There’s no doubt that Fat Joe has already devolved into a threadbare trope/stereotype. I may be wrong but there are two reasons why I think I can get away with it.
The first is that you can get away with calling the rabbit dish with no rabbit at all “Welsh Rarebit” because it’s an old stereotype. It ran its course or something, or maybe there just aren’t enough Welsh people in the U.S. to care. Schoolyard kids call not paying up on a bet “Welshing”, and I call Scots “cheap” all the time and nobody seems to mind. My bet is we could make fun of Carthaginians, Vandals, and Ostrogoths to our hearts content and nobody would care. As you point out, the Irish mob is mostly in the history books. They caught Whitey Bulger, didn’t they? I might be pushing the statue of limitations on Fat Joe, but I think I’m OK.
The second reason I think I can get away with it is because I am 7/8 Irish-American. Now, I’ve gotten in trouble here before… trading in racial stereotypes and then flashing my “I’m one of them too” card, so before anyone (and I don’t mean you, Peter, but pardon me while I use your funny and light-hearted post to launch into one of my most familiar rants) lectures me on my self-hatred or on the harm caused by mocking the Irish (and when I say “Irish” I almost always mean Irish-Americans and would ask the “real Irish” to refrain from reminding me, once again, that I have no understanding or claim to their culture), here is what I once posted as a response to a schoolmarm on Gawker whom I imagine had just finished reading The Hunger or joining the Royal Hibernian Society:
You should lighten up. Nobody here has forgotten or denied the past. As I said elsewhere, the Irish have arrived in America. Ruminating on past sorrows and injustice is of great import, so long as it leads to greater empathy for the current souls who occupy our former ghettos and face the racism and scorn that my great-grandfather faced. Yet, if instead of empathy and compassion the recitation of our history reinforces a cocktail of triumphalism and victimhood to fuel scorn for those that now feel the full weight of oppression, then it is of no use.
I joke about the stereotype because the Boston Irish were lead in an anti-progressive and racist direction by politicians like James Michael Curley who invoked tribalism as a way to achieve political power and enrichment. In Boston and New York, we’ve done as much to others as was done to us.
As for drink, you’re right that the poor and powerless often find refuge in drugs and alcohol, whether it’s the gin-swilling Dutch of the 1600s or Native Americans huffing today. If you’ve read the Islandman by Thomas O’Crohan or anything about post-famine Irish “stem” families, you may be convinced that “pub culture” is something more than just savagery. There is plenty that is stupid about puking up green beer, but a parade of Pioneers that have taken the oath is no party at all.
Look, I know I was being offensive but I didn’t think my comments would be taken that seriously. I believe it is worthwhile to investigate and discuss the treatment of the Irish in America and our great success in this country, but anyone aware of that history who looks at the Washington Redskins logo and doesn’t see it for what it is, or who flips out at the use of the term “paddy-wagon” and equates it with the n-word (none of which you’ve done, nor would I expect you to from your comments above)… anyone who does those things has warped history to reinforce their own chauvinism.
So, in short, I think it’s OK to make fun of Fat Joe. Now the fat part…