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loulou
05-04-2012, 02:45 PM
Up through the 1970s in the US, it was completely acceptable to make ethnic jokes, and the ethnicities that tended to be targeted included the Poles, who were, to quote one of the very old ladies on my block (now deceased), "Hard workers." Then she'd lean in and whisper, "Not very bright." Jokes about Polish people and their lack of intelligence were really common when I was growing up.

That started to change in the 1980s, when people became more aware that such stuff wasn't cool. And I think having a Polish Pope helped as well.

Thanks. I had no idea.

I've heard about studies saying ashkenazi jews are supposedly smarter than other ethnic groups, and it would mean poles too. So, that stuff sounded surprising to me.

cruisin
05-04-2012, 03:33 PM
^^ Polish jokes were quite popular in the 1970's. I think, in part, it has to do with time of large numbers of immigration. The Irish were subjected to jokes and slurs. The Italians were and still are (much of it perpetuated by movies and TV shows made by Italians - go figure). Polish people immigrated after the Irish and italians, it was "their turn". I think some of the ignorant "dumb" comments were due to the fact that immigrants typically did jobs that no one else wanted to do. And, the groups that were picked on previously, picked on the next groups. None of that excuses the jokes and mistreatment. Ethnic jokes are never funny.

gkelly
05-04-2012, 03:37 PM
I don't think Polish jokes started in the 1970s. But I think Archie Bunker did a lot to spread awareness of them at that time.

cruisin
05-04-2012, 03:46 PM
I don't think Polish jokes started in the 1970s. But I think Archie Bunker did a lot to spread awareness of them at that time.

Agree, they were just very "popular" at that time. Probably because of Archie Bunker.

skatingfan5
05-04-2012, 04:01 PM
Agree, they were just very "popular" at that time. Probably because of Archie Bunker.I would say that they were quite prevalent at the time -- they may have been "popular" within certain circles that thought this form of ethnic denigration was humorous.

As to its origins, evidently there are a number of theories/speculations:
As a category of folklore and sociology, joking is often the subconscious effort of an inside group within society to goad a fringe group into assimilating. Poles in America stayed within their communities and close to their families. Clean Protestant capitalist America feared groups that potentially owed their allegiance to a foreign power, the Pope, and didn’t strive toward the American dream, but instead were rather happy in their often dirty blue-collar jobs.

Additional theories for the source of the joke include: 1. rival ethnic groups importing old-world hostilities; 2. the Polish cavalry with swords and fancy costumes attacking Nazi tanks in WW2; 3. difficulty for Polish-Americans to learn English because their native tongue was slavic; 4. categorization of Poles as Communists; and 5. an early Polish legislative policy called the Liberum Veto, in which any member of congress could nullify the entire session, which lead to easy pay-offs and the inability of Poland to centralize its government against hostile neighbors. The above from the website of the documentary film, Polack (http://www.polackthefilm.com/polack_the_film/HOME.html) which examines the origins of the Polish joke in America. I have no idea how much truth there is in any of these.

Back to the thread topic, I think that the overly-tanned lady is quite delusional if she thinks anyone is "jealous" of her. Good grief! As if everyone with a naturally pale complexion wanted their skin to resemble worn leather. :rolleyes:

cruisin
05-04-2012, 04:10 PM
Prevalent is a better word. I did put popular in quotes, as I was trying to convey that I disapproved.

loulou
05-04-2012, 07:20 PM
^^ Polish jokes were quite popular in the 1970's. I think, in part, it has to do with time of large numbers of immigration. The Irish were subjected to jokes and slurs. The Italians were and still are (much of it perpetuated by movies and TV shows made by Italians - go figure). Polish people immigrated after the Irish and italians, it was "their turn". I think some of the ignorant "dumb" comments were due to the fact that immigrants typically did jobs that no one else wanted to do. And, the groups that were picked on previously, picked on the next groups. None of that excuses the jokes and mistreatment. Ethnic jokes are never funny.

Thanks!
This thread is very interesting, and I'm finding out stuff I completely ignored.

Now, another issue: I thought italian movies and (even more) shows had troubles carrying themselves, much more so carrying stereotypes or anything at all that would stick - with a few exceptions, mostly at least ten year old. Could you name some you were referring to?



The above from the website of the documentary film, Polack (http://www.polackthefilm.com/polack_the_film/HOME.html) which examines the origins of the Polish joke in America. I have no idea how much truth there is in any of these.

Thanks for posting, interesting read. I think difficulties in learning english could contribute to pass the impression a person isn't bright. Although I've had first hand experience with poles and maybe I just met the good ones, but they kicked ass at foreign languages. Including, and not limited to, english.



Back to the thread topic, I think that the overly-tanned lady is quite delusional if she thinks anyone is "jealous" of her. Good grief! As if everyone with a naturally pale complexion wanted their skin to resemble worn leather. :rolleyes:

I guess we all think she's sick for a reason.

gkelly
05-04-2012, 08:28 PM
Thanks for posting, interesting read. I think difficulties in learning english could contribute to pass the impression a person isn't bright. Although I've had first hand experience with poles and maybe I just met the good ones, but they kicked ass at foreign languages. Including, and not limited to, english.

