From Angry Asian Man: Miley Cyrus, the super popular teen pop star for her Hannah Montana song-and-dance act (she’s also the daughter of country singer Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus), is shown with a group of friends in a photo making the rounds online, pulling back her eyes in a “chinky” or “slanty-eye” pose.
It’s clearly a racial stereotype, the same kind of stupidity practiced in photos last year by the Spanish Olympic basketball team and the Spanish national tennis team team.
What kind of role model is that for young girls?
What’s a young Asian American girl supposed to think when she sees the photo? That she deserves to be the butt of racial stereotypes? Or a young European American girl? That it’s perfectly fine to make fun of people who don’t look like you?
The Organization of Chinese Americans has demanded an apology that says it all:
The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent.
“Not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American fans,” said George Wu, executive director of OCA. “The inclusion of an Asian Pacific American individual in the photo does not make it acceptable.”
“OCA hopes that Miley Cyrus will apologize to her fans and the APA community for this lapse in judgment and takes the opportunity to better understand why the gesture is offensive.”
This makes me want to throw up.
And what’s with the Asian guy next to her, anyway? How does he feel about all this?
UPDATE: Here’s a statement from the Japanese American Citizens League‘s National Youth/Student Council, released this evening:
The Japanese American Citizens Leagueâ€™s National Youth/Student Council (JACL NY/SC), the youth body of the largest Asian Pacific American civil and human rights organization in the nation, is greatly dismayed with the photograph of Miley Cyrus and friends slanting and narrowing their eyes in an effort to mock Asian Pacific Americans.
The JACL NY/SC is well-versed in the racial mockery displayed by Ms. Cyrus. As Asian Pacific American youth and students, we recall the instances of childhood ignorance where classmates would pull back their eyes in jest. The pain the gesture evokes is powerful. This gesture is a harsh and constant reminder that Asian Pacific Americans are treated differently and not accepted as equals. It is a bold statement that uses Asian Pacific Americansâ€™ immutable characteristics, characteristics we cannot alter, as a way to isolate and alienate us. As members of Ms. Cyrusâ€™ generation, we condemn this behavior as insensitive and inappropriate.
Ms. Cyrusâ€™ fan base is extensive and encompasses members of our organization. Many of us consider Ms. Cyrus as a role model who has now offended a portion of her fans. It is difficult to simply dismiss this as a prank when it is a source of anguish for so many Asian Pacific Americans. We hope that Ms. Cyrus recognizes the error of her conduct and offers an appropriate apology to deter future similar behavior.
Update Feb. 6: Miley Cyrus doesn’t just issue a “non-apology apology,” she comes out swinging at critics, pouting on her blog that the media are lining her up to be the next Britney Spears bad girl. She says she and her friends were just making “goofy” faces. “”In no way was I making fun of any ethnicity,” she insists, and says the photo was taken out of context (what, there are more???). Here’s another story from the Guardian in the UK.
Miley–say it ain’t so! Seeing this picture is like finding out America’s Sweetheart tortures cats, or cusses out waiters. This is unbecoming behavior and reveals ignorant, redneck roots. Miley, you are so unworthy!
I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.. she’s young, somewhat sheltered.. but i have to wonder why her first instinct is to pull her eyes back when someone with a camera says, “Quick! Make a goofy face!”
I find it puzzling that the people besides Miley and the guy to the far left (doing the chinky-eye pose), have all squinted their eyes (and the lone Asian guy appeared to pose normally) when supposedly told to make a “goofy” face.
I feel for you, “people”! It makes even someone like me sad. I’m not Asian at all but this whole thing looks stupid, almost pathetic! How could she do that? I don’t understand. This is just insane! And I don’t think ‘you’ “people” (sorry..) should feel any pain from all this, I really don’t. Asians are doing extremely well in this country – in this world! You guys are great in the computer science industry (heck! My old computer programmer was Chinese – the best I’ve ever worked with! He was great as a person and the smartest guy – as a programmer). You guys are great in music (a favorite pianist of mine is Mitsuku Ochida (I may have misspelled it)). You guys are great in Sports. I don’t see why anyone should discriminate against you ppl. You are the best – as people – in the whole world, I mean it! A lot of Asians, all the Asians that I know, are sweet, smart, good and responsible people. I can’t praise you guys enough. I think this whole country knows this. You guys are great doctors. Great at everything! I don’t see how this stupid and infantile photo and pose would put you ppl down. Pay no mind to this nonsense, I beg you!!
Hi Amir, no offense, but I have to hope you’re being sarcastic with your comment. The “Model Minority” myth is as damaging to Asian Americans as a outright shot of hate language. Even if it’s “good” stereotype, the fact remains, it’s a stereotype.
Not all Asian Americans are straight-A students who go on to great careers in engineering, medicine and sports (usually don’t hear that one). A lot of Asian Americans are just like… well, Americans.
So relying on the stereotype of the model minority doesn’t really help us when we’re confronted by something as blatantly stupid and racist as Miley Cyrus’ slanty-eyed pose, which simply reminds us how much we’re still “the other” even after decades of the good stereotype and generations of assimilation.
That’s the common plight of all people of color in the US of A, I’m afraid.
Thanks for your thoughts, Amir.
uhm, did you guys notice that in the photo she’s with multiracial teens? one of them is asian, too!
i’m race-mixed white/middle-eastern male. do you think i haven’t felt alienated? well i have. but, this is america. the person who takes offense to this is the problem, not the other way around.
on that note, your the “achy breaky heart”.
am i asian? no iam not
by the way your really cool! in that chinky act