schmidt!

The very first time we encounter Dong Nguyen, one of several hotly debated characters in Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he has just introduced himself to Kimmy in their GED class. And, as surely happens to Dong all the time, ever since he immigrated to New York from Vietnam, she’s stifling a giggle over his name.

For a lot of viewers, including a lot of Asian-American ones, the traits that make Dong such a classic Fey-sian misfit also make him a dull, even infuriating Asian stereotype: his thickly accented, broken English; his gig delivering Chinese food by bike; his aptitude for math; his deportation-anxiety storyline. So which is it: Does Dong push back against Asian stereotypes, or does he just prop them up?

Why It’s So Hard For Us To Agree About Dong From ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

Photo Credit: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/Netflix

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Kendall Schmidt Interview - 2015 Kids’ Choice Awards

The critics of Kimmy Schmidt have an idiot problem.

I recently read an article titled “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a race problem”.  I laughed. I knew instantly that this article would probably not sit well with me but I had just started the show and was maybe 4 episodes in… so it made sense to put the article off until I finished the series, so as not to spoil anything.

I finished the series last night.

I revisited the article to see what the complaints were. Here are some of them: 

“During the news coverage, a ticker tape reads “White women found! Hispanic woman also found,” yet another dark jab, this time at discrimination in the media.”

…or how it’s safer for a queer black man [Titus (supporting lead)] to walk around the city literally dressed like a monster [werewolf]

I’m not exactly sure how to say this… but if you’re one in the camp of people who think that Kimmy Schmidt has a race problem then you better also be talking about how it has a class problem, a gay problem, an agist problem, a religion problem, a problem with rural middle america. Here are some other “Problems” with this show on class, gays and religion: 

- A rich trust fund kid riding in private blimps commenting on not knowing what a public blimp even looks like inside.
- A very flamboyant gay man hiring a “straight coach”(expertly played by Dean Norris) for a gay man so he can get straight parts in plays.
- “Gay hasn’t gotten to indiana yet, there are rumors in Ohio” - Kimmy Schmidt
- “This year I get to pick the chapter that gets taken out of the science text book” - Cindy Porkorny (one of the mole women)

I could go on, honestly, but the point is if you’re one of the folks who have a problem with Race in this show you are fundamentally missing the point of the acute satire that is ever present within this show’s “joke every second” dialogue. 

Since there are articles out there complaining about this perhaps someone needs to tell them what satire is: 

sat·ire
ˈsaˌtī(ə)r/ - (noun)
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Exaggeration is the most common way satire is used. There are so many ways this show uses this method of satire and just about every single time it’s used it is being misunderstood. A wise man once said “Satire is often mistaken for provocation… And most often by the ones calling it provocation”.

It’s taken a stupid amount of energy to write this without being offensive. I get so tired of people who are continuously confusing satire for racism, classism or whatever. To me, it’s like those folks thinking Onion articles are real. 

Every time an article is written about how satire is racism, the writers of the satire are winning. 

You’ve fallen victim to the trap that mistakes a serious topic for the exaggeration of said topic.

I know it’s not an all or nothing kind of perspective but life must be tough to think everything is wrong with the world. When you do that you fail to see the good in lieu of what you want to see. (i.e. race problems).  

There are people who write books and publish papers on race that are much more educated than I am but it is infuriatingly simple, for me, to tell apart real racism from it’s satirical counterpart. How, You may be asking? My dad was racist growing up. It was instilled in me at an early age that black people were not like us. They were different. 

Long story short, I worked hard in my formative years to combat racism in my mind and my actions because I knew it was wrong. 

When you’re racist because you hate black people or some other race… you show it. It bleeds through an otherwise tough exterior. 

So the next time you think something is racist or the next time you laugh at racial humor, check yourself to make sure why you’re laughing. If it’s because you agree that “all black people look like Samuel L. Jackson” then you might need to look in the mirror and ask yourself some hard questions about what being a human in society means. If you’re laughing because you also think it’s stupid that so many people say that “all black people look like Samuel L. Jackson” you might be getting the point. 

Adult human person, signing off… 

Troll the Re-spawn, Jeremy.