Friday, April 8, 2011

My Small Slanty Eyes Do Not Equate to Inherent Evil.

A new television ad about the U.S. national debt produced by Citizens Against Government Waste has been deemed "too controversial" by major networks including ABC, A&E and The History Channel and will not be shown on those channels. The commercial is a homage to a 1986 ad that was entitled "The Deficit Trials" that was also banned by the major networks. Apparently telling the truth about the national debt is a little too "hot" for the major networks to handle. But perhaps it is time to tell the American people the truth. In 1986, the U.S. national debt was around 2 trillion dollars. Today, it is rapidly approaching 14 trillion dollars. The American Dream is being ripped apart right in front of our eyes, but apparently some of the major networks don't want the American people to really understand what is going on.
The truth is that the ad does not even have anything in it that should be offensive. The commercial is set in the year 2030, and the main character is a Chinese professor that is seen lecturing his students on the fall of great empires. As images of the United States are shown on a screen behind him, the Chinese professor tells his students the following about the behavior of great empires: "They all make the same mistakes. Turning their backs on the principles that made them great. America tried to spend and tax itself out of a great recession. Enormous so-called "stimulus" spending, massive changes to health care, government takeover of private industries, and crushing debt."

Perhaps it is what the Chinese Professor says next that is alarming the big television networks: "Of course, we owned most of their debt, so now they work for us".

Last week, one of my friends asked me if I had seen this really antagonistic commercial negatively featuring Asians.  She said that she had seen it aired on the Weather Channel.  Once we read the description (featured here) underneath the video, it made a lot more sense.  I hadn't, but the commercial she described was the one above that I found later that night on television.  We then went to discuss the negative portrayal of Asians.

 As an American, I really agree with the problem that CAGW is addressing, uncontrolled government spending and a mounting national debt.  I told my friends that I was fine with the whole commercial until that last part.  It's not the words that the professor says, but the way he says it and the evil laughter following it that really creeps me out.

Its very obvious that the whole commercial is addressing the amount of money that China has lent the United States.  But it is also setting up China and the Chinese as the enemy with the last part.

The reason why my friend saw it on the Weather Channel was because all of the major networks were smart enough not to show this potentially offensive commercial.  I think that the reason why it was rejected was not due to the fact that someone is finally talking about the government debt, but because of those last few seconds that portray vilified Asians.  This vilification of Asians is part of the stereotypes that Asians often face in media.  If you start to think about it, you might find that there are a lot more Asian villans in movies than you realized.

The following is from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans

 For decades, Americans have viewed Asian immigrants as "taking" from this country without giving anything back. This perception was reinforced by early laws making it difficult for Asians to immigrate and impossible for them to become naturalized citizens. Although these laws have since been repealed, the image of the Asian as alien predator still infuses popular media. In the movie "Falling Down," for example, the white main character accuses a Korean grocer of draining American resources without bothering to fit into American society. This accusation "justifies" the lead character's destruction of the Korean's grocery store. Similarly, the movie "Rising Sun" portrays Japanese businessmen taking over American industry by murder and deceit. And countless movies and TV episodes have portrayed Chinatowns as breeding grounds of crime.Stereotype-Buster:Asians as positive contributors to American society.... 

Another major female stereotype views Asian women as inherently scheming, untrustworthy, and back-stabbing. This portrayal is nicknamed the "dragon lady," after the Asian villainess in the vintage comic strip "Terry and the Pirates." Other examples of the stereotype are the daughter of Fu Manchu (in numerous books and movies) and the gangsters' molls in "The Year of the Dragon."Stereotype-Buster: Whenever villains are Asian, it's important that their villainy not be attributed to their ethnicity.
So this commercial plays into that overused and overplayed stereotype of Asian villainy and leeching.  The truth is that there are a lot of Americans that are Asian who care a lot about the dangerous amount of debt that the United States is mounting, we do not need to create an antagonistic and usurping role for Asians.  I know that the commercial is supposed to be set in the future, and that the Chinese people depicted are supposed to represent a classroom in China, but to be honest, it looked like the guy was teaching at a classroom at UC Berkeley.  I bet that all of those actors were Asian Americans!  This is setting us up to be targeted in our own home,  America.

The only way that I can liken this is to the singling out of many Arab Americans and Muslims after September 11th.  Just because an individual is Muslim or Arabic, it doesn't directly imply that they want to see the destruction of the United States of American in a Ji-had.  In the same way, Asian Americans don't want to see American fall any less than the average American, and this antagonistic, vilifying portrayal of Asians is just setting us up for another Inquisition in the wake of a problem that at the root is not in China.  We are spending the money, China is just buying it up.  The commercial is shifting the focus from changing our own behaviors to targeting the Chinese.  And I think that is the problem.  That is the reason why major networks won't show it, because they're smart enough to know how potentially offensive, controversial, and racist this could be and for that, I say thank you.

That Asian Girl

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