reappropriate

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore

I wonder if the ninja knew, when they took to rebelling against the samurai, that their true impact on history would not be guerilla warfare, political statements, money or power, but the birth of a long, icky tradition of pimple-faced White boys living a continent away wrapping themselves in black bedsheets, twirling fake-jewel-encrusted and elaborately decorated steel sai, and trying to scale the brick wall of their college dorm building. Frankly, I'm sick of it. What is it with young White Americans who can't seem to get enough of the culture of the East? What is the appeal of the ninja, the anime, the manga, the geisha, the karate, the tae kwon do, the teas, the ceremonies, the lion dance, the yakuza, the curry and the chopsticks? What is it with the New Age incorporation of Confucian-Buddhist-Yin-Yang-Feng-Shui tenets into White women practicing yoga and tai chi trying to get in touch with their inner energy? What is up with the Lucy Liu's dressed in geisha-esque silk kimonos and wielding samurai swords screaming about hapa pride on table-tops while, a movie later, using her tiny feet to massage the swollen back of a guai lo? I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the Whites who disguise themselves as culture-seekers-and-appreciaters going to the distant reaches of the Orient to find some aspect of my culture to rape, pillage and reappropriate. I'm sick of the White boys who buy Ninjutsu by Stephen Hayes, purchase Starbucks Green Tea Chai, and who fantasize about attending acupuncture school to learn the secrets of energy and homeopathic healing. I'm sick of the White boys who suddenly fall in love with Batman Begins because the movie emphasized a ninjutsu origin for Bruce Wayne's new vigilante alter-ego. I'm sick of Quentin Tarentino appropriating Hong Kong gangster flicks and spaghetti Westerns with the most infamous yellowface actor in all of history and having audience members like/hate it because of the "storytelling" -- and not the blatant, unabashed racism. I'm sick of Arthur Golden writing Memoirs of a Geisha, starring Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li speaking in English to American audiences. I'm sick of Tom Cruise being the Last Samurai. And most of all, I'm sick of me being the asshole when I go to my window and scream: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". Why can't the "otaku" get it? There's nothing cool about sticking a "-chan" or "-kun" after every name. You don't get a cookie for writing "yaoi" fanfiction or perusing the Japanese comic books at Borders instead of the American ones. Sorry, kids, DBZ just isn't that good. And you know, it wouldn't even be so bad if the kids doing the taking and bastardizing were able to defend their actions in the court of me-about-to-kick-your-ass. I'd love it if the next White boy wielding homemade tonfa and worshipping Bruce Lee's Jeet Kun Do fighting style were able to address accusations of Asiaphilia. I'd even be okay with the Asiaphile if they knew about Vincent Chin, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Japanese Interment. I'd love to have a conversation with the Asiaphile about his (re)birth after watching Full Metal Jacket. But, no. The Asiaphile doesn't understand the politics or consequences of his fetish. He knows all about the Meiji Restoration and has memorized the Art of War by heart, but actually defends Hiroshima and Nagasaki (200,000+ killed in a brutal act of terrorism, but to the Asiaphile, it was a necessary act to defend the people who really matter). He knows nothing about the Asian American movement even though he organizes endless anime, sushi and karaoke nights at his college campus. He doesn't even see his interest as a fetish, he sees it as his God-given right to take and take and reappropriate my culture because he feels denied somehow that his mixed-up part-Greek, part-English, all-European-American, totally of the Caucasian Persuasion ass doesn't have a native tongue that's quite as "different" or an American culture that involves bladed weaponry. It reminds me of the kind of bullshit privilege that encourages Americans to take classes in getting stranded in the wilderness following a plane crash -- ninjutsu is a cool diversion because you know you'll never really have to use it to save your life. And I'm the asshole for objecting to the fortune cookie-ing of my heritage. Fuck you, Asiaphile. Fuck you very much. edit: thank you to recumbentgoat for re-posting this post on the debunking white livejournal community. edit (5/1/2006): Happy Asian American Heritage Month, y'all. If you're a Hater and you plan on responding to this post, please do so after reading this post on dumbass rebuttals, if only because the Hateraders are getting really repetitive at this point. I yearn for something new. Also, please remember that all obscenely pointless racist, sexist, and/or stupidly ad hominem attacks that serve no higher purpose will be deleted, as per this blog's commenting policy. I haven't had to enforce it before, don't make me start now. Also, a genuine thank you to everyone who has linked this post. It's terribly flattering!

230 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BRAVO! I say if you appropriate the culture than I should be able to treat you as we have been treated historically. You know, just so that you get the full experience. Wanna be a ninja/samurai/buddhist master? Then let me lock you out of the country, intern your folks, pass you over for jobs and place your stereotyped face on a damned Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt.

4/26/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

or perusing the Japanese comic books at Borders instead of the American ones.

I peruse both. Does that make it okay?


I'd love to have a conversation with the Asiaphile about his (re)birth after watching Full Metal Jacket.

You mean the Kubrick film? I've seen it millions of times. You can talk to me if you want, but I can't gurantee a rewarding discussion.

4/26/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I disagree. I see nothing whatsoever wrong with drinking tea, even green tea with rice or roast barley tea or jasmine tea (my nighttime less/no-caffeine varieties). Neither do I think it wrong to view a Japanese animated movie (nor do I think all such examples of the art form need be teen power fantasies - eg, Grave of the Fireflies, a serious subject if ever there was one), or a vintage samurai movie by Kurosawa. (Kurosawa also appropriated US stories for some of his movies). Nor am I ashamed of owning and wearing an old-fashioned cotton indigo-dyed kimono - it's comfy and light. All these things happen because international trade spreads customs and arts into distant countries. And perhaps I like Chinese-style fresh fish steamed with ginger and scallion better than my own heritage of lye-cured fish (lutefisk), because any rational being would prefer fresh fish with a texture to gray gelatinous preserved-fish goo. None of these habits and preferences make me fantasize that I am Asian, when I am so clearly a US white woman.

What's so Japanese about karaoke, aside from the name? there have been back-up albums for eons, though usually you had to go to a sheet music store to get them (eg, "Music Minus One" was a popular brand). And before backup albums, there were pianists.

Now, being PRETENTIOUS about being More-Asian-Than-Thou is obnoxious. Being teenage, pimply, and pretentious is worse.

I haven't bothered to see the movies you mention, can't personally say they are obnoxious. I bet the appropriators often take the mediocre examples to mimic, do a bad job of it, throw in a bit of racism, and the result is a dog's breakfast, not unlike other average Hollywood movies.

And yes, if you want to be well versed in a foriegn culture, you need to read history, literature, religious works, view art and artifacts, etc.

NancyP

4/26/2006 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Apa said...

I think you've touched on an interesting issue. I can also sort of understand where you're coming from. But you seem to be as guilty of generalization as the people you label "Asiaphiles". I'm not going to tell you what my heritage is, because it doesn't matter. There are people who are simply interested in a culture because it's the current hot trend. This goes for Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Asians. The Japanese are notorious for taking pieces of Western culture and turning it into pop culture, with no regard for what the origin is. Religion, historical figures, music -- for many black Americans, rap was a form of revolution, a way to educate people what life was really like for the poor, black youths in the inner cities. The Japanese have appropriated that genre with none of those messages.

Now, are the Japanese exempt from your accusation of "raping" culture because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Are they exempt because of the Japanese-American Internment? Or are they just as guilty? Because wearing a rosary as jewelry when you're not Catholic and have no knowledge of the meaning behind the rosary seems a bit disrespectful to me.

I agree that people who have no interest in all aspects of a culture are annoying. But many of your so-called “Asiaphiles” are interested in those aspects. They've been to the countries and visited the out-of-the way memorials and monuments. They've avoided the tourist traps and chosen to visit the centuries old cities because they were there and not because it was in a guide book. They learn the languages not to be able to read manga or listen to Korean pop music, but to understand more about the culture and to love it as well as they love their own. Is that still "raping" your heritage?

Your generalizations don't do you any favors. Not all “Asiapihles” rape culture and not all cultural rapists are white Westerners.

4/26/2006 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm surprised at the comment that being a teenaged, pimply pretentious asiaphile was worse.

Not being a teenager (and having escaped the acne curse when I was one), I still think it's a lot more excusable for teens searching for an identity, teens who feel excluded in various ways, to strike out by claiming another culture as their own. It's immature and it's silly, but that's what the job of pimply-faced teenagers is: being immature and silly.

Now, ADULTS who continue to try to appropriate the "glamorous" parts of the culture without historical context...that's just weird.

I do enjoy some (but not much) Japanese art and literature, as well as a very occasional Japanese film -- some animated, some not. But I like them in a similar ratio to, say, French films or any other international culture putting forth a lot of interesting cinema. I do find it very interesting that some people have chosen to completely appropriate what they believe a particular culture is.

Also, I will give up my green tea when you pry it from my cold, dead hands -- it is the only thing that keeps my throataches at bay in the winter!

I do think it's good that we are able to share cultures, but unfortunately, the superficial way in which too many people do this has led to a lot of problems. My sister (who is not an asiaphile except in her love of green tea and sushi) is headed to Japan for the next year as part of an exchange program through Rotary International -- this kind of cultural exchange will undoubtedly be a lot more interesting than the exchange of an American otaku who heads to Japan to reinforce his preconceived notions.

4/26/2006 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

I understand what you are trying to get at.But don't let non-westerners or non whites off the hook just yet when it comes to appropriation of certain cultures.Especially cultures like hiphop.Non-black people who live in rich upperclass suburbs acting "ghetto" almost annoy me as much as ghetto acting black people that actually live in the ghetto.Almost.

4/27/2006 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

Also, what makes it even more annoying is seeing people take the most negative images of hiphop(greed, sexism, n-word, radical politics taken to far, violence,etc,etc) taken as the real deal.While anything not negative is either fake or corny.It already happens way to much in the black commuinty.It doesn't need to be pushed in other communities.Sorry for the off topic hiphop rant.

4/27/2006 12:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Asian. But I grew up white.

Are you hot?

4/27/2006 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahaha you're an idiot- japanese youth apprpriate basically *everything* from american culture...

4/27/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, a lot of commenters are mixing up american imperialism eliciting glorification of the U.S. with people abroad "appropriating" U.S. mainstream culture. Maybe I just haven't read the right books, but I haven't seen much material saying that the stereotyping of american culture contributes to the systemic oppression of white folk in Japan. We can't just do blind comparisons of actions with actions; we have to look at these things in terms of power and privilege.

-CS

4/27/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

I used to date an otaku. I'm white too, but his comments irritated the hell out of me just the same. He always talked about how white people "had no culture of their own." Are you joking? We have (this country's) *dominant* culture! White experience is considered to be "universal" by most folks in the United States. Example: People think of Christmas as a God-given right. (pun intended)

He was just trying to rebel against the status quo by taking up a different set of beliefs/values/aesthetics etc. Its one thing to want to broaden your horizons and move outside of your tiny suburban rich white bubble. Its another to dive head first into a another person's culture simply becaues you think its exotic or to distinguish yourself from the majority.

I think that some Japanese things are interesting and cool, but not *because* they are Japanese but becaues they are, in my opinion, interesting and or cool. These people who declare everything Asian to be the height of awesome sight unseen are a little screwy if you ask me. Their like collectors.

But then again, this ex-boyfriend was a total asshole, so my opinion might be a little untrustworthy :)

4/27/2006 01:54:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

New Rules:

1) Just because you are White, does not mean that all others races and cultures exist to end your boredom. Sorry.

2) No matter how young or old you are, if you're White and wearing a kimono or any other Asian clothing, you look like a tool.

3) "Just because the Japanese do it, I can too!" is not a valid excuse.

4) Drinking tea? Cool. Performing tea ceremonies? Not cool. Really not cool.

5) It's only "generalizing and stereotyping" when they are talking about you.

6) Even if you're preyed at a ancient Buddhist temple in an impoverished Malaysian village after providing relief rations with the Peace Corps to decimated, demoralized fishermen and barefoot pregnant housewives after the tsunami, you can still be an Asiaphile. Leave your four page cross-cultural resume at home.

7) Ludacris and 50 Cent sell more records than Mos Def and Talib Kweli because of you, not the Japanese. Instead of channeling Ronald Ebens by committing rhetorical baseball bat felonies against every Asian American who doesn't want her culture raped and pillaged, stop and think. Try not to Vietnam the messenger when you know you've fucked up.

8) If you are mad at this post or these New Rules, your White Privilege is showing. Find a napkin.

4/27/2006 02:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason. said...

I like some japanese and asian stuff.

Not any more than I like other stuff, though.

I dunno. I like a lot of things.

4/27/2006 03:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay Sennett said...

Brava!

The whole stereotyping/appropriation of Japanese culture irritates me nearly to death.

But this is the White Way. Our most astonishing behavioral trait is that of Pac Man.

And hat tip to James.

4/27/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

I like jenn's post and agree with many of the above comments (philly jay & apa). I have been to Japan and some of those Asiaphiles are downright dangerous (re: attitudes toward women).

But that said, let's focus on Japan. 2 nations obssessed with youth culture Japan & America appropriate/consume/mischaracterize/idolize particular aspects of each others cultures. I believe this is due to the wealth of our nations, their standards of living and relative access to one another. We do it to each other (Gwen Stefani counts as 100,000 people)!

This understandable contempt for Asiaphiles mainly comes from Asian-Americans/Canadians. Bear in mind that folks in Japan don't seem to have a problem blatantly mocking THIS AMERICAN with racist caricatures see (http://www.gosperats.com/) You would not believe the number of black-monkey images that abound over there. Some of that j-RnB (and k-RnB) gives me the runs...

Friends who have traveled to Korea share similar stories.

Now I'm partial to Masamune Shiro and green tea (the antidote to sake specials) and purchased a yukata to knock around in, yet that makes me no more of a cultural rapist than the millions of Earthlings that wear "my" clothing (t-shirt jeans: American farmer clothing made out of American cotton & dyed with American indigo (picked by my people)) and know dick about it or us.

Yes, we definitely have some troglodytes in America. Many are samurai-wielding white guys....but by no means do Americans have ignorance on lockdown. It is much, much, much worse abroad. At least here, there is a consciousness of such issues.

If anyone has cousins abroad who does this, please try to educate them.

4/27/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, wearing a cotton indigo shop coat with the shop seal on the back probably does make me look like a tool. Yes, I KNOW I am walking around in the equivalent of those orange vests the Home Depot guys wear at work to identify themselves as salesfolk. And I tell people that if they ask. But I also look like a tool in a sloganned sweatshirt (eg, Hogs Rule, with a Harley logo) or a sports-team logo jacket, and they serve the same purpose - keeping warmish in spring and fall weather or around an airconditioned office. I don't wear the thing at formal occasions, nor do I think it makes me "cool", just comfortable and loose fitting and not in a loud color. Anyway, fashion, misguided or not, is for young people. White men in formal occasions do look stupid in anything other than a suit.
NancyP

4/27/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Why do people even still even debate the atomic bombings? Far more Japanese were killed by conventional bombings througout the war. Of course, your knowledge and interest of WWII only seem to lie in being a rebel by portraying the Allied powers as badguys. Need I go into detail about how there are Japanese even today who feel China needed a good scourging?

Not to mention the rampant discrimination against non-Japanese Asians. You should write a article about how Koreans/Filipinos/Chinese with an interest in Japan are stupid tools with no awareness of their history and culture.

Anyways, I appreciate the irony of a Chinese/Taiwanese girl with a manga picture on her blog screaming at everyone for borrowing from other cultures. "You aren't in our club, stay out", you imply. I guess only White people should fence, perform ballet, and use inventions by White people?

