Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | race
60
archive,paged,category,category-race,category-60,paged-4,category-paged-4,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode-theme-ver-11.0,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive

asiangirlz Los Angeles-based rock band Day Above Ground made a big deal of its July 27 debut video release of "Asian Girlz," but it's backfired and led to intense condemnation from Asian and Asian American groups and individuals. Add me to the list, please. This song and accompanying video is offensive on so many levels I'm practically speechless. It traffics in lowbrow racial stereotypes and low-bro sexual braggadocio about its subject line, Asian women. The combined IQ of the group must be abut 10, given their pre-teen horniness and neanderthal attitudes. It's hard to imagine any other intent -- social satire commentary, a criticism of sexual objectification of Asian women, clumsy attempt at post-racial parody -- than a bunch of dudes who fantasize about Asian women and their "creamy yellow thighs... slanty eyes" and other body parts. I hate the ching-chong wonton font that's used for the title credits. I hate the ching-chongy intro melody that evokes Asia Hollywood-style which crops up at various points in the song. It's an aural code as immediately identifiable as buck teeth and squinty eyes. I hate the smug white privilege that oozes from the singers' faces as they croak "You're my Asian girl." And I hate the creepy strip tease participation of model Levy Tran as she goes from enjoying these pint-sized pinheads' attention as they sing to her from a birdcage to letting them jump into the bathtub with her and swim between her legs. Yuck. I mean, really yuck.

(Note: KTVU attempted to use copyright law to remove this video clip even in instances, like mine, where the clip is essential to the discussion about it, for critical journalistic purposes. The station said it was removing the clips to protect the Asian community: "By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others.” It didn't take long for the attempt to fail.)
See Updates at bottom
Seriously? San Francisco TV station KTVU aired a monster of a mess, when its anchor read the purported names of the pilots on Asiana flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco Airport. During the noon newscast, anchor Tori Campbell said the pilots were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. Really? Seriously? Think about it -- look at the names. Use one or two brain cells. And no, they're not even close to being Korean names. Ugh, this is as bad as it gets. It's not funny, and it's a sad and unfortunate reflection of the state of the news industry. This is a tragic FAIL on a couple of levels: 1. Who would submit such a nasty, racist "news release" to media? Do they think it's funny? 2. How could a news organization -- especially in San Francisco, which is not only where the crash occurred but a city with a very large and diverse Asian population -- accept this kind of claptrap without either confirming it, or just plain LOOKING AT IT? (Here's an AP story that ran, among hundreds of papers, in the SF Examiner from July 8 that lists two of the pilots' names as released bu Asiana.) 3. What's the chain of evidence that sees these names when they're submitted? Producers? Directors? Reporters? Anchors (she obviously didn't catch it)?

asianarecisttweets I shouldn't be surprised or disappointed anymore, and accept the fact that there will always be idiotic people in the United States who probably function perfectly normally most of the time, and then turn into stupid racist haters the moment there's some sort of tragedy in the world that involves people of color. Two years ago, I was dumbfounded that Americans would rant and rave about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and claim it was somehow "god's revenge" for Pearl Harbor. What? But the glibness and ease with which such racist drivel finds its way from pea-brained individuals to the social webs is still shocking. Here I've been following the crash of the Asiana jetliner at SFO (an airport I often fly to and from) as a human tragedy, but a miracle with only two casualties. I've felt empathy for the families of the two schoolgirls who were killed, and the many survivors who were injured. But the fact that most of those onboard survived -- and that 123 survivors were able to walk away without being hospitalized -- is nothing short of amazing. But of course, the human stories of the crash don't matter to the racists who immediately feel the need to respond with jokes about Asian stereotypes (we're lousy drivers, har har) and hateful cracks about North Korea (hellooo, Seoul is in South Korea, and this was not an attack by Kim Jong Un on the US). That such a lowbrow, juvenile mentality switches on so quickly shows that racism and prejudice are still alive and well just beneath the veneer of political correctness that the haters always complain about. Scratch the veneer just a bit with a news event like this tragedy, and you'll see nothing but ugliness ooze out. That's why I write about these issues over and over.

