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Racism Charges Leveled Against Fojol Brothers Food Trucks

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#51 Bart

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:30 PM

Maybe I'm dumber than most of you (probably) and maybe I didn't read the entire thread carefully (definitely), but I don't understand the charges of racisim. Is it racist to talk in a fake Irish accent on St. Patty's day? Is it racist to break into an Italian accent when the big plate of spaghetti and meatballs hits the kitchen table? Is it racist to say "L'chaim" when toasting?

What's next, do we cry racism because a Spanish guy cooked my Italian meal?

Maybe I missed the entire point but I still don't understand what the crime was.

#52 yfunk3

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:10 PM

My post will actually push this firmly into the "shark on a motorcycle jumping the Fonz" territory, but I think there are some important perspectives being missed, both here and presumably (I haven't read it) in the Huffington Post article.

First, to be absolutely clear, I am firmly in the "highly disapproving, solidly offended, and shocked, but sadly not surprised, at the lack of uproar since day one" category.

However, and by no means do I seek to offer an apology for this, having occasion to work with many in this age and socio-economic group, I find that most middle class high school, college, and recent grad aged kids see themselves as so post-racial as to allow themselves to express--ironically, of course--highly offensive, provocative, even intentionally inflammatory, ideas as the very proof of how impossible it is for them to espouse those ideas.

Any viewer of "Family Guy" or "30 Rock" or pretty much anything on Adult Swim is already familiar with this phenomenon--and this is the direct legacy of Howard Stern for those who were recently waxing nostalgic regarding his "glory" days. Hard to argue with how mainstream, entrenched, and accepted this is--it all just depends on your age group and where the arrow is pointed.

In fact, I resent the smugness behind 30 Rock's self-aware, ironic but explicit racism much, much more than the idiotic tomfoolery of the Fojol Brothers, and I am surprised than no similar article has been written on the actual pervasive and far-reaching iterations of overt/covert racism and active religious bigotry on national TV, rather on the local, even parochial, food truck example.

Harder to argue is the role of through the looking glass pop culture phenomenon like "Boondocks" (best line ever--Huey: "I see piss coming, I move. She saw piss coming, she stayed.")--but then again, does anyone remember Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, hell, even Bill Cosby?

So that was jumping the shark. Here's the shark jumping the Fonz:

One, who can blame or judge these fools, and two, where is the real outrage when these 25 year olds grew up and live in a culture where they are constantly exposed to and constantly see being affirmed:

1) The sanctioned pedophilia of Toddlers and Tiaras.
2) The sanctioned child abuse of Dance Moms.
3) The obscenely glorified ethnic, racial and religious self-abasement for-profit on Bravo, etc. of Shahs of Beverly Hills, Jersey Shore, Housewives of New Jersey, and All-American Muslim, Sister Wives, Doomsday Preppers, etc. etc..
4) The obscenely glorified sexual orientation-based self-abasement for profit on pretty much every Bravo Show, including Top Chef.

Those are the obvious ones. Even more insidious, and even more wildly popular, and especially disgusting for being aimed at children (but which each and everyone of us supports every day) are the racism and ethnic, cultural and religious bigotry in the modern "critically heralded and universally adored" Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks animated films.

No one is offended by Alladin? Pocahontas? Whatever jive-donkey Eddie Murphy plays in Shrek? The even jiver-zebra in Madagascar?

Why don't they just re-make "The Jungle Book" as a Broadway musical with the Bandar-log in black-face, Baloo played by Stepin Fetchit, and Mowgli opening a Quik-E-Mart after borrowing from the money-lender Thuu (who he later righteously kills in the big finale so he doesn't have to pay back the filthy usurer's interest)?

And why are we not up in arms at the familiarly grotesque appearance of the "Trolls" in the Harry Potter movies, gold-hoarding, bank-owning, devious, sub-human tricksters that they are?

Or at the oh-so-precious, lispy and emasculated gay best friend in every romantic comedy, as perfected in Sex and the City?

And as far as the argument made above that the Fojols are far worse for the fact that they make money from it--well, apart from the inherent profit motives in all of the above, and closer to the relevance to the food industry, why should they question anything they do for money when they see our supposed role models, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, and Michael Symon degrading and abasing themselves for money every day? Or care, now that Super Mario Batali was defeated by and secretely replaced by his cousin Wario?

So in short, let's hope they stop, these young idiots whose biggest crime is being stupid and completely in-line with current pop-culture norms (many of which are sacred cows of the very people doing the condemning--stereotyping the Huffington Post writers and editors here, I am).

But who is going to do anything about all the rest?

Good night and good luck.


