Gwen Stefani: everyone else is racist, not me!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

some random harajuku girl on a stock photography siteNice find from Angry Asian Man. In this interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gwen Stefani attempts to defend her use of the Harajuku Girls. I love Margaret Cho’s sarcastic response ;) :

But not everyone warmed to Stefani’s ”whole fashion thing” — in particular, the showcasing of her admiration for Tokyo trendsetters via an entourage of four Japanese women that she called the Harajuku Girls. The Girls silently accompanied her on photo shoots and to public appearances, and subsequently appeared on her tour. Stefani regarded the Girls, all of whom looked as if they had come straight off the streets of the capital city’s hip Harajuku district, as a figment of her imagination brought to life in a culturally positive manner. But last year, Korean-American comedian Margaret Cho publicly decried them as ”a minstrel show.”

”She didn’t do her research!” spits Stefani, who says she’s been a fan of Japan and its mix-and-match fashion sense since first visiting the country with No Doubt in the mid-’90s. ”The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” (Cho told EW via e-mail, ”I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be one… I dance really good!!!”)

Stefani continues: ”I was surprised how racist everybody was about them. Especially when I came over here and they’d make all these jokes, like Jonathan Ross.” Ross, a British TV host, asked Stefani whether an ”imaginary hand job” from one of her ”imaginary” dancers would count as cheating on his wife. Stefani responds, ”Everybody’s making jokes about Japanese girls and the stereotypes. I had no idea [I'd be] walking into that.”

Yeah, gee I wonder why people would view Japanese women as submissive, pliable creatures when Gwen Stefani is parading these four women around as dancing, giggling human props who are contractually obligated to only speak Japanese even though they’re all American.

Michael Richards: the graphic novel

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

LOL! ebogjohnson is at it again. The man who brought us the brilliant Should I use blackface on my blog? flowchart is back with a vengeance.

Click over to see all 9 storyboards of his interpretation of the Michael Richards incident. As you can see, he was inspired partly by Jenn’s racist fairy. :)

EBOG PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS: KOSMO KRAMER KAPERS! a JOHN RIDLEY and THE LEAGUE OF DISTINGUSHED FOREHEAD ANTI-RACIAL HYPOCRITES adventure!!!

kramer michael richards racist fairy

Paul Mooney vows to stop using the n-word

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As we reported yesterday, comedian Paul Mooney has vowed to stop using the n-word as a result of the Michael Richards incident. He joked about Richards, “He’s my Dr. Phil. He’s cured me.”

The question is, would abolishing the word really do any good? Here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about it.

Rachel Sullivan over at Rachel’s Tavern:

Maybe something good may come out of Michael Richards racist behavior. When people hear this word used in its historical context, and it is connected to lynching. Its power is apparent, and the idea of reclaiming it starts to look futile. Mooney has frequently defended the use of the n-word… Mooney noted that he was trying to take the power out of the n-word by using in his act (and in his comic writing for Richard Pryor), but something snapped in him when he saw Richards. He realized that the word still had power.

Jay Smooth at hiphopmusic.com writes:

I don’t use the word, and can’t say I’d particularly miss it, but I’m not sure what we accomplish by crusading against it. Does making a word taboo ever do anything but increase its power? If we did succeed in eradicating it, would it do anything to change the sentiments or thought process of those who use it? Or does it bring merely a cosmetic change in the vocabulary we use to reveal those thoughts, and make us less likely to put our cards on the table?

Nova at Novaslim.com writes:

What some of you uppity, self-righteous negroes fail to acknowledge is that “nigga” was being used for decades by blacks, long before hip-hop came into the picture. (Hip-hop in it’s early days never invoked the word.) Think about Lawanda Page or Richard Pryor. Think about your daddy and and your grand-daddy. Although Pryor said he’d never use the word again after visiting Africa, the ball was already rolling. By then it was viral, as slang tends to be. Please stop beating the same drum. Hip-hop and black youth can only shoulder the blame for so many things…

Let’s say Jay-Z stopped using it as well. Have we ended racism? How would you feel if you looked up one day, after spending all of your time and resources killing one word, to find that another word has been created to debase black people?

What do you think? Would abolishing the n-word actually make a difference in race and racism?

One Tree Hill gets biracial

by guest contributor Karen Gilmore

one tree hill biracial derekOne Tree Hill pulled out a refreshing plot twist: Peyton’s real half-brother Derek is biracial (black and white). And the really surprising part was that it didn’t take them five episodes to explain “how” that could happen. The writers deserve big kudos for that alone.

Ernest Waddell’s (Derek) portrayal of the tough as nails Marine with a big heart is the best addition to the series. On the good side, this shows that the American television audience is ready to embrace the fact that multi-ethnic families do exist and that they are growing in numbers. This new turn gracefully counters the “you can only pick one” line of thinking.

On the bad side, what took Hollywood so long to do an episode like this? And better yet, why aren’t there more shows with this kind of content? One Tree Hill may have an abundance of teen angst melodrama but this storyline is a true diamond in the rough.

links for 2006-11-30

Race and videogames: A look at ‘True Crime – Streets of LA’

by guest contributor Pat Miller, originally published at Token Minorities

true crime streets of LAWell, I finally got to sit down and get a somewhat satisfying session in with True Crime Streets of LA. I haven’t finished it, but I think I can safely say that the elements of the game’s plot that caught my attention – the strong presence of racial minorities in the game, including a biracial protagonist, set in Los Angeles – ended up more as a product of the mix of two film genres – a cop movie and a kung-fu movie – than anything else. Nick Kang may be half-Chinese, half-Caucasian, but lines like “It’s dim sum time!” don’t really hold a whole lot of progressive appeal. I do have a weak spot for Nick Kang, as Asian American men rarely get roles as cops who play fast and loose with the rules, but he doesn’t do a whole lot to redeem the game.

One thing that caught my attention was the focus on international organized crime. The main forces (possible spoiler?) in True Crime: Streets of LA are the Chinese Triads, the Russian Mafia, and the North Korean People’s Army, putting Nick Kang and the rest of his Elite Operations Division in the position of Saving America From The Rest Of The World. On one hand, that should establish the multi-colored EOD as the vanguard of America, disassociating the identity of ‘white’ with that of ‘American’. On the other hand, it’s not quite clear whether some of the characters are Chinese or Chinese American, Russian or Russian American, etc. Certainly, ethnic enclaves like Chinatown or Little Tokyo will have some kind of connection to China or Japan, as those places are often the easiest points of entry for new immigrants, but I can’t say I like how True Crime: Streets of LA seems to equate those centers as universally working against the good of America.

For a game that does invoke race, ethnicity, and nationality as often as True Crime: Streets of LA does, I’d think that they could have utilized the setting much more eloquently than they did. The only Los Angeles in TCLA is in the street names. Yes, we have Asians and Chicano/Latinos and African Americans working together, and I’d like to think that somewhere in LA is a police department that looks like the EOD. But they could have done so much with the racial tensions that historically have actually occurred in Los Angeles. Wouldn’t you rather play Nick Kang, a Korean American police officer fighting to protect Koreatown from the LA riots?

Alberto VO5 hair wax makes you like, totally anti-establishment

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I actually think this ad is kind of cute. But hopefully people will realize that this isn’t quite representative anymore of China today.

The art direction is pretty accurate, puke-green paint on the wall and all. When I lived in Shanghai in the mid-80s, local schools really did look like this. Students had long ago ditched the grey Mao suits, but the little red scarves were still a must.

Thanks to HighJive for the tip!

links for 2006-11-29