[Marxism] Once more on Ali G's Racism

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 3 08:24:53 MDT 2005

Not to retread old ground, or dredge up long dead debates, but... what the 
hell. Some of us on the list noted the racist slant of Ali G's "comedy" a 
while back. This article reiterates why.

Racism rap for Ali G

Street slang and stupidity have propelled Ali G to fame

Cult comic character Ali G has been accused of racism by some of Britain's 
leading black comedians.

They claim that Sacha Baron Cohen, who shot to fame as the spoof "yoof" TV 
interviewer on Channel 4's The 11 O'clock Show, is guilty of ridiculing 
black street culture.

"I find both him and his material quite offensive," said Curtis Walker, who 
fronted the recent BBC Two show Urban Heat.

Offended: Comedian Curtis Walker

"I don't like the idea of a white guy playing a black guy anyway and when he 
is playing to a stupid stereotype it is even worse," he added.

In his Ali G role, Cambridge graduate Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, 
impersonates a white youth affecting the street slang of a black gangsta 

His speciality is embarrassing public figures by interviewing them in 
character and asking excruciatingly ignorant questions which they fail to 

But his critics, who were interviewed by the New Nation newspaper, claim he 
has only been successful because he is white.

Felix Dexter, who starred in the series The Real McCoy, said: "I can 
appreciate the humour of an innocent confronting an expert and neither 
understanding what the other is on about.

Ali G starts his own Channel 4 show in March

"But a lot of the humour is laughing at black street culture and it is being 
celebrated because it allows the liberal middle classes to laugh at that 
culture in a context where they can retain their sense of political 

Channel 4 defended Ali G, who is due to start his own show on the channel in 
March, by saying that the critics were missing the joke.

"He is satirising the way white kids try to copy the black street culture 
and look ridiculous. If it's offensive to anyone, it's offensive to white 
people," said a spokesman.

Divided opinion

But according to the New Nation, only one out of seven black comedians 
interviewed by the New Nation did not find Ali G offensive.

However, a straw poll by the newspaper of its readers found that more than 
80% were fans of the cult character, who won an award for best newcomer in 
last month's British Comedy Awards.

Michael Eboda, the paper's editor, accused Ali G's critics of "taking 
themselves too seriously".

The newspaper itself claims the character is rooted in a contemporary 
cultural phenomenon, "namely that many white and Asian youngsters adopt 
black personas and appear ridiculous".


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