Sunday, May 04, 2008

oh, what the hell

It doesn't require courses in Asian American Studies (which I've done), or ill-fated attempts at being a co-chair of an Asian American law student association (which I've also done) or reading lots of Asian American jurisprudence (again) to see that Kung Fu Panda is incredibly stupid and offensive, trading in the most venal and atavistic stereotypes of Asians. And my post-law school rejection of essentialist identity politics based scholarly/social movements (at least their more fringe arguments) doesn't require me to like it or even look upon it charitably.

When I saw an ad in the paper, I wondered for a minute if I was reading The Onion by mistake. I had the same reaction to "Nacho Libre." But then "The Forbidden Kingdom" came along, and I knew that the world had gone to heck. I got Kellogg's Rice Krispie's to make treats, and the box advertised mail-in "pandanas" with 5 box tops. On the side of the box, it also showed some kung fu-ey moves like "the crane." All in what one can only describe as a "chinky" font. Sigh.

This isn't new (see, e.g, The Karate Kid), but it's sure getting old. There's plenty of good Asian and Asian American cinema out there. This is not trying to be good art, but whatever it's trying to be, I don't think it serves any laudatory purpose, and in fact it's perpetuating pernicious stereotypes by exoticizing Asia and positing Asians (and Asian Americans) as the perpetual "other."

If Jack Black speaks with an Asian accent in the movie, I will boycott every movie he makes in the future. I probably am taking this too seriously and appear to be yet another Asian with no sense of humor (huh, usually I'm a feminist with no sense of humor), but really, this is so stupid.

I'm not arguing that we're in a post-racial world, but I really wish we weren't living in this one.

I was going to post pictures to illustrate this all, but you know, I'm not going to use my blog to promote this movie in any way.


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