Reaction to �Outsourced' Sitcom Would Disappoint Our Forebears

Don Tennant

Last May, when my colleague Ann All wrote that NBC had announced plans to air a sitcom called 'Outsourced' this fall () I had a hunch that basing a comedy on the premise of outsourcing jobs to India might not go over too well in some quarters. A reader who commented on her post set the tone for what was to come:

This will be really funny if the A$$ ho!e$ at NBC get outsourced to some jocky or pullstart country. Whoever sponsors this should lose everything also. Then we can make a sitcom about that!!!

I'm not entirely certain what a 'jocky' country� is, though my sense is that it's a reference to the derogatory term 'camel jockey.' And I guess the 'pullstart' reference has to do with a country being so backward that it lacks electric starters on machinery, or something along those lines. In any case, the slurs were consistent with the sort of hate-speak that's come to be expected when the topic of offshore outsourcing is discussed in an open forum.

As the fall TV season approaches and the countdown to the airing of 'Outsourced' becomes more feverish, the calls to boycott NBC are mounting. An NBC online message board is full of indignant, angry comments like this one, posted a few days ago:

I can't understand why NBC would actually find this suitable as a show worthy of the AMERICAN viewing audience. Are they just closing a blind eye to everything that is so wrong with the current situation of so many Americans are losing everything we have worked so hard for? I do consider myself at this time to be one of the lucky ones who does have a job that pays enough to make ends meet, but, as a human being I see no humor in a situation that is allowing so many of my fellow AMERICANS to go without the bare necessities. This is not comedy. Therefore, NBC will be deleted from my viewing channels until the show is officially pulled from the air and a public apology is made to the citizens of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA by the executives of NBC. I'm sure the moderator will delete my post but there are other boards that I will post to as well that NBC has no control over.

This particular comment got me thinking about the United States of America. I've spent a lot of time in other countries, and I can tell you that we Americans are widely admired for what traditionally has been our ability to keep a sense of humor even when times are tough. We've always been able to laugh at ourselves and to cope with our difficulties through levity. It occurs to me that being a prisoner of war is hardly an inherently laughing matter, yet 'Hogan's Heroes' was one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.

All of the handwringing over this show about offshore outsourcing is troubling. It bespeaks� the emergence of a communal lack of self-confidence, resiliency and perseverance that have defined the character of this country for more than two centuries. We've allowed a natural economic shift to beat us down, when far worse circumstances failed to intimidate our forebears. They would no doubt be disappointed, and not by the executives at NBC.

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