Saturday, May 5

15 mins of offensive television?

before you get up in arms at me for this post, just try to keep in mind that racism and cultural/ethnic stereotypes are interpreted in many ways by many people. and a person's level of sensitivity or perception of an image/conduct is subjective to each individual. 

ok, that being said, i watched 15 mins of hilarious television that covered a whole plethora of asian stereotypes.

Cousin arrived in town on friday night from a conference in Philadelphia and met me near my office for a happy hour dinner at Haru (which was so average and passable that it's not worth describing-except for the Happy Hour where everything offered on the HH menu is under $5). we finished relatively early, which meant we had time to head to K-town to meet up with BlackSesame, Kiddo, and Kiddo's new girlfriend for drinks, but first we had to make a stop at my apartment so Cousin could drop off her luggage.

once inside the apartment, Cousin needed a few mins to answer some work e-mails and use her laptop, so i turned on the tv while i waited for her and got to watch Supernatural for the first time in months. what can i say? i like spooky stories that resolve themselves within an hour, Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles are easy on the eyes, and the writing and dialogue's can be pretty witty at times. i don't have to justify my CW11 tv-watching to you.

however, this episode happened to center around a high school student who gets struck by lightning and becomes a prophet that can transcribe the word of God. but that's not the best part. the kid is a typical asian stereotype. he:

1.  plays the cello: he's introduced by a close-up of the cello and then the camera pans out to show him playing it. then to nerd it up even more, his computer chimes and a message alerts him that his cello practice is complete.
2. he dates a chubby asian girl who's dressed like a catholic school girl. 
3. he too is dressed in preppy school gear: button-down, tie, and slacks. 
4. he's stressed out about his SAT scores.
5. he wants to attend Princeton.
6. he has nothing to write about in his college admission essay: since you know, asians are robots when it comes to school and only spend their time practicing their cello/violin/piano and doing homework. no other extracurriculars allowed.
7. he's in Advanced Placement (AP): when he meets the main characters for the 1st time, that's actually how he identifies himself, "I'm Kevin Tran. I'm in AP."

as i watched this i thought, "come on, Supernatural. was this really necessary? i mean, fine, he's asian. but does he really have to be the stereotype? couldn't he just be a normal person who happens to be asian?" i'm not saying the stereotype doesn't exist because it clearly does. i myself fit most of the characteristics listed above when i was in high school. but i also did other non-stereotype activities like go out with my non-Asian friends (i did have them), went to the movies, and went to house parties (gasp!). just like every other normal teenager who's not asian.

then things got really weird.

the show ran to commercial, and the first commercial that played was the Intel Ultrabook commercial.

now i get it, this commercial is a parody of House of Flying Daggers. although i don't see why the actors have to be asian. it's about trying to find an outlet in a coffeehouse. i think that's pretty universal to all ethnicities and races. i don't think the use of coffeehouses are limited to asian people. i started to wonder whether CW11 was going to make the entire hour asian-related, but thought, "nah, that's impossible. this was just a coincidence."

except the commercial immediately following the above was this Starburst commercial:

wha?! this did not just happen. just because the Supernatural episode involves an asian doesn't mean the whole hour has to be asian does it? it just seemed really weird.

honestly, i wasn't particularly offended by the above series of events and i could find the humor in all these commercials (and the Starburst one doesn't involve any stereotyping and shouldn't be considered offensive at all). what sort of bugged me was that these were presented in a series, one right after the other. i can't believe it was intentional, because that would just be stupid. but then again, what are the chances of that happening? it's not like commercial featuring asians are so abundant that there's a 1 in 3 chance every commercial you'll see has them.

my brain can't really process what i saw. it was just weird.

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