It's the New Year, and every year I do the same thing, I make a New Year's resolution that this year, I am going to try to be more honest, and hopefully in doing so, will have to put up with less BS. To test my fortitude and resolve of this resolution, usually about a week into it, I am faced with a dilemma.
Do I put up, or shut up?
And so it goes this year.
The test? Another network TV show in which once again, an Iranian actor is a primary part of the cast. The actor in this case is none other than Maz Jobrani. The only way you don't know who Maz Jobrani is if you are in a coma, or in solitary confinement in Evin for protesting the inhumane use of solitary confinement. Maz Jobrani is the champion of bringing 'It' to the American consciousness. Through his brilliant and dedicated efforts behind the 'Axis of Evil' comedy tours, and the latest incarnation 'The Sultans of Satire', he has been the brightly shining and hilarious beacon for, to use marketing terminology, 'educating and informing the target audience of the benefits, features, and value of our brand.' That's the 'It' he brings.
As I am a huge fan of Maz, you can start to see the dilemma forming.
Wednesdays, around 9pm, on ABC, the new show, 'The Knights of Prosperity' has cast yet another shadow, through what I am just going to call, the retarded mis-placement of the stereotypical 'quirky Indian fellow', using of all people Maz! So allow me to let you take a moment, and get this straight. Maz who does an Iranian accent about as perfectly as he does any other accent you want him to do for you, is playing a quirky Indian cab driver! Not a quirky Iranian cab driver, but the quirky Indian cab driver! At one point in the show he even gets called, get this, 'Dr. Bombay'.
Now, as I am sure you do, I too have many good Indian friends. In order, they are teachers, doctors, engineers (a lot of them are engineers), lawyers, and Oh all right! Yes! computer programmers! You want your stereotype? Fine! At least take that one! And I am sure there are many Iranian and Indian cab drivers too. So if you insist, you can keep the character, if you really want to argue with me about the realism of the characters in this script.
But to have an Iranian, especially one like Maz, so full of talent, experience and something important to a comedy, natural comedic timing, play the role of an Indian cab driver? It's almost like someone wanted to insult both countries with one slur. Isn't there any way this could have been avoided? I mean you can at least get an Indian actor to play the role of the Indian cab driver! Not to mention, what will I tell my Indian friends as they complain about how there are so many Indian actors to choose from, and why use that stereotype.
Actually I would think that it would have been a lot funnier if the character was an out of work Indian computer programmer, laid off because his job was recently off shored to India!
But I am trying to play the casting meeting, in my head, where Maz was called in to be considered for this role, to see how they could have possibly come up with this seemingly idiotic plan. It may have gone something like this:
'Hey, I have an idea, why don't we have Maz play the role of the Indian Cab driver?'
'Uh, Dude, Maz is Iranian.'