Tag Archives: stereotype

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part III)

We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about Whiteness, but maybe it’s time just to ask the question directly.

When I say something’s White, what image pops into your head?

Is it something like this?

Or something like this?

Or maybe one of these?

There is a certain image attached to White people, or the very least, generalized to White “culture.” That of the dork. The effete nerd. The bland, out-of-touch suburbanite, fearfully barricading themselves in their comfortable gated community.

And that’s a little ****ed up.

A little.

My day isn’t ruined when I hear a comedian lampoon White folks. I don’t fly into an indignant rage when someone cracks a joke about mayonnaise being too spicy. I certainly don’t think being called “Cracker” carries the same nasty implications as someone getting called “Nigger.”

But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me just a tiny bit. Continue reading

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My Problem With Ghost in the Shell (In A Nutshell)

I don’t think there’s anyone here who’s unfamiliar with the term “whitewashing” at this point.

It’s been a frequent topic of conversation here on Culture War Reporters, and while certainly not a new issue, it has been gaining wider and wider attention in recent years…


Most recently, the problem reared its ugly head in the form of Scarlett Johannson being cast in the live-action remake of anime classic Ghost In A Shell. Once again we’re seeing a traditionally non-white (in this specific case, Japanese) role being given to a white actor out of fear that audiences won’t watch movies with non-white leads. And if that were the only issue, I might have stuck with my usually political tirades and left this topic alone. But in the past few days, a shocking development has emerged in the story. Allegations have surfaced that the remake’s producers (and I quote) “Tested Visual Effects That Would Make White Actors Appear Asian“.

Or, as my best friend and this blog’s editor recently put it on Facebook:

“We think so little of you that we’d consider changing a White person’s appearance before entertaining the thought of casting an actual Asian.”

So yeah, I’m feeling compelled to write about this…

tthpnha

And let me tell you what really convinced me to submit the following rant. Continue reading

Stereotypes and Tokenism: What Daredevil Did Wrong and What Riverdale Appears to Be Doing Right

So right off the bat, I want to say that Arthur Chu of Jeopardy-winning fame has already done much of the groundwork for me with his [spoiler-filled] article “Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans“. In it he recounts his primary disappointment with the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil, namely that the Asians presented in that show are generally villains across the board.

daredevil2poster

Not only are they of an evil persuasion, they’re also, as the title of his piece implies, mostly ninjas. In terms of sheer volume the vast majority of Asians seen on screen during the season’s 13 episodes are that particular brand of martial artist. The rest are, in terms of representation, gangsters, white collar criminals, and crime lords. It is, as Chu says, “Not a good look.”

He picks the Kitchen Irish, a gang of an obvious ethnic background, as his primary example of the show using nuance with a people group. Matthew Murdock, the titular crimefighter himself, is of Irish descent, and another character nicknamed “Grotto” is a former member of the mob who elicits sympathy from both the show’s cast and its audience. While I understand that Irish heritage is unique and distinct from many others, and that people of Irish descent suffered extreme racism in early American history, what shouldn’t be ignored is the fact that on the surface they are White. As are the members of fellow gang the Dogs of Hell. As are Murdock’s friends Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. As is Frank Castle, the Punisher, as well as newspaper editor Mitchell Ellison. Television is full of White people, and with Daredevil being no exception simply stating that there are varied roles within even one subgroup feels like a given.

Unfortunately, Asians fail even when stacked up against other racial minorities. Continue reading

For Your Consideration: Asian Doctor Strange, Courtesy of Kurt Busiek

Some weeks will prove busier than others, and on those occasions I’m choosing to present all of you with something worth thinking about.

As you may know just last week I covered both sides of the debate over Daniel Rand, AKA Iron Fist, being played by a person of Asian descent. Of particular concern to the writer in the “for” camp was that the narrative within the comics pushes the idea of a White man entering a foreign land, mastering their arts, and ultimately rising up to be one of the greatest among them. It’s a trope that belongs to Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange just as much as it does to The Living Weapon himself.

Kurt Busiek is a writer who has been in the industry for decades, with a four year stint on Avengers being his greatest claim to fame. With an extensive biography that spans the Marvel universe he’s widely regarded in comic book circles as a professional who knows what he’s talking about. Roughly a week ago he began sharing over Twitter about how Doctor Strange was very likely intended to be Asian from the very beginning, or at least depicted in such a fashion. I’ve compiled all relevant tweets below, for your consideration [all tweets not by Busiek were retweeted by him]:

Continue reading

Asian Iron Fist: Point, Counterpoint, and My Two Cents

hi-yahhYesterday Entertainment Weekly revealed that Marvel had finally found their next star in Game of Thrones actor Finn Jones. The character he’ll be playing is Daniel Rand, AKA Iron Fist, the face of their fourth Netflix-exclusive series [following DaredevilJessica Jones, and the upcoming Luke Cage]. I could sum up who he is, but EW did a pretty good job with that in their coverage already:

“…Iron Fist is Daniel Rand, who at age of 9 travels with his family from New York to a lost mystical city called K’un-L’un. After some tragic twists of fate, Rand is adopted by the city’s ruler and taught advanced martial arts and the mystical power of the Iron Fist. As an adult, Rand returns to his native New York and begins a career as a superhero.”

