn English?” then all the white people in the crowd laugh? the Asian woman wearing a fucking kimono with the fake broken accent? what the fuck is wrong with you? i can’t believe you’re Asian. go study history.

  12. hate posts? you leave the posts saying racist things about Koreans and erase my posts pointing out their ignorance and racism? ok, i’m sure you’re not asian now.

  13. hey and DYS, you never answered my question: so did you laugh at the Asian girl’s broken accent? at the joke about Mexican busboys? what exactly was so hilarious?

  14. Avenue Q is racist. An important thing to think about is the fact that Everyone is NOT equally racist and the song erases particularily harmful forms of racism as being “just normal.” In America, where people believe that it is “post-racist” and “post-classist” these post-modern plays on race are seen as funny examples that reassure guilty white middle-class americans that their prejudices are just fine.In order to truly understand how harmful Avenue Q is, it’s necessary to look at the power dynamics in America. Who has the economic and social power to oppress someone else? A rich white male can do a lot more damage than a poor working-class Korean immigrant who is socially and economically disadvantaged and functioning within a society developed by white rich men (ie. perhaps problematically believing the stereotypes told to her/him by white dominated media). By saying “Everyone is Racist” is harmful because it re-establishes those power structures.And I find that comment on some guy’s “miliant” wife really problematic. What’s that supposed to mean anyway? The guys at Waco were militant too.

  15. I don’t get too involved with over thinking issues, because you can justify just about anything if you go back and forth. All I know is if something pisses me off, I’m pissed off. And when I saw this musical, I bought the soundtrack when it was over and sang along to “Everybody’s a little bit racist” for 3 weeks straight in my car. It made me laugh, I had fun and is a pretty damn good show.

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