4/27/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"I guess only White people should fence, perform ballet, and use inventions by White people?" - Alex

I guess the adage "No, but it's a start!" would be in poor taste here, huh?

All jokes aside, I'm troubled by the knee-jerk reaction to this post from some commenters. Yes, many Japanese engage in disgusting anti-African American caricatures when listening to hip hop. In this, they are no different than every White suburbanite who ever bought a Nelly album. They are no different than the legions of Eminem fans, no different than the middle class and upper middle class African American wannabe thugs in our nation's universities, who sag their pants on the way to lacrosse practice.

The point isn't that with all cross cultural interaction impolitic fetishization occurs. We know that. The point is that when some particular Whites immerse themselves in Japanese popular culture without any consideration for their views on Japanese people, problems start. It's ripping away cultural spice without care for who tills the fields. No, worse than that: some see no problem with atomic bombing the farmers.

In all honesty, my experience as an African American male is quite different. When I rant and bitch about cultural misappropriation and transracial theft, when I complain in no uncertain terms about what it feels like to have non-Blacks believe they can be "down" just because they know the sound production techniques of every producer on The Black Album, usually White people shut their damn mouths. It's much easier, I'd admit. Appreciate the irony of a person of color telling Whites, "I'd really feel better if you didn't reduce Asia to your private opium den," only to hear in response from John Q. Cracka, "Aren't you only here to love me long time?"

If a non-Black person wanted to defend their cultural imposition with such standoffish defiance, such complete inability to admit wrongdoing, we could not have a pleasant conversation. Please believe that.

Finally, everyone, we are talking about what some White Americans do to various Asian cultural traits. Seriously, any focus away from that towards the Japanese or anyone else's cultural misappropriation tries to shift the focus to make White folk more comfortable, and quite frankly, that's not exactly the agenda right now.

4/27/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Apa said...

Hey James, whether it applies to me or not, stereotypes and generalizations are still stereotypes and generalizations. Simply because they suit your bias does not make them any less.

Does eating at an Indian restaurant insult her Asian heritage too? How about Mongolian BBQ? If I make Phad Thai at home, am I still insulting her Chinese/Taiwanese heritage? Even among the East Asian countries (Japan, China, Korea) the cultures are unbelievably different. Seems to me that she's saying "Asian is Asian".

You want to talk about cultural rape? How about we talk about The Great Leap Forward? How about we talk about Nanking and Tibet? How about we talk about real, cultural rape, in which oppressive foreign powers actively try and wipe out a culture? Hell, if you want, we can talk about the genocide of American Indians and the Nazis in Europe. Any of those discussions has more worth than whining because people like Bali dances, kimchee, manga and kung fu.

4/27/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

How many of you who love your kimchee and Chai, who defend nunchaku and Pad Thai knew or were planning on celebrating Asian American Heritage Month this coming month?

The question is about cultural reappropriation. Any time you take from another culture that is not your own, you tread the line into appropriation and misappropriation. What bothers me is the repeated appropriation of African and Asian culture by Whites in this country.

It's not my job to defend your fetish for acupuncture and tai chi. It's your job to. To demand that I be okay with your cultural rape of people like me is asking me to bend over and take it, and ask for yet another syphilis-coated blanket.

If you want to rape and pillage another culture, fine, but don't be surprised if you encounter some backlash.

4/27/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Jay Sennett said...

To James and Jenn,

The backlash here means you're spot on in your observations.

The backlash, as both of you have observed, is part of the agenda of White Supremacy.

I can't remember the psychological term for this behavior - diverting, misdirecting, ? - but we engage in it when people of color call us on our shit and we realize we s-t-i-n-k.

4/27/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

While I can only imagine the frustration of feeling like you're an "other" within the confines of a Western culture, I think you're painting with far too large brush strokes.

Is Hollywood kind to Asian cultures and depictions? Not usually. Are there really geeky white guys who think katanas are cool and Asian chicks hot and don't stop to think about the implications of such? Yes.

I don't know. I'm a "gwai lo." I make an attempt to be sensitive about racial issues, but after a certain point you're just damned if you do and damned if you don't. I could retreat to more homogenous white cultural traditions--but wait, if I'm Irish-Italian, can I eat a gyro without feeling guilty? I'd probably be excused of being closeminded and indifferent to non-white cultural traditions.

Or if I attempt to engage or involve myself with non-white traditions, I'm appropriating them for nefarious use in my wicked honky schemes.

If Joe Caucasian starts taking an Asian martial art because he thinks it looked cool in a movie, but eventually uses it as a jumping off point to learning about Asian history is that the same as some fanboy drooling over Asian fetish site? Or are whites supposed to approach the topic with a wealth of historical knowledge already at hand?

And as others have said, if we're talking about the weight of history here, there's immense irony in someone with Chinese ancestry embracing Japanese culture given the atrocities the latter committed against the former in World War II.

Godammit, if I see another Asian violin player...

4/27/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"And as others have said, if we're talking about the weight of history here, there's immense irony in someone with Chinese ancestry embracing Japanese culture given the atrocities the latter committed against the former in World War II."

Have the balls to ask me directly. And, by the way, I'm Chinese Canadian and completely aware of the tensions between China and Japan dating far further back than WWII.

Using manga is completely intentional. I can tell you where the image is from AND how it has been altered from its original cultural trans-appropriation.
(The image was originally a Japanese manga of a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl now being used in a blog about appropriation by a Chinese Canadian)

4/27/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I will apologize for the ad hominem. It's a facile way of engaging what is a complex argument that you're making, hyperbolic or not. We don't know each other and never will, so it's doubly pointless.

I won't bore you with stories about the white man's personal plight, but rest assured in any discussion about race, one side is generally screaming and the other side is not listening. As such, they usually accomplish nothing.

I'll just leave it at this:

I think you make some good points. I can only begin to imagine how annoying seeing your culture and your person fetishized by oblivious and/or malicious white guys.

I also think your arguments lack important nuance. I think that, at face value, they seem to advocate xenophobia. Cultural exchanges have been a part of human history since the beginning of civilization. Culture is so entwined that I doubt you could point to any single human creation or philosophy that is truly culturally homogenous.

From your position, I understand why you single out white people. Sure, we suck in many ways and frequently. We had a few centuries where we sucked especially hard and are still winding down from it. But you're ultimately arguing against what is a HUMAN behavior that is far larger and more complex than a single race's actions.

Hopefully you'll also understand, even partially, why we get defensive about it without writing it off as a tantrum over the "loss of our privilege."

4/27/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I have not ignored nuance. It is all there in the post. Sufficed to say, I haven't really participated in this discussion because most of the commentors are ignoring the nuance I laid out in the original post. I fully recognize the universality of cultural borrowing.

I'm not saying half the things people are arguing against. It's not worth my time to correct them if they couldn't figure it out from the original post.

4/27/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Rtother said...

This is really just a side note, but I see that some of the posts above are taking a page out of the right-wing book of hyperbole and vitriol.

4/27/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"I won't bore you with stories about the white man's personal plight, but rest assured in any discussion about race, one side is generally screaming and the other side is not listening. As such, they usually accomplish nothing." - Chris

"From your position, I understand why you single out white people. Sure, we suck in many ways and frequently. We had a few centuries where we sucked especially hard and are still winding down from it. But you're ultimately arguing against what is a HUMAN behavior that is far larger and more complex than a single race's actions." - Chris

I totally don't agree with these points. People choose to scream just as they choose to ignore others; none of that behavior is commonplace in discussions on American racism. Chris, if this is how you view discussions on American race relations, that speaks volumes about your position in this ongoing controversy. Frankly, people who choose to tune out when others discuss their frustration with oppressive power structures allow those oppressive power structures to flourish. They become the problem.

Secondly, I tire of people who remind us of the universality of prejudice and discrimination when the specific actions of European Americans in America are discussed. I know Black people can be racist; that does not mean that in every discussion of racism I need to focus on racist Blacks, just to make White people feel more anonymous in their hatred of others. All people of color do not work for their White brethren; this is not Richmond, VA circa 1863.

I care nothing for White defensiveness. People are individuals; when they screw up, and other individuals call them on their mistakes, and analyze those mistakes in the contexts of historical and current racist groupthink, those individuals can't appeal to themes of universal human hatred to displace their responsibility for their negative behavior. The useful response here is to admit wrongdoing and put down the Tiger balm.

4/29/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly question. Would you rather that many immigrants not do what they do when first coming to the US (and I presume, other countries as well) - start restaurants and grocery stores featuring the food of their countries of origin, and marketing outside the ethnic community? It's a pretty good business, doesn't require certification by restrictive licensure boards or an expensive education, offers employment to other immigrants who are still working on improving colloquial English language skills, offers entrepreneurs the chance to be their own boss. We have had a bunch of waves of immigration to this town, Vietnamese and Thai, Mexican, Bosnian, and some vigorous small business districts have cropped up as a result. They aren't just selling to their own community, but also to a lot of white or black neighbors who want an inexpensive bowl of noodles for lunch, or cheap mangoes, or a good smoked sausage (Bosnians are big fans of smoked meats). Is it cultural appropriation to buy from small businesses rather than buy from chain American style places like McDonald's or Applebee's? I say this, because one of the two main immigrants' restaurant and small business strips is down the street from where I work, and a lot of people go get lunch or dinner there. I see it as a win-win deal - businessperson sells good product to hungry people, money stays in local economy.
NancyP

4/29/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Hmm... The way I read the post I figured there was a serious difference between eating Indian take-out because you like the spices, taking a self-defense course, or watching "Seven Saumarai" because you heard it was a good film and specifically, methodically seeking out these things because they are aspects of an "exotic culture" and they make you feel special and exotic and just better than not only the rest of your culture, but also the culture you're seeking out.

For an analogy: cooking Spaghetti for convenience or watching Goodfellas vs. wearing a fedora, playing Sinatra music, watching Scarface repeatedly and affecting a Mobster accent so that you can look like a toughguy.

But I seem to be in the minority here.

4/29/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger kalinara said...

On some level, I see what you're saying. On another, I'm offended by the way you present the argument.

The "otaku" culture indeed appropriates Asian elements willy-nilly, and the majority haven't done any research and just appropriate things that are novel and cool. (And most of them learned about the Meiji Restoration from Rurouni Kenshin, I challenge you to ask any of them the significance of Satsuma or Chooshu in the events leading up to it.)

*But*, I fail to see what's wrong with a healthy interest in a foreign culture. A genuine desire to immerse yourself to learn. Tea ceremonies, flower arranging, calligraphy, martial arts, anime, an interest in these things is not innately bad, in my opinion. Just as having an interest in Moorish archetecture, Spanish language, the cultural meanings behind the running of the bulls, or anything like that wouldn't be a bad thing either.

American culture isn't empty, Anglo-European culture isn't empty, but some people have a genuine interest in something beyond that and the implications that we should "stick to our own race" is a little disturbing.

Of course, I'm biased. I've got a undergrad degree in Asian Studies, I've been to Japan twice to study, My focus is on history and culture. And I'm white. And to be fair, I started as a Japanophile otaku.

I'm pretty sure that the initial argument isn't targetting genuine cultural borrowing, or possibly even the academic interests of certain individuals, but the presentation of your initial argument leaves enough ambiguity to allow for many different misinterpretations. And thus, however the initial intention of the post was meant, I'm a little offended.

4/29/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger shannon said...

I think Jenn's initial post was pretty clear- don't go and have fun with my culture because you're like OOOOOH! Exotic! I'm so different and cool now, but just scurry away when it's time to actually care about Asian people themselves.

I like manga, but I don't go around saying "Oh, I totally understand Japan! I read some comic books, and that makes me Japanese in my soul!" And I would never go and try to teach English in Japan because of a few comic books or try to have an asian girl fetish because I saw Memiors of a Geisha

4/29/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Richard Jeffrey Newman said...

When I lived in South Korea--I taught English there for a while--I was astonished at the degree to which most of my white western colleagues refused to acculturate, rejecting everything about the country in which they were living from the food to cultural norms of time to the language. These were, all of them, college-educated men and women, most with graduate degrees in teaching ESL/EFL, and they seem to me to be the flip side of the Asiaphile coin and may offer a useful comparison. What these people were resisting, I think, was the way in which truly living in another culture, especially one in which you are as alien as a white person in Korea, requires you to give up some of yourself in order to become part of that culture. This is a fact of becoming fluent in another language as well: you have to be willing to take into yourself aspects of the culture of that language and how it is spoken/used and that means "giving up" the parts of yourself that are inherent to your native language/culture--at least while you are speaking that other language. (There is also the issue here of racism, but for the purpose of what I want to say, I am going to give my colleagues the benefit of the doubt and not go there.)

The kinds of people Jenn is angry at, it seems to me, are the inverse (is that the right word; or is it converse? I always get those two mixed up) of people like my former colleagues. What Jenn is angry at are people who, without doing any of the difficult, transformative work that is necessary if one is truly going to take on some aspect(s) of another culture, behave as if that culture somehow belongs to them rather than working to allow themselves to "belong" to that culture (if that formulation makes sense).

When I came home from Korea, it took some months before the elements of Korean body language that had become part of my repertoire to recede and for the body language that is native to me to become again dominant. I can still perform Korean body language and sometimes find myself slipping into it when I order food in a Korean restaurant, where I find it almost impossible to order in English, since the names of the foods, etc. come to me first in the language I learned them in, Korean. But were I self-consciously to perform Korean body language in my daily life or in the classrooms where I teach, I would be, in my own way, as guilty of the kind of appropriation Jenn is talking about when she decries the

"pimple-faced White boys living a continent away wrapping themselves in black bedsheets, twirling fake-jewel-encrusted and elaborately decorated steel sai, and trying to scale the brick wall of their college dorm building."

People who refuse to see this, who take refuge in "but isn't it nice to be interested in other cultures" type of arguments so that they do not have to see the kind of difference I am talking about, are indeed finding refuge in western, and probably white, cultural privilege.

One last thing, my favorite Sinophile story: A colleague of mine who defines the word Sinophile was for a while wearing a hat that he claimed was a Charlie-Chan hat. It was not in itself identifiably Chinese; it was a type of hat that he said was worn by one of the characters (maybe Charlie Chan) in the Charlie Chan movies. (I don't know because while I may have seen a Charlie Chan movie or two when I was younger, it's also possible I did not; I don't have any memory of it.)

Anyway, this colleague approached a Chinese-American colleague in the mailroom one day, cornered her by backing her up against the mailboxes, and said something like, "You're Chinese; you'll appreciate this! Isn't this Charlie Chan hat great?!"

My friend looked up at him and said, "I have no idea; I've never seen a Charlie Chan movie"

4/30/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Jenn:
Any time you take from another culture that is not your own...

What makes a culture "your own"?

Birth location?

Race?

Or what?

4/30/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Brandon Berg said...

I don't see what the big deal is. Sure, it's silly, but the kitschification of the foreign is probably something that takes place in pretty much every culture that can afford such indulgences---certainly Japan gives as good as it gets.

I'm all for making fun of this sort of thing, but I don't see any cause for outrage.

4/30/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Great post. Came here from Alas, a Blog.

And it's pretty clear to me, at least, that there's a distinction in this post between the person who drinks green tea, and the person who drinks green tea because it's exotic and ooh, 'Asian.'

Anglophiles and Francophiles can be annoying in this way, too. Not to mention the rosary-bead-wearing celebrities & the Blessing Way seeking pregnany white ladies.

4/30/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

Wow, I'm surprised this topic became so big.Or maybe I shouldn't be.Goood points all around.