In the comic books Danny is, much like his silver screen compatriots Captain America and Thor, White, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed. Ever since it was announced that he would be headlining his own show there has been a discussion over what race he should be, with Keith Chow over at Nerds of Color making his stance clear with his article “Marvel, Please Cast An Asian American Iron Fist“. As soon as the news hit my tumblr feed was flooded with like-minded individuals, with one post in particular that caught my eye, presenting the following two tweets-

-labeled “Point” and “Counterpoint”, respectively.

Now I have no intention of dedicating a large portion of this post to Liefeld, known in many comic book circles as being a man incapable of drawing feet [though now probably vastly more famous for co-creating Deadpool]. He also had just the two words to share, as opposed to a full article that Wheeler penned on the subject, so instead I’ve chosen to have Albert Ching of Comic Book Resources take his stead. Continue reading

Rachel Brown on Food, Religious Identity, and the Appeal of Muslim Extremists

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear PhD candidate Rachel Brown speak about her research on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities. I found Brown’s talk fascinating and contacted her soon afterwards; I wanted to find out if her work was publicly available so I could write about it here on the blog. While Brown has written a chapter on her work for an academic publication it hasn’t been published quite yet. Lucky for me, Brown was willing to share a draft with me. Throughout this interview I will be referring to, and occasionally quoting, that draft in order to give you context for the questions I ask Brown.

According to Brown, her “primary research interest lies in the study of immigrant religious experience and how members of immigrant communities negotiate their religious identities through food and food practices in their host countries.” In order to write on this topic, Brown conducted fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in both Paris, France and Montreal, Quebec.

This was the most French gif I could find.

Kat: Hi Rachel, thanks again for being willing to share your research with me and our readers. Before I dive into the questions I have from reading your draft, can I ask, what drew you to this area of study?

Brown: I came to the project out of a love of all things food and all things France. On one of my many visits, I noticed that how and what the Muslim community in France ate was a point of interest for media, politics, and everyday conversation on the street between friends and neighbours. There was clearly a subject to be addressed. I figured if I was going to be in the field for a year I might as well be somewhere I love and studying something I am passionate about, and so I set out to study the topic of food and religion. As I got further and further into the topic I realized just how essential food practice is to identity, especially religious identity and my research has grown exponentially ever since. The importance of food in religious identity negotiation for immigrants can be seen across a variety of locations and traditions.

Kat: I’m also curious about the technical side of things. Did you intentionally limit your case studies to individuals from the Maghreb? If yes, then why? Also, how did you go about arranging these interviews, or even making these connections in the first place?

Brown: I definitely limited my study to individuals from the Maghreb. I did this because the largest Muslim community in both France and Quebec comes from the countries of the Maghreb. This is not only because of proximity, of the Maghreb to France, but also because of a colonial history between France and the countries of the Maghreb. When one thinks of Muslims in France, this is most often the community that comes to mind.

In terms of arranging the interviews, this was a tough process. I started by going to the Grand Mosque of Paris and just getting to know people there. I had to build up trust, and spent many hours just helping out at the mosque in order to show that I was not a journalist (a profession folks are very hesitant of in France) and that I meant well with my research. After people got to know me, some started to agree to do personal interviews with me. Once I conducted the first interviews the people I interviewed then put me in contact with friends or family members to interview. So I followed a snowball methodology. It was not easy to get people to talk to me, but because my topic is such an approachable one (who doesn’t want to talk about food?), it made it a little bit easier to get people to agree to interviews. Having the personal connection, and a validation from friends or family members that had already done the interview was also key. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S4E15 “And the Fat Cat”: A TV Review

fatcatwhatever

There were a lot of great things in this episode. First and foremost, the A-plot, which involved Max and Caroline trying to blackmail venture capitalist Owen Charles Boyd after his cat impregnates theirs. The fact that I could wrap it up in a single sentence underscores its simplicity. Once you’ve established the premise you’re free to concentrate on jokes and the absurdity that spins out of it, and the former has some wins [the latter I’ll get to].

While we’re staying positive, it was nice to see them back up the fact that the two girls live in a bad neighbourhood. They’re always going on about how horrible their life is in their enormous apartment, so having honest to goodness evidence that what lies outside of it is women screaming [which, let’s face it, is pretty uncomfortable] and men running away [presumably from some recently committed crime] and garbage literally everywhere is nice. It’s the closest the 2 Broke Girls has come to “showing vs. telling” in a long time, even if it is undercut by the fact that they still reference stuff off-screen. I guess that’s my cue to get into a little bit of criticism.

chestnut

Those legs. Yikes.

Remember Chestnut? He’s been around since the first season but didn’t make an appearance until he absolutely needed to, for the Victoria’s Secret models to fawn over when they visited [S4E6]. On a similar note, we haven’t seen Nancy, their cat, since early last season, in “And the It Hole” [S3E8]. I totally understand that it’s hard to have live animals on set, but if it’s that difficult why bother “casting” them at all? To have a pet not appear for 30 episodes, or more than an entire season of the show, feels especially strange when one of the minor conflicts between Max and Caroline is how the latter is not a fan of said pet, while the former is.

To restate the first paragraph, I really do like the premise of the episode. I do. My problem is that someone in the writers’ room came up with it and they then had to sort of create a status quo out of thin air to support the narrative. Up to this point most of us had honestly forgotten that Nancy even existed. Except for me, of course, because- Continue reading