Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I want to like Amy Sedaris but ...
Now I don't think I like Amy Sedaris anymore. I've been reading Racialicious, a blog on race and pop culture. This entry talked about a book Amy Sedaris signed to a Chinese American reader at a book signing. I'll quote the original blog post:
A reader named Gloria sends in this juicy little scan… She informs me that actress/author/comedienne Amy Sedaris did a show last week at Haverford College. Gloria’s brother (who happens to be Chinese American) got a copy of Sedaris’ book I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence signed for her.
The above scan is what she apparently inscribed on the inside of the book. Yes, you’re reading that right. As if “Ching Chong” wasn’t enough, the rudimentary buck-toothed chink-eyed caricature is sort of icing on the racist cake.
What the hell, Amy Sedaris? Is that supposed to be clever? Are we supposed to write that off as “quirky”? I’ve never been a huge fan of hers… but I’ve never disliked her either. That has changed. I have to wonder what Gloria’s brother thought when she handed this back to him. Not cool. That’s racist! (Thanks, Gloria.)
UPDATE: Amy Sedaris apparently has a bit of history with the ching-chongery… Check out her opening remarks in this video posted on BlogHer back in 2007. Doesn’t take very long for her to bust out that “ching chong.” Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Like it ain’t no thing.
Also, check out this Believer interview from several years ago where she lists her turn-offs as: “The beach, having to pay for things, racist people, Orientals.” Is that supposed to be funny?
A little more Googling reveals that she actually has a habit of referring to people of Asian descent as “ching chong” at appearances and events. She also regularly signs her books with “ching chong” and a sketch of the buck-toothed ching chong thing. Oh, I get it. She’s supposed to funny and off-the-wall, and so we’re supposed to excuse her for playful, asinine racist mockery.
But I still love David.