All I have to say to ML's post is that it's often not the action that's most hated by those who are offended, but the reaction given to those who pointed out the offense. If the Fojols had stopped and said they learned a damn thing from any complaints they received, that's another thing. It probably wouldn't have died down a bit. If someone tells a Gen-Y hipster that he/she shouldn't be making racial jokes and that hipster stops and apologizes, that's the appropriate response, and a lesson was learned. If the hipster goes on and on about how "he has black/Asian/American Indian/whatever friends and how dare you accuse me of racism, YOU'RE the racist for pointing it out, I am so far away from racist, blah blah blah", it's ten times more insulting and offensive.

This is something you learn if you face this discrimination on a regular basis or have committed a major offense and responded appropriately. It's not something you learn denying everyone else's feelings and reactions to something you said or did. This goes for any ethnic/cultural group, might I add, not just majority whites. We can go on and on about how it's soceity's fault, but society is made up of individuals with the capacity to learn and think for themselves.

#53 Fishinnards

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:04 PM

Maybe I'm dumber than most of you (probably) and maybe I didn't read the entire thread carefully (definitely), but I don't understand the charges of racisim. Is it racist to talk in a fake Irish accent on St. Patty's day? Is it racist to break into an Italian accent when the big plate of spaghetti and meatballs hits the kitchen table? Is it racist to say "L'chaim" when toasting?

What's next, do we cry racism because a Spanish guy cooked my Italian meal?

Maybe I missed the entire point but I still don't understand what the crime was.


It may not be "racist", but perhaps it is culturally insensitive for some white guys to drive around town serving Punjabi food while wearing turbans and fake mustaches.

#54 DonRocks

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:42 PM

Thoughts?

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#55 Tujague

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 06:25 PM

I thought about Apu while reading this thread, and wondered if/how he fit into this whole issue. My immediate thought is that one of the big differences here is that Apu is in many ways a fairly fleshed-out character on The Simpsons, with a family, working, and emotional life that goes beyond the simple caricature or parody of the Fojols. He has a function within the series that can't be reduced to mere ethnic humor--he exists within a much larger world. The Fojols, on the other hand, exist simply for themselves, with no larger story or narrative than selling food. Of course, I write that as a middle-aged white man who gets a little nerdy in his Simpsons devotion, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear of others who are offended by this character, and I might be persuaded to think otherwise. I think the bigger problem than Apu, however, is someone like Ashton Kutcher putting on dark face and costume to hawk a product.

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#56 DavidO

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:01 PM

OK not really (or at least not yet) but I have to say I am fairly uncomfortable that they named one of their popular beers "Raging Bitch". Yes I get the dog reference, but it's still not a beer I'm comfortable having in my fridge with kids (or ordering in a restaurant in front of kids). Certainly my kid has heard me swear, and I could teach the kid that bitch has more than one meaning, but I think I would have to teach more than one meaning, and that raises the question as to why I'd buy the beer in the first place.

Anyway, I've been thinking about some of the beer names I think of as coarser (such as "Pearl Necklace") and wondering if they just rub me the wrong way because I am being old and crotchety, but I think Raging Bitch is coarse verging on sexist so that, plus the fact that it's reasonably common, makes it the one that bothers me most.

I don't know if this makes sense, but if someone sold a black imperial stout and called it the Niggardly Emperor, I am pretty sure I'd find that offensive even if they came up with some explanation about how the recipe was stingy with the use of hops.

Anyway, feel free to tell me I'm being overly sensitive (as long as you stay off my lawn) but the Fojol Bros. discussion prompted me to put down some thoughts that had been in the back of my head.

#57 deangold

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:07 PM

I don't watch TV. I don't support corporate greed {Disney and their princess BS is harmful as is McDonald's use of feed lot beef pr Chik-Fil-A's use of antibiotic laded chicken.} I think the world would be a better place if people didn't think hipsterism allows them to be insensitive. Or being a rich corporation.

In a Lord Peter Whimsey novel there is a line that goes something like one can be funny and vulgar or funny and not vulgar but please be one of r the other. The vulgarity of today's comedy does not match the groundbreaking work of a Lenny Bruce, Redd Fox or, in his not too early but still very early days, George Carlin. Dan Savage's open discussion of homosexuality {and all of hte LGBTQ issuyes he deals with} and kink are of value not for his expertise on the subject {which varied IMO} but for his openness and his attempt to put common sense to these outsider topics. Just the fact that he gets haters so worked up shows that value.

Is the Simpsons racist? Of course not wink wink nudge nudge because that would call into question the millions who watch.

Should we call out restaurants that serve feed lot beef, blue fin tuna, cod, skate, etc?

Should we even care, or is the profit motive enough to assuage our collective guilt and let us go on?

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#58 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:20 PM

So all movies/TV should employ an all white cast that speak with no accent? So we should ban 16 Candles? Star Wars (the evil trade federation, Jar Jar Binks, etc.)? The Simpsons! In the case of Star Wars, the trade federation is completely imaginary, they just happen to speak English with a bad Chinese accent. In the Simpsons, an Indian happens to run a grocery store but he's certainly not portrayed in a bad light. In 16 Candles - Long Duck Dong was embarrassing. What if a Chinese film-maker makes a film with a redneck character? Was Ang Lee homophobic and racist when he made Brokeback Mountain and casted two white guys? Why didn't Ang use two gay Chinese guys and set the story in China? How are the Fojol Bros any different from a work of fiction?

