‘How I Met Your Mother’ meets unfair complaints

Last week’s “How I Met Your Mother,” titled “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra,” contained a culturally Asian subplot that was quickly construed as racism by the hordes on Twitter. The day after the episode aired, enraged comments under the decidedly uncreative hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism began to flood into the blogosphere.

Carter Bays, in a hasty attempt to mop up the mess, replied stating that “with Monday’s episode, we set out to make a silly unabashedly immature homage to kung-fu movies, a genre we’ve always loved.”

When did America become so incredibly sensitive, and how are comedies meant to operate when the slightest hint of political incorrectness puts people up at arms?

In the most recent episode, Marshall goes to Shanghai to learn the secrets of slapping. During his journey, he meets Red Bird, White Flower and the Calligrapher, characters played by the main cast dressed in yellowface and stereotypical clothing.

Ted’s calligrapher character was even sporting the classic Fu Manchu mustache. Although this all sounds racist on paper, I never got that sense when viewing the episode.

And why would I? Never did they demean Asians or belittle their culture. As Bays said, they were simply alluding to a film genre; a genre which, at its heart, is pretty darn ridiculous. Why then, were the kung-fu movies 20 to 30 years ago never made suspect, while this silly family show is? Simply put, it all comes down to a society comprised of — sorry — pansies.

It’s funny, but as the world becomes more tolerant, we at the same time become less tolerant. After years and years of drilling it into generation after generation, racism has finally become taboo. The road to post-racism has been a long one.

Yet, with that comes a societal oversensitivity to anything resembling racism. Parents are frightened that children won’t be able to separate media consumption from real life, and so they stifle them.

This same trend is seen with both violence and nudity in television and movies. Instead of taking responsibility for our actions, violence in this country is attributed to video games like “Grand Theft Auto” and movies with guns.

Nudity is even more stigmatized, resulting in a societal discomfort with sex, and thus, more molestation and rape. We as a country need to look at the facts. Europe has the same movies, video games and television as we do, yet its gun violence and rape statistics are monstrously lower. Shows like “How I Met Your Mother” are not the problem. We are.

 

Reach the columnist at iagilber@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @izzyg25