“Shit ___ Say”: Spiteful or Silly?
You are behind the ever-quickening times if you are yet to jump on the latest cyber bandwagon that began with the “Shit Girls Say” YouTube videos. Since the three-episode sensation made its debut one month ago, a series of parodies have followed in its footsteps, thanks to fans that can “relate” to the stereotypes portrayed and exaggerated in the videos. The makers of the videos are often people who embody certain characteristics due to their race, sexual orientation, physical appearance, interests, or even relationship status, and are stereotyped for it. For instance, “Shit Asian Girls Say” depicts an Asian boy dressed in a wig and feminine clothing and dramatizing phrases and habits popularly known as typical characteristics of adolescent Asian females. The popularity of these videos has led to the creation of videos such as “Shit Spanish Girls Say,” “Shit Girls Say to Gay Guys,” “Shit Drunk Girls Say” and “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls.” In fact, the trend has spread even to our own campus. Homecoming king candidate Julian Walker released a “Shit Anteaters Say” video this past week as part of his campaign, in which he laments UCI woes and points out noticeable features of our campus. His subsequent Facebook popularity seems to support the notion that people like to laugh at themselves.Unlike Julian’s, however, most of these videos are acted out by someone who is NOT an example of the subject of the video; for example, the actress in “Shit White Girls Say to Brown Girls” is in fact a “brown girl” donning a blonde wig. Many videos, in fact, are acted by males wearing wigs and traditionally female clothing. While the content of the videos and the manner in which the subjects are represented may be offensive to some, I think that they only serve their intended purpose: humor. According to the comments on the videos and, judging by which ones appeal to certain people, people are in fact most amused when the video is about people “like them”: from their own racial background, their own sex or their own habits. Yes, the videos do display stereotypes, but do they reinforce them? Personally, I think the viewer will be more likely to catch themselves the next time they are about to affirm the video’s claims. To people who maybe don’t have a close Spanish friend or black friend, maybe the videos will in fact spread awareness of shared characteristics among like groups of people to yet uncharted territory. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing,. Stereotypes are taboo in our society. People tend to have no problem reinforcing them in their daily behavior or looking for them in others, but to acknowledge that what they are doing is stereotyping is alarming. While stereotypes are certainly not all-inclusive and can in fact be offensive, they are more often than not grounded in truth. And sometimes becoming aware of our use of negative stereotypes can help us avoid them.And for those who wish to see stereotypes eradicated entirely, I would point out that laughter seems to be a fairly good antidote in many situations. Seeing as the videos do not put down anyone of a certain group, but only point out characteristics for the sake of fun, I think they are completely harmless and a nice brief fad for us to distract ourselves with. Because, of course, the videos don’t dictate that all people fall into certain categories or that they should. That, after all, is the factor that pushes stereotypes from fun to problematic. Thankfully, the “Shit ___ Say” videos remain fun — for now.
Karam Johal is a second-year women’s studies major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.