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Joe Bryant

Fictional Indian Grocer And Expired Meat - Racist?

Indian Grocer and Expired Meat - Racist?   97 members have voted

  1. 1. In a fictional story, a grocer takes some meat that is past the expiration date, crosses off the expiration date and sells it. The grocer is Indian. The customer who buys it gets sick. Is it racist of the writers of the show to write the story with this action?

    • Not racist at all
      57
    • Maybe racist
      27
    • Probably racist
      6
    • Pretty sure it's racist
      1
    • Positively racist
      3

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96 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Asking the FFA for feedback on this one. I know this is dangerous material so I'll ask you to please be kind and thoughtful. I promise it's not a trap, but I'm also asking you up front to be cool. 

I recently listened to a podcast where this question was asked:

In a fictional story, a grocer takes some meat that is past the expiration date, crosses off the expiration date and sells it. The customer who buys it gets sick. The grocer is Indian.

Is it racist of the writers of the show to write the story with this action?

I had some discussion with people and thought I'd throw it out to the FFA to see what you folks thought. No real need for discussion unless you just want to. I'm mainly interested in anonymous voting.

Thanks.

 

Edited by Joe Bryant

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Is what racist?? 

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is it racist that the Indian grocer sold expired meat? or is it racist to identify the grocer as Indian?

either way, no.

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3 minutes ago, dutch said:

Is what racist?? 

The storyline.

Is it racist of the writers of the show to have the Indian grocer cross off the expiration date and sell the meat?

 

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Just now, Maik Jeaunz said:

is it racist that the Indian grocer sold expired meat? or is it racist to identify the grocer as Indian?

either way, no.

Hi Maik,

What I was asking is if it's racist of the writers of the show to have the Indian grocer sell the expired meat.

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What kind of store is it? Is it a bodega/7-11 style store?

 

Pretty sure the "Indian Grocer"/Apu caricature is racist now. Doesn't matter if he sells old meat or not.

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Indian is a descriptor similar to saying the grocer was a he not a she, or had a limp, or had bad breath... With zero context the word Indian connotes nothing racist.

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Why is the race of the grocer introduced? I think the story teller wanted to add that part for a reason, and with the customer getting sick, it doesn’t appear to be a positive reason. 

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Homer, change the expectation date on the dairy products 

-Apu

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Just now, Nugget said:

Why is the race of the grocer introduced? I think the story teller wanted to add that part for a reason, and with the customer getting sick, it doesn’t appear to be a positive reason. 

Except the grocery store was in New Dehli

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and the customer Indian as well

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NoYes

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Good questions. 

It's a bodega type convenience store.

The customer is white.

I added to the question to make it more clear:  In a fictional story, a grocer takes some meat that is past the expiration date, crosses off the expiration date and sells it. The grocer is Indian. The customer who buys it gets sick. Is it racist of the writers of the show to write the story with this action?

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3 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Good questions. 

It's a bodega type convenience store.

The customer is white.

I added to the question to make it more clear:  In a fictional story, a grocer takes some meat that is past the expiration date, crosses off the expiration date and sells it. The grocer is Indian. The customer who buys it gets sick. Is it racist of the writers of the show to write the story with this action?

In a vacuum with just this information of course not.

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Is it racist if the writer is Indian? 

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11 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Asking the FFA for feedback on this one. I know this is dangerous material so I'll ask you to please be kind and thoughtful. I promise it's not a trap, but I'm also asking you up front to be cool. 

I recently listened to a podcast where this question was asked:

In a fictional story, a grocer takes some meat that is past the expiration date, crosses off the expiration date and sells it. The customer who buys it gets sick. The grocer is Indian.

Is it racist of the writers of the show to write the story with this action?

I had some discussion with people and thought I'd throw it out to the FFA to see what you folks thought. No real need for discussion unless you just want to. I'm mainly interested in anonymous voting.

Thanks.

 

Well, if the customer comes back to complain and the grocer gives the customer 2 five pound buckets of expired shrimp, this could be racist.

Real answer is that APU is written as a caricature.  All characters on the Simpsons are written as over the top generalizations, which creates the humor.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Wrigley said:

Is it racist if the writer is Indian? 

That's another question Wrigley. But here just trying to keep it simple. 

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8 minutes ago, The General said:

Is he Navajo or Commache?

Or put another way, dot or feather (is this a racist statement now?) .  Not sure it changes the answer but who the heck knows. 

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Based on just what you told us then I would say not racist.  Of course the presentation could completely change the context and make it blatantly racist.

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You mean South Asian or Native American (calling anyone "Indian" is a bit dated)?

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I think it's great that the writer apparently has a diverse cast of characters in this story.  Sounds like the exact opposite of racism.

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- If race doesn't have anything to do anything else in the story, whoever wrote said scenario is just looking to divide people for s###s and giggles.

- What ethnicity is the writer?

- What is the ethnic background of the audience it's being told to?

