Jonathan Pie on identity politics

Comedian Tom Walker, in his persona as ranting reporter Jonathan Pie, manages to say what most of us would like to say but can’t. Note: the obscenity is thick and fast in this one.


  1. Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    His delivery reminds me of Billy Graham.
    Sorry. That is just what popped into my mind. Don’t you think?

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t take more than 2 minutes or so of his rant. He has a good point, but I can’t listen to his whining.

  3. Barry Lyons
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant! I just LOVE Jonathan Pie!

    • stephen
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:17 pm | Permalink



        • Mike
          Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          Fourthded ?

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    “Crows? What?” Wait does this mean, “When I see an Elephant Fly” won’t be in the new movie? “I’ve seen a vegetable truck.”

    There really is a totalitarian insistance on complete outword conformity. Like the Seinfeld where Kramer is participating in the AIDS run, but doesn’t want to wear the ribbon.

  5. GBJames
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy Pie’s rants quite a lot. That said, he can slide into reality-denial himself.

    (Perhaps, for example, he’s just unaware of the history of racial stereotyping in Disney cartoons?)

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps, but Pie is referring to a new Dumbo cartoon, and seriously, is Disney going to make a movie that is racist now?

      • GBJames
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Well… it isn’t all ancient history. Aladdin and Lion King were in the early-mid ’90s. Not that long ago to us oldsters.

        I don’t know what specifically Pie was reacting to with the “at least Dumbo isn’t racist” bit. But the comment isn’t inherently ridiculous. The original Dumbo was very much loaded with racist stereotypes. I presume the comment he was reacting to was something like “Tim Burton’s Dumbo, at least, isn’t racist”. That’s not an unreasonable reasonable thing to say, comparing two Dumbos.

        In any case, Pie’s comment here is that “of course it isn’t racist… it is a flying elephant”. That’s simply naive and implies that he is unaware that cartoons about flying elephants can very much be full of racism.

        • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Yes, agreed, and I remember that the black crows in the original Dumbo, seen in light of today’s morality, could be seen as racist. But that’s just one part of Pie’s rant.

          • GBJames
            Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            Well, they very much were racist. It’s just that racism was more acceptable then. (This isn’t a situation like Huckleberry Finn, or Little House on the Prairie. Disney wasn’t commenting on racism, he was just using it to sell tickets.)

            But, like I said in my first comment, I very much appreciate the Pie rants. But sometimes…. He’s human, too.

            • Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

              Not unlike Disney, Mark Twain was in the business of selling books. So was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Dumbo is racist in the same way that Huckleberry Finn and Little House are racist, except for the apparently unforgivable sin of a visual. (A fine example of early animation IMO.)

              A more important difference is that the song was composed and performed (along with his choir) by a black man who was an important figure in African American music, Hall Johnson. What’s to become of his legacy in the PC age? A Stepin Fetchit? An Uncle Tom? Like Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Walt Disney he was probably trying to make a buck, and making art.

              • GBJames
                Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

                Not a legitimate comparison, IMO. Twain was very much commenting on race relations in Finn. Disney was doing no such thing. I’ve never actually read Wilder’s books so I’m not in a position to comment on them.

                Black entertainers often participated in racially stereotyped roles in service of racist entertainment. You do what you have to to feed the family. That doesn’t mean that the roles they occupied were devoid of racism.

                I’d ask you, Stephen, this… are you saying that racism in entertainment didn’t exist at all because it was “art”? If not, where and how do you draw the line?

              • Lynn Wilhelm
                Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

                I have read the Ingalls books–in the past few years to my daughter. I was quite stunned by the racist writing that I needed to explain while reading.

                My daughter and I are both Caucasian so I didn’t need to worry about seeing either of us portrayed as less than human, but a person of color reading that book, or being read to–that could be truly denigrating to read or hear.

                I frequently have to explain a lot when watching older movies or TV shows now regarding racism and stereotypes we now regard as unacceptable (stuff only a few decades old).

          • nicky
            Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            I’m with Jonathan Pie on that one , he could easily elaborate: crows are effing black! Would you want effing flamingo’s?! etc.

          • Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            I only vaguely remember Dumbo and certainly not the crows. I’ll assume the crows were given personalities corresponding to black men. But were they really racist?

            I found and watched a clip here:

            Clearly the crows are caricatures of black people but why is that racist? The dialog doesn’t demean black people. They are mostly skeptical that an elephant can fly. Sounds perfectly reasonable. They have accents often associated with black people but some black people do have accents like that. Is it forbidden to portray them in media?

