This is a test. Treat it seriously.
To begin the test, click PLAY on the below video. For the duration of the clip, monitor your level of enjoyment as Nancy Kwan performs her famous towel dance in front of the three-way mirror in her bedroom in her “I Enjoy Being a Girl” number.
All done? Good. Now take the one-question test.
1. Did you find the performance to be an offensive stereotyping of Asians?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
If you answered Yes, then you are safe. You can move along to other items.
If you answered No, then you, sir/madam, must be a racist like us.
We were quite shocked to learn this at the conclusion of last night’s airing of the 1961 film version of Flower Drum Song. TCM host Robert Osborne said that no one would stage the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical during the 1980s and 1990s because of its political incorrectness. Only once Asian playwright David Henry Hwang rewrote the storyline as well as some of the songs (!) did it recover its social acceptability and go on to rave reviews and nominations for a Grammy and multiple Tony Awards in 2002.
Good grief. You spend a couple hours being thoroughly entertained, and then at the end, you’re told you should be ashamed of yourself for it–by the people that showed it to you.
It seems that I’m a closet racist, because I love the old Flower Drum Song. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and I can’t imagine changing one note of its heart-snaring sweetness and sentimentality. It doesn’t belittle a single one of its characters. It caresses them like a mother stroking the cheeks of her sleeping infants–with evident love, compassion and gentleness. Even the most wayward of them is redeemed by the happy end.
I’ve always thought that the story–one of the first to feature Asians living in America and to be acted by a primarily Asian cast–really wasn’t so much about Asian culture as it was about American culture and the splintering of it in the war between traditionalism and modernism that our country was just being to undergo.
It wasn’t meant to be a documentary. Yes, it has hyperbole in its portrayal of Asian-American family and community life as the US enters the modernizing era of the 1960s (for all the ills that causes). But come on, people, this is Broadway. Exaggeration is its middle name.
I bring all this up because it was the second time in a single day that I was indirectly called a racist. As a Southern conservative libertarian, I can generally make it a week or so before my views are belittled with the racist/bigot slur instead of refuted with reason. But this was a rapid-fire one-two punch–and not due to something as all-important as ideology, but due to things that make me laugh and go “awwww.”
The first instance had occurred earlier in the day when I saw a @redstate tweet alerting me that I had been deemed a racist due to my adoration of Hallmark’s hoops&yoyo ecards, which bring email joy to thousands daily. Who couldn’t love these two quirky, ditzy pranksters? They’re as cute as puppies and kittens and cotton candy and rainbows, all rolled into one flash animation.
Look at this one perfect for a hot summer day. Or these Father’s Day ones. (Don’t look yet, Dad!) Or this Mark Steyn one. Or this one where Hoops & YoYo go all existentialist. Or…as anyone who has tried to select a hoops&yoyo card knows, this could go on all day–but you must see their coffee-drinking classic, if nothing else.
Apparently the world does have some hoops&yoyo haters, though, and they could be found at the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter press conference demanding that the rest of us shun them, too–or at least, insisting that we never again laugh, smile or even look at the cartoon duo’s giant, sound-chip-embedded graduation card classic that’s sold in Hallmark stores.
The offense: hoops&yoyo tell the graduate that he is now ready to conquer the universe, be it Saturn’s rings or black holes. Some people with apparently wax-filled ears say they hear “whores” instead of “holes.”
You didn’t dare laugh at the various people holding the card to their ear to listen more closely to the taunt at black holes, did you?
Just for the record, here’s the complete transcription of the text and audio (obtained through viewing the two related videos in this posting).
The cover text of the card reads, “You’re graduating? Well, then, it’s time to tell the world what’s coming.”
Inside, YoYo, the green bunny, is shown shouting: “But not only the world, noooo! We’re talking the entire solar system! The world is yours, grad!” Hoops, the pink kitty, is depicted saying: “Watch out, Saturn, this grad is gonna run rings around you!” And their little blue buddy, Piddles, is taunting something we can’t see very clearly, but it appears to be along the lines of “Yeah, [take] that, [???].”
Thanks to the YouTube video below by Jasmyne Cannick, we can hear the entire card online, as well as view her transcription of the audio greeting. Here we reproduce it, making some minor punctuation changes and substituting her “ho’s?” with the correct “holes” that can clearly be heard.
“Hey, world. We’re officially putting you on notice. You better watch out, because this graduate here is kicking rear and taking names. This graduate is going to run the world, run the universe and run everything after that. Yeah. Whatever that is. And you black holes, you’re so ominous. [Laughter] Congratulations! Yeah! Have fun taking over the world. And you planets, watch your back.”
It’s funny that hoops&yoyo’s have been taking names and kicking a** (in a family friendly way, of course) long before Obama jumped on the bandwagon.
[Ed. note: Hey, it’s graduation season right now. What if Obama, after delivering a commencement, got a peek at this very same card given to one of the grads in attendance, and suddenly his whole new getting-tough-on-BP publicity campaign was born. Things are so strange these days, it’s actually a plausible scenario, isn’t it?]
The extended interview that Cannick conducted with Leon Jenkins, the chapter president, recounts the press flurry and store removal that his complaint to Hallmark generated. It’s quite fascinating in how it displays the intimidation power he wields, even when making a utterly preposterous charge of racism.
For more analysis from a different angle, see RedState‘s story, too.
So what’s a Flower Drum Song, Hoops & YoYo lover supposed to do these days? I’m girding my loins, because I just know that at any moment they’ll be going after other seemingly innocent favorites of mine, such as Cary Grant, Harold Lloyd and Bugs Bunny opera.
[Editorial inquiry to RS McCain: Would this qualify as a Rule 5 post?]