- I'm not sure how it's offensive other than us being programmed by the media to say *GASP* minority (in the US) is being victimized! *cues outrage* As if Indian people are the only ones who may have ever sold outdated meat. Back at the turn of the 20th century in America before regulations, if a worker (probably a poor white background, Irish, German, italian) lost an arm working in a meat plant know what the (probably rich white) owner did? "Oh, so you can't work anymore?? Sorry, you're fired." *throws arm in meat grinder*

Seems like whoever wrote or presented this is just looking to get a rise out of people.

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Having worked at a convenience store when I was in high school, I watched that episode and saw it as an indictment of convenience stores in general being shady places to purchase food.  The same jokes could have been made about the store I worked in and we were run by a mega corporation headquartered in Europe.

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11 minutes ago, Arizona Ron said:

You mean South Asian or Native American (calling anyone "Indian" is a bit dated)?

South Asian.

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11 minutes ago, stlrams said:

Is this a comedy? 

Yes.

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9 minutes ago, ShamrockPride said:

- If race doesn't have anything to do anything else in the story, whoever wrote said scenario is just looking to divide people for s###s and giggles.

- What ethnicity is the writer?

- What is the ethnic background of the audience it's being told to?

- I'm not sure how it's offensive other than us being programmed by the media to say *GASP* minority (in the US) is being victimized! *cues outrage* As if Indian people are the only ones who may have ever sold outdated meat. Back at the turn of the 20th century in America before regulations, if a worker (probably a poor white background, Irish, German, italian) lost an arm working in a meat plant know what the (probably rich white) owner did? "Oh, so you can't work anymore?? Sorry, you're fired." *throws arm in meat grinder*

Seems like whoever wrote or presented this is just looking to get a rise out of people.

The writer is white.

I don't know for sure but I'd guess the audience of the show is majority white.

 

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Posted (edited)

i've been hawked some foul perishables by a gorgeous mosaic of grocers/butchers/deli (not necessarily Dehli folk) folk over the years ... two of them bought my race/nationality into it - Dominican who called me "mutha trukkin' milk" and an Irish chap who called me "a half N - word" (i'm Irish/Italian - the Irish up 'round here did not take kindly to that mix for the most part ... this one was back when i was barely in my teens). 

were they racist?  or just part of the "colorful" jargon we bandy about over here?

a lil' of both ✌

ETA: so, to me, your scenario is far from racist. 

 

Edited by otb_lifer

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I still don't get it. Is the potential racism in saying he's Indian? Having an Indian work at the store? Is there some Indian stereotype I'm not familiar with that says they ignore expiration dates and sell goods that are no longer good?

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Someone in the show has to sell the expired meat; might as well be an Indian.   

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Apu started out as a racial caricature during a time one could get cheap laughs out of stereo-typically portraying members of several "fringe" ethnic groups.  Simpsons got away from that over the years to the point that he (and I'm assuming most of their initial characters) are pretty well rounded characters.  

To be fair to The Simpsons.....the writers haven't been overly afraid of poking fun and just about every demographic imaginable over the years.  

 

 

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7 minutes ago, dgreen said:

I still don't get it. Is the potential racism in saying he's Indian? Having an Indian work at the store? Is there some Indian stereotype I'm not familiar with that says they ignore expiration dates and sell goods that are no longer good?

I think the implication is that because someone of color did something shady in a story, it's racist. 

So we can't have anymore villians, thieves, or shady people in fiction unless they are white.  

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Joe - as a minority, I can tell you I laugh along with a lot of inappropriate things as long as the goal was to truly go for the joke. 

It's hard to "snapshot" one line/part of a joke/performance/etc and sum it up as "racist".

People often confuse racism for simply being inappropriate.  Comedy should be inappropriate, it's comedy.    

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15 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Yes.

Since its a comedy no.  I'd like to think we can laugh at jokes still without it being racist...

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2 minutes ago, Arizona Ron said:

Joe - as a minority, I can tell you I laugh along with a lot of inappropriate things as long as the goal was to truly go for the joke. 

It's hard to "snapshot" one line/part of a joke/performance/etc and sum it up as "racist".

People often confuse racism for simply being inappropriate.  Comedy should be inappropriate, it's comedy.    

Thanks. I can see that. 

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In this particular example, it's a stereotype of grocers, not a stereotype of Indians. So, there's nothing wrong with it.

And I don't think there's anything seriously wrong with Apu. True, he is occasionally portrayed in a negatively-stereotypical fashion. But that's true of MANY characters on The Simpsons. The show is an equal-opportunity-stereotyper. The fact that Apu is treated equally is something that should be praised, not faulted.

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1 minute ago, stlrams said:

Since its a comedy no.  I'd like to think we can laugh at jokes still without it being racist...

That's a fair point to bring up. But I would say my opinion is it shouldn't matter.  In other words, it's racist or not. I don't believe the fact it's a comedy should factor in.

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There are richards all over the planet and South Asian people can be richards, too. But there's not much context given. 

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5 minutes ago, Arizona Ron said:

 

People often confuse racism for simply being inappropriate.     

 

Thanks @Arizona Ron, can you expand on what you mean by this? I'm not sure I've ever really thought of this. Thanks.

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