Saturday, 5 March 2016

Please don't be playin' that racist card, Yonden!

Letter to South China Mornong Post:
Yonden Lhatoo encourages Asian Americans to “stand up to racism” (The Oscars: A wake-up call for Asians to stand up to racism, March 4).

Before commenting, I’d better “check my privilege” as seems required these days. I’m a white, middle-class, OAP male.  There, said it.  I’m married to a Chinese from Beijing, and we have a son, who is thereby Eurasian. Does that allow me to comment?  I hope so.  And this is it:

For goodness sake, let’s not encourage Asians, in America or elsewhere, to go down the “victimhood” path, spotting discrimination in every nook and cranny.  

Put aside the fact that neither Lhatoo nor NBA star Jeremy Lin seem to get that Chris Rock's and Ali G’s jokes about Asians were “meta jokes”.  That is, they were jokes about jokes and meant to poke fun at the very stereotypes that trouble Lhatoo and Lin.  They were poking fun at the stereotypes, gedditt?

Still, put that aside and assume that the jokes were indeed directed at (rather that with), Asians. So what?  Get over it.  Rise above the silly “find-an-offence-at-any-cost” brigade.  There’s no end to that game and it’s a very slippery slope indeed.

This is not simply my own “white privileged” view, but that of my wife, son and our other Asian friends.

Instead of grovelling in self-abnegation, the folks associated with the Oscars should be celebrating the huge strides made in recent decades.  Did you see the diversity of the audience?  Did you see that the mega-hit Star Wars had a black lead?  Do you see the many Asian faces in the entertainment industry, playing serious roles, not just stereotypical nerds or shifty-eyed Fu Manchus?

There’s a reason Jacky Chan plays a “kung-fu clown rather than a serious actor”.  And that’s because he is a kung-fu clown and not a serious actor.  And, sorry Yonden, but Chow Yun-fat is not much better.  Talent is also required to make it in Hollywood, not just a hyphenated identity.

In short, leave it be, Yonden!  Please don’t be encouraging more race-based identity whinge-mongering. It’s just too boring.