Laughter is Good Medicine: Adam & Eve?

Laughter is Good Medicine: Adam & Eve? May 28, 2013

So here we are again, it’s not Monday but it sure feels like it after the long weekend. So here’s something to given you a giggle. No disrespect meant to any Asian culture or people.


Comments open below

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  • Well, I’m sure no disrespect was intended, but quite a lot was done anyway.

    Seriously, this is racist. If you’d posted it without the “lol no disrespect”, I’d have suspected ignorance, but if you knew enough to disclaim it, you knew enough to avoid it. WTF.

    Long-time lurker, first-time disappointed.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Macavity, Cajuns eat snake too and I’m Cajun. It could have been Cajuns or even Texan or any culture that eats snakes. Meant as a LOL

  • Nightshade

    Alternative caption…’If Adam and Eve had been SMART…!’

  • “Don’t be so sensitive; it was a joke!” is a really common tool that people use in an oppressive system to continually reinforce that oppression. And it’s successful as a tactic because it’s subtle. The “joker” doesn’t have to be outspokenly racist, or even consciously accept racist ideas at all, in order to pass along racist “humor.”

  • Kristen Rosser

    Mcavitykitsune & Theo Darling, I know you don’t owe us an explanation, but since I honestly thought this seemed elevating and congratulatory to Chinese people, I’m at something of a loss. I understand my privilege is showing here and I apologize, but if you were willing to clarify, I’m sure Suzanne would appreciate it too.

  • Hi Kristen,

    No problem, and thanks for asking.

    The problem with the joke is that it’s not “Chinese people are smart, they’d have eaten the snake”; it’s “Look at those weird Chinese people, they’d have even eaten the snake, haha”. The joke isn’t the shrewdness of Chinese Adam and Eve; it’s the fact that they’ll literally “eat anything”, which is a big racist trope about Chinese (and other east Asian) people. As Suzanne pointed out, lots and lots of others eat snakes (I’m from India, and some of us eat snakes, too, as well as many African peoples). Why focus on Chinese people in the joke? Because of the racist trope about Chinese people “eating anything”. It’s like the difference between a joke where the punchline is “lol, stupid people believe anything” and “lol, southern Christians are stupid, they’ll believe anything”. One is just a joke; another props up a racist meme.

    Like Theo said, it’s possible to repeat the joke without realising there’s a racist bias to it/cause behind it. That doesn’t make the joke magically not racist; it just makes the joke-teller ignorant of that bias.

  • aim2misbehave

    Mostly agreed – although I have had conversations with Chinese people about them actually eating snakes as a cultural/traditional thing, so it’s not just that they’ll “eat anything,” there’s very culture-specific connotations on it. As far as my one friend who talked about it, his family/friends seem to believe it was related to male virility. (And on that awkward topic, there’s definitely some more stereotyping going on between Adam’s legs O_o)

    And the huge grin looks like negative racial stereotypes from early California :-/

  • Nightshade

    Isn’t that ‘they’ll eat anything’ reputation a result of having to survive on limited resources through much of Chinese history? That sounds more to me like being able to make do with whatever is available, resourcefulness, an admirable trait. I can see what you mean about the racist bias, that’s just not what came to my mind at first.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Hi Mccavitykitsune,

    I appreciate the clarification. The people who stick out in my mind as eaters of snake are not Chinese people, but white American cowboys in the Old West who were said to be so tough they ate rattlesnake! I kind of thought the cartoon was saying, “Chinese people are from an older and wiser civilization; they’d have known what to do with that snake!”

    It is odd, but I never actually heard the “Chinese people will eat anything” trope. I did notice that the grin seemed a bit too big, though.

  • I have heard Chinese people say of themselves that they will eat anything with legs that isn’t a table and so on (though even that statement started out as a racist comment by the northerners against the Cantonese).

    So if the cartoonist has a surname of Wang, Li, Zhang, etc., I might see this as laughing at the traits of their own people. However, there is no signature on this cartoon, so that, combined with the toothy grin on the man, makes me feel that this is probably racist.

  • If I recall correctly (and I’m no expert on Chinese history) Chinese people historically starved at about the same rate as European people; it’s only in the 1800s, with the opium wars and colonisation, that they really went into economic decline. I also want to point out that in the comic, Adam and Eve didn’t eat the apple; they’re eating the snake, which means they still don’t know right from wrong. (Infantilisation and claiming a lack of moral compass is a common racist tactic.) I appreciate your willingness to listen, though. ^__^

  • I agree that everyone can’t be aware of every racist trope ever (I
    certainly am not!), but I appreciate the acknowledgment, Kristen, as well as your willingness to listen.And yes, exactly, lots of people eat snake; it’s a pretty widespread phenomenon, but only the Chinese seem to get sneered at for it for some reason! And if you’re not aware of the trope, it’s easy to mistake the comic for a complimentary one, I guess, though the grin and the wtf genitalia seem iffy anyway, as you pointed out. To people who have been exposed to the trope, though, it practically leaps off the page. 🙁

  • Kristen Rosser

    True– but if they didn’t eat the apple, they also didn’t sin, didn’t disobey God, didn’t have the ground cursed, etc. If, as you say, one isn’t familiar with the racist trope, it looks like the cartoon is saying the Chinese are morally superior, because if they’d been there, there would have been no Fall of Mankind.

  • Yes, which is why I pointed out that it’s possible to promote a racist meme out of ignorance of it being racist (though I initially side-eyed it a lot because when people lead with “no offense” on a post, it’s usually because they know it might offend). I don’t believe there to have been any ill-intent on your part in posting this, just a lack of exposure to this particular racist tripe.

    Whether or not one considers the knowledge of good and evil to be a fall has to do with whether or not one is (still?) Christian, though! 😀

  • Kristen Rosser

    Well, I wasn’t the one who posted it– but I am sorry it was offensive.