4/30/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Props to you for the incisive post and props to James for clowning the easily clownable.

4/30/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

cala said
Great post. Came here from Alas, a Blog.

And it's pretty clear to me, at least, that there's a distinction in this post between the person who drinks green tea, and the person who drinks green tea because it's exotic and ooh, 'Asian.'


Yes, thank you. It seemed pretty clear to me, too, but some people just can't stand that someone might think their bouncing around wielding meter sticks as samurai swords is dorky and offensive.

4/30/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Arielle said...

Here's a thought. Let's have Japanese-made animes stop featuring people who look nothing, NOTHING like asians (the blondes and redheads, the women with enormous boobs, the humongous eyes, et cetera), western ideas/scenes/merchandise/clothing, and let's even go so far as to keep them from bastardizing the English language with poorly made dubs and subs. Let's take all the western influences over the past century out of Asia, and have asians figure it out on their own. The clothes, cars, technology in general, fast-food (although frankly I would rather go without it over here as well), all of that. Do you really think that western folk are the only ones who copy other cultures and royally screw them up the ass?

4/30/2006 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Arielle said...

Er- my apologies for the multiple sends. Even if I don't apologize for the content.

4/30/2006 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

arielle, your multi-posting has been cleaned up.

see earlier discussion on the relevance of lambasting anime in this ameri-centric discussion as a response to your actual comment.

4/30/2006 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Aerlyn said...

Wow. As a fellow Canadian university student, I've noticed we have a lot of political views and opinions in common.

This, however, is not one of them. Anime otaku and obsessive asiophiles can be annoying, yes, but all cultures have their geeks. Honestly, I haven't seen anyone attacking Japanese kids for wearing "Engrish" t-shirts, or mocking people who enjoy Disneyland Hong Kong. By the lines of reasoning shown here, well, then shouldn't we lecture anyone of Asian descent if they're caught using a fork and knife instead of chopsticks, wearing bluejeans, eating McDonalds, or watching any of the numerous Chinese or Korean dramas shot in Vancouver, New York, or Los Angeles? How dare they steal white culture! How dare they!

Yeah. I appreciate the sincerity of your "brutally honest" policy...but at the same time, you really need to get over yourself. Activism and honest opinions are one thing, but pure internet wank is another. When you start to embarrass people who can identify with you...it might be an idea to re-examine your place of perspective. Chill out. Relax. The world is far from a utopia, but it's difficult to see how whining about people appreciating a lack of racism is going to help anyone be happy.

4/30/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Question for aerlyn in reference to this really dead horse she and some other commentors have kept beating:

Why do you think I would defend Japanese misappropriation of White culture?

Is it because you see an Asian face and think I couldn't possibly have something to negative to say about them too?

The scope of this post is fucked up Asiaphiles I have encountered here, coupled with a history of cultural imperialism committed by White people for generations upon generations. If you have to repeatedly try to change the subject by attacking Japanese anime, then you honestly have no idea what I'm talking about and don't really care to think about it for two seconds.

Better question -- how does Japanese misappropriation of White culture negate the offensiveness of fetishization of other cultures, particularly White people who fetishize Asian culture? Last I checked, otaku weren't misappropriating Japanese culture to get back at the Japanese -- they just use instances of appropriation by Japanese to justify their own imperialism.

Which doesn't even get me started on the history of Japan. WWII, crushing of traditional Japanese culture by Americans, and re-writing of their Constitution ring a bell for anyone? When America went in and took Japanese culture from the Japanese, that initiated the largest wave of Japanese misappropriation of White culture. Last I checked, Japan never ransacked America, deposed their political leader, and forced the religious figureheads of America to denounce traditional American culture up to that point. It doesn't make Japanese misappropriation of White culture right, but it does make it an exceptionally poor analogy.

4/30/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous electron said...

Hahaha.

America wants its wide-eyed Disney cartoons back. Please remove your imitation Disney characters from your blog before you go complaining about cultural appropriation.

What's that I smell? Is that the smell of sweet, sweet, hypocrisy?

But hey, nothing says loud, proud Asian woman like putting a picture of a glorified white girl at the top of your blog, now does it?

4/30/2006 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Oh, come on. Jenn's already explained her masthead pic.

Look, there's nothing wrong with learning about other cultures, or enjoying them. Today I had green tea at breakfast and chai later. I also had a Guinness with my burger at dinner. But sometimes I go for sushi, or falafel, or pad thai, or curry, or pizza because I live in a place with lovely takeout. I studied karate once, and I tried Irish dance in college. I wasn't any good at either.

I used to compete in fencing, but now I lift weights and take yoga. Katamari Damacy is my favorite video game, and I loved Ang Lee's gay cowboy movie. Over Easter I dyed eggs in the Ukrainian style and made my little sister crêpes to eat for brunch.

And that's pretty cool. But if I start talking about my Irish heritage, or how my three months of karate opened me up to my eastern side, or how the pierogis put me in touch with the French fencers and the Chinese-made American cowboys, and how I really understand the 'Asian mind' because I pwned the ikebana level in the game while understanding the Palestinian situation revealed in my sandwich pita... dude.

I'd deserve a mocking for thinking I had figured out a culture from a tiny experience.

4/30/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

electron, you are not presenting a new argument. i posted the rationalization for this blog layout in an earlier comment, however, my about section has also been edited to include my thoughts on this topic.

If you want to get off acusing me of Asiaphilia, go nuts, and I will simply suggest that I disagree. Nevertheless, I challenge you to find a similar rationalization of other people's Asiaphilia. That is, after all, all I'm asking for.

4/30/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

cala, i *heart* you.

4/30/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

Hi,

I just found your journal via a link on LJ, and wanted to throw a yellow fist in support, and share my own experience with appropriation.

Chris

4/30/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A BLOO BLAH BLOO ATOMIC BOMBS AND INTERNMENT CAMPS

Dropping the A-Bomb on innocent civilians is probably one of the worst mistakes in US history, but internment camps? Lady, your culture force fed pregnant chinese women water until they exploded. Cry me a fucking ricver.

4/30/2006 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

I completely agree, but for those of us who do take Asiatic cultures seriously, as well as their practices, while not claiming to be asiaphiles, I would ask you to be careful. I understand that this is an unapologetic rant, and take it in the spirit with which it was said (ie. anger), but I know of people who would become equally angry with your statements, one of who i believe you have already encountered. I subscribe to Ch'an Buddhism, I am beginning to understand many of the unfortunate implications of the Great Leap forward, I know Hiroshima and Nagasaki for what they are, as terrible crimes and a gross misuse of science in both the creation of weapons and the selection of targets. I have endeavoured to understand why the ninja are misappropriated, as well as why they fought. I won't dare call myself an expert, just someone who is trying. As someone who studies a martial art which has lead to the persecution of monks and burning of temples, and as someone who studies qi gong for more then just a feeling of well being, but for reasons that made it illegal, I am beginning to understand.

Maybe it will give you heart within your anger to know that not every white boy is an idiot. Or maybe it won't. Regardless, while I understand your anger, please remember that your words can hurt people who do not, and that is not their problem, it is YOURS, because you also lead a privileged life, and must confront people with information, not inflammatory statements. I have never met you, and should you, or any other angry party attempt to make me the victim of your anger, I will make it clear why it detracts from your cause. And I do believe in your cause.

4/30/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Nick, thank you for your words, and to anyone who was this post was not addressed to who were offended, I'm sorry but at the same time, I was careful (at least imo) to distinguish the kind of people I was talking about.

I certainly don't think every White boy is an idiot. That would make me as much a racist as the Asiaphiles in question. I, however, also do not back down from my anger.

Nonetheless, once again, thank you, Nick, for your sincere words and I can appreciate your moderate (dis)agreement.

To yeloson, raise that yellow fist, brother!

4/30/2006 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what makes the USA have to feel guilty for thier war crimes while Japan quietly writes them out of thier history books like a George Orwell wet dream?

Wait a second, you aren't even Japanese, you're Chinese. Ahahahahaha, holy shit.

Holy shit


If you actually knew anything about your own goddamn culture, you would know that the Japanese despise the Chinese.
The culture you're complaining about whitey going after isn't even your colture, you racist moron.
And the best part of it is that all those atrocities you were pointing out that were done to Japan Saved your asses. And from a whole ton more than than having you "culture raped" by people watching your movies and buying your products (which aren't even yours to begin with, hahahah). Our monsterous acts saved your ancestors' homeland from having thier resources, borders, and citizens raped, you clown.

5/01/2006 12:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Silly Walnut said...

Okay... Get of your Soap Box and get the fuck off the stage.

You live in CANADA. Not Japan. By your logic you're an asianphile with a closer look at said culture.

And what about the mexican, black, and south american asianphiles? hmmmn? are they invisible?!

is it so wrong for someone like me to enjoy asian food and cooking it?

OH NOES I'M RAPING JAPAN BY ENJOYING TOFU, THAI FOOD,PILATES, AND TEA!!!

OH NOES I'M AN EVEN WORSE CULTURE RAPIST THAN FIRST THOUGHT! I'VE STOLEN TEA FROM THE ASIANS!

And even worse i'm making you be an asshole. oh noes.

because the cultures of the world are so obviously copyright to their respective countries.

which means that i get to bitch slap, in written word, all the Faerie lovers that speak of Leprechauns. As well as the non-Irish/welsh/scottish boys in kilts that know nothing of the white negroes, nor of the degradation of my people.

go look it up, and stop with the "ZOMG I HATE THE SHALLOW PETTY BASTARDS OF THE WORLD THAT RAPE MY CULTURE!"

the end.

5/01/2006 12:42:00 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Wow. Some of the commenters here are like textbook cases of some deep racist pathology.

I think the problem is that the line between sincere appreciation and cultural appropriation isn't always that clear. I mean, we can all agree that it's appropriation if you dress up like a ninja and then think you're really plugged in to the mystical soul of Japan. But I've been really interested in a culture not my own since I was a little kid, and I honestly don't know whether it's an interest or a fetish. I don't think it's a fetish, but does anyone ever think their interest is a fetish? I think the important thing is not to be defensive and to try to honestly interrogate your own motives. Which is easier said than done.

But I guess the other thing is that I believe that cultural cross-fertilization can be a really productive thing. It's also basically inevitable, given migration and the globalized media and whatnot. I just don't always know how to think about the way that power relations shape these interactions.

5/01/2006 01:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Keffy said...

So... it's only cultural appropriation (judging by your post and the comments that followed) if it is by white people on some group that is defined as oppressed?

Are you upset because the white people (which... since when are all the obnoxious anime fans in the US or Canada white? I've seen them come in all shapes, colors and degrees of priviledge, honestly.) are cramping your style, or are you pissed off because not everybody has passed enough Japanese history courses to have earned their right to appreciate another culture?

If it's the second, then what is your alternative? White people stick to white forms of entertainment? White people just should never culturally mix with other groups of people? Hey guess what! There IS a group like that! They're called the Klu Klux Klan in America. Boy, that's sure breaking down the racist barriers of cultural appropriation! (Actually there are many groups like that all over the world, and yeah, they're the textbook definition of racism).

I usually hate people who bring up shit like this, but if people are going to throw around the "yeah, but... Japan/China/wherever never ever oppressed white people, or people who followed European traditions/religions/whatever", I just have to say: what? Never? That's a pretty big one, there. And how do the Chinese feel about the Japanese appropriating parts of their culture and vice versa. Or the Koreans? Or is that okay because the Japanese are Asian and by our THOUSANDS OF MILES REMOVED Canadian perspective, they are one of the OPPRESSED groups?

How do you feel about St. Patrick's Day? Guinness beer, Italian sodas or pizza? And just as an aside, have you ever watched the anime entitled "Hellsing"?

I also realize that you've written this blog post in such a way that if anybody actually challenges you on your assumptions you can just say "oh no, I didn't mean THOSE people, I meant the ones I don't like". Which begs the question: where's the cut-off point? When does it stop being curiosity or interest, and start being appropriation? Is there actually a line that is crossed here, or is it all or nothing? (In which case, I'm sorry, but yes, that IS a racist perspective).

5/01/2006 01:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand the anger you experience at the outsiders that take your culture. Like you, I have felt oppressed at the blatant theft Americans have had of my cultural icons of Lumberjacks, maple syrup, french stereotypes, furtrappers, and sketch comedy. As a fellow Canadian, I'm sure you can sympathize.

Look, you're picking and choosing what your culture really means. You've formed the nebulous category of 'asian' to put yourself under when you're a Canadian who happens to have two parents from different parts of China. I'm not saying that you should shun those plagerizing Koreans or the goddamned murdering Japanese, but pointing the finger at folks who have an interest, be it innocent or scholarly or just plan retarded, in the collection of countries in Asia through a strawman arguement of the fat pimply otaku is lame. It really is just plain lame. You're not 'asian'. You're not even Chinese. You're a Canadian. You're as 'Asian' as I am 'European'. You're just an orientiphile who is a little closer to the east than the folks who you complain about. Really, I don't understand why you make such a big deal about this sort of thing when the Japanese still eat up American culture like it was the best damn thing ever.

I'm sure it's easy enough for you to gloss over the mainland invasion of China by the Japanese, the oppresion of Tibet and Tiawan, and the horrors of North Korea; not to mention every thing else that happened previous to the 20th century. I'm sure it's really easy for you to talk about stupid fucking white people on the vanity site you have the money and time to have.

You know, if you were actually Chinese, if you actually worked 10 hours in a factory under the iron fist of a communist dictatorship, I might sympathize with your point of view. No, you're a Candian who just happens to have Chinese parents.

5/01/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another thing -- you completely gloss over the other end of the spectrum.

How many times does Anime completely and utterly rape the context and symbolism of WESTERN religion?

I could name off dozens of anime series that do that.

It's totally shameful that we horrible white-devils trivialize 'your culture' (Canadian?), but the fact that you don't even think about how popular culture in Japan does it all the time is just awesome.

The Chinese who came to america long ago to build the railroads faced a giant bucket of shit when they came here. You have a vanity site in which you talk about how the horrible stupid white people ruined everything by having movies with ninjas.

I believe you have some issues with perspective.

5/01/2006 02:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're putting your frustrations on the wrong people. I know we Americans (and by Americans, I mean everybody, not just whites) tend to absorb and, admittedly, disfigure a lot of other cultures traditions, but we're not the only ones. Other countries take and disfigure our traditions too. This isn't uncommon: It's been happening for THOUSANDS of years. Look at the Greeks and the Romans. Everyone knows the Toga, yes? But did you know the concept was originally stolen from the Greeks and called a Himation? Most people don't. Thats just one example of one country taking anothers ideas and using it to their own purpose. Look at fashion and science and art. For thousands of years, humans have been barrowing ideas and using them the way they want.

I understand a little of your frustration, but I think you have some underlying issues that aren't really directly linked to the self-labled otaku that you need to figure out. You sound like you're anger is focused more on whites and less on the geeks who go for anything Asian, because I'll tell you, there are some pretty asiaphiliac asians who don't even speak their "native" tounge that I kno, but I doubt you'd be angry at them because they have the right skin color. And by the way, while you do make a few valid points, it would make your argument seem a little more respectable if you didn't bring in the Race/Opression card. Because, let me tell you, the Japanese did some really fucked up shit when they occupied Korea and during their war with China. Rape, murder, POW's treated worse than animals, destructions of innocent towns and villages, the opression of an entire countries culture, language, even their own NAMEs. It was fucked up.

But thats the way it goes with every culture. I hate to tell you, but you're not special. Get over it.

5/01/2006 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

just to put it out there -- this post lambasts the appropriation of all asian cultures, not merely japanese cultures.

why? because this post is lambasting fetishization.

