meus intuitus

Archive for the ‘racism’ Category

Mediocre Comedy with a Touch of Yellowface

with 6 comments

The Hangover was an amusing movie, but my experience was soured by the little Asian man caricature written into the plot.  I am no expert on the issues facing minority actors in America, but let’s be honest.  There are two kinds of minority roles you will see in mainstream media and theater:  Ones that are legitimate and ones that are there for white people to laugh or gawk at.  Sorry, my characterization of the latter is unfair…  ones that are there for people not-of-that-race to laugh or gawk at.

I’m sure Ken Jeong is a decent and intelligent man, but when he popped out of the trunk of that Benz naked, exposed himself emasculated, laid a beating on the white protagonists, and screeched at them in that beautiful accent, I couldn’t help but lose respect for him.  Oh, and I loved that bit later on–what did he say?  “Suck my little Chinese balls.”

That is what it is all about, really, respect and balls, and most male Asian roles have none–unless, of course, they are backflipping and axekicking.  I don’t hate hate Ken Jeong, Bobby Lee, or other actors (be they black, white, asian, hispanic, middle-eastern, or indian American) for stereotyping themselves.  I recognize that they are only being complicit in an industry that has always been as tough as it is prejudiced–but at what cost do they earn their bread?  They earn it not only by selling their souls, but also by selling the dignity of the people they represent.  Yellow/black/red face amused the masses years ago.  Damning stereotypes amuse the those who do not know better today.

Of course, all of us (myself included) hold racial prejudices.  We have grown up in a prejudiced society; we get it from our parents, our friends, the media, etc.  As such, prejudice in society is like smog in a city–sometimes it is obvious and visible, other times it goes unnoticed, either way, we are always breathing it in.  Still, we all have a responsibility to clean it up (B. D. Tatum, Defining Racism).

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Written by meusintuitus

June 21, 2009 at 8:14 pm