My French teacher in 8th grade (mid-70s), who was Polish, was extremely bright and spoke at least 5 languages, made all her own stylish clothes, etc. She did not tolerate students making Polish jokes about each other.

FigureSpins
05-04-2012, 08:48 PM
I don't think Polish jokes started in the 1970s. But I think Archie Bunker did a lot to spread awareness of them at that time.

Polish (and other ethnic) jokes and slurs were around for many years before the 1970's. I grew up in the 60's and my sister, who's almost 10 years older, knew them all! Borscht Belt/Catskills comedians always had a joke or two.

My FIL was the king of the ethnic slur and joke circuit. He bemoaned how "overly sensitive" people were to his remarks and comments if they objected. The times had changed, but he didn't have any other material, lol. He tried to salvage his jokes by inventing his own country (Jabip) and residents (Jabipians) to take the place of the varied nationalities. For the record, he wasn't a professional comedian, just an equal-opportunity bigot from NYC. He worked in the garment trade and, having met with sellers and dress factories, I can say that he wasn't out of his element. He just had a very narrow audience by the 1980's. Many of those jokes have been recycled as Blonde, Hillbilly/Southerner or Drunk jokes.

Archie Bunker (All in the Family) did spread awareness, but not to popularize those jokes. His character was intentionally bigoted and offensive, to make viewers aware that they, could go too far with the jokes. Some nationalities did fit into certain career/job roles. In a US History class, we learned that the phrase "Paddy Wagon" came from the slang (slur?) expression for someone from Ireland. Irish immigrants spoke english, so when many prejudiced shopowners wouldn't hire someone that was Irish, they could find work as police officers. (Tough work, then and now.)


There's something fishy about the original Tanning story. First, she said the girl waited in a corner of the room while the mother tanned, and now the story is that the child was supervised by the father in the waiting room. Maybe the DD peeked in to say hi, but I think the salon and the family are in collusion to CYA.

She seemed to be drunk during that on-the-street interview, and I sort of felt sorry for her. Until she hiked up her pants, when I just burst out laughing.
Out of jealousy, of course. :rolleyes:

numbers123
05-04-2012, 09:19 PM
Back to the thread topic, I think that the overly-tanned lady is quite delusional if she thinks anyone is "jealous" of her. Good grief! As if everyone with a naturally pale complexion wanted their skin to resemble worn leather. :rolleyes:

I think that she has a very distorted point of view in part because of our own culture. We seem to believe that a tan is a healthy glow and that everyone should have one. So if one should have a healthy glow about them, the tanner (darker your tan) the more beautiful you must be. She does not see herself as others do. She sees herself as having that perfect tan and must continue to tan to retain the beauty. I remember spending hours in the sun, trying to obtain that perfect summer tan. We used to say things like "I'm so jealous of your tan. I wished I tanned that easily" etc.

I can see the scenario going two ways here. The mother did indeed have the child in the tanning booth room to introduce her to tanning. or the mother took the child to the tanning salon and the child said to her classmates "I went tanning with my mom". Either way the little girl was being introduced to the idea that one must tan to be beautiful. And the mother does believe that her tanned appearance does make her beautiful.

cruisin
05-04-2012, 09:21 PM
Now, another issue: I thought italian movies and (even more) shows had troubles carrying themselves, much more so carrying stereotypes or anything at all that would stick - with a few exceptions, mostly at least ten year old. Could you name some you were referring to?

The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, all of the reality shows that portray Italian Americans as idiots and thugs.

loulou
05-04-2012, 10:34 PM
The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, all of the reality shows that portray Italian Americans as idiots and thugs.

I see, you were referring to Italian Americans. It makes more sense now.



My French teacher in 8th grade (mid-70s), who was Polish, was extremely bright and spoke at least 5 languages, made all her own stylish clothes, etc. She did not tolerate students making Polish jokes about each other.

I lived in Warsaw for a little while, years ago. And then a group of friends hosted for a while the same community that had fixed us there. The girls were amazing, and I have to say, so well educated they put us all to shame.

-- It's so nice to have good teachers and good memories about them.

cruisin
05-04-2012, 10:44 PM
I see, you were referring to Italian Americans. It makes more sense now.

The problem is that many non-Italians actually think that Italians are like that. They don't understand the Mafia, where it originated, and that 99% of Italians had/have nothing to do with organized crime.

danceronice
05-05-2012, 01:18 AM
There's something fishy about the original Tanning story. First, she said the girl waited in a corner of the room while the mother tanned, and now the story is that the child was supervised by the father in the waiting room. Maybe the DD peeked in to say hi, but I think the salon and the family are in collusion to CYA.


I was wondering the same thing--if the little girl was tanning and the salon let her, wouldn't they be accomplices? I would think they salon's trying to cover themselves.

cruisin
05-05-2012, 01:20 AM
^^ Yes, the story did seem to change. But I still don't think she let the child tan. I think the child was just there.