5/01/2006 03:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here's an honest question: As an American Catholic, should I be deeply offended at the way Japan portrays my religion in it's various anime shows? (ie: showing nuns as sexy, gun-toting, demon-fighting miko when in reality, they're not allowed to perform acts of violence OR dress in slitted skirts and garter belts? ) How about the way Catholicism is portrayed in the anime Hellsing (where one of the main characters- a priest, is portrayed as a loony psycho who likes to chop people up?) How about the fact that ANYTIME a Catholic-like religion is portrayed in an anime or RPG, it's invariably seen as an evil organization attempting to destroy or enslave the world. (As witnessed in Full Metal Alchemist, Grandia 2, Breath of Fire 2, and many other games and series.) TO say NOTHING of all the times that sacred and meaningful Western religious symbolism is appropriated (or MIS-appropriated) by Japanese animators and film-makers. (How many of these Japanese filmmakers have actually BEEN inside a Catholic church? What do they really know of the religion other than a few cool-sounding Bible verses they may have skimmed at one time?) Should I, as a Catholic and as a religious person, NOT be offended by their actions? Shouldn't I have just as much right to be pissed at what Japan is doing to my belief system as you have to be pissed at what casual Asia-philes are doing to your culture?

By the way, I'm white, but that shouldn't matter, should it? Misappropriation is misappropriation....right? And I have the right at all times to not be offended by the things that I find offensive. In fact, everyone who isn't me should kill themselves right now because I'm thoroughly disgusted with the human race as a whole on account of it's ignorance and stupidity. (And all Japanese people who go around wearing T-shirts with badly-translated English on it - they should be the first to die. How DARE they bastardize my language (which, judging by the stuff I see at Engrish.com, is something they barely understand and should really have nothing to do with...)

5/01/2006 04:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're complaining that people like your culture (well, a culture you're appropriating for the purposes of this post, anyway), but haven't you figured out that it's so much better than the alternative?

All of Roman culture was stolen from the Greeks-- didn't you know? -- because the Romans liked it? But the disapproved of major celtic cultural and religious aspects, and wiped them out, instead? Think about it-- which of those cultures all but died out, and which became mainstream? Which do we learn about from the age of 7?

I'm not white; I'm not asian; and I'm going to admit that I'm not unbiased.

But... open your eyes! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and parody is one of the most effective forms of publicity!

I and my culture had to protest 40 years ago just so that we wouldn't get beat up or expelled for speaking our language! Hell, the United States still wants to slowly and efficiently throw us all out and build a wall between the US and Mexico.

And here you are, complaining that the white boys are copying your culture-- you're even complaining that Americans are obsessing with the Manga style, which was originally made that way to imitate the Disney style!

But what you're missing here is that this sort of teen-dominated adoration is a subtle sign that Western world is accepting (and approving). Your 'misappropriated' culture is well on it's way to becoming the wild-type, the mainstream. Hell, kimonos are in style from Ethiopia to Ecuador! (In Ecuador, at least, Asian-based culture and fashion seems to be taking more of a hold than American or English...)

So think before you start complaining-- who's culture will the history books show 200, 300 years from now?

-P. M.

5/01/2006 05:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Aerlyn said...

"Question for aerlyn in reference to this really dead horse she and some other commentors have kept beating: Why do you think I would defend Japanese misappropriation of White culture?"

Frankly put, I don't. That's not the tune you're singing.

However, it's interesting how you think I would, as neither you nor myself singled out Japanese culture...although your rant tended to focus on it. It's your issue on "the appropriation of all asian cultures" that's making me feel ill. You complain about how "The Asiaphile...knows nothing about the Asian American movement even though he organizes endless anime, sushi and karaoke nights at his college campus." You emphasise you disgust at how ignorant white kids "reappropriate my culture".

No one can steal this from you. People are expanding, learning, and respecting Asian culture day by day, and it's inevitable that many attempts will be obnoxious. A better response to this is more education, and more guidance to these groups and individuals, and not sitting around complaining and being obnoxious in return.

After this blog post runs through its natural life, what are you going to do? Bring it up again in one year, and accuse everyone about beating dead Japanese horses without actually reading the opinions of other people? If you're "not going to take it anymore", all you need is an attitude check. You're railing on people who don't deserve it, and attacking a generalization of people who are ignorant of why you think it's incorrect.

I just have to wonder at the meaning of taking personal offence to a generalization of Pop Culture. Of course it is making stereotypical misrepresentations, or "fortune cookie-ing", of Asian culture -- stereotypical misrepresentations are practically a definition of what Pop Culture is! You aim your antagonism to those who are enjoying what they can get of culture because they were not actually born into it, and call them thieves. I say either let them have their Dim Sum and anime and feel content at having tasted something they can't automatically receive, or help make the world a better place by sharing what's true and good. Bitching and screaming "MINE!" is not going to do anything to improve your situation.

5/01/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

You know what the difference is between appreciation and appropriation?

Respect.

Appreciation comes with an understanding that the cultural artifacts are the result of an entire people and way of thought. Appropriation comes with the idea that -YOU- have more of a right to define or redefine it regardless of whatever it was before.

Sort of like how many of you are coming to Jenn's blog here to TELL HER what she can and can't write about...

Amazing.

Of course, I just wrote sentences more complex than "ME HATE STUPID", so, I'm sure it will whistle past most of you anyway.

Here, have a fortune cookie.

5/01/2006 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger ebee said...

*hugs*

I came here by way of recumbentgoat on lj. Well written, yo. I feel you on this.

5/01/2006 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Kas said...

You're Chinese. -_-

5/01/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

'Wow, I'm surprised this topic became so big.Or maybe I shouldn't be.Goood points all around."

On second thought after reading more of the responses here and elsewhere, I take that back.Besides a few that may disagree respectfully, everyone else is calling you whiney,angry, telling you to get over yourself,trying to tell you what you should do, etc etc.I got what you were saying in the begining and just gave my opinion to not overlook any nonwesterners who do the same.But the focus here is on people who take a love of asian culture too far without actually thinking.So, from this point I'll just concentrate on that.

5/01/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Flidget Jerome said...

You keep talking about the White Man appropriating Asian Culture. That word, 'asian'. There IS no Asian culture. If you want to sound legitimate stop talking about it like it's one big happy hegemony.

5/01/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

P.M.,

I think you're missing an important point in all this, is that for all the seeming care that white Americans have for Asian culture, too few of them sincerely care about us the people. If they did, I'd actually see some real Asians on television and not as cameos, instead of just the same old same old Chinese delivery guy, flunky number 2, nerdy geek, Asian prostitute, random geisha...

Aerlyn,

You'd be surprised at how ignorant people can get. People still think most stereotypes of Asians are true (nerdy guys, martial arts, bad driving). I actually don't mind educating people, but there's a fundamental problem (as exhibited already by many posts in this blog) with respect, as Bankuei points out.

Flidget,

There are many social anthropologists that say race is constructed too. But that doesn't negate the fact that the social construction of race actually affects societal interactions.

Likewise, because of (white) American cultural hegemony, Asian culture often gets lumped into one (because "they all look the same").

5/01/2006 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

"OH NOES I'M RAPING JAPAN BY ENJOYING TOFU, THAI FOOD,PILATES, AND TEA!!!

OH NOES I'M AN EVEN WORSE CULTURE RAPIST THAN FIRST THOUGHT! I'VE STOLEN TEA FROM THE ASIANS!
" - Silly Walnut

"You're not 'asian'. You're not even Chinese. You're a Canadian. You're as 'Asian' as I am 'European'. You're just an orientiphile who is a little closer to the east than the folks who you complain about. Really, I don't understand why you make such a big deal about this sort of thing when the Japanese still eat up American culture like it was the best damn thing ever." - Anonymous

"So... it's only cultural appropriation (judging by your post and the comments that followed) if it is by white people on some group that is defined as oppressed?" - Keffy

"You aim your antagonism to those who are enjoying what they can get of culture because they were not actually born into it, and call them thieves. I say either let them have their Dim Sum and anime and feel content at having tasted something they can't automatically receive, or help make the world a better place by sharing what's true and good." - Aerlyn

"You keep talking about the White Man appropriating Asian Culture. That word, 'asian'. There IS no Asian culture." - Flidget Jerome

Wow. I don't know how Jenn puts up with this crap. As I said forty comments back, when people appropriate African American youth culture, they try to do it in the relative safety of their own homes. Little White boys and little White girls try not to sit down at the table of brotherhood basing Bow Wow singles on their I-pods and calling themselves niggers, to then expect zero bodily harm. Some of you who assume that Jenn's incorrect in her reaction to those who often lack the knowledge about a people to respect their culture on anything more than a "Wow, I love Gundam Wing! Hi-yah!" level have to realize that your position is indefensible. People who love bubble tea and J-pop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex because of the Japanese American students in their classes or the Cartoon Network but know nothing about Executive Order 9066 can't bitch about how much they respect the Asian American experience!

Further, the "They do it too!!!" argument is really weak, and dog tired. People just sound stupid saying tripe like: "It's totally shameful that we horrible white-devils trivialize 'your culture' (Canadian?), but the fact that you don't even think about how popular culture in Japan does it all the time is just awesome." Memo to this Anonymous poster - no one cares. Really. You can't defend cultural rape - not even Eminem defends his existence by referencing Living Colour. Hell, African American music and cultural is arguably the most Xeroxed creativity in the modern world. Hip hop provides the soundtrack to our daily triumphs and private losses, often delivered through i-pods or I-tunes, completely disassociated from the urban blighted young African American realities of drugs, gangs, and early death most rap listeners from gated community America will never know about. To quote T.I., "What'chu know about that?"

Hell, at most universities, White kids base all the G-Unit music Interscope sells them, but won't allow Black students into their frat parties for fear of theft and petty larceny. Those White people who act entitled to the cultural production of other minority communities of color in the American context still consider themselves more educated and more productive and more American than their fellow citizens with more melanin, and it causes some people of color to get angry. Hell, think of the Mexican American who watches conservative media pundits and average White citizens lambaste and decry the illegal immigration of poor Mexicans into the United States, then purchases oranges at the local grocery while listening to the last Selena album. Some affluent Western communities operate on unspoken indentured servitude, where young children are cared for by Mexican nannies and all lawn care is performed by brown skinned undocumented workers, while White neo-plantation owners head out to the local community center to their seven PM salsa & merengue course. From some of the perspectives I've read recently here, many people think that in America, every person of color should offer a White person something, anything, to justify the colored citizen's existence. No. I reject that. This is not 1863, and we don't all work for you, White America. Get over it, before some minority citizens of color appropriate Smith & Wesson and Kalashnikov outside of pop songs to prove our cultural independence.

5/01/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1)
I spent 2 years as a child living in rural Japan.
Blonde.
Blue eyes.
Prepubescent.
Girl.
Nangoku, Kochi province.

You better believe I know what its like to be reduced to a caricature of a culture. There were times when I imagined all the things I would do to those sailor suited middle school girls to turn their cries of "Kawai! Kawai!" to "Kowai! Kowai!"

But the stereotype I was reduced to was a fairly benign one. I was more a house pet, or ornament, never a tradition bound warrior, or an exotic erotic entertainer. I might have really lost it if I had.

It’s difficult being identified as an outsider, being associated with an image that neither reflects your experience nor your beliefs.

That said I always have to remember that those giggly teenaged girls were, how shall I put this, dumbasses. They did not represent the entire Japanese population, and I would be doing all my Japanese friends a huge disservice if I implied they did.

2)
Have you ever been to a renaissance fair? Talk about creating a caricature. If people were really interested in knowing about the late middle ages, they'd throw feces in the streets, and start dropping off due to plague. What they want is not understanding, but entertainment, a fantasy world where they can have fun for a short while. Same holds true for people (white, black, Asian or otherwise) who participate in the new wave of oreintalism.

Most understand that they are only experiencing a fantasy. Those that don't, well see the comment above about dumbasses. Again, don't take them to represent the rest.

Also just as people of European decent simplify their own past for entertainment purposes, so does every other culture that's ever created a TV series about one of their great heroes.

3)
Anyone who is dumb enough to pull a "they have culture, we have psychology" act should be laughed at mightily. Unfortunately that about as much anyone can do about a person like that. Just be glad that globalization will eventually make them obsolete.

5/01/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Mandolin said...

I began this post a little irked because I hadn't picked up on your definitions of "appropriation" versus "appreciation"... as someone coming out of an anthropology major, I am used to occasional arguments that people who step outside the bounds of some nebulously defined 'culture' (which is constructed in the mind of the arguer as something static with absolute boundaries) are always being exploitative.

Clearly, that's not what you're arguing. I'm glad I read the whole comment thread. I can't believe how far up their asses some of the people here have jammed their heads.

As a non-asian white woman who has no particular interest in anime, but some geeky friends who do, I have always held concerns about Asiaphile culture and the exotification of the Asian. I have studied some Asian history, literature, and cultural writing; I hope that I don't transform that knowledge into my own brand of exoticism, though I'm sure that sometimes I do.

Thank you for writing this. Your post reminds me of important ways I need to consider my actions and monitor myself.

5/01/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Chinese Canadian, and find this topic amusing, why even bring it up? Let people do what they want it's not like they're forcing it down your goddamned throat every second they're doing it.

5/01/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger PikaPikaChick said...

I'm semi-offended by this and I'm not entirely able to nail down why.

Maybe it's because I'm half Korean.

Maybe it's because I'm a large part Ojibwe.

Maybe it's my Swedish roots.

Maybe it's the Polish blood.

Maybe it's the Finn in me.

So which culture shall I claim as my own and hoarde over everyone else?

I'm American, and if I'm reading history right, our culture and even our language was built by assimilating various global customs. Melting Pot and all that. I'm willing to bet that Canada can say the same.

So while I understand the frustration, I call bullshit on the argument.

5/01/2006 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Pikapikachick, maybe you have many cultures to call your own, and don't want to choose between them. That's fine and respectable. But everyone is not blended. Some people emerge from one specific sociopolitical worldview, and the idea that their resistance to cultural theft and appropriation should silence to allow superficial manga adherents the ability to wave their fake samurai swords in a public park with faux martial arts moves and shrill scream as accompaniment strikes me as unfair and unrealistic.

Just because some other people enjoy cultural mishmash, whether White American, Japanese, or Wu Tang Clan, does not mean I can't find fault with Whites who think they understand the African American experience because they saw Get Rich or Die Tryin' in theaters. This is about more than liking sushi, and one can't fault a person or a people for working to maintain their political and cultural identity against suburban vampires who drain social distinction from minority enclaves because they are so bored with their own origins.

Pikapikachick, I call bullshit on your argument. Mainstream nihilism is not an excuse for cultural theft.

5/01/2006 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Cala said...

To some people up thread:

St. Patrick's day is an Irish-American, not an Irish, holiday. (seriously. No green beer in County Cork.) So, it's not cultural misappropriation at all when it's a bunch of immigrant Americans throwing parades and drinking beer.

It would be cultural misappropriation if you thought that drinking Guinness and enjoying it made you Irish. I get to giggle at you if your last name is Polaski or Kwan and you talk about your Irish experience.

Re: Catholicism in anime... It may be offensive, but it's not exactly appropriation. Appropriation would be more like wearing rosary beads 'because, it's like, about women. Grrl power!' And yeah, it's infuriating. Ask an orthodox Jew about kabbalah sometime.

And yeah, it does go both ways. All the Japanese tourists in Atlanta who rush and buy cowboy boots and hats. That's how you be American. Wait, you're American and you don't have a cowboy hat? Me neither.