            According to the article white men supplied the voices. Obviously they could have employed black voice artists instead but that seems like a fairly minor point.

            What am I missing here?

            • GBJames
              Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink


              • Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

                Ok but they aren’t negative stereotypes. There’s nothing inherently wrong in stereotypes. Only when a stereotype is used to characterize someone’s individual traits is it unfair. The movie is not saying that all black people act and sound like those crows. It doesn’t seem to pass judgement on the crows at all. Most (all?) the characters in the movie are animals and there’s nothing really negative about the crow. If anything, they are considered very intelligent birds. Much smarter than owls.

              • GBJames
                Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

                Minstrels are negative stereotypes. It is what black people were “good for”… entertaining white folk. Shucking and jiving.

                Corvids are wonderful birds, but this is pretty much an irrelevant fact in this context.

              • Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

                By picking and choosing what is “irrelevant” and what is not, you can pretty much maintain any point of view you desire. In my eyes, they were much more crow than minstrel.

              • GBJames
                Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

                To hold your position you have to ignore history and pretend this clip exists in a cultural vacuum.

            • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

              “According to the article white men supplied the voices.”

              If they wrote that, it’s false.

        • BJ
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          Wait, what’s racist about Aladdin and The Lion King?

          • GBJames
            Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            Broader context…. “racial and ethnic stereotypes”.

            • BJ
              Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:15 pm | Permalink


            • GBJames
              Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

              That is true, Stephen. But that is a different comment from “it isn’t there”.

          • Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            I disliked the scantily clad Arab princess in Aladdin. I think this was non-educational, and also too sexualized for children. Not exactly racist, because Arabs are a culture.

        • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

          How was The Lion King racist? Everyone was animals.

          • GBJames
            Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

            Huh? There were no animals. There were characters represented as animals who talk to one another and do human activities.

            • Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

              That you see racism in The Lion King indicates it is a Rorschach test rather than actually racist.

              But fine — which aspects of the depictions of these not-animals do you find racist?

              • GBJames
                Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

                My understanding of Lion King is second hand, so I don’t want to overstate my case. But I understand from others that the bad guys are markedly inner-city and hispanic-voiced characters while the good guys sound generically “white American”. Is that not the case? (I ask that honestly… I don’t know if you’ve watched the film or not.)

              • Posted July 11, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

                Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin voice the malicious hyenas. Jeremy Irons voices Scar (essentially Claudius to Simba’s Hamlet), while Robert Guillaume and James Earl Jones voice sympathetic characters.

                It’s a diverse cast*, and I challenge your source or anyone to outline a detectable pattern of racial stereotyping.


              • GBJames
                Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

                The question isn’t who portrays characters it is what the character portrays.

                I’m still wondering if you’ve seen it yourself. (Honest question.)

              • Posted July 12, 2018 at 1:03 am | Permalink

                I took my young cousin to see it when it came out, and it was one of the few Disney movies I actually enjoyed.

                The three villains were voiced by a black woman, a hispanic man, and a British man. Two of the three main protagonists were voiced by black actors. That sounds like diversity, not racism.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted July 11, 2018 at 3:38 am | Permalink

          Lion King?
          What on earth was offensive about it?

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        You’re assuming that the original film is racist. It isn’t, in my opinion. It’s racial but not racist. There’s a difference — a big difference.

        Look at the notorious crow clip here:

        and read about the composer and voice performer Hall Johnson here:

        • GBJames
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Part of the minstrel tradition.

          We can argue over whether racial stereotyping constitutes racism, I suppose, but I’m not sure I have the energy to pursue it.

          • Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

            I thought the minstrel tradition was white men pretending to be black men by wearing black face. The crows are certainly caricature (as are most cartoon characters) but they are not seagulls blacked up.

            • GBJames
              Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

              Not so simple. Black men portraying stereotype black men for the benefit of white audiences. Weird, I know.

            • Paul Matthews
              Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

              “Gulls blacked up”. That’s very good.

        • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          I would think that the majority of kids today would have very little idea how the crows are racist.

          I never heard Miles Davis complain about the crows. He complained an awful lot about other things that were racist (rightly so). It’s art and it’s part of history.

        • nicky
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Those crows appear a nice bunch anyway. Moreover, if I’d see an elephant fly I’d have seen everything too. 🙂

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          I can see a racial stereotype there in the voices (now that someone has drawn my attention to it, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed particularly). But – racist? Hardly.

          I assume the other animal characters all have ‘white’ American voices of one sort or another? I suppose by the same token, that should count as anti-American since it’s equating Yanks to animals? No?