#59 goodeats

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:21 PM

My immediate thought is that one of the big differences here is that Apu is in many ways a fairly fleshed-out character on The Simpsons, with a family, working, and emotional life that goes beyond the simple caricature or parody of the Fojols.


I feel like almost every character or ethnicity is stereotyped-humoured on that show, in some way, yet they all play an important role in the Springfield community. I am not sure if the difference is that this is animated (although, I always found Family Guy more offensive) or something else. Case in point: early episode, showcasing Mr. Sparkle--it's one of my favorite little blurbs of that episode (well, that and them making a musical out of The Streetcar Named Desire many seasons later). Hasn't someone written a dissertation on this yet by now?

Just a thought...
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#60 goodeats

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:31 PM

So all movies/TV should employ an all white cast that speak with no accent? So we should ban 16 Candles? Star Wars (the evil trade federation, Jar Jar Binks, etc.)? The Simpsons! In the case of Star Wars, the trade federation is completely imaginary, they just happen to speak English with a bad Chinese accent....What if a Chinese film-maker makes a film with a redneck character? Was Ang Lee homophobic and racist when he made Brokeback Mountain and casted two white guys? Why didn't Ang use two gay Chinese guys and set the story in China?


Okay - I just have to clear some facts up here. Ang Lee did make a movie about two homosexual men, one Chinese and one American, set in New York City (starring Winston Chao), called Wedding Banquet (okay, sort of close).

I don't get your trade federation reference, but Joss Whedon did portray a futuristic world in Firefly/Serenity, where Whedon hired a Chinese dialect coach to teach the crew how to swear in Chinese, with Chinese dialogue woven into the script. (What did you mean by that?)

Stephen Chow's films usually feature him being a redneck character somewhat, while I thought Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Flower Drum Song was mocking FOB'ers as rednecks in '50s San Francisco Chinatown.

PS. A few interesting phenomena overseas: Quebec Bluegrass Project that combines English, French and Chinese in Yunnan; Japanese Country Music; and Chinese Rap/Hip Hop
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#61 Bart

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:13 AM

It may not be "racist", but perhaps it is culturally insensitive for some white guys to drive around town serving Punjabi food while wearing turbans and fake mustaches.


I don't see it that way.

Surely it's not insensitve for white guys to serve Punjabi food, is it? No, of course not. Then the problem is them wearing fake mustaches and turbans while serving food. I don't understand the problem with that. To my knowledge they're not doing anything rude or crude or negative towards that culture, they're just wearing a costume or a uniform. I think of it the same way I would going into a 50s themed place, or "hollywood" place where the staff is dressed like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. The staff is dressing up to create a certain vibe for the patrons.

To me the whole issue seems like a lot of phony outrage (from the guy who wrote the original letter, not directed at anyone in here)

#62 sandynva

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:24 AM

I agree that there's no problem with people of any group serving punjabi food. the problem is them wearing the mustaches, the turbans (which are worn by lots of indians, not just sikhs) playing the bhangra, having the indian-style decorated truck and the whole merlindia thing. a couple questions--
1) why didn't they just say they were from india? that they didn't, to me, hints that they knew that something about what they were doing might not be ok;

2) if there was a truck selling, for example, fried chicken and collards, playing say delta blues, where the people wore afro wigs, how would you feel about that? if you're ok with it, that's fine, but if you're not, what's the difference between that and what the fojol bros are doing? and i'd say there's a huge difference between doing a 50's thing and copying a discriminated-against minority. also, for me part of the problem is the stereotypical nature of their trappings--i think i'd have much less of a problem if they just called themselves an indian food truck and wore typical indian clothes like kurtas, etc. that would be a tiny bit odd, but ok in my book. part of what makes their current outfits problematic is the implied "look at me all dressed up in this "wacky" outfit! aren't turbans and mustaches funny?" undertone that underlies the outfits. they aren't just wearing the turbans because they think they're attractive or because they're trying to look like most indians, they're trying to draw attention to themselves by wearing what they assume others will find a humorous get-up.

3) why do they even need the turbans and mustaches, etc? are there that many indian food trucks to compete with? does anyone go to them for this?

and i agree with the statements about apu--apu was initially cringeworthy, but as he's developed into a character, i've become ok with him, and if anything am glad he's there because he shows people that he's not just an accent, he's a guy dealing with everyday issues (well, everyday if you have 8 kids).

#63 DonRocks

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:53 AM

To me the whole issue seems like a lot of phony outrage (from the guy who wrote the original letter, not directed at anyone in here)


You mean from the gentleman who signed his letter:

"A White Boy Who Don't Play That Shit"

Seems to me he *did* play that shit by trying to sound gangsta. This is all really too much.