But, ya know, I'll giggle at them, too, especially if they attempt Southern accents or waving plastic six-shooters. And if you're running around pretending to be a ninja with a PVC sword, or pretending to keep it real cause you bought some hip-hop, I'm gonna giggle at you, too.

5/01/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Oh, and wasn't Pilates invented by a German?

5/01/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

St. Patrick's day is an Irish-American, not an Irish, holiday. (seriously. No green beer in County Cork.) So, it's not cultural misappropriation at all when it's a bunch of immigrant Americans throwing parades and drinking beer.

Actually, a lot of Irish people are totally offended by the way Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day. They do think it's cultural appropriation. They also point out that the American celebration of St. Patrick's Day, what with the drunkenness and the institutionalized homophobia, reinforces negative stereotypes about Ireland.

Ask an orthodox Jew about kabbalah sometime.

No kidding. Or, for that matter, ask them about those Christian "seders" that make Passover all about Christ.

Oh, and wasn't Pilates invented by a German?

Yup. We can all do guilt-free Pilates, because it was never intended as anything but a workout to improve fitness.

5/01/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey James, you sure are worried about suburban white kids stealing your culture, but what hand if any have you had personally in shaping that culture? Isn't attrbuting other's succeses and efforts to a racial culture (to which you just happen to belong) kind of a thinly veiled attempt to leech onto achivements which you had no part in?

5/01/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Sally, good point. I still think it's a bit different though than straightforward misappropriation. Two reasons:

1) It was a holiday created by a large group of Irish-American immigrants. It's not as though a group unconnected to it decided it was cool and made a holiday, but as I understand it, something a relative underclass did in celebration of their own heritage. It's changed over time, of course, and given that anyone who looks vaguely Irish, or is Catholic celebrates it, it bears no resemblance to anything in Ireland. That may be offensive and perpetuating old stereotypes, for the reasons you've mentioned but:

2) It's not really appropriation in the same sense that a white otaku or a non-Jewish kabbalah bead-bracelet wearer is, because it's the evolution of a celebration within a group, and it doesn't have quite the same fetishizing characteristics because there's a hell of a lot of Irish-Americans. (Well, maybe. Green beer and beads and leprechauns and all. But I don't see kids pretending to be leprechauns as much as I see the ninja types.) I think more appropriation is in the 'Celtic shit is soooo cool' things lately.

Whadda I know, though. I have about the most boring Western European ancestry ever. :)

5/01/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bankuei has gotten it right by acknowledging that there are some people who appreciate some aspect of someone else's culture (art, architecture, food, music, whatever), and that people who attend a show of modern Japanese printmakers or drink tea are not necessarily foriegn devils. Jenn came on rather strong in the original post, as if everyone uses a cuppa tea to have an unrealistic fantasy life based in comic books.
NancyP

5/01/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Oh, I thought the reference to ninjaboys narrowed her scope enough. If you're a white suburban ninja, we're supposed to laugh at you.

5/01/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Kaye said...

...

Hi, didn't you say that you're Chinese (more specifically, a mix of Shanghai and Taiwan?) in your about section?

Most of the examples that you raised are more related to the Japanese culture in question.

You're Chinese, that's mostly Japanese. Even though most of the cultures in that region originated from China, that doesn't mean that the cultures on that half of the globe can be generalized into one huge anonymous mass labeled as "ASIAN" (or "AZN," depending on how whitewashed and how desperate you are).

By categorizing distinct groups into one huge mass and tagging on pop culture pet peeves to them that's mostly representative to one group, I'd say you're as bad as the people you're flaming.

Get a grip on reality; when you've lived on that half of the world for at least a good third of your life and have been immersed in the culture, then maybe you can complain occasionally. Your "whine-bitch-moan-white people suck" post is not called for when you don't even speak a language fluently after 13 years of classes.

5/01/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you quite sure you couldn't find a more plausible way to be Oppressed? Claiming a mental illness usually works pretty well -- and, unlike a Chinese Canadian defending Japan from invasion by clueless fanboys, is actually plausible. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is popular with the Manufactured Angst crowd these days, and it excuses you from touching icky things.

5/01/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

あの。。。 えと。。。 君が中国人ですね?中国じんは日本人が大きたいですね?私の友達ルビは中国人、あの人のお父さんは「日本語を勉強しなくちゃいけません!」と言ました。君が日本が好きですか?ちょっとへんですね?

If you can read that then I commend you. If you can't then stop defending Japan. Like I said up there if you are going to stand by your culture so much then why are you so very fond of the Japanese? 'Aisa' as you like to call it is not one big happy family all united behind you. My friend's dad who still lives in China almost disowned her for studying Japanese. Please make a distinction between the different countries in Asia, we wouldn't want anyone mistaking North Korea for how the rest of Asia works now would we?

5/01/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Somebody who knows what "intelligence" is said...

Wow. You're really close-minded. Why can't other cultures explore other cultures? Let's see...you're Chinese...and you don't speak Chinese. Who's exploiting YOUR culture? Is it ONLY your culture? I think you, of all people should not be expressing these opinions.

Exploring other cultures means unity. I don't know how old you are or how immature you are, but I am in the hospitality industry. We unite cultures. Did you know the number of international travelers is increasing rapidly? We are beginning to adapt and understand cultures all across the world. And of COURSE that must be a horrible thing.

As for Memoirs of a Geisha. That movie is SHOCKING. Why? Chinese and Japanese have a LONG history of hate. Rape of Nanking for one. Do you know about that? NOPE! So the fact that Chinese actors are willing to speak and learn the Japanese culture, that is a big step forward.

And green tea...black tea...oolong tea...WHATEVER tea. Did you know there are medical benefits to drinking green and black tea? Nope. You don't have ANY evidence to support what you say. I could *crush* you. Green and black tea can inhibit the influenza virus. There are studies going on right now that some component of those tea leaves COULD be the cure for aids.

As for acupunture, tai chi, and martial arts...who the hell do you think you are? Do you know who is the top Chinese Martial Artist in the United States? A white guy. An amazing guy who's also really nice. He has a passion for wushu. Who are you to criticize other people's passion? At least they are doing something with their lives rather than complaining how other people suck.

And why has wushu moved to the United States? AND to Canada. AND to other countries? Why not? It's just like ANY sport. It had to develop in one country. If you are so against cultures mixing. Go protest the Olympics. Go protest the UN. Go protest people's freedom of speech because people are allowed to like what they like.

I could crush you when it comes to culture. CRUSH you.

5/01/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"Please make a distinction between the different countries in Asia, we wouldn't want anyone mistaking North Korea for how the rest of Asia works now would we?" - Samantha

For all people who believe this post is incorrect for its indirect respect for a "pan-Asian" Asian American political context, I have to say, there is a gulf wider than the Pacific Ocean between continental Asian international relations and domestic American Asian American identity politics. Samantha, for all that "notice the different countries!" speech, you forget that within (and because of) the American context, specifically anti-Asian mainstream racism, a new identity politics continues to evolve for Asian Americans. It's not unlikely for a second or third generation Filipino American to protest the Vincent Chin hate crime, a crime that emerged from a White workingman's racist backlash against Japanese innovation in the auto industry. It's not beyond the pale for Japanese American students to protest the treatment of Wen Ho Lee. When Abercrombie & Fitch craft racist t-shirt heavily dependent on old anti-Chinese jokes, it's logical that Koreans and Thai and Japanese people will take part in the backlash media campaign. It can't be assumed that the same prejudices people's ancestors held in their familial countries of origin can be directly transferred to the modern day. Samantha, I make a distinction not only between the different countries in Asia, but also between Asian and Asian American political contexts.

5/01/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Kimiko_xp said...

A picture from X-1999... Good Japanese comic by CLAMP little Canada dwelling girl. The movie was confusing if you haven't read the comic, but I doubt that you even know anything about it, you just thought the picture was pritty.

Why don't you try getting some Chinese pictures for your blog since you are so about preserving the wholeness of your culture.

Lol Internets.

5/01/2006 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

We unite cultures.

Really? How equal is the exchange?

I can't wait to get my American Mail Order Bride!

The power of privilege is the right to being blind to it. What a fair number of you are ignoring is that this ISN'T an equal exchange of culture- this is a power dynamic.

That's what people are objecting to. "Asian isn't a group", sure enough. But guess how folks get treated? As if we're all one! (Memoirs being a perfect example, because all us 'nese's look alike, right? OH-REE-ENT-TALS!)

We have to talk about it in terms of "asian" lump sum because that's how racism works. Just as much as black people don't talk about racism in regards to "Nigerian vs. Haitian", because racism doesn't differentiate- it lumps you into a stupid color and treats you that way.

This isn't exchange, this is appropriation- it's an unequal action of redefining not just people's cultures and such- but the people THEMSELVES.

"Oh, don't defend Japanese", then WHY are you defending other white people? "White" isn't a real ethnicity, nor are ALL of you appropriators, right? Or are you? Who are you defending, and what's that mean?

5/01/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous fa_ikaika said...

Thanks jenn,

recumbentgoat sent me over here and I just wanted to come by and tell you word up.

Don't sweat the nasty little haters. Some of them might learn a thing or two by listening to what you have to say. Many more will just be too interested defending their masturbatory sense of privilege to hear.

You did good. The people who know, have your back, the people who want to know will learn, and the people who don't want to learn, we know who you are now. Don't expect any free rides from any of us the next time.

honor, respect

5/01/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"I could crush you when it comes to culture. CRUSH you." - Someone Who Does Not Know What "Intelligence" Is

I love the new "Blame the Person of Color for Not Being Ethnic Enough" Defense by the Haterader. It's quaint. Half the foolishness cited in the preceding comment by Someone Who Does Not Know What "Intelligence" Is could be directly contradicted by a simple Google search of this site. It's so foolish its comical, like the person watched too many Dragonball Z cartoons and now can't speak without charging up. How does one CRUSH someone with culture anyway?

Think about it: the topics this person cites to discuss Chinese culture involve language, movies, tea, and martial arts. How obviously stereotypical is that? Is Quentin Tarentino the typist behind the keyboard of Someone Who Does Not Know What "Intelligence" Is? I pity this fool.

Next.

5/01/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be bitchy, but have you noticed that some people exactly like you - namely Westerners with Asian genetics - are these people who might possibly be unthinkingly romanticize Asian cultures that are not their own?

Granted, since they grew up with one or more Asian cultures under their belt, there are a number of them that really do take the time to learn about all the "ugly, unromantic" aspects of whatever Asian culture they're looking into. But what if they don't? Have they fallen in with white people, or do they just have their own evil "Western Asian" agenda?

Many people on this thread have already pointed out what happens when these Yellow Westerners* do when they take western culture as their own. I have seen Chinese Westerners that are seemingly allergic to anything Chinese that isn't from their parents. To look at their places of residence, just about the only Asian things in them are some chopsticks in a kitchen drawer and a rice cooker on the counter. I don't know if they just don't like Chinese things, or if they're afraid to become a stereotype, or what. Granted, they're not misappropriating because Western culture is theirs, too. But what do you make of this? Do you think that these people have to pick one or the other? (Which is not an accusatory statement, btw.)

Also, I find that no matter what it is, idiots unwittingly do a lot to support the habits of the "more deserving." Not that this justifies their behavior any; just saying that lame poseurs who go out and buy Jhonen Vasquez comics are supporting his living, and ensuring that his art still exists for the consumption of those who are OMG TEH H4RDK0R3Z.

* Of which I am one myself.

5/01/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

Samantha, for all that "notice the different countries!" speech, you forget that within (and because of) the American context, specifically anti-Asian mainstream racism, a new identity politics continues to evolve for Asian Americans.

Umm... and Asian Americans are more special than any other kind of American how? When were we talking about ASIAN AMERICANS? I thought we were talking about ASIA... When did Asian Americans wander around in samurai outfits unless they were cosplaying with all us other Americans?

Whosawhat? America is focused on hating AISA now is it? I thought we were focusing on gays at the moment, I must have missed the switch. I also must have missed where the blogger was complaining about 'OMG I AM OPRESSED' It looked more to me like 'OMG PEOPLE LIKES THE SAME THINGS I DO AND ITS MAKEING ME NOT SO SPECIAL'. People just need to get over themselves for goodness sake.

Concerning anime, are you aware that Japan is MARKETING anime to other countries at the moment? The economy is floundering and alot of anime, the big budget ones, are aimed at audiences outside of asia. That is how they make money. And anime started as a reaction from Japan when Disney started to get big. It was a copy cat effort. OMG STOP STEALING OUR SHIT AND MAKING IT BETTER JAPAN! WE WANT OUR SHIT TO REMAIN SHITTY!

LOL HEY GUYZ I AM ASAIN WHAT I DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF ASIAN THEY R ALL THE SAME RIGHT? WHAT NO I DON'T LIVE IN AISA BUT LOOK I HAVE BLACK HAIR AND SLANTED EYES WHICH GIVES ME THE PRIVILAGE TO COVET THIS CULTURE I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED! LOLK?

Well I am an American and therefor my attention span has ended... bye.

5/01/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Silly Walnut said...

To some people up thread:

St. Patrick's day is an Irish-American, not an Irish, holiday. (seriously. No green beer in County Cork.)
~ Cala

am i supposed to be " ZOMG you knocked me off my soapbox!" at that? oh yes. that's all the Irish do. drink and have babies. never mind that many Irish actually hate the catholic faith! Who'da thunk it?

I mean really now.

I do, however, enjoy corned beef with cabbage and potatoes. and I can play a bohdrain without destroying the goatskin. go my appreciation of my cultural roots!

oh wait... i'm not a red head! i'm abusing Ireland!

and hell. my last name is Germanic. but then it was my mom who's first generation Irish as she was born in Dungarven, County Waterford.

Just because some people take it too far with enjoying someone else's cultural background doesn't mean that all of us are rabid anime fans. Some of us actually feel bad about the ways America has bitchslapped other cultures, peoples, and nations.

5/01/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How to tell you're misappropirating someone else's culture:

1: Speak English.

2: Wear anything that was not made in home country.

3: Eat any ethnic foods. this includes but is not limited to Chinese food, Mexican food, Thai, Indian(both India and Native americans), as well as anyothers you have no genetic stake in.

5/01/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must disagree quite vehemently with the person above slanting St Patrick's Day.
As an Irish person born and raised, I know very well that in the Irish culture, the American celebration of the day is seen as appropriation. Just because there's no green beers doesn't make it any less special. McDonalds do green milkshakes, does that count? Or are we still not worthy enough to celebrate it?

And...Irish-Americans inventing it? Yeah. Wonderful. Way to go, Irish-Americans, you did a great job of inventing our patron saint.
It's originally a religious holiday. Not a greenfest, as it became later. The first parade was in America, not the first celebration of the holday.

Get a bleedin' grip, love. You know nothing.


Also, to the masses, if you're rabidly proud of your own national culture, are you "allowed" to take an interest in others, and their popular culture? Or is it still taboo to like any culture but your own?

5/01/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of us actually feel bad about the ways America has bitchslapped other cultures, peoples, and nations.

Hey, has anybody been keeping a White Liberal Bingo scorecard of the comments on this post? Because I feel BINGO coming on...

5/01/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"I must disagree quite vehemently with the person above slanting St Patrick's Day.
As an Irish person born and raised, I know very well that in the Irish culture, the American celebration of the day is seen as appropriation. ...
" - Anonymous

"Also, to the masses, if you're rabidly proud of your own national culture, are you "allowed" to take an interest in others, and their popular culture? Or is it still taboo to like any culture but your own? - Anonymous (same person, people just click "other" and you can leave your name without a website. Just to make stuff easier. I can't keep all the Anonymouses straight!)

