Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Invisible Minority

Stereotypes and Representation in Popular Culture

In my quest to find a game I can enjoy as much as Dark Souls, I tried a game called 1954 Alcatraz. It’s a point-and-click adventure game set in–guess which year!–1954 and centers around an African American man who is in Alcatraz for a heist he committed. You can control him and his (white, beatnik) wife who is on the outside trying to figure out what happened. It has all the trappings of a point-and-click, both good and bad*, but there was something there that kept me playing. Until I met the landlady, Vivian. She’s Chinese and owned a restaurant. Now, I don’t mind that she owned a restaurant as many Chinese people did back then. What I do mind is that she spoke in that cringe-worthy pidgin English accent that people who don’t speak Chinese attempt when trying to imitate a Chinese person. The minute I heard it, I gritted my teeth and cringed, but I tried to play through it. She gave me a ridiculous request of bringing her winter melon soup, which only increased my dislike of her.

Side note: This is one of the worst mechanisms of point-and-clicks, and I have to describe it to you in full so you can realize how truly terrible it is. I went down to the kitchen and found the soup on the stove. I brought it up to her, and she asked in that horrid accent for some winter melon. I went back down to the kitchen and started clicking on everything in the environment. I found herbs and spices on one side, and when I clicked on it, it told me that it’s in Chinese. Stumped, I started clicking on everything else in the room. Nothing. I went back up to Vivian and suffered through her horrible accent some more but no further information, I went back into the kitchen. Nothing. After a few more minutes, I looked for a walkthrough and found out I had to go into the dining room, pick up a menu, read winter melon in English and Chinese, and receive the Chinese symbol for winter melon. Then, I had to go back to the herbs and spices and place the symbol on the area to receive the winter melon. Then, I had to combine the winter melon and the soup before bringing it up to Vivian.

That’s utter bullshit. If I reach the point in a game where I’m referring to a walkthrough more than I’m actually playing the game, I know it’s not worth my time. For whatever reasons, point-and-clicks revel in their enigmatic puzzle-solving, and it’s my least-favorite part of the genre.


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You’re Not My Real Mom!

Don’t you fucking tell me what to do, was my immediate response when I saw this tweet. Someone had quoted it and added, “LOL NO” to the tweet, which I found amusing. I was just going to move on, but something about the tweet stuck with me, so I decided to check out his TL. I found that I agreed with much of what he said, but the bad taste from his initial tweet remained in my mouth. Since I thought the person was being earnest and arguing in good faith (and had some good ideas), I decided I’d make a post in response to it and to the general notion that it’s on PoC to reach out to working class white people.

One, the tweet assumes that this isn’t already happening. It is. Some of us live in cloistered Democratic bubbles*, but many Democrats live in heavily Republican areas and have to interact with working class white people on a regular basis. Two, we’ve come to believe this idea that all opinions are equally valid. They’re not. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean their opinion is right. In addition, respect is earned. I can be civil to people who have loathsome (to me) ideas, but I don’t necessarily extend them respect.

More to the point, I’m tired of white dudes telling PoC what we have to do. If he had stopped after the first half, I would have been fine with the tweet, but it’s pretty galling for him to lecture PoC like that. There has been a lot of this going on, and I’m not here for it at all. I’m a big believer in everyone having a place at the table,** but I do think that if you’re in the majority, you should do more listening than talking. In addition, to put it bluntly, this is a white people’s problem. Yes, all of us have to deal with the ramifications of this white resentment, but the onus is on progressive white people to do something about it.
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Hollywood is Donald Trump to Me Now

badass warrior woman
I will save you, Father!

Remember way back to last week when I gave Disney a modicum of praise for searching for a Chinese actress to play Mulan in the live-action version of the movie? I felt stupid for being so grateful, but that’s the low bar that I’ve set for Hollywood concerning Asian actors in movies. Well, I rescind even that modicum after the latest news concerning the movie has been leaked. A script has been written, and an Asian American insider has spilled the beans as to what it contains. I’m going to quote the money shot here because it’s just so fucking unbelievable. You can read the rest of the article here.

A white merchant’s business brings him to the heart of a legendary Asian conflict — he unwittingly helps save the day while winning the heart of the Asian female. Am I describing the plotline of the Netflix series Marco Polo? No. I’m describing the spec script that Disney bought for its live-action feature film, The Legend of Mulan, which is projected for release in 2018.

….

The man is a 30-something European trader who initially cares only for the pleasure of women and money. The only reason why he and his entourage decide to help the Chinese Imperial Army is because he sets eyes on Mulan. That’s right. Our white savior has come to the aid of Ancient China due to a classic case of Yellow Fever. In this script written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, more than half of its pages are dedicated to this merchant who develops a mutual attraction with Mulan and fights to protect her in the ensuing battles. To top it all off, this man gets the honor of defeating the primary enemy of China, not Mulan. Way to steal a girl’s thunder.

I had to read this a few times before what I was reading really registered. I was certain that somebody was punking me because no way it could be this bad, right?

Wrong.

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Hollywood Doesn’t See Color, Especially Yellow

When I first heard that Disney was planning a live-action version of Mulan, my first reaction was, “They better cast an Asian person as Mulan.” I know it sounds ridiculous for me to say that because Mulan is fucking Chinese, but I wasn’t the only one as there was a petition to make sure Mulan was played by a Chinese actress, and it garnered nearly 105,000 signatures. It’s also not surprising I’d think that given the awful history of Hollywood in participating in yellowface, let’s say I wasn’t sanguine about this movie. At all. I mean, Katharine Hepburn as Jade in Dragon Seed. In fact, the whole main cast (except maybe one man) is not Asian, and it’s about the Second Sino-Japanese War! Andy Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is particularly dreadful. There are many examples of yellowface, and an Asian woman who runs the website home made mimi took it upon herself to recreate scenes from movies that have non-Asian actresses portraying Asian women. She includes a few recent examples, which I’ll get to in a minute. I loved the project, but it also filled me with sadness that it seems like we’re light years away from this actually happening, and it’s 2016!

Recently, there have been several anime that have been adapted into live-action movies. Most of them have non-Asian casts, including Airbender, Aeon Flux, and Akira, the last of which hasn’t been able to find itself out of production hell. Aeon Flux is one of the few anime that I really dug, and I was excited to learn that there was going to be a live-action version of it. Until it was revealed that Charlize Theron was going to be the titular character. Then, I lost complete interest and never saw the movie, not even on DVD. When I heard that the live-action version of Akira was going to be set in New York and feature white people, I was livid. Why the hell call it Akira if you’re going to cut the heart and soul out of it? It’s not Akira if it’s not set in Japan. This brings me to the movie that completely broke me–Ghost in the Shell. Deep sigh. GitS deals with the ramifications of a post-cybernetic world. It questions what it means to be human when you’re mostly robotic. And, it’s very Japanese at heart. So who gets cast as Major Motoko? Scarlett Johanssen. I can’t. Even, it’s what I can’t. To make matters worse, the director tried to defend it by saying he’s a huge anime fan and that it’s an international story. Steven Spielberg is producing the movie, and he said he’s a big GitS fan as well. He also said that a movie like this can’t be made if there isn’t a big name attached to the project, which made me scream in incoherent rage. He’s Steven fucking Spielberg. If his name isn’t big enough, who’s is? If it’s true that this is the reason Scarlett Johanssen was cast, then Hollywood is fucking broken.


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