Jonas Brother mocks Asians with “slanty eye” pose

This photo, reportedly of Joe Jonas, shows him pulling his eyes back to mock Asians for a photo. Sigh. First Miley Cyrus, now a Jonas Brother — coincidentally, another Disney music and movie star — pulls his eyes back in a stereotypical slant for a photo.

Some people might wonder what the big deal is. It’s just a funny face (Cyrus, for one denied that it was mocking Asians at all).

All I know is, I grew up with (white) kids making the same face to me: leering, making buck-teeth smiles, pulling their eyes back and saying “Ah-so!” and laughing crazily like they’d just done something really clever.

It wasn’t cute or funny then, and it isn’t cute or funny now.

It made me sick to my stomach as a kid who felt disempowered, and seeing famous (white) people doing it now brings all the bile right back up again.

The face simply reminds me that many mainstream Americans of European ancestry think that all Asians — ALL ASIANS — are different from them and can be made fun of. And worse, the unspoken signal is that this is OK because these slanty-eyed people are so meek and so exotic and so… different from “us” that they’ll never complain or fight back or even object.

Well, more and more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are fighting back these days. And we have civil rights organizations like MANAA that can speak out for those of us who haven’t found our voice yet.

There are so many images of racial stereotypes in American pop culture history — my partner Erin Yoshimura gives a powerful, effective workshop on Racial Artifacts that includes Aunt Jemima, Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians and the Frito Bandito among them…. Some still exist, though they’ve been stripped of a lot of the overt racism that spawned them. Some, like the Fritos TV commercials, have gone by the wayside, but are available on YouTube in the original very racist versions and the later, cuter, “sanitized” versions.

Our society thrives on demarcating the tribal differences between people, I guess. It’s some deep-rooted genetic need to always create an us-vs-them dynamic.

Well, as a long-time “them,” I’m getting pissed off about all of this stupidity.

10 Comments to "Jonas Brother mocks Asians with “slanty eye” pose"

  1. April 8, 2009 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    What is it about celebs that appeal to tweenagers and their mocking of Asians? I truly do believe they think it makes them look even more adorable. WRONG!

  2. cognitis's Gravatar cognitis
    April 8, 2009 - 8:10 pm | Permalink


    I casually hit your site, since it’s one of few JA sites; but always your blogs seem to me more evocative and whiny rather than rational or disciplined and argumentative. Your most recent blog, like the past Miley blog, whined about typical despicable ridiculous American “pop stars (clowns for the illiterate and stupid)” insulting Asian-Americans; do you estimate such insults to gravely degrade Asian-Americans’ dignitas to the American populace? Roman civil law and even today Dutch, Danish, Thai, ad others’ law describes grave insult to the Monarch as a kind of treason: who insults the Monarch as the representative of the State insults the State, thereby rendering the State vulnerable. Recently America has suffered already grave insults to it’s dignitas in allies Russia and China advocating for dollar’s replacement, in Latin America’s rescinding trade pacts with US, in pirates with impunity depredating merchant ships in sea routes supposedly protected by US navy, among many other grave insults; so America’s security already has suffered as it declines into the worst depression since wartime. Do you estimate “pop stars” insults to Asian Americans to so degrade AAs as an ethnic minority such that, during difficult times like those of the LA riots, other ethnic groups more likely would attack AA property and persons?

  3. hapamama's Gravatar hapamama
    April 10, 2009 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    Maybe somebody should cut ’em, and then they’d stop with the mockery.

    Oh, perhaps that was the ghetto coming out of me at an inappropriate moment…

  4. hapamama's Gravatar hapamama
    April 11, 2009 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    🙂 I should probably say that I was kidding about that just to be clear.

  5. April 13, 2009 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    As a non-Asian American, I find this and other actions publicly mocking etnicities offensive and destructive. In response to Cognitas, racism is kept alive in dark secret places in the heart. Racism becomes publicly acceptable most often as humor. Once it is allowed to become public as humor it becomes more acceptable to express racism in other public forums. It fans the flames and is therefore quite dangerous. I have no sesnse of humor with regard to ethnic slurs.

  6. April 13, 2009 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    My apologies for lack of proofing, I actually do have a “sense’ of humor with regard to my own shortcomings.

  7. Otemba13's Gravatar Otemba13
    April 23, 2009 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    This is so stupid. I am very angered by the Jonas Brothers already. It is unfair of them to make fun of other races just because they’re “famous and popular ” with all my school friends. I love Asia and think that they need a good lesson with some Shinto or some kunai. Grrr! How can popular people think that they are soooo cool so they make fun of other races!? I am an american and even regular people that they go to school with are made fun of. Trust me, I know. Hopefully they apologize. My bestest friend is Korean and she is very p.o.ed at them. *growls* Stupid pretty boys.

  8. steve's Gravatar steve
    July 11, 2012 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

    As a asian guy myself. I find it even more frustrating when asians mock the typical asian stereotypes and put it up on media sites like youtube. That gives the impression to non asians that it is ok to make mock asians since asians are doing it themselves. They get comfortable in the belief that “its all a joke”.

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