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September 15, 2019 | by  | in Audit |
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Audit – Law Revue

I went to the Law Revue on Friday night, and what I witnessed felt like a slap in the face. My least favourite part was when two white girls, dressed in kimonos, shuffled and bowed their way onto the stage, and then attempted to speak Japanese—right after they said they needed help from ALSA (the Asian Law Students’ Association) because”‘everyone in ALSA speaks Chinese”.

 

Law Revue is an annual show put on by law students, poking fun at the law school in general. It’s satire, it’s un-PC, it’s supposed to be slightly controversial. What it’s not supposed to do is make fun of minority groups to the point where audience members (and I’m talking quite a few people here) feel othered and marginalised. People aren’t supposed to watch comedy shows and wind up crying and messaging people about why racism sucks.

 

As ‘woke’ as Wellington pretends to be, people do not and cannot understand racism unless they’ve experienced it. Getting genuine laughter for racist jokes isn’t proof that we’ve ‘made it’ as a society. Nor is putting three Asian people on stage during the skits proof that all Asians are okay with what’s being said. The jokes might have been funny if they were written and made by the Asians onstage, but they weren’t.

 

You can’t hide behind an anti-climactic moment where your character realises that she is racist and then proceeds to do nothing about it, and still have them be likable. That’s exactly the problem—plenty of likable people are racist, and because they’re likable and otherwise ‘woke,’ nobody is allowed to get offended. But fighting racism isn’t about being PC or woke, it’s a moral imperative to allow all people to live without fear.

 

The subtle racism that perpetuates our daily lives cannot be the core of your jokes.

 

At the end of the show, the cast gave us a ‘Don’t like it? Don’t watch it, it’s a law revue, what do you expect?’-type overview song. Like, hey, this is all a joke, you can’t be offended. I felt sick about the whole thing. I felt like I didn’t have a right to be upset because “it was just a joke”. I felt alone and alienated.

 

It’s a shame, because I genuinely did appreciate many aspects of the show. I was really impressed by the talented and well-rehearsed cast; some of the jokes were truly clever. But that doesn’t mean I was prepared to overlook the problematic parts of the plot, the fact that racism was once again exploited for an easy gasp-laugh. It’s 2019. It’s past time to learn some new humour.

 

It’s true, this wasn’t like University of Canterbury’s Lawsoc revue which prompted walk-outs. Most people loved this show, found it really funny. I appreciate that the majority of the white audience were probably fine with how the show went down. And even some Asians might have brushed the whole thing off. That’s not really the point though.

 

Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Furthermore, if you’re white, and you didn’t see the racism—maybe there’s a reason.The fact that I’m even afraid to speak up, afraid to be an ‘angry POC’, is part of the problem. We want to seem cool, not draw attention to our differences—even though the jokes do. 

 

But the truth is, a comedy show shouldn’t have made us feel othered. I’m disappointed. I didn’t expect to be hurt by Wellington law students. They’re the supposed pillars of society.

 

If these are the future pillars of our society—God help us all.

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