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#64 Poivrot Farci

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:24 PM

...aren't turbans and mustaches funny?"


Yes. The fraudulent mustache (and sombrero) was an integral accessory for a kitschy 2001 mariachi-ish costume and every comment was a compliment on my passionate, elaborately hand-sewn embroidery, pompoms, bells, flowers, glitter, sash, snare drum and so forth. Antique facial hair, phony or groomed, is not the calling card of exaggerated discrimination.

For clarity, is this really the face of racism? An obtuse costume of nondescript headgear (not exclusively a head-wrap) and handlebar mustache that would otherwise be perfectly acceptable for Halloween, New Year's, Carnaval or a beer commercial but in poor taste despite their genuine appreciation of broad ethnic cuisine and which has incredibly generated such confused, hypochondriac second-hand offense as to produce this sour, prejudiced, and unauthorized “offended on behalf of others” race thesis:

... I also have no doubt that being black in the U.S. is horrible and beyond what I, not a black person, will ever truly understand.


The Fojol Bros is essentially a lampoon lemonade stand for adults being vilified vicariously, after 3 years of operation, by some with a deficiency of attention, for what is harmless in any other context and tangentially tolerated, even encouraged for Saint Patrick’s day stupidity or historically inaccurate Cinco de Mayo “Mexican independence” stupidity: hokey tourist nationalism from novelty hats and a pin or T-shirt suggesting promiscuity –lubed by tinted beer and counterfeit nachos.

In every Bucca di Beppo’s Pope room swivels a bust of the current leader of the Catholic church, spreading the gospel or grace 360º from under a plexiglass popebox and lazy-Susan pedestal to gluttons who are not conducting religious seminaries and can excuse themselves to the “Goomba (sic)” designated restroom. Where is the outrage and petitions decrying desecration?

Or perhaps selling a lassipop from a van behind a fake mustache and floppy hat is not the front-burner issue civil rights it is fabricated to be, though yelling “racism” is just as likely to strike a frenzy as “free burritos”. The Fojol Bros have certainly not earned the gold ‘ol racist American credentials that, by law, prohibited American Indians, slaves, women, Western & Eastern Europeans, Japanese Americans, Muslims, South Asians, Latin Americans, homosexuals, convicts and plenty more their fundamental human rights in just 300 years, in addition to invading, bombing and meddling in other country’s affairs. Affluent Americans who are abusively apologetic for all the tangible evil and oppression this country has deliberately promoted world-wide should calculate the Fojol Bros’ legitimate offense handicap for selling vegetarian food -the conscientious consumer’s war cry- from fictitious lands in an effort to make money by selling a product that pleases people.

If prospering financially from their act and guise makes them despicable, perhaps acclaimed hallmarks of contemporary pop-culture escapism (adding to Mr. Landrum’s list) and their leading men are worthy of such scrutiny, reprimand and censorship for condoning portrayals and caricatures of others’ race, religion, sexuality, age, disability, social class, stereotypes, etc… other than their own, for our entertainment, courtesy the makeup & costume dept:

Anything Mel Brooks; Most contestants of Let’s Make a Deal; Peter Sellers’ brownface in The Party; James Earl Jones and the C. T. Howell in the blackface themed Soulman; Richard Pryor’s contemporary slave in The Toy; Pryor/Wilder disabilities in Hear No Evil, See No Evil; Dustin Hoffman’s cross-dressing in Tootsie; Williams/Lane/Azzaria intense homosexuality in The Birdcage; Every cast member in the revered and absolutely awesome Revenge of the Nerds; geriatric jokes in Cocoon and Dudley Moore’s annoying alcoholism in Arthur and its saucy sequel.

Those who are stewing this desperate social injustice, have paid to see these features and enjoyed them are complicit. Shame on you.

#65 DanCole42

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:31 PM

These are racists:

Posted Image

These are hipsters:

Posted Image

For shame on anyone who wastes a single molecule of neurotransmitter being offended by the second photo when people like the ones in the first photo exist on this planet.
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#66 Tujague

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:45 PM

Sorry, Dan, but that's WAY too broad. One of the reasons this subject is even being broached is because that first image is too often the standard that we have for what constitutes racism, which lets us off the hook for the far more subtle ways that racism functions in our society. It's what allows ourselves to pat ourselves on our backs for our delusional notion that we're "postracial." Just get rid of the guys in the picture and their ilk, and problem solved? Hardly. Simply being offended by the Fojols is a waste of time, I agree, primarily because it's a distraction from our seeing that the most virulent, problematic racism in our country isn't embodied in the guys in either picture, but instead in the very person we see in the mirror each morning.

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#67 DonRocks

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:23 PM

Most contestants of Let’s Make a Deal


Are you talking about the game show hosted by that mercantile Jew, Monte Halperin, aka, Monte Hall?

