Diversity Day Character Analysis

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According to Middleton, one of Michael Scott’s greatest comic character flaws are, “…His misunderstanding of workplace diversity issues. The show frequently uses Michael to satirize the “political correctness” (or lack of substance) in corporate “sensitivity” training. Michael will attempt to employ the discourse associated with multicultural awareness, but his awkward butchering of this discourse leads him to be even more insulting” (156). In “Diversity Day”, Michael offends his coworkers with a Chris Rock routine, which is brought up to corporate. Subsequently, corporate sends Mr. Brown to talk to the office about this issue, but the seminar is mainly directed to Michael. Michael instead attempts to teach the office with Mr. Brown, acting …show more content…
Brown then brings up the Chris Rock routine to the office, while Michael’s face falls as he realizes that this seminar was brought up because of him. Michael asks in an interview, “How come when Chris Rock does it, it’s really funny, but when I do it, people file a complaint to corporate? Is it because I’m white and Chris is black?” This quote brings up an argument from Halley, which states “Often when one thinks in terms of “us” compared to “them”, one engages in binary thinking…Whiteness is often perceived in contrast to groups of color…” (10). Michael does not understand how his coworkers are offended by his imitation of the routine, and then asks an ironic question that is usually reserved for colored people. He is pinning himself against all other black people, and not understanding how his privilege of being white is not equal to black inequality. Chris Rock can perform a routine on black people because he himself is black; Michael cannot because he is a white man of status, as he is manager, and comes out as someone who is making fun of another race and looking down on them, which is considered racist behavior. With comedy, race can be a sensitive subject that dictates the behavior of the audience and their views on the comedian. Racial jokes can either have a successful or a poor outcome- it is often considered acceptable for minorities to tell racial jokes, but a racial joke told by a white person can easily turn offensive. However, colored people can also make …show more content…
As Middleton has disclosed, “The problem is that Michael frequently just gets it wrong; he misunderstands the management principles he is meant to apply and creates problems rather than solving them” (156). Michael plans his own “Diversity Day”, where he presents a video of himself he had made an hour ago as the founder of “Diversity Tomorrow” (because “Today is almost over!”). When Kelly, who is Indian-American, gets up to go to a meeting, he notes that there will only be two left, in which he refers to the two other colored people in the room (Stanley, who is black, and Oscar, who is Mexican). Michael then tells the office workers his cultural background- English, Irish, German, and Scottish. He also lies that he is Native American Indian and states that he is a “virtual United Nations”- except that he is basically white and not representing different ethnicities at all like the UN does. He makes Oscar go next, who is Mexican-American. Michael then asks him if there’s a term other than Mexican that is less offensive that Oscar would like to be called, which in return offends Oscar because Michael is suggesting that being Mexican is something he should be ashamed of and should not identify with. Avoiding the consequences of his ignorance, Michael changes the subject and makes them play a game where they have to stick cards on their forehead with races on it

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