        • Thanny
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

          There’s nothing remotely racist in that clip.

          I dispute the sanity of anyone who says there is.

        • Lynn Wilhelm
          Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          It’s racist because they are black birds portrayed as black men in stereotypical roles and mannerisms.

          • Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            Please define this further. So uses of stereotypes in movies is forbidden? Even positive ones? Is every Sherlock Holmes portrayal persisting a stereotype of white English detectives of a certain era? It seems by this reasoning, pretty much everything goes away.

            • Lynn Wilhelm
              Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

              The problem occurs when a marginalized segment of the population is portrayed stereotypically–especially when that is the predominant way they are portrayed.

              • Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

                But you still haven’t specified what aspect of the marginalized segment shouldn’t be portrayed. Without that, you seem to be saying “marginalized segments can’t be portrayed in film”. Surely you aren’t saying that, right?

    • BillD
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      At the end he says”Crows? … I’ve never seen Dumbo”. This seems to me layered. That his character is dismissing complaints about something he doesn’t know anything about. I’d be interested to hear what other people made of that.

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        I agree. He is conceding the point there.

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        I agree as well. Here in Canada our best-known comedian is a fellow called Rick Mercer. He does a funny rant (usually political) on his weekly tv show but he doesn’t assume a character–the rant is what he actually feels about an issue. The rant in this post is more “nuanced”, a strange term to use about an expletive-ridden rant, I’ll admit, but what I mean is that while I assume that Tom Walker generally agrees with what he has his character, Pie, rattle on about (I don’t think this is a send-up), he also likes to poke fun at him and his dogmatic 100% certainty about things.

  6. Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Do you suppose he really thinks about what he is saying or just wants attention and an audience?

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I can see why someone who isn’t convinced of political correctness might signal their virtue to appeal to a PC audience but this is the first suggestion I’ve heard that someone might rant about political correctness while secretly harbouring PC views.

      Is that even a thing?

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Don’t remember sayings he was secretly PC. I will reread my comment just to be sure.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      You realize this is an actor portraying a comedic character?

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        And very well he does it too. Love the character of Jonathan Pie.

    • nicky
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      He’s making a point. Quite a good point.
      One can be PC without overdoing it, methinks. He’s clearly targeting the overdoing.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s all good. Bravo Pie.

  8. AC Harper
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I have this theory, based purely on subjective observation, that you can notice the minimum generational differences in someone 7 years older or 7 years younger than yourself. Obviously as the difference in ages increases the cultural differences increase too. As an example a work colleague of mine who was 7 years older was more ‘old fashioned’ in his views about women. I expect my children (roughly 4 times the 7-year band) probably think I’m old fashioned in my ideas about various things too.

    So if Dumbo by design or by cultural osmosis included racist tropes they were probably not remarkable in 1941. They may be apparent now, but there have been 11 7-year bands since then. 61 7-year bands ago since ‘Taming of the Shrew’.

    That’s a lot of background cultural change to dismiss carelessly.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      But we’re not talking about dismissing anything, carelessly or not. The question (to me) is simply whether making references to racism when talking about Disney cartoons is inherently ridiculous or not.

      (FWIW… racial/ethnic stereotyping in Disney cartoons was not limited to the 1940s. It continued well into 1990s.)

      • BJ
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know how you make a film that takes place in Arabia (Aladdin) or Sub-Saharan Africa (The Lion King), starring a handful of cartoon characters in a small, contained story, and completely avoid anything that anyone would call a stereotype. If there’s anything racist about those two films, I’m open to you or someone else demonstrating it, but merely pointing and saying, “well, it’s a stereotype to suggest that e.g. some people from that area wear a fez on their head” seems like a point so benign as to be irrelevant.

  9. Simon
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I think he is off the mark about vegans. I’d be surprised if there weren’t vegans popping blood vessels about eggs in salad emojis. Veganism is one religion you don’t want to cross.

  10. Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Very funny. Sort of a Lewis Black-style rant.

  11. BJ
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    “Stop politicizing my dumplings” should be a new rallying cry.

    “Don’t you think it’s great that Google fired James Damore?”


  12. BJ
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I could quote at least twenty different lines in this clip. How does he do this? How does he manage to get it done in a single take without reading from a script? It’s remarkable.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      I imagine people in his line of work are much better than the rest of us as far as remembering lines. But how do you know he doesn’t have a teleprompter beside the camera?

      • BJ
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I realized the teleprompter was a possibility after posting, but it seems impossible to deliver it in the manner he does if he’s reading from something.

