Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas

Here’s a picture of me and my brother celebrating Christmas as children. We were clearly not given haircuts as presents that year.

I used to love Christmas growing up. The exception was that first Christmas when I was four. I had learned about Santa Claus in school and my immigrant parents bought us a little plastic Christmas tree, but didn’t realize that they were supposed to buy presents and put them under the tree before Christmas morning. I was left disappointed, accusing Santa Claus of hating Hindus. Other than that, things went fine and Christmas was a time filled with family, food and holiday television specials and films. (My favorite holiday film being Christmas Story. I like the scene where Ralphie beats the shit out of that bully Scut Farcus. My brother and I would watch that scene and laugh. Oh, how cathartic that scene was.)

I think I started to sour on Christmas in recent years as Bill O’Reilly and other right-wingers started to claim the existence of a “War on Christmas” (and on Christianity, in general). Whenever a Christmas tree or nativity scene is removed from a public place, the conservatives go nuts...like the way reasonable people go nuts about the War...you know, the actual War...in Iraq...that is happening presently...IN REALITY.

Christmas was a lot more fun before all this religion got mixed into it. (Notice Hindu statue next to Christmas tree in image above)

Specifically regarding nativity scenes, I find it ridiculous that people are surprised when they are taken down in courthouses and other public institutions. That is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. At least with Christmas trees and images of Santa Claus, you can claim they are secular symbols of Christmas time that have no direct connection to the Christian faith and the contents of the Bible. It’s hard to make the same claim with a scene depicting the birth of Christ.

I suppose the only way you could justify displaying a nativity scene at a publicly funded institution is if you say it is part of an exhibit entitled: Murder Victims and Their Families During Happier Times.

You could then show John Lennon getting his first guitar or perhaps JFK fishing with his father in Cape Cod.

(I tried making this joke at a few gigs recently in NYC. Mixed results. More dirty looks than I expected.)

Here’s another compromise, you can show your nativity scenes…but they have to be accurate.

Everyone, including Jesus, must have BROWN skin….as they would have in reality since this supposedly happened in the Middle East. (And no you can’t put Cliff Huxtable in the manger to deliver the baby. I do realize Bill Cosby is a palatable dark-skinned person and would make this scene easier to digest for some.)

This is a nation that is struggling to decide whether we can have a brown-skinned president. A brown-skinned messiah? The threat of such a thing should keep church and state apart for at least a little while.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

FedEx-plain Yourself

Let’s take a look at this new FedEx Commercial shall we?


What’s could possibly be wrong here?

1) Indians don’t ride flying carpets. That is a racist stereotype. Though to some this may be a much more palatable explanation for the presence of Indian communities around the world (as opposed to colonialism and indentured labor).

2) FedEx is claiming that Indians are so incompetent that they, in fact, need to import their racist stereotypes from abroad.

3) Is this even an Indian stereotype? Isn’t it a Persian and Arab stereotype? A clue being the flying carpet's prominence in the children’s book Arabian Nights. Hmm…but we all do look a like over there, I suppose, so why wouldn't our cultures and stereotypes be the same. I'm constantly calling Italians "kraut-heads" and telling Greeks to stop drinking so much Guinness.

To those of you who think I’m being too sensitive or politically correct…SHUT THE FUCK UP! I am so sick of your illogical replies. I presented you with an argument and you reply with SHIT. The claim of political correctness is not an all-encompassing answer. (I will present more of my thoughts on political correctness another time.)

Why did FedEx think this was ok? Did they simply ask an Indian dude around the office what he thought about it?

FedEx Ad Rep: So tell me what you think of our new ad. Honestly.

(Plays commercial)

Indian Dude: (Laughs nervously)

FedEx Ad Rep: Are you laughing because you think it’s funny or because you’re worried that we’ll fire you if you don’t laugh.

Indian Dude: (Laughs nervously again)

FedEx Ad Rep: Seriously, do you like the commercial or are you responding this way because you feel pressured to like it because if you said the ad was inaccurate and potentially racist you would be accused of being overly sensitive and this could imply that you and your family have not completely assimilated into American life.

Indian Dude: Uhh…I…like it, I guess.

FedEx Ad Rep: Ok good, we’re going with it. Can we run an idea by you?

Indian Dude: (sighs) Umm…sure.

FedEx Ad Rep: I was thinking that we should change the ad to say that the flying carpets are selling “like curry” instead of "like hotcakes" since hotcakes are not popular in India.

Indian Dude: I think roti, chapathi or dosa would be more appropriate since they're more similar to hotcakes than curry.

FedEx Ad Rep: Nobody in America will know what those are.

Indian guy: Oh, ok.

FedEx Ad Rep: You know what, maybe we’ll just keep it the way it is. I’m glad we had this conversation. It’s all part of the creative process.

Here’s a potential response to a claim of racism:

FedEx PR Rep: No, you see, we’re not claiming that Indians have historically ridden flying carpets. We’re actually saying the opposite. We’re saying that in a world where flying carpets exist they would get popular everywhere...quite possibly in India since it is an emerging superpower and its growing middle-class would love to get their hands on such technology. If this was the case, we are confident FedEx would be able to get these flying carpets there better than any of our competitors. Hell, my great grandfather was half-Irish and I would be honored if this commercial said Ireland. But that’s just how the ball bounced. We love Indians. We love Americans. We love Indian-Americans. God or Science Bless Everyone. UPS Sucks.

Your welcome, FedEx.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Conversation between the Kondabolu Brothers

On the F train returning to Queens from a party in Manhattan.

Hari is eating a bag of Skittles.

Hari: A pack of Skittles provides you with 50% of the recommended amount of Vitamin C you need in a day. Man, that's crazy!

Ashok: What?

Hari: It's so easy to get Vitamin C now! I mean, who actually gets scurvy anymore?

Ashok: Probably a neglected child.

Hari: Oh shit, you're right. That's really sad. I should've thought of that. I can't make a joke about this. Hmm, maybe I should put this conversation in my blog.

Ashok: Whatever, man.