Monday, November 25, 2013
I have neglected this blog for a minute, but sometimes it's the right place at the right time.
There's a lot of things I want to address on Fresh Off the Boat, but because it's a short format video, the issues we take on leak over sometimes. We did our best this episode and I'm happy, but I wanted to hit on a few things in case they don't come clear. I mean, it's thanksgiving, make sure the juice runs clear.
When we were in Russia, I couldn't hear what the guests were saying on the side when I was eating hot dogs, drinking vodka, or hanging with Philochko. People will smile to your face, play along, and put on a show when cameras are out. That's what we try not to show you. We would never waste your time on an act. Yet, we almost got caught this time. The "actors" in part 1 of Moscow were really good, but the GOD Christopher Velona had the audio rolling and it opened our eyes.
It was one of the first times we got back in the edit, saw footage and then had fundamental changes in how we viewed the trip. When I heard what they were saying on the hot mic, I couldn't let it go. The shit they were saying about Philochko was that insidious racism that you hear at house parties, "amongst friends", or in locker rooms. That bullshit that people think is OK, but it's not. We usually are very courteous to guests and make sure to represent their views unadulterated and as they see it. We are there to capture their perspective, but this time it didn't match up. The things they told us about themselves and their country could not be reconciled with the things they said to each other when they were off camera and I chose not to protect them. That ignorance doesn't deserve protection because because it shouldn't fucking exist.
But, I wanted to be responsible. I met a lot of people who didn't smile in Russia, but I met a lot of people who did. I met people who were racist towards African-Americans and derogatory towards gays, but there were people who weren't. Moscow is like any other place and we can't let the bad apples give us a skewed picture. Was it at times a sad place? Absolutely. But there were really good fucking people and I wanted to make sure that a clandestine conversation caught on a hot mic didn't disproportionately represent the city.
Yet, we have to show it. We don't enjoy it, we don't indulge in it, and I really don't address it in the summation because it's not a complex issue. It's wrong. There's nothing else to it. There is no way to shashlik that shit besides understanding its wrong. Now, Philochko was a victim of racism on the show and in Russia. People say sideways shit about him all day, but I wanted to also address how he's part of the problem. American racism is a unique brand, ebonics is in many ways a regional dialect, and you can't just transport the African-American experience like it's stoli and tell people to mix it with soda. This shit is MUCH deeper than rap and it's something I know I'll never fully understand because I did not live it. But I know enough to say that you shouldn't enable people to use the n-word and appropriate ebonics for comedic purposes. It's a huge tangled web and people have addressed the n-word in crucibles much hotter than Fresh Off the Boat. We didn't go to Moscow looking to address it, but it found us and we did. Sometimes a story finds you and you do the best you can. Happy thanksgiving mother fuckers.