I don't understand the point of this comment. So, the American celebrations of St. Patrick's Day are viewed as appropriation, but one can be proud of their national culture and be heavily interested in another culture without any political disagreement whatsoever? It's like you're arguing that the Irish should not be upset when the Americans, according to your interpretation, appropriate Irish culture from the Irish point of view. That makes no sense.

I don't really understand the history and criticism of St. Patrick's Day in America, but I can say that with any cultural interaction, the danger of appropriation exists. Many of the people commenting here who disagree with Reappropriate's post assume that any political criticism of a person's cross-cultural interaction can not be valid. I think real life is more complicated. People can devalue other people's culture, their very group identity, into a plastic costume change concocted out of boredom to differentiate them from their peers, and those who feel devalued by that process have every political right to be angry.

Plus, when you add to that theoretical mix Western imperialism and domestic American racism toward people of color, the volatile mix which results leaves many people of color reasonably incensed. Pissed off, even. But make no mistake, it's reasonable and useful political anger, because it defends cultural distinctiveness in an increasingly homogenized global village. We can not decry the Quebecois for wanting to preserve their culture, anymore than we can hate the French for despising the McDonalds Corporation. So getting mad with Reappropriate.com for hating otaku and people like them is quite absurd. Bankuei was dead-on correct when he spoke of the power dynamics involved in this Western-Japanese cultural exchange; some White Americans view nothing wrong with indirectly forcing people of color to cater to their capricious wishes, and that's not acceptable after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And what is up with the White love for Samurai swords and Kimonos, anyway? Black folk don't wear lederhosen!

5/01/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you would have been more content in the 40s when americans hated the japanese and put them in internment camps.


you must have really low self esteem if people liking you makes you so angry.

5/01/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger StarCreator said...

I'm not going to bother reading the comments above, but I'm pretty sure it's been said. Anyways, it's worth repeating.

It's your comments here that make Asians look bad. Shameful.

5/01/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger StarCreator said...

And I mean it. It makes us look really bad. Stop it. I don't want to be associated with such stupidity.

5/01/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cala said...

The first parade was in America, not the first celebration of the holday.

Which is exactly what I was saying. The poster way-the-hell upthread was wondering if it was appropriation of Irish culture for non-Irish-Americans to participate in Irish-American St. Patrick's Day celebrations. And my (shorter) answer is: No, because there's nothing particularly authentically Irish about green beer. It's a religious holiday in Ireland.

When I said it's not an Irish holiday, I meant simply that the parades, green effluvia, etc, (which is all most people here identify with the saint's day), is a wholly Irish-American invention. You can't go to Ireland to watch an authentic 1300s parade, ya know?

Maybe the Irish-American immigrants misappropriated St. Patrick's Day, but I see it more as an immigrant group finding a fun way to celebrate their heritage (and be public as a group that had to deal with NINA laws, etc.)

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

5/01/2006 05:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason. said...

After reading these comments, I think I'm going to be satisfied with my current plan to simply not be concerned with "culture" or "cultures" on any level, and simply pursue my interests on a purely hedonistic level.

Saying that you understand a culture just sounds stupid to me, since I've never been able to take the whole concept of "culture" very seriously.

Defending some notion of cultural purity or a culture being sacred or whatever is also dumb, because the only thing that fails as often as ideology is prayer.

5/01/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I have to agree with Cala and James (I think... upthread is too far away). While if I were Irish or Irish American, I might be offended by the misappropriation of Saint Patrick for what is usually an excuse by college frat boys to get drunk, St. Patrick's Day as a festival is an American cultural icon as much as it is a misappropriation of a religious holiday.

Which again points to my original point -- cultural borrowing is, in many ways, unavoidable and it would be a stupid person who would rail against that and that alone. What the politicized Irish American would argue against, I would think, and what I argue against, is cultural misappropriation coupled with deliberate ignorance of the original culture's history, politics and issues.

What I argue against is the entitlement complex -- that the Asiaphile defends their supposed unabashed RIGHT to misappropriate aspects of MY culture (here, in this post, a generic reference to the pan-Asian culture since all Asian cultures experience this to some degree or another) and will actually run me through the very wringer that you all have illustrated better than I ever could based entirely upon your misguided beliefs that there's nothing wrong with taking from someone else to benefit yourself and that the victim of your action is in the wrong for raising an objection.

It's really that simple: if you want to take from another person's culture, respect them enough to realize that they have a right to object, especially after seeing what you do to it after you take it. Do you really think you're respecting the culture and the people when you react this vehemently to criticism and frustration? I mean, I really couldn't illustrate my point better than this whole comment section.

Thanks, guys!

5/01/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

It's really that simple: if you want to take from another person's culture, respect them enough to realize that they have a right to object,

Well, I usually pay for it at the store instead of taking it. Anyone can object to anything I do, and they often object vehemently to things I do. I usually don't give them a lot of heed and let them say what they like.

especially after seeing what you do to it after you take it.

The only things I really "take" from asian culture are in book and dvd format. I guess what I do after I take it is put it on the bookshelf or the dvd rack once I'm done with it.

Or return it to the library if I took it by those means.

5/01/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

I have to agree with Cala and James (I think... upthread is too far away). While if I were Irish or Irish American, I might be offended by the misappropriation of Saint Patrick for what is usually an excuse by college frat boys to get drunk, St. Patrick's Day as a festival is an American cultural icon as much as it is a misappropriation of a religious holiday.

Which again points to my original point -- cultural borrowing is, in many ways, unavoidable and it would be a stupid person who would rail against that and that alone. What the politicized Irish American would argue against, I would think, and what I argue against, is cultural misappropriation coupled with deliberate ignorance of the original culture's history, politics and issues.


Wow. Is that really your call to make? Many, many real live Irish people do object to the way Americans, including Irish Americans, celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Many of them would say that the views of "politicized Irish Americans" don't matter and are, in fact, part of the problem. Do their opinions not matter? Why not?

To be clear here, this is largely a dispute between Irish people and Irish-Americans. Many (I would be willing to say most) Irish people consider Irish-Americans guilty of cultural appropriation. They say that Irish-Americans think that they're Irish, even though most of them know next to nothing about Ireland. What they do know is filtered through a highly distorted lens. (For instance, Irish-Americans are vastly more likely than Irish people to glorify nationalist violence, in part because Irish-Americans have never had to live with the consequences of that violence.) And because Irish-Americans have traditionally had more money and more cultural power than actual Irish people, they have been able to influence how the rest of the world views Irishness. When most people think about Ireland, they think about an Irish-American version of Irishness that doesn't have much to do with the Irish version of Irishness. And the thing about St. Patrick's Day is that most Americans, whether Irish or otherwise, don't think of it as an "Irish-American" or American celebration. They think of it as an Irish celebration, because they don't realize that Irish and Irish-American are not the same thing.

This isn't hypothetical. It really is a source of considerable anger in Ireland. Many Irish people really resent that Irish Americans think they're Irish. Many of them get mad at Americans who call themselves "Irish-American" and assert that unless you've spent a lot of time in Ireland, you're just American.

And if there's a larger point here, I think it's that you're sort of simplifying really complex questions about who owns particular cultures. You assume that Irish-Americans own Irishness, but many Irish people don't agree. They think that Irishness is something you attain by living in Ireland, rather than just by being ethnicly Irish.

I see it more as an immigrant group finding a fun way to celebrate their heritage (and be public as a group that had to deal with NINA laws, etc.)

There never were any NINA laws. And I think the whole question is whether how you see it (or I see it or Fionnuala O'Suilleabhain from Sligo sees it) is the correct way of seeing it. Right?

5/01/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger StarCreator said...

And to clarify my comments above, I target only the blog owner with my statement. Sorry for not specifying the intended audience more clearly.

5/01/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Wow. I can sort of see how some of it would be irritating yes. But I find this rather offensive.

Yes I do a lot of these things. I'm heavily into anime and manga, I enjoy cosplay. I drink tea, although European tea really. I'm learning the Japanese language both speaking and writing.

I do all this though because I enjoy it. I'm not trying to rape your culture or any such thing. And I'm really not big on the ninja stuff. I do happen to find a certain appeal to the Japanese language. I think it's a beautiful language. I don't speak it in everyday life like some people I know. I did that years ago and grew out of it.

I happen to enjoy many things of the Asian culture, Japanese in particular. I also do enjoy the history behind it. I'm not necessarily educated on all of it, but I'd enjoy learning it given the opportunity. I don't defend the atomic bomb attacks at all. I'm actually ashamed of them. It was a horrible atrocity to commit on ANYONE.

I'm just offended that you would openly bash people who are just enjoying certain things. Is it not true that Asians don't enjoy things of American or European culture? Should I be absolutely pissed that they do that?

Anyway, that's all I have to say. I just had to comment because I can understand you being upset at somethings, but this seems just like outright bashing is very offensive and would probably be better off amongst yourself and your friends and family maybe.

Feel free to address me about this if you feel the need.

5/01/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just find it incredibly silly how you seems to view the asians as victims in this whole fray. Oh no! We're buying their products! How horrible their life must be now! Sure, Japanese culture is misinterpretedby crazy fanbrats, but I've never seen any asian twist their shorts about it. The closest I've seen is a Japanese girl giggling over a guy's poor Japanese pronunciation.

And apparantly, our movies are evil too. Especially ninjas! Nevermind they've been so well-intergrated into our society since the seventies that they're romantic mythical figures in the veins of cowboys and pirates. No, if a film has the gall to feature a couple of asian influences, it's raping the Asian culture. I guess Star Wars was ahead of its time in that regard!

And how dare those kids dare have exercise and go train in an asian martial art. Nevermind not all of them are Japanese or that it's been popularized in the states for dedcades now! No, those seven-year-olds who like Power Rangers are so horrible.

Look, I'm currently reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. AND I'm listening to Monty Python sings as I type this! Those poor British! Why am I destroying their culture?

I enjoy films with Samuel L. Jackson in this, but I didn't do anything particularly special for Black History month! Oops, I'm racist!

It's not that I don't think people who delve themselves too far into the Japanese culture are silly. (Otherwise I wouldn't be here) But to pretend that what they're doing is malicious is just silly. Obviously a bunch of kids who think samurai are like frickin' sweet are a bigger threat than any white supremacist.

"but actually defends Hiroshima and Nagasaki (200,000+ killed in a brutal act of terrorism, but to the Asiaphile, it was a necessary act to defend the people who really matter)."

Wow, just wow.

A brutal act of terrorism? I love how that word is thrown around. You don't like someone? All you have to do is call them a terrorist now and automatically they're evil. Apparantly, retaliating towards agressors in now terrorism.

Yes, 20,000 were killed, but you know what would have happened if we hadn't? The casualties in the war of beating down the Japanese would have been in the millions. And get this, MOST OF THEM WOULD HAVE BEEN JAPANESE. Yes, it was a necessary act to defend the people who matter. Namely; everyone.

I'm not saying dropping the A-bomb was a good. But it -was- necessary. There's nothing racist or evil about it other than the fotunes of war.

The entire argument loses because of that alone, not to say it doesn't have the other above issues.

5/01/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So when all the rest is boiled away, we Caucazoids are being invited to see if we really like Manga, or whatever, because of its actual merits or just because in a lot of ways it's our chance to play armchair tourist without looking at the roots of what we consume for enjoyment.

Sounds to me as if our hostess just wants people to be conscientous critics of our motives and of the works themselves. What's the damn problem ?

Yeesh. Then again, I've never been a Manga fan. I do have a pretty cool anthology of early Japanese literature that was already dog-eared when I got it. Now it's disintegrating, but that doesn't mean that I'm gaga over everything in the book or everything to come out of Japan. Sometimes I love the poems or snippets of plays for their own sake, as best one can knowing how much gets lost in even the best translations. Sometimes I'm fascinated by the tensions between what seems like universal experience and what could probably only be really appreciated by somebody in that time and/or place.

Which is different from what I like to do when enjoying more localized works of art/pop culture-- how, exactly ? --alsis39.9

5/01/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woah, can i get a "blame hollywood and not the consumer" up in here? chillax a bit, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. first of all, everyone otherizes everyone else; that's how we form personal identity. by you pointing fingers and lumping together so-called "whites" you're doing it, too. second of all, you should read some john maher speaking about "the other" in order to edjumukate yourself about how it's UNIVERSAL. please don't prove those racist pricks right (by racist pricks i mean the ones who think one culture has more claim to something or is better than the other). it's not a question of "right", just different.

5/01/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but for some odd reason, I find it quite intriguing that so many Asian-American activists (and I'm excluding Pilpin@s, mixed Asians and Southeast Asians because
they have NEVER been fully incorporated into the APA discourse) are so quick to criticize our constant misrepresentations in the media and whatnot.

Here's a hint: HOLLYWOOD WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER get Asian representation right. And it's dominated by stinking rich Anglo Jews (note that this statement means some Jews but not ALL of them). Did you know that ALL that energy that (mostly) East Asian-Am activists expend on bitching about media representation could be focused on REAL issues, such as domestic violence, immigration, patriarchy, and lackdasial mental health care????

Wow, that's a novel concept!

Yes, Asiaphilia exists, and is pervasive! But you know that even people of color can be Asiaphiles, not just whites......it's all a Western Orientalization paradigm, and people buy into that. Find the actual ROOT CAUSE of the Asiaphilia issue (and I'm saying think it through critically and utilizing actual critical theory).....capitalism, imperialism, which eventually ties into racism....patriarchy.....

This is the EXACT reason why I did NOT choose to major in Asian-American studies. Not only are MY people left out of the discourse (Pilipin@s), but I do NOT need to hear any more of this hot air. That energy needs to be channeled through for something PRODUCTIVE, like fighting Asian male patriarchy.

5/01/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He knows all about the Meiji Restoration and has memorized the Art of War by heart, but actually defends Hiroshima and Nagasaki (200,000+ killed in a brutal act of terrorism, but to the Asiaphile, it was a necessary act to defend the people who really matter).

Wasn't that cause Japan was raping and torturing Chinese people (which Japan still does not acknowledge) and bombing people who had nothing to do with the war?
I could go on but everyone else has made the same points. You're quite stupid, shut up please.

5/01/2006 09:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wank wank wank, boo hoo.

Grow up, kid.

5/01/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Chris, if this is how you view discussions on American race relations, that speaks volumes about your position in this ongoing controversy.
-James


Oh please, James. Don't presume to tell me what I think about the issues themselves simply because I find the methods of dialogue to frequently be exhausting and one-sided.

Whether it's a white coworker speaking "sincerely" about the black kids in her neighborhood or an Internet soapbox invective, in the end the psychology at work is that people are pissed off about ethnic wrongdoings real or imagined. Everyone's already made up their minds and usually only real experience can alter that.

If it comforts your worldview to imply I'm part of the problem, then fine.

Secondly, I tire of people who remind us of the universality of prejudice and discrimination when the specific actions of European Americans in America are discussed.

And many European Americans grow deaf to a constant barrage of racist accusations, some of which are true, others not. That's not an excuse or a justification, merely a fact. Eventually they vote Republican. Maybe this audience isn't meant to be white, and that's fine. It's not always about us.

I'm not saying I can't empathize with this blog. I'm not saying her anger is forfeit because I don't agree with all of her reasoning.

I haven't read all of your posts, so I don't know what your ethnic background is. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what it's like to be Black or Asian. I have some frames of reference, but I'll never completely get it.