        • GBJames
          Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

          Much too fast for a teleprompter.

          • BJ
            Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            Too fast and far too many realistic affectations, pauses, etc. Obviously he has an outline in his head, but it can’t be more than that while still maintaining the stream of consciousness impression.

        • Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          He’s certainly familiar with his material, I will grant you that.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Good standup comedians have fast brains. Think Robin Williams.

      • BJ
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, but it’s impossible for me to fathom.

  13. sang1ee
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Now I want to try a blancmange. That stuff sounds delicious.

    Also, I saw a doc that said the suffragettes in the US were forced fed through a tube while in jail, which sounds like a form of torture. I almost want to cheer their downward spiral into arson and pyrotechnics after hearing their stories.

    • Thanny
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      That was in the UK, and that was policy for any and all prisoners attempting to hunger strike.

      The suffragettes were violent terrorists, incidentally, who were not responsible in any way for women getting the vote.

    • Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      When I was a kid, I loved blancmange. Haven’t had any in decades though.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    “Note: the obscenity is thick and fast in this one.”

    Really? I only noticed the T word** once.


    (**That is, *rump, of course.)

  15. Merilee
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:09 pm | Permalink


  16. Merilee
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I had thought The Jungle Book had crows, but they are wiseguy Brooklyn and Cockney vultures.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Yet another racial/ethnic stereotype.

      • Merilee
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        I guess all critters need to talk with tv announcer accents? What about Pepe Le Peu(sp?)

  17. Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Racial and ethnic stereotypes are the mother’s milk of comedy.

    • TJR
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      Nowadays it is more often class or regional stereotypes rather than ethnic stereotypes (in Britain, at least).

      When a middle class comedian wants to signal that their character is stupid they usually put on a west midlands (Birmingham) or west country accent. When they want to signal that their character is racist then they give them a cockney accent.

  18. jimbo
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Part of me thinks he certainly has a good point, but then another part of me sees the latest video of a Trumpite shedding his inhibitions and yelling at and harrassing someone wearing a Puerto Rico T-shirt and I want to answer Pie’s question “Who isn’t anti-fascist?” with “Come over here and have a look at Trumpland!”

    • GBJames
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      That’s how I feel. The rants are great but then they wander over into denial of things that actually exist.

      • Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Pie’s “Who isn’t anti-fascist?” is not denying fascism exists.

        • GBJames
          Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          Huh? Yes it is. The implication is clearly that people are imagining fascism because everyone is against it.

          • Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            He’s saying that everyone respectable is anti-fascist. His objection is to calling virtually everything and everyone objectionable as “fascism” and “fascist” respectively.

            • GBJames
              Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

              No true Scotsman, eh?

              I don’t remember him saying anything about “respectable”. Did I miss that?

              That part of the rant makes no sense if he’s talking only about “respectable” people. The people he is ridiculing aren’t (I presume) concerned about “respectable” people.

              • Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

                No he didn’t say “respectable”. Since you are forcing me to be more accurate, I was allowing for the true fascists of the world as, presumably, they are not against fascism though they may claim to be.

  19. Lynn Wilhelm
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid that Pie has a lot of nerve denying that stereotypical and racist attitudes are still damaging to people.

    He’s a damned white man saying that “we live in the most inclusive” society or that his generation hasn’t had to struggle much for rights.

    He’s totally dismissing the experiences of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for rights he and others of privilege get handed at birth.

    I’m sorry that he and other white men (yes, you too Jerry) are tired of hearing about the struggles of others. Calling it “identity politics” is a way to dismiss everything you are tired of listening to.

    • Lynn Wilhelm
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Btw, it’s not clear from this bit that Walker is using Pie to portray people like Pie as wrong.

  20. Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I used to think that readers and commenters on this site were intelligent, fair,unbaised and independent thinkers. I am now rethink this after reading some of the comments. I think most of them entirely missed Pie’s point, which is that the virulent virtue-signalling of liberals against racism has broadened out its targets to include completely neutral, nonracist language and behavior. As a result this movement to erase or drastically modify public discourse is moving us not towards an open society valuing free speech, dissent and diversity but towards uniformity, conformity and authoritarianism, a herd mentality that leads the sheeple over the cliff. I support and fully support Jonathan Pie because he is mad as hell and won’t take it anymore, and because the liberals he excoriates are escaping scrutiny and have taken over the opinion marketplace and intimidated many people into silence and meek acceptance of
    the self-appointed virtuous, the new elite as it were. More power to people like Pie, who are wise enough to see where all this is leading….and it is not a happy place.

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