We were happily cruising around the Internet yesterday when we stumbled upon a link on Andrew Sullivan’s blog that gave us one of those moments Dave Chappelle joked about in Killin’ Them Softly: “Have you ever had something happen that was so racist that you didn’t even get mad? You were just like, ‘Goddamn, that was racist.” That’s how we felt when we saw TheSockObama.com, a Website peddling an “Obama” monkey doll.
This kind of garbage has come up before (it was reported in May that a bar owner in Georgia was selling T-shirts that said “Obama ‘08” and showed Curious George eating a banana), but the Sock Obama Website seemed even more nefarious for some reason. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t even hint at any racist intentions; they could have easily been selling Vermont Teddy Bears. So we e-mailed these fascinating merchants, as we were frankly puzzled and looking for answers. And last night the Sock Obama company sent out a standardized reply to 22 prestigious information seekers, including us. It was incredibly informative. Especially if you are a fan of elaborate mind games.
To Those with Heartfelt Queries,
We chose twenty-two customer queries today that we believe merit a response. You touched us with either your concern, intelligence, humor, sensitivity, and/or your thoughtfulness. We thank you. There are other queries we received today as well that we chose not to respond to, because of their spewing of venom and their aimlessness.
We at TheSockObama Co. are saddened that some individuals have chosen to misinterpret our plush toy. It is not, nor has it ever been our objective to hurt, dismay or anger anyone. We guess there is an element of naviete on our part, in that we don’t think in terms of myths, fables, fairy tales and folklore. We simply made a casual and affectionate observation one night, and a charming association between a candidate and a toy we had when we were little. We wonder now if this might be a great opportunity to take this moment to really try and transcend still existing racial biases. We think that if we can do this together, maybe it will behoove us a nation and maybe we’ll even begin to truly communicate with one another more tenderly, more real even.
This is only our introductory plush toy. If we choose to move forward with a Republican candidate, we’ll begin with an elongated and slightly lumpy, fuzzy Idaho potato. Had a different Democratic candidate won the nomination, we were prepared to move forward with the cutest, fluffiest 12” chestnut and golden-haired squirrel, with a short Farrah-like do in a brown pantsuit and call her Squirellary.
In earnest folks, we’re so sorry we offended anybody.
Let’s get this right: They made an “affectionate” association between Senator Obama and a toy monkey, but they profess hope that we can “transcend still existing racial biases.” Really? Might this in fact be an esoteric, sophisticated way of starting a conversation on race? It’s just hard to see how someone could be this oblivious in an unironic way. Then again, there are about six black people in Utah, so maybe it’s possible. But we’re still hoping this is just an overwrought graduate-school project or something. —Dan Amira