by Sean Clark
Over the past few months I have been absorbed into the new social media craze Vine, a new app that lets smartphone users create six second videos. At first, it was my guilty pleasure. I would obsessively scroll through the popular page and laugh until tears came out of my eyes, but recently the videos that have the most “likes” and “revines” use racism as a cheap punchline.
The trend right now is to make a video comparing two different stereotypes. I cannot go on Vine without seeing a plethora of videos showing someone saying “White people be like,” “Black people be like,” and “Asian people be like.” These Vines are not criticized by viewers because the racist implications are not extreme, but the hints of relaxed bigotry promote a culture that accepts racism. I can no longer go on the Vine popular page in public because I’m afraid of the racial slurs that will come out of my phone.
Racism is a serious issue that should not be belittled and made fun of. However, many unoriginal Vine comedians have resorted to racial slurs and stereotypes in order to substantiate their six seconds of internet glory. As we laugh and share these videos with our friends, we make racism a laughing matter. These videos passively teach us to expect a group of people to act a certain way.
Famous “Viners” such as King Bach and Josh Kwondike Bar flamboyantly exaggerate the stereotypes that apply to the minority they belong to. King Bach, an African American Viner, often posts stereotypical videos that enforce negative African American stereotypes. In his Vines he dresses up like a “gangster,” robs white people of watermelon and fried chicken, and nonchalantly throws around the n-word. Josh Kwondike Bar is an Asian teenager who exclusively preys on Asian stereotypes for attention. In his Vines he wears a visor, squints his eyes, and says things in an unrealistic and inaccurate Chinese accent. The Asian stereotypes he makes light of include bad driving, squinted eyes, and intelligence. Viners should take responsibility for the harm their videos cause to every minority.
Subtle racism is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent in our generation. Vine did not start subtle racism, but it has made it more accessible to youth. It’s a sad fact that racist jokes get more attention than innocent jokes. Because of this, desperate comedians disguise their prejudice in the name of humor.
Supporting racist Vines will only encourage the creators to make more, further enforcing stereotypes. Even if racism is accompanied by a few laughs, it is still racism and it is still prejudice. Racism is so deeply rooted in our society that it is now affecting the language and humor we use every day, and that is not a culture that I want to be a part of.