Culturally insensitive 1979 TV commercial for Faygo's Redpop, starring M*A*S*H star Jamie Farr

hahaha love your dialog.
And my son calls sitting “Indian style” criss-cross applesauce (or just cross-legged)


Is it possible to make racist humor that is also culturally sensitive?

I was attacking the messenger. But there was also no substance behind the message other than the identity of the messenger. It was basically: “You are wrong.” - sincerely, Famous Person.




I think the only people insulted by stuff like this are the people that would have found something to be insulted by no matter what. I have mostly Scottish ancestry. Groundskeeper Willie does not bother me in the least. In fact, he’s probably my favorite character. I cannot imagine arguing that kilts and bagpipes should be banned from concerts or Halloween costumes.

I realize that these statements practically make me into Rush Limbaugh here on Boing Boing but all things are relative.


Actually, that’s pretty textbook ad hominem fallacy:

“Adam is a fascist who once said California is made of cheese ! Therefore his statements about the sky’s blueness are false!”


I always thought that it was a bit more relaxed version of the lotus position from India. In any event, it isn’t like there is anything untoward being implied with that version of sitting. Unlike the case of “Indian giver”.


If you came from a different time or age, it might have. I am Italian and I routinely make jokes about Dumb Dagos and WOPs when I’m talking about Italians and almost no one cares. However, my dad got really angry when he heard me talking about this once as he came from a time where Italians were considered ‘barely white’ (his words…and he’s been dead for a long time!) and he said him and other ‘barely white’ type people (Polish immigrants was an example) – found these things to be hateful.

30 years later…no one cares. Why? Because American society has grown to accept these folks as part of the norm. Even the worst of the stereotypes is something to be laughed at because we consider these people to be our past, not what defines us now. I’d probably say the same things about the Scottish. Half the people in the US probably just think Scottish is the alternative British accent.

And then you get into other minorities where they still are excluded from mainstream – Native Americans and African Americans to name two – and they don’t have the same luxury.

Regardless, yeah…being treated at Rush Limbaugh’s more racist stupid cousin is pretty much the norm here for anyone that doesn’t tow the party line! I’m a pretty damn liberal person in real life, but here…yeah…


The 70s were such a weird time. There was this big cultural push to be inclusive, to be racially sensitive, to look past skin color – the American Melting Pot!

Somehow that awkwardly manifested in things like this commercial; a white guy dressing like a Native wasn’t ‘insensitive’; he was seen as embracing another culture. You could go to a movie like Blazing Saddles and laugh at all the “N” word jokes, and think “Look at me, digging on Black culture, I’m super open minded!”

As a kid, I was part of the YMCA’s youth group, the Indian Guides. We’d get together, dress like Indians, put face paint on, dance around, and it was “culturally sensitive” somehow.

Things have definitely changed a lot since then, and wow, is this cringe-worthy.


Huh. Now that I’m thinking about the types of roles Farr was known for, I’m not sure I want to know more about him.

On top of this commercial, he’s most famous for playing a guy openly pretending to be trans so he can get out of the Army.

Well…thank goodness he didn’t play off any other racist stereotypes, at least.



Or those who can empathize with a group who is routinely mocked for their outward appearance while being given short shrift economically and politically. As someone who has had an opportunity to listen to Native Americans discuss their feelings towards images and videos like these I am insulted because I sympathize to their plight and see how being characterized like this is harmful.

If I don’t speak up I am enabling the current system of “oh, no big deal” and emphasizes my privilege of being able to ignore it. I’m not looking to be insulted, I’m seeing how it is insulting.


For that last one (Cannonball Run?), he is an Arab American, so perhaps that’s not so egregious (even if that was a ‘broad’ role).


I suppose, and I somewhat agree. I know the agreement isn’t perfect, though, especially when I remember sitting through a college lecture discussing the racism behind Chris Tucker’s performances.

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Based solely upon how “far” Black people in the US have ‘gotten on the curve’, my point stands.


It’s been awhile since I’ve watched MAS*H, but wasn’t he trying to get discharged by “acting crazy”? Although I guess from a 2016 point of view, representing being insane by wanting to wear womens’ clothes is pretty offensive.

Hollywood tends to cast people based more on who they can passably represent rather than their actual race. A good friend of mine is Jewish, but with a little makeup has been onscreen as a Russian, an Italian (the stunt double for various Mafioso), a terrorist, another terrorist, etc.


It is surprising that it was in the late 70s by which time people were becoming more aware of minority and women’s right etc. (I don’t recall seeing this then, but some people would have considered it racist back then, but considering the names of sports teams we still have a ways to go.)

I’m reminded of the documentary Reel Injun which looked at movie portrayal of indigenous people over the last century and my favourite part is in some 50s western movie they actually used indigenous rather than say italian or greek actors who were told to speak gibberish in their language which was then subtitled into English. But it wasn’t until much later that native speakers realized that they were saying "you are just like dogs rolling around in your own shit etc… " or something to that effect.

Another interesting and even earlier portrayal is that in Buffalo Bills Wild West Show where first nations actually willingly re-enacted raids on settlers wagon trains or cabins with the Cavalry always arriving in time to save the day, but in the finale - a re-enactment of Custer’s last stand there is no cavalry to save the day. (In Ken Burn’s the West one of the commentators points out that the portrayal of the settlers as the innocent ones being attacked is the story from the conquerors point of view - ie conquest without the guilt -" we were innocent, they attacked us" (when really the irony is that it was the other way around).



There’s always some mixed feelings over this, that’s true. Which is worse: bad stereotypes and often being cast as the villains of a story, or not being portrayed in anyway at all? The first leaves you as a token at best, something for the heroes to oppose at worst, but the second means you effectively don’t even exist in the world. You’re not even worth being shown to be evil.


But we are talking about the possibility of finding a tiny spark of saving grace in a 1970s commercial here… That maybe the people making it were just stupid and not malicious.


Personally, I condemn all generations before mine. They were more racist, sexist, jingoistic, lead poisoned, and war like than my generation. All progress which occurred before and during my life is incomplete and therefore not worthy of recognition. All remaining unsolved issues completely negate efforts made by people to enact change since those efforts have failed thus far to produce an ideal society where everyone is ok with everyone else. The way I see it, if you can’t immediately make jump to parity then any half steps taken should be viewed with scorn and derision. This is especially true of events in the past. They are simply not up to today’s standards of inclusiveness and correctness.