Terrorist tech support

This tech support parody (warning: sound) has a wild-eyed Sikh wearing an Afghan-style turban surrounded by Hindu icons in southern India (thanks, Avi). The usual bad Indian accent and cow jokes ensue. I supposed we should thank the animator for drawing him in an office instead of squatting on the ground with an abacus. Its dissection of brainless tech support is pretty cute, though.

Screwy Flash animations shouldn’t be politically correct, but they shouldn’t be ignorant either. Team America knowingly poked fun at American stereotyping even while engaging in it, by putting together a Middle Eastern disguise for the protagonist. The ‘disguise’ consisted of stray bits of toilet paper stuck to his jawline and brownface splashed on as if by a 2-year-old. That’s about how well Americans understand the Middle East, the movie was saying.

This animation doesn’t do that — it cheaps out with crude, wildly inaccurate ethnic stereotypes. I’m not saying don’t poke fun at desis. Hell, we do it all the time. I’m saying: Ill Will Press, this creative work is trite and lame. Get it right next time. There are a quarter million of us right in your backyard, the second-largest Asian-American group in NYC, so just ask somebody.

Granted, it might be a strained conversation (‘Say, dude, fact-check this animation and do a bad accent so I can make fun of your country of origin’)… :)

Related posts: 1, 2, 3

19 thoughts on “Terrorist tech support

  1. It’s Foamy the Squirrel, my old friend! Have you listened to his rants? Why, Foamy bitches everything out, and is obviously animated by a “I’m no Republican, but no Democrat either, obviously I’m an enlightened Free Thinker who’s going to vote Libertarian, but don’t know what the Libertarians really stand for, however I’m angry at all of the stupidity, by god, and I know Flash” person.

    Foamy is really funny sometimes (when he’s ripping on something you don’t like yourself).

  2. Foamy is really funny sometimes…

    Bet Foamy’s rants don’t mix up Democrats, Republicans and libertarians for lack of interest in the details.

  3. Never mind the fact that level 1 tech support MUST read from a script (usually that begins something like “have you restarted your computer”) and if they don’t follow the script, even if they know how to fix the problem, they can lose their jobs.

    Never mind that the most of the tech support personnel in India speak english fluently and sure, there is an accent difference, but does it make Southerners or Brits harder to understand?

    Ill Will Press can be freakin funny – the “tall, grande venti” rant is the BEST – but i’m surprised they had to resort to “stupid foreigner who does not speak my language” stereotypes in order to get across the fact that he doesn’t like the fact that major corporations are outsourcing.

    I can think of 100 ways to express displeasure for such a phenomenon without resorting to racial stereotypes. I’m really shocked that the brilliant minds at ill will couldn’t.

  4. “Bet Foamy’s rants don’t mix up Democrats, Republicans and libertarians for lack of interest in the details.”

    No, come to think of it, Foamy is right on target with getting the details right. If the squirrel’s going to be on target about most things instead of creating caricatures, why not Indian tech support, too, you say? Yeah, I see your point.

    I am partial to the Threebrain squirrel myself.

  5. i am in india, and associated with the call centre business and i didnt find it offensive at all. a little ignorant yea…but no more so than boolywoods portrayal of the US.

  6. … a little ignorant yea…but no more so than boolywoods portrayal of the US.

    That’s lame too– cardboard kung-fu villains who are black or white, straight out of Double Dragon. Not to mention the Japanese tourists. But then you’re talking about an industry which produced Mogambo ;)

  7. I’m usually the first one to rail against sterotypes in media, but I have to say that having watched Foamy clips for a while, I wasn’t that offended… maybe my patina of political correctness is being worn down… :/

    And don’t be dissin’ Mogambo…. he’s one of the greatest Bollywood villians of all time! :) Mogambo khush hua!

  8. Unfortunately, it’s not funny. As in, it does not provoke laughter. Ill Will Press could do better. If it’s going to portray steroetypes, it might as well put an ignorant redneck on this side of the phone. That would be an interesting match. Someone who cant speak well on one side and someone who cant understand too well on the other. Now, that would be funny…:-)

  9. forget Mogambo, no one remembers Captain Zattack! from Shahenshah? I wanted him dead from the start…only bcuz he kept saying Capt Zattack! attack! over and over….

  10. There is a vast difference in context of the two examples you quote:

    The anti-Japanese cartoon was drawn in WW II. The Japanese (at that time) were hardly known for their kind treatment of “Gaijin”.

    Indra Nooyi is someone who heads a multinational American company, owes her success to the American business system, makes millions of dollars and yet shows her total disrespect of all Americans, who are off all races and religions. What was the point she was trying to convey ? That she has no concept of tact in a public speech ? I hope that is the last time she is ever invited to speak anywhere.

    Nothing similar about the two incidents.

  11. I hope that is the last time she is ever invited to speak anywhere.

    ‘The badly-written commencement speech hurt my feelings.’

    Which proves the point.

    By the way, the real asymmetry? That Americans know many more Americans than real-life desis. That’s why these racial stereotypes are so damaging.

  12. Manish Vij wrote:

    “‘The badly-written commencement speech hurt my feelings.’

    Which proves the point.”

    Her comments don’t bother me in the least. She is free to say what she wants. What does bother me is her crass lack of tact and good manners to be appropriate for the forum in which she voices her views. Her behavior is in no way different from Roseanne Barr grabbing her crotch and spitting when she sang the national anthem at a baseball game some years ago. If Indra Nooyi had her views to vent, she could have used something else, not make what was to have been about the graduating students into a mean spirited self serving speech. I’m sure a person as smart as she is and with the resources she has, could have voiced her opinions in some political forum. Funny that she chooses a situation where nobody could get up and refute her views. Perhaps she is unable to actually debate her views ? And hence prefers it to be one sided ?

    Oh and by the way, people like Eddie Murphy (Black) and Howard Stern (Jewish) built their early careers out of insulting the majority… obviously the majority enjoyed that ! Which proves my point about using the appropriate forum.

  13. If you care about using the appropriate forum, perhaps you could post your Nooyi comments under one of the Nooyi posts?

    Re: appropriateness, her point about the need for respectful foreign policy, made in an ironically insensitive way, was made to a friendly audience. Columbia is an extremely liberal campus. The politics raised no eyebrows among most of the audience; the wording did.

  14. Also, using commencement speeches as political calls to action is common. The year before Nooyi at Columbia, playwright Tony Kushner hilariously, obliquely critiqued Bush’s foreign policy. It was an excellent speech. He’s a much better writer.

  15. Ah, somehow I knew your going to allude to me not using the appropriate forum. :-) Perhaps it has slipped your mind that you had posted the link to Ms Nooyi’s speech as well as drew the specious analogy between she being treated criticially because she was a minority and not just because of her brainless comments. So I was just refuting your analogy.

    Ironically she refers to the American lack of tact in China and being boorish and insensitive. Did she really pay attention to her own speech ?

    To get this back in sync with the comments in this thread, my take is that in our hurry to be critical of tasteless stereptyping, we shouldn’t be defending people who are doing the same thing just because they happen to be of our ethnic extraction. In the long run I think that will hurt us more than it will help us.

  16. I found this sketch really funny. Yeah, it’s not PC and they are making the indian guy to be a bit of an idiot, but how many times have I seen an innacurate portrayal of a Scottish stereotype in the media?

    I have had so many calls with Dell Tech support recently and this was the only thing that stopped me hanging up halfway through them!