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Mindy Kaling, other South Asian comedians called out for perpetuating stereotypes

via @totallyprincessjasmine, @aqildhanani

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    South Asian TikTok users are pushing back against harmful stereotypes, with one creator attributing their popularity to South Asian comedians.

    In a video posted last month that has garnered over 332,000 views and 60,000 likes, TikTok user Jasmine (@totallyprincessjasmine) criticizes a clip from the HBO Max series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” which was created and produced by Mindy Kaling. In the clip, Bela, played by Amrit Kaur, talks to her parents about how she used to be an “Indian loser.”

    “Mindy Kaling. Just because you are an Indian loser, does not mean Indians are losers,” Jasmine says in their video. “At this point you’re genuinely doing more harm than good.”

    @totallyprincessjasmine HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE SEEN THIS PLAYYYY im done #mindykaling #indian ♬ original sound – Jasmine

    Stitching Jasmine’s video, TikTok user Aqil Dhanani (@aqildhanani) goes on to claim that South Asian comedians are to blame for the promotion of harmful stereotypes in the U.S.

    Dhanani calls out Kaling and stand-up comedians Russell Peters and Lily Singh in particular:

    “If you’re in America and you want to be racist against Black people, you can deep dive into the ancient tomes of racism and find a stereotype or a slur. Same with East Asians, same with Latinos. But if you want to make fun of South Asians, where do those insults usually come from? South Asian comedians,” he says. “Mindy Kaling, Russell Peters, Lilly Singh, what do they talk about? Our parents talk funny and they beat us and we eat stinky food and we are stinky and there’s hair all over.”

    @aqildhanani #stitch with @Jasmine ♬ original sound – aqil

    Singh faced backlash in 2019 for comparing turbans to towels on her late-night show. Peters, who was the first comedian to have a Netflix stand-up special, is known for his imitations of Indian stereotypes, with his most famous bit being about his father’s penchant for corporal punishment, which ends with his signature catchphrase: “Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad.”

    Dhanani says the popularity of comedians who promoted harmful South Asian stereotypes affected the way he was treated in high school.

    He points out that audiences feel comfortable repeating these stereotypes “because a Brown person said it on TV.”

    “Russell Peters popped off when I was in high school, and I had white people coming up to me in the hallway and quoting Russell Peters and laughing about it,” he explains.

    “And I just played along! I laughed along, I added on, because that’s how you fit in with white people. You let them laugh at you.”

    Dhanani then shows a news article from his time working as tech support for his city in which he is described as a “Tech Guru.” The screenshot of the article even describes his workstation as “a table with a ‘Tech Guru’ sign in the adult section of the library.”

    The TikTok creator also calls out the popularity and use of “the voice,” referring to an exaggerated Indian accent, by stand-up comedians.

    Dhanani explains that a cousin of his who is a professional stand-up comedian on TikTok uses “the voice” in “every single one of her videos.”

    “In her stand-up routines, just like Lilly Singh, she does the voice to make fun of her parents. And just like Lilly Singh, her parents don’t have that accent.”


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    Viral TikTok trend accused of appropriating, sexualizing South Asian culture

     

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