Louis C.K.’s unfunny sketch about race

Originally posted in Feministing

Full transcript  after the jump

This sketch by Louis C.K. on white privilege made me really uncomfortable. While I think Serwer rightly points out that CK’s “jokes” play on “the fear that animates American racial politics,” the major issues at hand here are how delusional some whites can be about present-day racism and the logical implications of white privilege. First, the notion that a black man would feel comfortable traveling back to the 1980s is the only laughable moment that can be extracted from this sketch. Reaganomics, anyone??

Further, C.K. presses the knife with, “For now, Weeeeee!”  The thing we have to remember about whiteness is that it is a privilege that inherently disadvantages other racial groups. So really, C.K. can’t celebrate his whiteness without him celebrating the effects his white privilege has on people of color: racism.

Nothing to laugh at in that conclusion.

H/t to Diana Price.

Sorry I’m being so negative. I’m a bummer, I don’t know I shouldn’t be I’m a very lucky guy. I got a lot going from me. I’m a healthy, I’m relatively young. I’m white; which thank God for that sh** boy. That is a huge leg up, are you kidding me? I love being white I really do. Seriously, if you’re not white you’re missing out because this sh** is thoroughly good. Let me be clear by the way, I’m not saying that white people are better. I’m saying that being white is clearly better, who could even argue? If it was an option I would reup ever year. Oh yeah I’ll take white again absolutely, I’ve been enjoying that, I’ll stick with white thank you. Here’s how great it is to be white, I could get in a time machine and go to any time and it would be fuckin’ awesome when I get there. That is exclusively a white privilege. Black people can’t fuck with time machines. A black guy in a time machine is like hey anything before 1980 no thank you, I don’t want to go. But I can go to any time. The year 2, I don’t even know what was happening then but I know when I get there, welcome we have a table right here for you sir. … thank you, it’s lovely here in the year 2. I can go to any time in the past, I don’t want to go to the future and find out what happens to white people because we’re going to pay hard for this shit, you gotta know that … we’re not just gonna fall from number 1 to 2. They’re going to hold us down and fuck us in the ass forever and we totally deserve it but for now wheeeee. If you’re white and you don’t admit that it’s great, you’re an asshole. It is great and I’m a man. How many advantages can one person have? I’m a white man, you can’t even hurt my feelings. What can you really call a white man that really digs deep? Hey cracker … oh ruined my day. Boy shouldn’t have called me a cracker, bringing me back to owning land and people what a drag.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m really glad that most of the comments point out that this bit (for the record, that’s different than a sketch) is obviously a commentary on, not a celebration of, white privilege. The OP completely missed the point of the bit, and that is really unfortunate.

    Louis C.K. says things like that being white is “a huge leg up.” This, alone, is already a fairly biting comment on, and succinct definition of, white privilege. Like other commenters have pointed out, he also comments on “invisible knapsack” situations by using phrases like “welcome, we have a table right here for you, sir” (when referring to going back in time to the year 2). Acknowledging that one has an advantage in such a situation- instead of thinking that’s the “normal” way things are- communicates an understanding that others do not have such an advantage.

    Moreover, he overtly acknowledges what this means for those that are non-white: “if you’re not white, you’re missing out.” Double moreover, he literally says the words “white privilege” when he says that “[the time travel scenario] is exclusively a white privilege.”

    This bit points out white privilege in a scathing and funny way by acknowledging the enormous advantages that white people (and specifically white men) unfairly have over non-white people. Like others have said, the fact that a white man- and a fairly mainstream comedian, no less- is acknowledging his own privilege is progressive. I would be glad if mainstream comedy were more like this.

    I like that other commenters have suggested looking into Louis C.K.’s body of work to get a better idea of who he is politically. That’s always a good idea. Frankly, though, I think the bit is pretty straightforward on its own. It’s important to think about what statement a comedian, or any other artist for that matter, is trying to make with their work. We should consider exactly why the bit is funny, (or intended to be funny). What is making the audience laugh? How much sarcasm is being used? Etc. Comedy can be a very effective way to communicate political criticism, and it is beneficial for feminists and other progressive groups to embrace such methods.

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