Let it be, please, because otherwise it would be as ridiculous as discussing this whole list of people like Scarlet Johansson, River Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder, Paula Abdul, Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew Broderick, Sean Penn, Jon Stewart (uh huh ... hello, coward), Rosanna Arquette, Tom Arnold, Ellen Barkin, Kate Capshaw, Katie Couric, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kathie Lee Gifford, Howie Mandel, Debra Winger, Albert Brooks, James Caan, Nell Carter, Neil Diamond, Michael Douglas, Bob Dylan, Harrison Ford, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Henry Winkler, Woody Allen, Alan Arkin, Joan Collins, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Martin Landau, Michael Landon, Piper Laurie, Steve Lawrence, Tina Louise, Leonard Nimoy, Joan Rivers, George Segal, William Shatner, Ed Asner, Lauren Bacall, Tom Bosley, Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar, Tony Curtis, Rodney Dangerfield, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Falk, Eddie Fisher, Jack Klugman, Jerry Lewis, Walter Matthau, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Tony Randall, Don Rickles, Peter Sellers, Rod Serling, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Kirk Douglas, Eva Gabor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Danny Kaye, Zero Mostel, Dinah Shore, Mike Wallace, Eli Wallach, Milton Berle, Mel Blanc, Jack Benny, George Burns, Al Jolson (who performed blackface in The Jazz Singer), Sarah Bernhardt, The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers. Shall I stop now?

No?

Okay: Toby Waller (whose real name was Kunta Kinte) - and thank you, Mr. Spielberg, for having the courage to stay true to your roots. You weren't the first, but you are a great American icon for doing so - I'm well aware it took others to pave the way (some listed above, but most certainly not Jonathan Stewart Liebowitz).

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#68 ad.mich

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:06 PM

So does this mean we're at the backlash to the backlash at this point? Or the backlash to the backlash to the backlash, because while this is interesting to read I can no longer keep up. Apparently the blame can now be placed at the feet of (1) my generation, (2) white people in general, (3) American culture, (4) television, (5) Matt Groening in particular, (6) Obama.

(ok maybe not the last one. at least not yet. BUT WHAT IS HE HIDING EATING A SUB AT TAYLOR YOU GUYS)

Adding to the pile of 'well are you offended by _________' questions that this thread has turned into - if people have such an issue with these 'Gen-Y kids playing dress up' are you similarly offended by the women at Little Serow telling the press how they will be wearing the dresses they purchased in Thailand? Or are the Fojols just an easier target because their product isn't taken seriously and come on guys it's just a food truck.

I am with Dan on this one. Those who aren't afraid to take the lead of being outraged at random things are wasting a lot of capital on this one... I sincerely hope the next race-related issue that pops up in our media cycle is similarly trivial because it's not hard to imagine the media sweeping it away faster because we've now had 2 weeks of think pieces on The Impact of Fake Moustaches On Our Post-Racial Mobile Quick-Serve Society.

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#69 yfunk3

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 08:44 PM

Everyone was civil until you came along and forced your views on everyone else. You will be ignored, and don't take the non-answer from me or others as any sort of validation for your ignorance.

Those who are stewing this desperate social injustice, have paid to see these features and enjoyed them are complicit. Shame on you.


Thank you for telling minorities and groups to which you do not belong how to react to life and the world.

These are racists:

These are hipsters:

For shame on anyone who wastes a single molecule of neurotransmitter being offended by the second photo when people like the ones in the first photo exist on this planet.



#70 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:13 PM

I'm Chinese and I think there's alot of over-reaction. Please tell me when we can portray minorities without insulting them? If we write a script with middle-eastern terrorists, is that racist? Now take a step back. The Fojol Bros, like Star Wars aliens, are figments of imagination. They're even less harmless than portrayals of minorities in the media.

#71 kirite

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:18 PM

Thank you for telling minorities and groups to which you do not belong how to react to life and the world.


Racism, homophobia, sexism, ageism, transgender hatred, (ir)religious intolerance, and I'm sure I've omitted others who have suffered great pain because they were a minority. I wish that the world were a better place.

#72 Tujague

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 09:34 PM

I really don't give a fuck about the Fojols. I don't think that racism is the "worst" sin that any of us are susceptible to. I just assume it as normative of most human beings, most certainly of myself. When you start looking at it in that way, I've found it doesn't give you liicense to look away from it, but to assume more responsibility for the various way it manifests itself, without the disabling shaming that is so often attached to it. My sense is that a lot of people are shocked and ashamed that they might be assigned with a "racist" label, which prompts more defensiveness than action. But when you take it as something endemic that infects everyone, regardless of race, it gives you much more room not to take it personally but to look at it in a larger perspective--as something that in its more pernicious manifestations is somewhere between the revulsion of the self-proclaimed white supremacists and the more benign but obnoxious behavior of folks in costume, like the Fojols, and to deal with it in its larger perspective.