But until you've been a white male accused quite maliciously (and no, I'm not talking about your or Jenn's posts) of being a racist, you're just not going to understand that perspective either however peachy keen White life looks from an intellectual perspective. It's not always a matter of being unable to face our privilege.

5/01/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, jeez, I can't resist charging at this particular red flag, so here goes. Other people on this thread have already pointed out the major fallacies and hypocrisies of this argument: the gross reductionism of your glib pan-Asianism, the bidirectionality and historic universality of cultural borrowing, the fact the you're Canadian and not The Grand High Speaker for the Unsullied Orient, et alia.

And as for your mention of yaoi - last I checked, yaoi was all about the (mis)appropriation of gender and sexuality, not race and culture. In any case, English-speaking countries (particularly the US and the UK) can lay indisputable claim to slash, their own indigenous yaoi analogue. We're looking at parallel development, not "theft".

Oh, and cool as a "ninja vs. samurai" war would be, I'm pretty sure you're making that up. Ninja are a bit of an historical enigma, and they were certainly not the black-clad super-assassins of popular imagination, but neither were they disgruntled peasants with scythes. (Which is what I think you're thinking of here, though I could be wrong.)

5/02/2006 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

"Wow. Is that really your call to make? Many, many real live Irish people do object to the way Americans, including Irish Americans, celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Many of them would say that the views of "politicized Irish Americans" don't matter and are, in fact, part of the problem. Do their opinions not matter? Why not?" - Sally

Sally, the entire post you wrote beginning with that paragraph makes Jenn's argument for her. The entire concept of Irish people from Ireland being upset with possible Irish-American misappropriation of indigenous Irish culture provides evidence of an sociopolitical nationality (read: group identity defined through a specific and original culture) finding fault with others who claim the most superficial bastardizations of their specific culture and assert that their Xerox is indistinguishable from the original.

If the Irish can find fault with bastard perversions of their culture, why can't Jenn?

"The only things I really "take" from asian culture are in book and dvd format. I guess what I do after I take it is put it on the bookshelf or the dvd rack once I'm done with it." - Jason

That is how many White people view domestic American minority cultures: something they can borrow from whenever they choose, manipulate however they wish for as long as they want, and discard without concern after they grow bored.

No wonder people of color become pissed off individuals.

5/02/2006 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Sally said...


If the Irish can find fault with bastard perversions of their culture, why can't Jenn?


Obviously, she can. I just think, first of all, that it's sort of strange that she's taking a position on a fairly contentious issue when, I suspect, she didn't even know enough about the culture in question to realize that it was a contentious issue. It seems to go against the basic thrust of her argument. But also, the St. Patrick's Day example points to real complexities in the idea of cultural ownership, I think. It's not just obvious outsiders who claim ownership and are accused of appropriation. There are also often all sorts of fights *within* groups about who owns the culture and who's appropriating it.

But this was really the wrong place to bring that up, seeing as Jenn is being attacked on all sides by racists and ding-bats. So I apologize.

5/02/2006 12:31:00 AM  
Anonymous kurage said...

I happened to read your inspirational post as soon as I got out of bed this morning. (A word here about my bed: as a white girl, albeit one living in Japan, I of course sleep on a western-style platform bed and not a futon, because I wouldn’t want to be a cultural rapist.) As I worked my way through your essay, I could almost feel your righteous and wholly rational anger crackling through my ethernet port and down my optic nerves, and the epiphany struck me like a bolt of lightning. You were so, so right, and I had to do my part to end this injustice!

Unfortunately, my personal revelation had made me a bit late for work, so I had to hurry and get ready without eating breakfast (but if I had eaten breakfast, it would have been cereal or eggs, not rice or soup, which in my Caucasian mouth could only taste of foul oppression.) But imagine my shock when I stepped out of the door and saw, with my newly-opened eyes, a veritable orgy of cultural rape. There were Japanese men and women walking by in jeans and t-shirts and skirts and suits without the least trace of shame – as if they thought they were entitled to steal this precious part of my unique heritage. “No, no!” I screamed. “Can’t you see that what you’re doing is wrong? Have you no decency?”

After haranguing passers-by for a few minutes and receiving no more than a few baleful looks for my effort, I decided to conduct my campaign for justice en route to the subway station. I didn’t want to be late, after all. But the row of storefronts along the street inevitably delayed me – there was an Italian restaurant! And there was a donut store! Fury rose in my bowels. The Korean restaurant gave me pause, but then I remembered that it was acceptable, since all Asian countries are the same and cultural belonging neatly aligns with broad, unscientific racial categories. But something did have to be done about that donut store.

“You mongers of sweet, fresh-baked iniquity!” I bellowed as I pushed the door open. “Do you think those are your donuts to buy and sell? Why must you pillage the ancient traditions of my people?”

The lady behind the counter blinked at me. I noted with disapproval that she was wearing a little German-style pinafore, although it did look quite fetching on her. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“One honey-glazed donut and an orange juice to go, you plunderer of civilizations!” I glared at the Japanese patrons of the Mister Donut as I made my way out. They were making my soul bleed.

And just as I stepped onto the sidewalk, whom should I bump into but some Japanese youth attired in a T-shirt bearing a skull and crossbones? Time constraints sadly prevented me from remonstrating with every misguided soul who made a mockery of my people’s clothing, but this was a special case and could not go overlooked. I rounded on the teenager.

“So, you think pirates are cool, do you?”

“Uh, sure…”

Drawing myself up to my full height, I stared him icily in the eye. “Do you think Sir Francis Drake terrorized the Spanish Main so you could mock his legacy like this?”

“Uh…”

“Would you spit in the watery grave of Bartholomew Roberts with this silk-screened atrocity?”

“Uh…” He was drawing away from me. So much for the pirate courage he was attempting to lay claim to.

“I just want you to know,” I said with quiet intensity, “That I am very offended.” And then I kept walking. I still had to righteously ransack the bookstore before I caught the train, after all. My blood pressure quadrupled at the mere thought of the shelves and shelves of ill-begotten literature that cried for liberation. Harry Potter! Lemony Snickett! God help us all, even The DaVinci Code! How dare these Japanese oppressors imagine that enjoying my popular culture was anything other than unconscionable exploitation!

I had to close my eyes as I went past the music store, but I could still hear John Lenon warbling out “Imagine all the People” as I hurried away. I’d have to arrange for some sort of tactical strike later.

5/02/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is how many White people view domestic American minority cultures: something they can borrow from whenever they choose, manipulate however they wish for as long as they want, and discard without concern after they grow bored. -- James

What a way to trivialize and marginalize someone who enjoys movies and books from places outside his or her land of origin. I think of the 1960's and the 70's when african americans saw the powerful figures in hongkong flicks and emulated them through martial arts. This continues to this day in one form or another through groups like WuTang. I guess RZA is a big racist douchebag too. Or can only whitey rape and pillage other cultures for his own base entertainment?

You know, I think there's a lot of fingerpointing going on based upon the prejudices of the people gathered here. The irony here is that it's transforming the individuals involved into cartoon characters like Whitey the Racist, Angry Blackman, and Educated Idiot Asianchick. All we need is the lazy Mexican, but I guess he was too lazy to post.

5/02/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whine whine whine is all I'm hearing from this. I don't think you're going to find too many people who honestly like otaku on either continent, so let's just leave those poor social lepers alone for now. I have an idea, Ms. Culture-Nazi, how about we make Japan stop doing things inherited from other cultures? So we can say goodbye to European dress clothing, European food, automobiles and machinery, Chinese characters, Chinese art and architecture, old (and I mean painfully old, so much that the mainland finally got rid of them) Chinese Confucian cultural traditions, Buddhism, Indian recipes, and then why not all the people who aren't actually originally from Japan? That just leaves a few fuzzy Asian natives living on the northernmost islands then, with all the subsequent invaders (i.e. YOU) elsewhere.

The absolute affrontery of someone who comes from a cultural sinkhole like Japan lecturing everyone else on how to culturally behave is just unbelievable. Do I think too many generally uneducated American folks latch on to Asian things and don't let go just to be different? Yes. But getting your silk panties in a knot and claiming to be the Dutchess of Eastern Culture is not exactly doing you any favors either.

And what exactly is the big problem with others being interested in your culture? You liked it better back when people generally thought you were subhuman and beneath their interest? You liked it when everything you held dear was misunderstood and taken for being quaint and savage? You liked white people being even more dumb culturally than they are right now?

Culture naturally spreads from place to place, and it's always shallow when it first transitions, and takes a while to either firmly set down roots or just be forgotten as a brief fad. You should know this. Your nation does it all the time. So lay off already, or just admit that all the Japanese people should go throw themselves into the Sea of Japan for having the audacity to steal China's culture. Or maybe it's just that we're white, so that's what makes it so bad? If that's the case, then I'm calling this as I see it - a big pile of self-righteous racism masquerading as cultural afforntery. Good day.

X
~in graduate school studying Asian history

5/02/2006 01:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Silly Walnut said...

Many, many real live Irish people do object to the way Americans, including Irish Americans, celebrate St. Patrick's Day. ~Sally

Yes beware us real live Irish peoples. we're made of real wood unlike those faulty cardboard cutouts.(/sarcasm)

Oh wait... my sarcasm button doesn't work online. Darn. note to self: remember to insert the sarcasm warning on all blog like actions.

And I am proud of my culture. I wish I knew more about aspects of my culture. Both aspects of where my family is from.

also:

Jenn, If you're going to write about this sort of stuff you need to put in alot of distinction. Because someone enjoying a cup of green tea isn't as much culture rape as I dunno... say a 14yr old girl lecturing an asian studies major on how to pronounce "kowaii" while she shows off pictures of J-pop stars.

5/02/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason (Another one) said...

First of all, lets talk about your comment in “dumb defences that don’t fly”. Jenn says, “I'm part of the Asian American community, which means I have no patriotism for Asian countries.”

Ok, so if you feel no patriotism to Asian countries, then why in your big, bold argument do you say “…..he sees it as his God-given right to take and take and reappropriate my culture because he feels……”
also
“I'm the asshole for objecting to the fortune cookie-ing of my heritage”
So what is it…Patriotic, or not Patriotic?? Is it your culture or isn’t it? Are you or are you not emotively telling people to keep the fuck away from YOUR culture? Unless they are ASIAN (You make no mention of any country other than China, Korea and Japan when you mention Asia and things Asian…don’t you think that this is just a little bit Naïve and shallow?)

Next…you’ve probably had a lot of people comment about this, but this piece of literature that you have so proudly displayed on your blog, is nothing but pure racism against a very specific group….WHITE AMERICANS. Continuously, you mention “What is it with young white Americans”, “pimple-faced White boys”, “White Women”, “White women practicing yoga and tai chi trying to get in touch with their inner energy” “I'm sick of the Whites” “I'm sick of the White boys who” “I'd love it if the next White boy wielding homemade tonfa”, “his mixed-up part-Greek, part-English, all-European-American, totally of the Caucasian Persuasion” ,.
Immediately after you blab about your disgust at those who are fanatical about things you call Asian (but which are primarily Japanese, secondarily Chinese and then finally one mention of a Korean cultural item), you politely let it be known that any racist comments will be deleted. I’m sure that you are not going to agree with me when I say this, but don’t you think that the comment “The Asiaphile doesn't understand the politics or consequences of his fetish” might be quite easily compared with something like “THE INHERENT RACIST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE POLITICS OR CONCEQUENCES OF HER VILE RACIST REMARKS” I’ve been living in one of those 3 Asian countries for a long time, and I have a family here. I am not a White American but I know many Caucasians from the USA and Canada (I’m assuming that your piece is largely based on Caucasians from these two countries). I have visited the other two countries for a holiday. I have seen MANY people whom I might categorize as Asia Fanatics. But if you wanna know the truth, A LOT MORE HAVE BEEN FEMALE, and THE MAJORITY OF THOSE FEMALES HAVE BEEN EITHER CHINESE AMERICAN OR BLACK AMERICAN. Most of them, I find are the kind of person I don’t get along with. They often do nothing but play video games, read manga, fanatically study the language, learn martial arts or a musical instrument culturally linked to that country. Basically, I have never been interested in any of these kinds of things. So Jenn, whether it be fortunate or unfortunate, you and I both have something in common! We don’t get along with fanatics. But, Im talking about racism here…and this is another comment that I think fits appropriately, and just might right a bell with you “just because you don't regularly use racial slurs and drag people from the back of trucks doesn't mean you aren't in engaging in some form of racist behaviour”. You also mention that “criticism does not equal racism”. Sorry Jenn, but when you pinpoint one ethnic group, and criticize them only, for something that’s done by many, many others…You are pinpointing WHITE AMERICANS, and you are telling us that you don’t like them for their points of view. You tell them to stop what they’re doing. It smell quite strongly of racism to me Jenn.

Definitely not last, but this is where I’ll stop for now, “You’re a CUNT” is the title of a little section in which you point out that attacking the person and not the argument, or ad hominem as you put it, is uncalled for and that people should think before they speak on your website. Well, your last comment is another good example of what NOT to say…..”Fuck you, Asiaphile. Fuck you very much.” Very intelligent Jenn. You really finished it off in style here. And, when you finish of a piece like this that mentions no other ethnic group than WHITE BOYS, WHITE GIRLS, YOUNG WHITE AMERICANS, TOM CRUISE, QUENTIN TARANTINO, ARTHUR GOLDEN, BRUCE WAYNE…It really leaves the reader to think what you are really trying to say here on this page and whether it really does have anything to do with the discovery of other cultures, or the freedom of people of any culture to peacefully learn, do and see what they like..

Not very intelligent, Not very Balanced Jenn

5/02/2006 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger little light said...

I'm new to your blog, Jenn, but thank you for this. It sparked sort of a longwinded continuance over at my own blog, but you said a lot of things I think a lot of us bite our lip on all the time.
It continues to blow my mind how many people commenting here don't get it, and don't seem to understand that calling out white privilege is not actually racist oppression of white people.

5/02/2006 05:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Green said...

It continues to blow my mind how many people commenting here don't get it, and don't seem to understand that calling out white privilege is not actually racist oppression of white people. -little light

Because there's a pretty serious difference between pointing out problems in the society's structure and spouting racial ephitets and blanket statments.

5/02/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

That is how many White people view domestic American minority cultures: something they can borrow from whenever they choose, manipulate however they wish for as long as they want, and discard without concern after they grow bored.

Well, the stores could always rope it off with some cauton tape and pylons, to dissuade people from buying their merchandise.

5/02/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how I just LOVE you.

I agree so whole heartedly with everything mentioned! So few people actually see this pseudo appreciation for what it truly is - racism! A bias based purely on race (I've had white people tell me that the Japanese were justified in invading China, and that the rape of Nanking wasn't nearly as cruel as what the Chinese do to themselves - excuse me, but when was the last time you saw Chinese people using eachother as gun and blade practise?)!

Not only are they bastardizing our culture, but in favouring particular countries over others, they are prying apart the Asian community and creating racism amongst us. In a time when Asian people should be as one, giving voice to our protest against racism, we are in the background quietly pointing fingers at eachother. The saddest result of this is seeing Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino kids (just for starters) emulate Japanese youth culture because it is "so much cooler" and you will be wanted if you are "Japanese", and as of late, "Korean". It has come to the point where people of the same race will now descriminate against their own. So now, after years of being the underclass, we are now your latest fad. I'm sorry, but I don't find your interest in us flattering in the least - you just spat on the last 5000 years of our history.

I am tired of being a Fetish. I am tired of seeing white people declare themselves proudly as "OTAKU" - when the word in Japanese itself has a negative, almost freakish connotation. I am tired of hearing, "I love Asian people!", or "You're so lucky you're Asian!".

