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News this week is that a rodeo clown in San Luis Obispo County, California made a racist, oh, and also sexist, joke about the First Lady of these United States, her royal everything, Michelle Obama.
It went like this: "Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine, and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them."
Every joke has a punch line, the payoff that comes after the set up and climax. In this case the payoff, the funny, is that Michelle Obama is black and ugly as opposed to Ann Romney who is white and pretty.
Let's break it down. First, the audience is offered up Playboy as the set up. Sexy, glamorous, high-end, fond-of-blondes Playboy. Then we're told Ann Romney, wife of presidential candidate Mitt, was offered a quarter of a million dollars to pose for Playboy, the industry standard. As the joke climbs, we found out that the White House is upset because National Geographic -- as thoughts of wild, animalistic, African, primitive, naked tribes people dance in our heads -- only offered the first African American First Lady fifty bucks.
And the crowd goes wild.
But thankfully not in this case. According to news reports the "joke" was met with boos and the board of the rodeo wants the clown, Mike Hayhurst, to apologize. A reporter from the San Luis Obispo Times called Hayhurst, who was in the hospital for head injuries that may have been sustained during Sunday's racist joke rodeo, for comment. Apparently Hayhurst was all out of jokes though.
"I cannot believe how insensitive you are," he reportedly told the paper. "I am in the hospital.”
"He then uttered a vulgarity and hung up," continued the article. You stay classy, San Luis Obispo.
Another nugget of goodness in the SLO Times story came from the lone woman who'd go on record saying she thought the joke offensive: "But one woman, who also would not identify herself, said, 'It’s offensive on many levels. It’s also offensive to women, and it’s not an appropriate comment for a public forum.'"
Oftentimes we ignore one "ism" for another, perhaps the more obvious one, and in this case the joke was as sexist and it was racist. I highly doubt Ann Romney is flattered by her place on the pedestal in the set up as the Playboy ideal. The entire joke is hinged on pitting two accomplished grown women against one another in a test of sexiness, a contest of cuteness.
I'm not even sure what more you can say about something like this. Something so fundamentally dumb and ill advised. Should the rodeo clown apologize? Sure. But will it matter? Will Michelle open up her fresh-off-the-presses copy of the SLO Times on a bright morning in the East Wing and think to herself, "Hells yeah, bitch!"? I doubt it.
All I can really say about this news is that I'm glad no one laughed. I'm glad they booed.
Like Nascar, rodeos aren't necessarily hot beds of political correctness, according to me because I have no clue what goes on there. I know as much about a rodeo as a hockey mom does about a rap concert (actually we're probably on equal footing here because I have NEVER been to a rap concert but you get the picture). We all have our prejudices based on nothing more than perceived knowledge or the snippets of conventional wisdom our own tiny bubbles fart out. But I'm glad this incident taught me different, if only in a teeny tiny way.