This Alexander Wang Video Seems A Little Racist-y, No?
This new Alexander Wang video features a slew of famous faces: Alessandra Ambrosio, A$AP Rocky, Shannan Click, Simon Doonan and Natasha Lyonne — and an extremely fake pregnancy belly. But the main star is Anjelah Johnson, who reprises her “Mad TV” character Bon Qui Qui as a new salesperson in Wang’s flagship boutique. In this clip, directed by Gavin McInness (who believes he knows a lot about racism, sexism and homophobia), Bon Qui Qui is a stereotype of a sassy, back-talking Latina woman. And though it’s being lauded as “hilarious” by outlets like Huffington Post and New Mag, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable watching this. Johnson’s caricature is the only representation of a woman of color in the video — she’s effectively the butt of the joke, and portrayed as an uncultured, unsophisticated, rude person. That seems pretty shitty to me. And Johnson herself seems to have a pretty unnuanced understanding of race. In a 2010 New York Times profile, she said: “Deep down inside, I’m really a black girl stuck in a Mexican girl’s body.” She then went on to mock an audience member’s disapproval of the Bon Qui Qui character: “Once I was doing Bon Qui Qui in Miami, and this black girl was in the audience and she yelled out, ‘That’s not funny!’ which was really funny because she sounded exactly like the character I was playing.” So, yeah.
In any case, if the only thing that Wang is selling is a humor based on ridiculing the “other,” I’m not buying. [YouTube]