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#73 DonRocks

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:03 PM

Thank you for telling minorities and groups to which you do not belong how to react to life and the world.


This whole argument kind-of ends here, right?

If DanCole can't put up a picture of some white dude with a tattoo that says "WHITE POWER" and assume it's racist without being judged on "thinking about how other groups think," then maybe it's time to stop, no?

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#74 xdcx

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:14 PM

But when you take it as something endemic that infects everyone, regardless of race, it gives you much more room not to take it personally but to look at it in a larger perspective--as something that in its more pernicious manifestations is somewhere between the revulsion of the self-proclaimed white supremacists and the more benign but obnoxious behavior of folks in costume, like the Fojols, and to deal with it in its larger perspective.


this is to the point and gets to the heart of it. Everything exists on degrees and in terms of "isms" tends to not be black and white. Making bold statements about what people should and shouldn't care about, especially when it's coming from those in the majority doesn't help matters. People are saying that the Fojol deal is fucked up. I haven't seen a single person here, or in other conversations about this say anything other than that. No one is organizing a march, No one is looking to persecute them for hate crimes. But dismissing people being upset about it and telling them they should just get over it isn't how we move into an actual post racial society.

#75 ad.mich

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:22 PM

People are saying that the Fojol deal is fucked up. I haven't seen a single person here, or in other conversations about this say anything other than that. No one is organizing a march, No one is looking to persecute them for hate crimes. But dismissing people being upset about it and telling them they should just get over it isn't how we move into an actual post racial society.


People that are up in arms about this: what IS your ideal endgame here? Just an apology? No more costumes? Do you want them to completely rebrand? Change the cuisine served? Close up shop and leave town?

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#76 Tujague

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:48 PM

This whole argument kind-of ends here, right?

If DanCole can't put up a picture of some white dude with a tattoo that says "WHITE POWER" and assume it's racist without being judged on "thinking about how other groups think," then maybe it's time to stop, no?


But Don, I don't think that I or anyone else was arguing that the photo he posted didn't represent racism at its ugliest; but positing that over against the Fojols lulls us into thinking that it's one way or the other. Your proposals are honorable, and I try to adhere to them as well. Do we want to leave it as: Offended--get over it; and Not offended--get a clue? The fact is, we have to live in a muddier area, and I for one am glad for it.

I don't have an ideal endgame for the Fojols; they were challenged in such an ugly manner that I can't blame them for defensiveness. Getting beyond reactiveness will by no means easy for them. Is there a way to acknowledge the more thoughtful of their detractors without giving credence to those who decided public shaming was the best response to branding that walked a fine llne?

"There's no need to get snippy. I'm just doing my job here."--Marge Gunderson, Fargo


#77 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 06:43 AM

1) why didn't they just say they were from india? that they didn't, to me, hints that they knew that something about what they were doing might not be ok;

2) if there was a truck selling, for example, fried chicken and collards, playing say delta blues, where the people wore afro wigs, how would you feel about that? if you're ok with it, that's fine, but if you're not, what's the difference between that and what the fojol bros are doing? and i'd say there's a huge difference between doing a 50's thing and copying a discriminated-against minority. also, for me part of the problem is the stereotypical nature of their trappings--i think i'd have much less of a problem if they just called themselves an indian food truck and wore typical indian clothes like kurtas, etc. that would be a tiny bit odd, but ok in my book. part of what makes their current outfits problematic is the implied "look at me all dressed up in this "wacky" outfit! aren't turbans and mustaches funny?" undertone that underlies the outfits. they aren't just wearing the turbans because they think they're attractive or because they're trying to look like most indians, they're trying to draw attention to themselves by wearing what they assume others will find a humorous get-up.

3) why do they even need the turbans and mustaches, etc? are there that many indian food trucks to compete with? does anyone go to them for this?


The answer to 1 and 2 is the same. If they are actually portraying some ethnic minority in this country as opposed to some fictional people, it would be racist. It just so happens their costume bears a close resemblance to the food they sell. If they were dressed like Ewoks and selling punjabi food, I doubt anyone would care. The problem here is they are dressed in the fashion of the people from the Indian subcontinent. As for your last question, there could be all kinds of legitimate marketing strategies.

#78 xdcx

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 06:42 AM

People that are up in arms about this: what IS your ideal endgame here? Just an apology? No more costumes? Do you want them to completely rebrand? Change the cuisine served? Close up shop and leave town?


Using terms like "up in arms" is still an attempt to trivialize, so are you just baiting again or do you really want a dialog?

#79 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 06:52 AM

I was talking specifically about the people that have a problem with it. I suggest you don't over react before you get defensive.


People are saying that the Fojol deal is fucked up. I haven't seen a single person here, or in other conversations about this say anything other than that.