This awesome commercial, titled "Just Checking," for the popular cereal Cheerios, the first snack of choice for generations of families with kids, has hit a nerve with people who object to the multicultural family it depicts. It shows an adorable mixed-race little girl asking her white mother if Cheerios is good for the heart. Mom answers that according to the...

bravo-princesses-show Bravo to the Bravo TV network. And Bravo to Michael Yaki, a former City of San Francisco supervisor who is now a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. When Yaki wrote to the network to complain about the use of the term "JAP" to describe a "Jewish American Princess" on a new reality show, "Princesses: Long Island," Bravo agreed immediately to stop using the term, both in its promotions and in the show. Yeah, yeah, bring out the anti-P.C. police, and tell me that I'm being too sensitive, and that if Jewish people wanna use the term "JAP" they have the right. Let it all out. Vent. The thing is, not all Jews are OK with the term -- even in the early '80s when the Jewish American Princess term was widely used as a lighthearted (but still ethnic) slur, there were people who thought the term itself was offensive, never mind the acronym. And pretty much every Japanese American I know cringes at the use of "J-A-P" even if it's used as an abbreviation for Japan, or as an acrobym for Jewish American Princess.

mikado I recently blogged about a video produced by the City of Los Angeles – using taxpaper money – that was originally produced with good intentions: Explaining the importance of recycling water. But to make its point, the video used a ghastly, stereotypical caricature of geishas played by non-Asians with painted faces wearing kimonos, including one played by a non-Asian man. Of course, they spoke in “ching-chong” Japanesey accents. It's disturbing that it's OK even in 2013 to caricature Asians with the most shallow racial stereotypes -- ones that have been used to depict us for 150 years. There’s a long tradition in Hollywood and show business in general of “yellowface” – non-Asians (usually Caucasians) cast as Asians. The most egregious example is probably the horrid character of Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s," in which Mickey Rooney played the part to the hilt with buck teeth, thick glasses, squinty eyes and a terrible accent. But wait, there's more! He played a perverted lech of a photographer who keeps trying to shoot pictures of his downstairs neighbor Holly Golightly (imagine this name pronounced in a horrible fake Japanese accent), played by Audrey Hepburn. There are many, many examples of yellowface going back to Katharine Hepburn and Marlon Brando playing Chinese and Japanese characters with their eyes taped back in classic films such as “Dragon Seed” and “Tea House of the August Moon,” all the way to last year’s big-budget sci-fi flick “Cloud Atlas,” in which Hugo Weaving (of “Matrix” and "Lord of the Rings” fame) was among the cast who played both white and Asian parts, with hideously phony-looking makeup. It's not just on the big screen. Yellowface has also been a tradition on the stage, and I happened to see two plays recently that used elements of the practice, with varying results. Gilbert & Sullivan’s famous 1885 comic opera “The Mikado” is known for its social satire; the musical pokes fun at British politics and society by using Japan as the setting for its wacky love story. But the Japan it portrays is the Japan that people in the late 1800s fantasized about: Exotic, utterly foreign and just plain strange. To ensure that it only depicts simpleminded stereotypes, W.S. Gilbert based the play on a fictional Japan that had just been opened to Western commerce, but he didn’t bother to do any research to make his portrayal of Japanese culture realistic at all. Instead, he named the village where “The Mikado” takes place “Titipu” and gave his characters improbably names such as “Nanki-poo” and “Yum-Yum.”

I'm glad Colorlines, via @Katchow, posted this clip of film critic Roger Ebert from 2002. I was going to track it down and post it myself, but they did the work for me. Ebert attended the screening at Sundance that year for "Better Luck Tomorrow," the landmark Asian American film that turbocharged the careers of, among others, director Justin Lin and actors such as John Cho and Sung Kang. The dark film turned the "Model Minority" Asian stereotype on its head, by following a group of Southern California Asian American high school students who are not model citizens.