Canada is currently having another manufactured scandal as photos of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have become public in which is shows him dressed up as an Arab and doing so wearing blackface while at a party.
Both the “left” and the “right” in Canada are expressing faux outrage over this perceived “horrible” offense that has now been compounded as the New York Times reported that a video surfaced of the PM also in blackface. Trudeau has also admitted that he wore blackface while singing the famous song “Day-O” during a performance in High School.
Some are saying that this incident “shatters” Trudeau’s carefully crafted image as a champion of all types of “liberal” causes, and in almost lock-step agreement with the tune of Western political scandal, Trudeau has “apologized” for his “offense”, while the Canadian “right” has said that it “proves” their position on Trudeau. All of this comes at a time when Canada’s October 21st national elections are approaching.
“Justin Trudeau has carefully crafted an image of what Canadians aspire to: hope, openness to the world and youth,” said Jean-Marc Léger, chief executive of Léger, a leading polling company in Montreal. “The blackface episode shatters that perfect image and casts questions on his authenticity.”
“This is something I shouldn’t have done many years ago,” Mr. Trudeau said. “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”
“The Justin Trudeau revelation is a validation of the Conservative attack,” Mr. Nanos said. (source)
The question that I have to ask naturally, is that how is even considered an offense, let alone news?
In the 2004 film White Chicks, Marlon and Shawn Wayans, two black-American actors, played the role of FBI agents attempting to stop a kidnapping of two rich white socialites. After placing the girls into a temporary safe spot at a hotel, the two agents disguise themselves as white girls and go into a party where the two socialites are expected to be.
Here is a movie about two black men dressing in “whiteface”, and they go into a party where all kinds of stereotypical “white American” gestures, expressions, and incidents take places. Yet that is what makes it so funny, is that stereotypes often times are not based on “hatred” but on generalizations that are based in reality, and comedy often takes those stereotypes and exaggerates them to ridiculous proportions. That is what makes things something funny, as it is a chance to laugh at individual idiosyncracies as well as provides the opportunity to reflect on one’s own behavior in a light-hearted way.
One can consider another but written example of such satire in the fictional newspaper The Babylon Bee, which is as arguably as popular as and perhaps more popular than the satirical site The Onion. The Babylon Bee began and still operates as a spoof on American Evangelical Protestant news but has since expanded into politics, publishing articles such as Six-Year-Old Saying, ‘Why Don’t We Just Give Everything Away For Free?’ Surges To Top Of Democratic Polls, Lego Introduces New Sharper Bricks That Instantly Kill You When You Step On Them, New Evidence Suggests Esau Actually Sold Birthright For Spicy Chicken Sandwich From Chick-Fil-A, and CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.
“Blackface” has its origins in minstrel performances of the 19th century, but as Wikipedia notes, seem to have been going on since as early as 1441 in Portugal following the Portuguese expansion into West Africa and her subsequent contact with Africans as well as the later trade in captured prisoners of war from African tribal conflicts in exchange for European goods.
Some people have called “blackface” racist, and certainly there are those who have used it for this purpose. There can be no question to this. But then what is to be said about the “whiteface” of the Wayans brothers? Are “white people” supposed to express “offense” at this simply because it is two black men making a satire about “white girls” and “white life?” If there is no reason for the latter, and barring a serious reason that would indicate ulterior motives, what then is logically wrong with the former, be it satire or not?
But this trend towards the immediate, explosive response to perceived “offenses” has eroded standards of communication between people, and it has most heavily affected satire. As noted above with The Babylon Bee, the site has come under repeated attack from websites such as Snopes and even Facebook threatening to deplatform them and deprive them of their main sources of revenue for being “offensive.” The threats made against the website for doing satire- including the story above about CNN using industrial-size washing machines to spin the news -became so serious that the owners of the Bee had to hire a legal team to force and apology from Facebook and extort a temporary peace from Snopes.
Famed Jewish comedian Jerry Seinfeld of the 1990s TV series Seinfeld has said that he has seen a decline in comedy because people are now accusing others of “offenses” that would not be considered offensive years ago, and this has made it impossible to say anything without people reacting angrily or having other consequences.
If one cannot make jokes, even slightly tasteless or mildly “offensive” ones without there being serious consequences, how can one expect society to function as a whole? Likewise, what is to be said about things that people did in the past that are considered- whether reasonable or not -“offensive” today? Unless it is a serious issue that involves the declaration of a principle and it can be shown that one still supports said principle, then one must not forget that people can change, and if a person clearly has shown steady and major change or “evolution” of a like pattern in his beliefs or ideas, what more is there to criticize him for?
In August 2019, the Babylon Bee published a story entitled Prodigal Son Kicked Back Out After Old Tweets Surface, and the title is what one could imagine it to be. Yet this is the approach which modern society takes to politicians and all people in any position of power or influence, and even daily life. People are “defined” one way and they always stay that way without any hope of change or growth. Likewise, the things that people do which are considered “offensive” are increasingly based upon arbitrary ideas divorced from any sort of general principle and so make fuel for a feigned show of “outrage” that serves the sole purpose of advancing one’s own power in the moment.
Meanwhile, the real news, such as the cover up of the Epstein case in spite of major evidence directly suggesting such, is simply ignored because it is not considered something that one wants to discuss.