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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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In Movies & TV Blogs

Is "Chink In The Armor" racist, or is ESPN overreacting because of the hyper-sensitivity of people?

ESPN gets racially insensitive against Lin, Farm Rich ad jokes about eating baby


I confess, the world that we live in is a very strange and disturbing place.

Left is right and right is down just as often as left is left and right is right, it seems.

For anybody who is remotely into sports, the term "Linsanity" is somewhat familiar to them, but for those who aren't that into sports or the NBA, I'll briefly explain what is going on.

Several weeks ago, due to several injuries to their teams, the New York Knicks were forced to play reserve point guard Jeremy Lin.

Lin is a guy who has been kick around the NBA from team to team during his brief career and wasn't even considered to be a major Division 1 prospect coming out of high school, which led him to Harvard.

Oh yeah, Lin is an American of Taiwanese descent.

To put it plainly, Lin has been lighting it up for the Knicks since he got his chance and has captivated the sports nation in way similar to Tim Tebow – though Lin hasn't habitually posed to create a photo phenomenon the way Tebow did.

In a sport dominated by LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Rose, Durrant and Griffin, Lin is a welcomed breath of fresh air.

However, there are a lot of people that don't exactly know how to deal with that fresh air thanks to him being an Asian-American.

During a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden the MSG Network showed a picture of a fan sign that had an opened fortune cookie and Lin's head above the cookie's slip of paper that read "The Knicks Good Fortune."

While the person who created the sign probably thought they were being clever and supportive of the player that has sparked the Knicks back into early playoff contention, the image and message is clearly a little off when presented in this fashion.

Recently ESPN has come under fire for its usage of the word "chink," which is a derogatory term towards Chinese and other Eastern Asian peoples.

The network has recently fired a writer because of their headline "Chink In The Armor" that ran in reference to Lin's issue with turning the ball over, a common problem for players that are getting used to the speed of the game and the patterns their teammates run during the plays throughout the game.

While "chink in the armor" is a common phrase that people use in regards to a sports team's weak link or a specific player's weakness, this phrase as a headline is absolutely damaging and LOOKS like unquestionable racism.

On the flip side of the coin, ESPN News reporter Max Bretos has been suspended for 30 days because he used the phrase when seriously asking an analyst about Lin's weaknesses and how "Linsanity" could affect the team.

Bretos, who has identified that his wife is of Asian descent, was very apologetic for using the reference in regards to Lin.

Bretos clearly didn't use the phrase as some sort of double entendre and his punishment shows that ESPN didn't believe he was being malicious either, but to cover their bases, action had to be taken.

Bretos is a casualty of the war against racial insensitivity, even if he was truly just covering the player and his game.

While re-tooling one's vocabulary and thoughts regarding Asian-Americans in the sport of basketball is crucial now that there is such a budding star in Lin, who will be talked about on a daily basis for hours at a time, is ESPN overreacting to a phrase that has been uttered without issue for generations now just because of the hyper-sensitivity of people?

The headline the way it appeared is absolutely inexcusable, but was Bretos deserving of his suspension?

View the clip and decide.

Personally I believe the general public's outrage should be focused toward a national commercial that frozen snack food maker Farm Rich is running currently.

In the 31-second spot, a mother talks about how sweet her children were when they were babies over the sounds of Jimmy Durante playing in the background.

The mother says "When my kids were babies they were so sweet, I just wanted to eat them up."

How common, right?

Babies and toddlers are very cute and the phase "I just want to eat them up" is really silly and macabre when you think about it, but it's socially acceptable so people roll with it and it is OK.

Then the commercial takes a hard left turn after you hear the sound of glass breaking and the mother continues her speech by revealing, "Some days, I wish I had."

Stop. The. Presses.

Did this commercial that is selling deep fried cheese sticks, a food product that is aimed at children, really just have their actor read a script that included the idea of feeling regret on certain days that she didn't kill and eat her children?

Are trying to have us believe that this is so implausible that it can only be a joke?

Did they forget about the Texas mother that in 2009 thought the devil was talking to her so killed her 3-week-old baby and ate parts of his body?

If we are going to fight against racial insensitivity then we as a culture better also find ourselves fighting against the insensitivity of advertisers that are so aloof that their spot for a food item conjures up choking puke down rather than enjoying their product.

You can view the Farm Rich ad here.

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