You wrote you haven't seen a single person here say the Fojol deal isn't fucked up. Lots of people here are saying, if you want to get into a tizzy over something generally harmless, it's your prerogative but taking your logic to the extreme means we can only portray minorities in a good light in movies or television. So only straight white male can be bad guys in the movies, or aliens who speak with no accent.

#80 xdcx

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 07:06 AM

You wrote you haven't seen a single person here say the Fojol deal isn't fucked up. Lots of people here are saying, if you want to get into a tizzy over something generally harmless, it's your prerogative but taking your logic to the extreme means we can only portray minorities in a good light in movies or television. So only straight while male can be bad guys in the movies, or aliens who speak with no accent.


I also wrote "No one is organizing a march, No one is looking to persecute them for hate crimes." which would imply that I was talking about the people that have a problem with it. Since you apprearenty didn't understand me, I'll rephrase it for you. The people who are upset, are just saying it's fucked up. Does that help you? The point being that no one is making this into more than it is, a food truck that chose a stupid marketing theme. Do you enjoy marganlizing the feelings of others? It's cool that it doesn't bother you. It does me and other people. Pointing out other things that are also fucked up but that exist doesn't really help anyone or anything.Hey let's shift attention from this fucked up thing we're talking about right now, to this similar but completely unrelated thing that is also fucked up. To actually adress your point and to make it an actual pertentant to this, straight white men shouldn't be playing minorities in movies. Aliens shouldn't be given accents that play up existing stereotypes. You're chinese, are you happy when you see portrayals of culture/race being filled of bad drivers, small penises but being really good at math? If you are cool, then be totally happy when people look at you and think that. But in the mean time it'll still be fucked up to the rest of us.

#81 ad.mich

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 08:50 AM

Using terms like "up in arms" is still an attempt to trivialize, so are you just baiting again or do you really want a dialog?


Frankly it is responses like yours right here that made me ask the question in the first place. Is there something in your opinion that the Fojol Brothers could do to make this particular situation right, or is your ideal endgame to just rant at anyone that doesn't share your view on this? You're doing a lot of the latter, and little of the former.

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#82 sheldman

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 09:33 AM

Frankly it is responses like yours right here that made me ask the question in the first place. Is there something in your opinion that the Fojol Brothers could do to make this particular situation right, or is your ideal endgame to just rant at anyone that doesn't share your view on this? You're doing a lot of the latter, and little of the former.


Speaking for myself, not anyone else:

My ideal endgame in the Fojol thing in particular would be something like (1) the Fojol bros recognize that part of their existing schtick (sp?) rubs some reasonable people the wrong way with no real countervailing value, and that they work towards some change in their style, less costumery of an identifiably "Indian" vibe and more focused on the circus/carnie/medicine-show thing that is the better/funnier element of what they're doing, (2) more people get less defensive about the possibility that their thinking has elements of what is generally classified as "racism" for lack of a better term - that even if they are not white supremacists at heart, they enjoy/countenance/ignore aspects of society that are rooted in conflict and disparities in power between ethnic/geographic groups, and the world would be a better place if there was less of this.

This particular fight was started by an "open letter" that was pretty obnoxious in its self-certainty, and rubbed some people the wrong way. I wouldn't have written the "open letter" in that particular way, but on the other hand it did make some people think. Sometimes you've got to yell, to be heard.

One post, above, asks what the Fojol's "crime" was. There was no "crime," but I think that asking the question in this way - and, in the same vein, asking "why are you up in arms?" - is an unproductive defensiveness or belittling of a conversation worth having, as is the message, "this is different from tattooed white supremacists, so it's not worth talking about." Behavior is not nicely divided into "crimes"/"things worth getting up in arms about" on the one hand, and "stuff not worth talking about" on the other. For all of us who are not tattooed white supremacists - good for us! But that is a beginning, not an end.

So what sort of behavior and cultural representations would exist in an ideal world? Hard question! Is Apu ok because he is a fleshed-out character, and Jar-Jar an obnoxious utilization of backwards stereotypes? I think so - but obviously there is no perfect answer. Are the Fojol bros bad guys, or just bros who stepped in something that they didn't fully think through, or people doing something that deserves no pushback at all? I take option B - but there is no perfect answer. Doesn't mean it's not worth working through or discussing. I am just happy that Cornel West showed up on 30 Rock.

#83 Tujague

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 09:44 AM

Well stated, sheldman--I agree whole-heartedly. And I love living in a world and taking part in communities where certainties can get challenged.

"There's no need to get snippy. I'm just doing my job here."--Marge Gunderson, Fargo


#84 ad.mich

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 10:12 AM

Thank you Sheldman. Great post. For as much as I said before that this wasn't worth the time discussing, I'm glad I took the time to do so.

