Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

Being Cultured

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 28, 2008

This is pretty much part two of my earlier post on stereotypes.  Many people feel that it’s necessary to avoid certain works because they contain characters, storylines, etc which are no longer considered politically correct.  My question to them is this: What the heck are we supposed to read/watch/listen to?  Are we going to have to avoid everything created before the 1970s?  How the heck are we even supposed to be “cultured” if we do that?  Do we not give a child piano lessons because most of the composers were Christian and wrote music for the church?  Do we homeschool the kid because they’re going to be reading works by writers from the past, whose works will, in the eyes of someone in the twenty-first century, not be PC?  Why keep kids away from them when you can discuss why it’s wrong?

Honestly, people who believe these things bother me.  It’s a form of censorship, IMHO.  Keeping a kid in the dark is no better than sanctioning such behaviour.  In high school, I read a novel for English class called The Wars.  This Timothy Findley book is about a young Canadian man who fights in WWI.  The novel is very graphic, especially towards the end.  Yet, it was part of the English curriculum at my high school, an all girls’ independent school.  You’d think that the English department would prefer us reading books which are “cleaner.”  However, the English department wanted us to broaden our horizons.  Many of the books we read were not exactly appropriate for teenage girls.  In fact, some were even banned in schools at one point (Cather in the Rye, for example).  So you don’t want your kid exposed to stereotypes.  However, as I said in the earlier post, everything CAN BE A STEREOTYPE.  Or are some stereotypes just “better” than others? 

IMHO, people who ban certain material from others because they feel that it would negatively affect their outlook on a culture (or cultures) or because they feel that it’s racist/stereotypical are just not exposed enough.  They aren’t cultured enough and/or fail to understand that there’s more than one interpretation.  And to me, it is really sad.  To deny another person exposure to something because one only sees something ONE WAY is denying someone the ability to express how they feel.  It’s denying the person a learning opportunity to discuss why something is wrong/inappropriate.  It’s denying someone AN EDUCATION.


Posted in culture, education, ethnicity, learning, literature, minorities, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Don’t you LEARN from Stereotypes? Doctors, Geisha and All That Jazz

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 25, 2008

A post in Racialicious yesterday about stereotypes opened a discussion between me and another poster. The other poster had replied to a thread on stereotypes that she would like a stereotype free home for her child. There’s no such thing. Everything out there is a stereotype. Cristina Yang (doctor of Korean descent) from Grey’s Anatomy is as much of a stereotype as Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly). Oh yeah, I forgot. A doctor is POSITIVE, while a geisha who commits seppuku is not. Especially if she gives up her life because she proves “tragic beauty and nobility by sacrificing yourself for the white man and abandoning your hapa kid!” (post number 61). I guess she doesn’t realize that Pinkerton, the American character is a stereotype too. The stereotype of the Evil American who Just Doesn’t Care. The authors of the story (can’t give Puccni all the credit, since it was adapted from a John Luther Long play, which was in turn, adapted from a Pierre Loti (yeah, French dude) work) were trying to show the West’s cruelty.

Another poster said:

…whatever Puccini and his collaborators had in mind, somehow that’s not what’s being seen on the stage–that’s why Madame Butterfly is such a contested piece of art. Especially when Madame Butterfly is still seen in a country, like the US, that continues to stereotype APIA women as “submissive girls.” So, Madame Butterfly is seen, therefore, as another vehicle that folks just looooove as art but perpetuates that stereotype.

I don’t understand this point because I also see the evilness of the west (represented by Pinkerton) and the east (represented by Butterfly) being a victim of the evilness. However, one stereotype I DO see is that Butterfly is a love-struck teen.

So really, what *IS* supposed to be shown on TV, film, etc when it comes to non-whites? You can’t make an Asian woman too submissive/tragic, because it’s stereotypical/racist. She can’t be a bitch either, because that’s the dragon lady stereotype. She probably can’t be a doctor (or accountant), because that’s what lots of Asian parents want their kids to become (nor can she be a music prodigy….Asian parents stereotypically send their kids to CLASSICAL music lessons). Maybe that’s why writers have trouble putting non-white characters on TV. They’re worried that someone will be turned off.  In any case, it’s probably better to confront stereotypes and learn why it’s wrong than to ignore it all together.

Posted in Asian, culture, education, ethnicity, Opera | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

OMG, Stereotypes!

Posted by chinesecanuck on July 16, 2008

This is really bad.  I was on the subway the other day and sat next to a girl who had not one, but TWO designer bags (she was *THIS CLOSE* to being a label whore).  I didn’t get a look at her face at first, so I assumed she was one of those Asian girls who highlight their hair and shop at high end stores.  Turned out she was white.  In Toronto and Vancouver, one can find some Asian women (or more specifically, Hong Kong women) who shop at these stores, and sometimes, they’re head-to-toe label.  And these brands have to be big names to them.  For many, Tory Burch isn’t a big enough name.  It has to be Prada, Gucci, LV, Hermes, etc…

Readers, have you mistaken someone for another race/culture/ethnicity based on what he/she was wearing, or what accessories he/she had?

Posted in Asian, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity, fashion, Hong Kong, minorities, shopping, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »