Negative, oftentimes racist, portrayals of Asian Americans have persisted in Western media for over a century. When we are not entirely absent from media representation, we appear mostly in exaggerated and stereotyped form: rodent-like subhumans; alien threats; hypersexualized objects of desire; buffoonish clowns; socially maladjusted nerds; martial artists; criminal gangsters. Too often, these performances are coupled with the absence of even an Asian American face: instead, non-Asian actors adopt these and other stereotypes to enact Asian-ess through yellowface.
A new website — Kulture — now seeks to act as a watchdog for Asian American representation in popular media by inviting crowd-sourced submission of stereotypical depictions for inclusion in their database.
Last week, two terrorists stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered twelve men and women — including journalists, editors, and first responder law enforcement — in cold blood. The suspects, later revealed to be brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, committed the heinous acts allegedly in retaliation for the magazine’s long history of disparaging cartoons that included the prophet Mohammed; the Kouachi brothers escaped the offices of Charlie Hebdo with the aid of a third suspect named Amedy Coulibaly. Two days later, the three suspects took hostages, and engaged police in multiple firefights. When the dust cleared, all three suspects were dead.
Seventeen victims had also been brutally and senselessly killed in one of Europe’s deadliest terrorist attacks in contemporary memory. They include: Charlie Hebdo editor, Stephane Charbonnier; 76-year-old cartoonist, Jean Cabut; Muslim-French police officer, Ahmed Merabet; and, many more.
The Charlie Hebdo shootings have sparked an international outcry, much of it justified anger against an unjustifiable act of terrorism. This is a viewpoint I share with nearly every public pundit who has waded into the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack: mass murder — even mass murder in the name of a political cause — is inexcusable. Period. Full stop.
Where pundits and commentators disagree, however, is in the details of this incident, and the intersection of cultural diversity versus free speech rights.
This is going to be an unpopular opinion: I believe that consuming news obtained through the recent hack of Sony Entertainment is wrong, and I’m refusing to do it.
Late last month, hackers calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” hacked Sony Entertainment servers and threw their findings online, launching the likes of TMZ and Entertainment Weekly into a state of orgasmic glee with a virtual deluge of juicy gossip. Leaked emails between major Sony executives contain all sorts of salacious details regarding a process both mysterious and seemingly relevant to the everyday American: what goes into the business side of movie-making, and who are the shadowy backroom figures that make these decisions?
Thanks to the hack of Sony Entertainment, we now know that these people are, for the most part, raging superficial assholes.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!