You know it was funny -- racist, true, but hey, funny too! -- because that "Fox and Friends" technician reacted right on cue.
He's the guy (or gal) who sits there with a finger poised over some button, waiting to release a whistle-and-rimshot sound effect, which I guess says something like, "Wow, THAT was pretty nuts, wasn't it folks?! But it's all good, har har har!"
The transcript of Arquette's idiotic remarks appear below. They're so stupid and disrespectful that they hardly merit comment (though if you want to comment on them, by all means, please do).
What interests me more is that whistle-and-rimshot sound effect. Or maybe, whistle-and-cymbal? What IS that second sound? And more to the point, what exactly is the whole sound effect supposed to indicate?
I think it's another among many examples of something more general, a common white tendency. That common tendency is to think that it's okay to say or do something racist, if you turn it into a joke somehow.
If you're worried about being labeled a racist, just start grinning and somehow suggest that the racism isn't a reflection on you. Act in a way that more or less says, "hey, I know this here is racist, but I'm just joking! So don't worry, I myself am certainly not a racist!"
"Never mind," you also seem to be saying at such moments, "that I do just somehow have to say this racist thing, because, like, you know, it's just true, right?"
In this case, I think it's "Fox and Friends" that wants to distance itself from Arquette's racist commentary (although he's doing a lot of his own Distancing Laughter too), by using that sound effect. And it's not the first time Fox has used it. Just last week, I noticed that they used that sound for the same distancing effect when Brian Kilmeade started prattling outrageously about how pure-blooded people shouldn't marry "ethnics" and "other species."
This use of such a sound effect on live programs, to blunt or counteract someone's objectionable words, is new to me.
Does Fox use it on other shows? Are there other networks that use anything like it?
At any rate, it's certainly a common "white" thing, isn't it, when it's used to deflect serious attention from someone's racism, with something that's supposed to elicit laughter, instead of anger.
Here's the transcript of David Arquette's remarks:
Can I mention something about Sotomayor since we're like, you know, it's politics? I think Latino women are -- it depends on the woman -- but I think they are very, they have great judgment, but there are some that are just nuts.
I would just say it. I mean, it's -- you can't -- (laughs)
[distancing sound effect]
Now your wife, Courtney Cox, is not Latino, is she?
No, she's not Latino, but I'm from Los Angeles so we know all about the Latino women.
I get it! Now we're getting into your personal history.
I don't know what I'm talking about but --
But she's qualified?
Oh yeah, she's qualified. But who knows if she's nuts or not! No, I'm just kidding.
Well you know what, David? Sometimes you're a little nuts.
That's right. I love Latina women!
h/t: Vanessa @ feministing
Update (7/17/09): David Arquette has apologized; he really was just trying to be "humorous." And hey, give the guy a break, some of his best friends are Latinas!
I would like to issue an apology for the comments I made on Fox and Friends. My intent was to be humorous and not offensive. I have nothing but love and respect for Latina women and women in general of all cultural backgrounds. What saddens me most is that it took away from the issue of Hunger in America, for which I was on the show to begin with. I work and [sic] a pantry in Venice California with a hispanic women named Delpia (who has been feeding people at St. Joseph's Center for 29 years) and she is my personal hero. Having been raised in Los Angeles I have grown up with a deep and profound love for the Latino culture.