Dialogue on anti-Semitism and homophobia with Honey Badger’s Randall
The immensely talented Randall—the auteur behind the wildly popular animal series of YouTube videos that includes the hilarious, not-safe-for-work The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger short—has had his share of trials and tribulations stemming from intolerance of his religion and sexual orientation … but they haven’t stopped him from producing some of the most brilliant, innovative content on the Internet while living his life as a gay Jewish man.
Recently, he took the time to be interviewed for this Times of Israel blog about his experiences with prejudice, as well as the driving forces that enable him to transcend such ignorance, a goal he has achieved with wit, grace and aplomb. Combine that with his efforts to ensure the conservation and welfare of all creatures great and small, and you have one truly brave, admirable fella. Check his comments out below.
Q: Anti-Semitism and homophobia often, unfortunately, go hand in hand and are linked through bigots’ fear of people who are different from them. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism and/or homophobia in your personal life and/or career, and if so, how did you counter such cases of prejudice?
Randall: I have, sadly, experienced both in my life. Without getting into those horrible times, I will say I’ve always tried my best to counter such behaviors with love and humor. Sometimes, I’ve even made my attackers laugh, and that to me is sorta my way of winning such battles. It’s like, you hated me a second ago, but I just made you laugh and forget for a moment why the f*** you were even yelling such crazy s*** at me! So, trust me—it works. You know, such behaviors come from deep fear and ignorance. I really feel bad for anti-Semites and homophobes in general. They’re missing out. Closed minds sink ships!
Q: In what way has being a (totally fabulous) gay Jewish man informed or affected your work, and just how fine is the line between ethnic/gender humor and stereotype? Is there a way to navigate it without overstepping it?
Randall: Luckily, (and thank you so kindly for your loving words!) with what I do, gender and sexual preferences don’t mean a donkey’s ear! I have yet to experience anything based on these things so, I am certainly blessed in this regard. I think just being oneself and not worrying so much about letting who you are affect your work is the secret to success. When we focus on such things, it only pulls away from the work at hand, you know? I refuse to be judged for bursting into a Yiddish rage before I speak before an audience! Or scorned for observing Passover or attending the Gay Pride parade! This being said, I do think the fine line has been pushed over the years, but not really. It seems we’ve reached this age of over-sensitivity which really started with the birth of our politically correct nation! At the same time, nothing is sacred. I feel it’s almost as though everything has kinda already been done by now, so the only thing to do is push the envelope further or something! Like, what can we get away with here? “Can I use such language if I myself am a ‘fill in the blank.’” It’s crazy. Truly, Julie!
Q: Your work with animals of all kinds, as well as your support of causes concerning them, had been extraordinary. Is there anything we can learn from the wild kingdom about tolerance and bigotry?
Randall: Thank you so much—I just adore wildlife, and we really need them here on this planet! So many species’ numbers are dwindling—it’s really horrifying. Change in habitat is the most common cause— but this is another conversation entirely! I’m, like, forever in awe of how much one can learn from nature and wildlife! We must be tolerant like the big cats (tigers, lions, cheetahs, panthers, jaguars, bobcats)—they are not only confident in who they are, they stand strong and proud among others in the wild kingdom. They aren’t about to see a big kitty therapist and change who they are, you know what I mean? They take a lot of heat for being aggressive and “too hungry,” but they let the hubbub and riffraff slide off their backs. Very tolerant. To deal with bigotry and the like, one must become the honey badger and not let anything stop them from whatever it is they need to do. Bigotry spawns bullies and other such a******s. The trick is not to let it get you down. One must have a strong understanding of “not giving a s***,” since whatever comes out of the bigot bully’s mouth is ignorant and nonsense anyway, and comes from fear—honey badger don’t care! Honey badger gotta do what honey badger gotta do! Ain’t nothing gonna stop the honey badger: hyenas, tigers, lions, snakes or bigots! I mean, honey badgers smack the Shih Tzu outta cobras, pass out, then get back up for more—I think we can learn a lot from this!