Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fu Manchu for the 21st Century

I'm not embarassed to say I didn't know what the Atlantic magazine was until this morning. But, what a shocker: I was in the cafe getting a strawberry-vanilla french soda (good, but a total rip-off at $3 for something that's mostly ice) when electroman (who I had goaded into walking to the bus stop with me using all my feminine/feminist(?) guiles) showed me the cover of next month's Atlantic. (my kingdom for anyone willing to get me a better scan. after the financial issues of the previous post, I'm not sure I'm willing to frivolously spend cash on propaganda shit like this.) What's wrong with this cover, you ask? Everything. This is Yellow Peril gone haywire; with the menacing, terrifying eyes of the Atlantic's spotlight Chinaman, this photo montage by John Ritter evokes the same Perpetual Foreigner hysteria that fueled Japanese American internment, yellowface propaganda throughout the centuries, and bigoted discrimination against Asian Americans from Michelle Kwan to Wen Ho Lee. Not only is this 'Chinaman' warped into a sinister depiction of foreign and menacing evil but the cover also evokes Yellow Peril fears in which the Chinese soldiers/sailors in the background are represented as Storm Trooper-esque clones of one another, devoid of humanity or even distinguishing characteristics. Again, it brings to mind the stereotype that all Asian men are one and the same, not people but a hoarde of mindless, faceless, animalistic beasts swarming American shores. Everyone who thought Asian Americans didn't face racism and discrimination in today's America need only look at this slap in the face, made more painful by the fact that it was released the one month out of the year devoted to our history, heritage and humanity. How obvious it is how little the rest of the country knows, notices or cares. Thanks to Hyphen Magazine for bringing this originally to electroman's attention.


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