Entertainment

Why Fez’s character from the show from the 70s did not age well

The name “Fez” has a double meaning in the context of “That’s 70s Show.” To begin with, a fez is a traditional hat worn by Muslim men. And by “traditional” we mean it’s about as much of a caricature of Muslim culture as the conical hat (via NBC News) is for Asians. The other meaning – which is more explicitly stated by the other characters – is that it is a nickname / acronym for “Foreign Exchange Student” that his friends had to give him because they could not pronounce his real name.

Of course, Fez was a foreign exchange student. After all, what other reason could there be for a young brown man with a “fun” accent to be in largely white, Christian, English-only suburbs, USA? He certainly could not have been born there, and since the United States was considered the world leader at the time, what eager young student would not want to travel to a “superior” country to get a good education? The sarcastic quotes are there for a reason by the way. In a nutshell, Fez’s entire existence was based on unflattering racist stereotypes.

On top of that, the authors left his ethnicity and nationality on purpose guard per Screen Rant. Sure you can argue that they were piggybacking of similar comic nature ambiguities for a laugh (like the old “It’s Pat” draws on “Saturday Night Live”). But if you look at the broad spectrum of race-based jokes that Fez was either behind or contributing to, it can also be said that they left his origins a mystery so they could maximize the amount of stereotype-based bricks, they could milk from his character.

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