Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | stereotype
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(NOTE: Updates posted at bottom, including more parodies as they're posted and more crazy stuff from Pete Hoekstra as he says them). This ad was shown during the Super Bowl, but only in Michigan, where former Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra is running to unseat Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. The 30-second spot shows a pretty young Asian woman in what looks like...

Racist "Fee Ling yu Variation of the racist "Fee Ling yuI'm starting to dread Hallowe'en. It seems like every year, there's some new offensive costume that makes racist fun of Asians or perpetuates a racial stereotype. I wrote about this back in 2002, when a really sick costume called "Kung Fool" was sold. Today I read AngryAsianMan.com and saw that mainstream America once again thinks it's cool to manufacture a caricature of Asians into a mass-market costume: One that's even available on Amazon.com. The Fee Ling Yu mask is disgusting -- the mask itself is bad enough, but there are variations being sold and shown online that include a different cap and thick round glasses. I grew up with this image of myself and others like me. It's incredible and sad and horrifying... downright scary... that I still have to see this now, decades later. Some of the annual parade of costumes simply perpetuate a stereotype, like geisha costumes and wigs that are standard fare.

The Lucky Fortune iPhone app tells fortunes in an offensive "ching-chong" accent.I realize that when I point out how something as seemingly benign as the "won ton" font bugs me, readers might think I'm being petty and overly sensitive. But I hope those readers will respect my opinion if something does piss me off. Plus, I hope everyone can understand why certain things are just plain offensive to Asian Americans, not as a result of over-sensitivity but simply because they're racist stereotypes. One of them is the "ching-chong' accent that comes out of the http://www.funvidapps.com/Site/LuckyFortune.html">Lucky Fortune iPhone app, which Apple has approved for its iPhone App Store while they turn down other apps. Both Jennifer 8 Lee's Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog and Gawker have pointed out that this app is racially offensive. The Gawker post includes a video of the app in action. It's a cute idea at first: You break open a fortune cookie, and hear one of a series of pre-recorded fortunes. The problem is the voice that reads the fortune is a fake Chinese accent -- the kind I've heard all my childhood and even as an adult, when a racist taunts me. "Go back where you came from, Jap/Chink/Nip/Gook," go the echoes in my head today.Asian Americans call it a "ching-chong" sound, a phony rendition of what a white person think is the sound of Chinese.

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.

Singer and actress Miley Cyrus with friends in a racist "chink-eye" pose. The photo is making the rounds on the Internet. 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?

Sept. 24 update: Good news -- CBS appears to have pulled all of the Farnfucious clips off their YouTube channel. It's hard to believe that a major U.S. broadcast network can get away with it, but there it is on YouTube: "Farnfucious Say," a regular (apparently) skit on the "Farnsworth & the Fox" show produced by CBS. The show's co-host, "Farnsworth," is a puppet a la "Sesame Street" and the "Fox" is (not surprisingly) a woman cast for her sex appeal. "Farnfucious" -- they couldn't even spell the pun on Confucius correctly -- is a puppet character with Fu Manchu mustache and traditional Chinese-looking garb, talking in a slimy broken Chinese accent the way white people like to parody Asians speaking. The puppet is introduced by a woman's voice speaking in the same cheesy accent intoning, "And now, anothah episode... of Farnfucious!" and afterwards the outro: "Words of wisdom... from Farnfucious!"

The characters Harold and Kumar, played by APA actors John Cho and Kal Penn, are like embarassing uncles who fart in public and cuss and tell stupid jokes. In fact, in lots of ways, Harold and Kumar are stupid jokes. But like those uncles, you have to embrace them when you see them, even though you wince every time they walk in the room. That's because in their 2004 debut, Cho and Penn's characters smashed Asian American stereotypes about being the model minority. Cho played Harold, an earnest numbers-cruncher by day who has the hots for a hot neighbor and has the internalized heart of a slacker; Penn's Kumar is the slacker externalized. He's a pot-hound and horndog and crude as he can be, always trying to drag Harold into his slackdom. Kumar is supposed to become a doctor, and it turns out he's quite capable, except he's pathologically incapable of following his ethnically preordained career path. The two go on a marijuana binge and seek out a White Castle burger, or more accurately, a whole bunch of 'em, to assuage their munchies. (It helps to understand the plot if you've enjoyed the strange pleasures of a tiny White Castle "slider.")