Our quick take on Caroline Wozniacki’s much-publicized and criticized imitation of Serena Williams.
Amy: The offseason has handed us some truly inane stories this year. Whether it’s Novak Djokovic hoarding donkey cheese, Wozniacki’s ham-handed impersonation of Serena Williams, or Jennifer Capriati melting down on Twitter, I’m personally sick of it all. As for Wozniacki, she’s not the first person to do this dumb impression of Williams, and it’s unfair to hurl vitriol at her as if she were. Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick have both done it before, as has Wozniacki on other occasions. (And it’s been unfunny in every case.)
The impression itself did not strike me as overtly “racist,” but if one were to consider the deeper implications, I’d be more concerned with the fact that these tennis players are making fun of Williams’ physique in a demeaning fashion.
In short: Tennis players, stop this unfunny impression of Serena. That way, everyone wins.
Juan Jose: I pretty much agree with everything Amy said. I think impressions are at their best when mannerisms are targeted, not body shape.
As for the racism bit – I honestly thought Wozniacki had done something horrible (like using blackface) when I went on Twitter this morning. Then I saw that it was just the same distasteful “imitation” of Serena that she (and the others who Amy mentions) had done before, to no media outcry.
I just think it’s slightly irresponsible to attach the “racist” label to something like this. That toxic label is better suited to events like these. And it’s unfair to Wozniacki, given the potential consequences. Here are some labels to use instead: tasteless, tacky, unfunny. Any of those will do.
Also, that Huffington Post article drives me crazy. Such a lazy formula: “Is (Insert your own provocative event) racist?”. I’m sure you can put anything in that parenthesis, outsource the question to Twitter and look at random blogs for an inflammatory reaction, and come up with the same article.
Lindsay: Okay, so I’m not usually one to tell people that their feelings are wrong. I usually err on the side of PC and think that if people are offended then they have every right to be. But I must say I agree with you guys on this one. This was way more tasteless and tacky than it was racist.
I think there are a lot of issues at play here. I think that poking fun at body shapes is always a very risky endeavor. (Just don’t do it.) I think that when we see a skinny, white, blonde-haired girl our brain automatically files her under the “privilege” category, and therefore she is examined with a different microscope. I think that there is so much ignorance out there about what racism is and why it’s important to not be racist, that people no longer know where to draw the line. (People still don’t understand why blackface is wrong. Like, lots and lots of people.) And I think it’s scary that Djokovic and Roddick have both done the same thing with little fanfare, meaning there are lots of gender standards going on here as well. As ridiculous as I think this whole controversy is, I’m a bit fascinated with it since it’s obviously struck a nerve with people.
But at the end of the day Serena has big boobs and a big ass and she knows it. And Caroline Wozniacki is nice girl who is awkward, embarrassing, and a bit misguided.
You know who I blame for all of this? Djokovic. Wozniacki wants to be liked. She so desperately wants to be liked. And when she was coming up on tour Djokovic was gaining fame for his impersonations. She saw the formula as a fool-proof one. It is not. It is just not. Impersonate with caution.