Wednesday, September 21, 2011
My grandfather, born in San Francisco in the 1870s, really thought minstrel shows gave accurate depictions of African Americans since those were the only "black" people he'd ever seen.
Now that so many people are watching or reading The Help the topic of prejudice often comes up in conversations. Back in the 1960s many of us fought to eliminate prejudice against racial minorities and it became unacceptable to make fun of people who had long been the subject of humor.
For some reason a lot of what is considered funny in our culture involves ridiculing people, so when the entertainment industry couldn't joke about Jewish people being stingy, black people being stupid, or any of the other ethnic stereotypes they'd used for years what could they do?
They began making fun of the majority and have continued doing so for nearly 40 years. For example, Protestants are often portrayed by the media as ignorant rednecks and Catholics as members of the Mafia.
Just as many people in the past had their ideas about people different from themselves shaped by comedy, I'm afraid that is happening again in our time.