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#85 sandynva

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 10:12 AM

beautifully stated sheldman.
i'm curious, has there been any further response by the fojol brothers, or has anyone seen their truck lately and noticed changes? i thought it was interesting that the pic posted of them above showed the guy in a straw hat, and am wondering if they might be easing up on the turban thing.

#86 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 10:19 AM

I walked past it last week at Farragut Square. I noticed the mustache but not what the head covering. Mostly I noted the really loud Lady Gaga music.

#87 Tujague

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 10:25 AM

beautifully stated sheldman.
i'm curious, has there been any further response by the fojol brothers, or has anyone seen their truck lately and noticed changes? i thought it was interesting that the pic posted of them above showed the guy in a straw hat, and am wondering if they might be easing up on the turban thing.


There was this on Eater DC this morning.

"There's no need to get snippy. I'm just doing my job here."--Marge Gunderson, Fargo


#88 ad.mich

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 10:34 AM

So still no apology for blasting Lady Gaga.

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#89 goldenticket

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 05:20 PM

Affluent Americans who are abusively apologetic for all the tangible evil and oppression this country has deliberately promoted world-wide should calculate the Fojol Bros’ legitimate offense handicap for selling vegetarian food -the conscientious consumer’s war cry- from fictitious lands in an effort to make money by selling a product that pleases people.


The Fojol Bros, like Star Wars aliens, are figments of imagination.


Maybe I'm naive or ignorant or insensitive, but fictional kitsch is what I took Fojol Bros for from the get-go. The kind of made-up place names, the carnival truck reminiscent of Professor Marvel's wagon in the Wizard of Oz or a circus wagon; just something silly and fun. And halfway decent and different street food to go along with it.

My ideal endgame in the Fojol thing in particular would be something like (1) the Fojol bros recognize that part of their existing schtick (sp?) rubs some reasonable people the wrong way with no real countervailing value, and that they work towards some change in their style, less costumery of an identifiably "Indian" vibe and more focused on the circus/carnie/medicine-show thing that is the better/funnier element of what they're doing,


I guess the traveling culinary carnival needs to be more carnival and less 'ethnic' to be non-offensive.

Having read this thread in its entirety, I do understand where those who are offended are coming from. I may get flamed for this, but I think it's a shame that people are so quick to look for things to offended by, especially things that don't seem to have any malicious intent. The Fojol guys seem to be interested in being good citizens; their website says a portion of their proceeds fund at-risk youth programs (no way to verify this is actually happening) and they use recyclable/compostable materials. They say any publicity is good publicity.

Ricky Gervais wasn't mentioned anywhere, but I know I struggle when I watch the original BBC version of The Office and Extras. I can't help but laugh and am mortified at the same time. His comedy is very uncomfortable because it says out loud things many/most/all of us may think from time to time. Does that make us bad people? It all comes down to how we choose to treat each other, in my opinion. Discussions like this just provide more food for thought and insight into how our perceptions may differ from those of others. There's a lot to be learned and shared, especially when we can have a respectful, thoughtful dialogue.

PS - Come on out to the picnic on June 3 - we can talk about this topic and lots of other things over some great food and drink!

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#90 porcupine

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 07:08 AM

Maybe I'm naive or ignorant or insensitive, but fictional kitsch is what I took Fojol Bros for from the get-go. The kind of made-up place names, the carnival truck reminiscent of Professor Marvel's wagon in the Wizard of Oz or a circus wagon; just something silly and fun. And halfway decent and different street food to go along with it.

I guess the traveling culinary carnival needs to be more carnival and less 'ethnic' to be non-offensive.

Having read this thread in its entirety, I do understand where those who are offended are coming from. I may get flamed for this, but I think it's a shame that people are so quick to look for things to offended by, especially things that don't seem to have any malicious intent. The Fojol guys seem to be interested in being good citizens; their website says a portion of their proceeds fund at-risk youth programs (no way to verify this is actually happening) and they use recyclable/compostable materials. They say any publicity is good publicity.


Thanks for putting in writing what I've been unable to articulate.

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#91 DonRocks

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:55 PM

My post will actually push this firmly into the "shark on a motorcycle jumping the Fonz" territory


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#92 Barbara

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:13 PM

Maybe I'm naive or ignorant or insensitive, but fictional kitsch is what I took Fojol Bros for from the get-go. The kind of made-up place names, the carnival truck reminiscent of Professor Marvel's wagon in the Wizard of Oz or a circus wagon; just something silly and fun.

PS - Come on out to the picnic on June 3 - we can talk about this topic and lots of other things over some great food and drink!


You said this far more succinctly than I did, but this was exactly what I was getting at. I can't tell you how many times I was told at the World Bank that "You aren't like other Americans." Really? I haven't heard anybody from DR.com say that to me.

And, Nena will be going to picnic--we were just discussing what, if anything, she should make to bring this evening.

#93 MsDiPesto

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:12 AM

So still no apology for blasting Lady Gaga.


Heck, makes me want to patronize them all the more!

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