What is so lucky about being objectified by you? I am more than just my skin colour, and I probably speak better English than you do.

No, my dear, you are not the asshole for being pissed off about this. And you certainly aren't the only one. There are hordes of us - insulted and sick of being degraded to a trend by people who think that their condescending interest in our culture is a form of flattery.

And dear 'Hateraders', don't you think that if so many Asians are protesting to your "interest" in us, that it may mean that you're actually doing something wrong? We can't ALL be overreacting, can we?

P.S. For the daft white people who think that Japan is completely and utterly obsessed with you, I'm sorry to pop your bubble of ignorance, but we're not. America is the 3rd most hated country amongst Japanese people. Watch NHK news some time. That is, if you happen to speak anything beyond "kawaii".

5/02/2006 07:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I also loathe people who proclaim themselves otaku. Although I have my own reasons for doing so.

5/02/2006 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay no. No. You do not get to blame white people for the Japanese hating the Chinese. This isn't colonial times where the indigenous people were all worshiping satan out in the woods and you could pin the blame for a misdeed on thier conjuring every now and then. You can blame the US government or corperations for fostering economic competition between China and Japan, sure. But both of those nations are xenophoic enough that they have and will ahte each other regardless of which country American teenagers prefer. White people telling you that the rape of Nanking was okay is shitty, in fact it's despicable. Shit like "oh you're so lucky to be asian" is nasty, americans calling themselves "OTAKU" is gross. Those are all repugnant. The thing that people are mad a Jenn for is not complaining about that. It's for claiming that all white people act like that. For mentioning innacurate elements of japanese culture as axamples of the "culture of the entire asian race". For making derogitory blanket statements about caucasians, for acting as though she spoke for every asian person, for claiming that the color of her skin gave her an authority on what literature people could and could not consume, and for creating generalized motivations for both whites and asians. This is not only racist, it's an utterly innaccurate and insulting way to look at humans in any large-scale group. How the fuck do you guys (and by that I mean you, jenn, maybe james do this? How do you all assume that white people think the same and have the same motivations and operate on a hive mind? What experiences in your past could possibly suggest to you that anyone does that?the reason people keep calling you racist is because you assign the properties of an individual to a race, which is a racist thing to do.

5/02/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

This doesn't make sense don't you have pics on this very page of you and your non-asian friends drinking sake. You mean you didn't put the hammer down and make them drink miller light? Suggeestion: go out buy yourself the best of Magaret Cho and lightin' the fuck up

5/02/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had white people tell me that the Japanese were justified in invading China, and that the rape of Nanking wasn't nearly as cruel as what the Chinese do to themselves - excuse me, but when was the last time you saw Chinese people using eachother as gun and blade practise?

Okay, yes, that's a stupid and cruel thing for anybody to say, regardless of their race, but your indignation seems a little off-target there. Frankly, if you're going to label any one group as the archvillians in this particular scenario, I'd pick the Japanese.

[White people] are prying apart the Asian community and creating racism amongst us.

You know, I could be wrong, but I think the "gun and blade practice" thing you mentioned a few lines back might have had a hand in that too.

P.S. For the daft white people who think that Japan is completely and utterly obsessed with you, I'm sorry to pop your bubble of ignorance, but we're not. America is the 3rd most hated country amongst Japanese people. Watch NHK news some time. That is, if you happen to speak anything beyond "kawaii".

P.S. I live in Japan and speak Japanese - I'm a professional translator - so I'm not completely speaking out of my daft white ass when I say that while there's certainly not fawning, universal adoration for America here, there's a lot of interest and yes, some fetishization. (Just one example would be the many stores selling secondhand American clothes at inflated prices.)

But more than that, Japan is pretty thoroughly saturated with "western" clothes, goods, music, books, and food, and insofar as I can tell, the Japanese appreciate most of these things on their own merits, not because of their exoticism. And if a Japanese person can eat pizza and read the latest Harry Potter book without being an oppressor and/or misguided fanatic fetishizing somebody else's culture, I don't see why I'm not allowed to eat sushi and read manga.

5/02/2006 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Akamar said...

Okay.. so... mmm... am I not permitted to go to Japan this summer? I've always wanted to. My interest in Japan started with Shinto, believe it or not... I don't have 'yellow fever', and my interest in being an animator actually steamed from american disney films...

Am I still a tool because I want to visit a country with a friend who has also wanted to see it for years? Or because I own a collection of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls? Or beause I like japanese cartoons, which actually have STORIES I like better than the ones done in the US (which, saddly, still has this mentality that anything animated MUST be suitable or kids...)

Cultures have raped each other since the dawn of man. It's not a uniquely american/asian thing. Greeks ripped of egyptians... egyptians ripped off greeks... England and france have ripped each other off for years. Your argument, while perhaps warranted, is moot.

Amusing post, though.

5/02/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. For the daft white people who think that Japan is completely and utterly obsessed with you, I'm sorry to pop your bubble of ignorance, but we're not. America is the 3rd most hated country amongst Japanese people. Watch NHK news some time. That is, if you happen to speak anything beyond "kawaii".

P.P.S: To whoever wrote that LOVELY piece of drivel. First of all, thanks for pointing out that we're hated; oh, yeah, and did you notice what bimbo asshole our president is right now? Could it possibly be the incompetant government's fault for policies affecting other societies and a war most of us didn't want? Oh, wait, no, of course they hate us because of the color of our skin. Yes, that's right, I'm oh-so-white. I'm the proud descendant of Russian Jewish stock, eating my matzos every Passover and am ALSO bilingual Japanese-English. Oh, wait, I'm not allowed to do that? I'm fetishizing someone else's culture? Fuck that, man, I like the sound of it. I want to move to Japan? Oh noes, I must be one of those "daft white people" who think I'll be worshipped there. WRONG. Try having synasthesia for a while and see how YOU fit in with all the colorlessness around boondock America. How 'bout you get over yourself-- in the age of globalization, it takes more than one's heritage to define the aesthetics one is drawn to, and certainly way more to define how people view a culture or cultures. The Japanese must be doing something right if their anime is so easily consumed in America. Vice-versa, the American clothes industry must have their thumb on the pulse of the world to be worn so universally.

Why doesn't everyone just turn Buddhist with me now, achieve enlightenment lightning fast and realize the deeply rooted interconnectedness of everything? Oh, oops, I forgot I'm WHITE. I'm not allowed to be Buddhist; I might insult someone by APPRECIATING their culture for what it is. Geez, you sound like the Super-Orthodox Jews telling me I'm not Jewish just because I don't pray every single Saturday, wear long skirts, abstain from touching men, and intend to marry within my own race. Oh, wait, did that last insult you? Yeah, that's right, I'm not ONLY attracted to white people. But I'm wiling bet a lot that Japanese people aren't ONLY attracted to other Japanese, considering that two of my past (serious) boyfriends WERE Japanese.

Anyway, bottom line is, it's really fucking insulting to lump every white or asian together, or just make some kind of stereotypical reason up about why we're attracted to Japanese or American culture. In the future, you might want to be more careful and when you critique. I bet 3/4 of the people who become interested in a given culture are first like that "kawaii kawaii" image of the stupid white foreigner, and some of those people will go on to make really important contributions in areas such as literature and politics ONLY because their original interest was piqued.

5/02/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Threyon said...

Would I be one of these hated White Asiaphiles if I just like to watch an occaisional anime series from time to time?

5/02/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

“I'm sick of Quentin Tarentino appropriating Hong Kong gangster flicks and spaghetti Westerns…”

I find this to be an interesting statement, since Spaghetti Westerns are themselves a textbook example of cultural appropriation. This makes Quentin’s appropriation of them the rare “double reverse appropriation” (Also known as the “horseshoe” appropriation.)

I actually do have a point beyond the seemingly endless cries of, “Oh yeah? Well, the Asians do it too! Should they be condemned?”

See, Quentin clearly didn’t think that the Spaghetti Westerns were harmful, evil things; He thought that they were great, that they expanded the vocabulary of the western and, really, all action films. He thought this in spite of the fact that they are undoubtedly examples of cultural appropriation.

I think that there is something more to these, “durr, what about anime?” arguments then a simple tu quoque.

I think that when these people are asking, “Shouldn’t I hate anime for appropriating Catholicism?” the answer in their heads is not, “Yes, of course, all appropriation is bad,” but, “No, of course not; it’s harmless and silly”.

At heart, I think these people look at cultural appropriation in a different way then you do; At best, it enriches both cultures, like the spaghetti westerns. At worst, it is harmless stupidity, like various examples of “engrish”.

But the idea that it actually somehow takes something away from the appropriated culture is an idea that seems alien and absurd.

People believe they have a “RIGHT to misappropriate aspects of [your] culture” Because they do not see you as a victim, nor do they see their actions as harmful.

Undoubtedly, this comes largely from a position of white privilege; we honkies can shrug off silly stereotypes and mangled English because we come from a position of power. At the same time, I’m not unsympathetic to this argument; even after reading this whole thread I’m still quite fuzzy on how, exactly, cultural appropriation harms the appropriated culture.

I’m not saying it doesn’t, I’m just saying I don’t know how it does.

5/02/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

Oh, incidentally, I think that many American "otaku" do actually understand that the word has negative connotations. Otaku belong to a larger group that we might call "fandom", and which basically consists of people who enjoy things sold in comic book stores and hobby shops. RPGs, Comic Books, etc.

Fandom has spent a rather long time appropriating the words that have been used against them. Words like "dork", "geek", "freak" and "nerd" all started out as negative words, but have been claimed by the fandom as badges of pride. Hell, in fashion we even have nerd chic.

Given this, it hardly seems surprising that they would take a negative word like "otaku" and turn it intoa badge of pride.

Of course, it's also possible that "otaku" has a much more negative connotation the the english words I've talked about, and means something more similar to "basement-dwelling inbred cannibal". I'm not very well versed in Japanese culture.

5/02/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

I agree with almost everything you said. I'm a white guy living in california, and I see evidence of what you're saying everyday. I can assure you that i'm not going to be living in america for very much longer. In my opinion, the reason for the 'race emulation' that is so promenant in amerian culture, is due to our complete lack of cultural respect. We are the land of the 'free', yea, and we respect all of the cultures and races around the world. Bullshit. America doesn't respect anyone. They don't appreciate anyone that doesnt give them business. As for the citizens of this country, they believe by emulating other cultures, they are respecting them. Even though they have no place, and in doing so make a mockery of the culture.

I agree with your comment about quentin tarantino, and most of his films. There is also another type of people that get on my nerves, and those people are the 17 or younger males and females on myspace and livejournal and the like, who put eastern art and themes on their pages. Dress up in the attire for the pictures on those pages. Their screen name is 'omg_giesha_girl' or something. Sometimes i look at these people and i wonder if they even know what they are doing. and they dont.


As far as my interest in eastern culture goes, I must say that during much of my philisophical research, I have been drawn to many of the eastern philosophers. I recently imported a book, Rashoman, and found it very enlightening. I have always thought about the type of philosophical life style that is presented in Rashoman, but never found a book that struck the nail on the head quite as well as that book did. For those who havent read it, it is a book about the way of the bushido. It contains a collection of philosophical dilemmas which are very enlightening for the reader who is more open to what the book has to say.

I assume that i will be flamed in some regard to my interest in this book, but let it come.

have a good day

5/02/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

America doesn't respect anyone.

I don't know about Amerikkka, but I certainly don't respect anyone. Or at least not any "culture" or anything, but I also reject the concept of respect altogether.

To say that the notion of "cultural appropriation" is also alien and incomprehensible to me is a HUGE understatement.

Though I also fail to understand the idea of "heritage", which partially stems from my view that a person is connected to their parents and ancestors by nothing other than genetics and the random chance of being born where and when you were born.

But to me, the entire idea of anything transcendant beyond the physical world or above unqiue and special about mankind is a great lie that is at the center of all fascist and totalitarian ideologies.

5/02/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous taiki said...

I just like the consumer goods Japan and Asia puts out. Mostly Japan, but my parents drive a Hyundai and I think it's a fine automobile.

But other than that, I think you're pretty spot on.

btw? "I'm sick of Arthur Golden writing Memoirs of a Geisha, starring Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li speaking in English to American audiences. I'm sick of Tom Cruise being the Last Samurai."

Right fucking on. I hated Last Samurai. I hated Memoirs.

(Granted, I think manga are superior to American comics, but that's just because the market was different. I mean, the American comic industry isn't going to put out a comedy like Love Hina but the upside to that is that the American comic industry isn't going to put out a steaming pile of shit like Love Hina.)

5/03/2006 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I like Manga, but I do think there's actually more variety in American comics than there is in manga, but it takes a lot of effort to find it.

I've yet to find anything in manga that even comes close to being as inventive, unique, or on the same level as Cerberus.

5/03/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Anonymous allcu said...

So what you are saying by extension here is that Black people can't be Jewish either?

Why you gotta be hating on Lenny Kravitz like that? :(

5/03/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Camilleri said...

I thought it was an interesting argument you raise and one that's difficult not to empathise with. However, possibly as I am a white guy, I didn't entirely agree with you. My response was quite lengthy so in the interests of not trying to cram it in here I've posted it up on my blog. I'd add a link at the bottom but I confess I don't really understand how that works.

5/03/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woman, you are a Goddess.
I agree with every single thing you have said. Oh man..its so great to see you lash out like this. Keep your head sister and stay strong =)

5/03/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous JLS said...

So incredibly refreshing to see a strong asian woman speak her mind. Keep on keepin' on!

5/03/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More power to yea! At first, I thought this entry was just going to be a load of bs, especially hearing it from another asian. But, I thought back, reflected, and actually came to a conclusion that everything you said was in a sense true, especially the overuse of "-chan" and "-san" after every name. My friend, who happens to be white, is actually doing this from only learning it from an anime. But what she doesn't know is, including the proper way to using it (ie. respect, sex, seniroty), she sometimes uses it on objects too aside from names. Well, I say in conclusion, you keep fighting the good fight.

5/03/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cultural miscengenation = Good

Corporate reappropriation, repackaging,and subsequent sale of diluted culture to the masses = Elvis

To AAs: You must realize this practice will continue without forseeable abatement. This is a call for creativity and innovation. You must cultivate your own culture and identity.

Peace out.

5/03/2006 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. u rule... can i follow u wherever u go?

-Korean guy.

5/03/2006 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Elvis is so crap.

The most ovverated artist of all time.

-Gav

5/04/2006 03:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truth is people who appropriate things from other cultures do it because they are ill used by their own, not because of any real opinion held of the culture.

It's a desire to see the rejecting culture's rejection as a flaw with it, rather then the rejectee. These people exist in every culture.

Oh, and I eat food from everywhere - because it's good. Nothing -ist or -ism about that.

5/04/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Many detractors of this post shuold recall that they have the privilege to ignore the racial narratives (often filled with economic degradation and base inhuman prejudice) of other people. This is where the Reappropriate rant may have strummed the most personal notes, but recall when Asiaphiles are usually mentioned in political discourse, they are viewed, however fairly, as the predatory sexist White males who easily and without social sanction hunt Asian American females for sexual gratification with impunity. (Obviously this trend is not collected solely within the young White male demographic, but this Quentin Tarentino complex is most blatant and accepted and successful with young White males. I do not forget that the RZA wannabes are just as guilty, even in smaller numbers.) The guys with interest in ninjitsu, anime, and judo often wish for and attempt sexual intercourse with Asian American females because of the same Orientalist fetish.

I have no quarrel with interracial relationships, and am not articulating one now; I'm pointing out that the street-level endgame of conversations on Asiaphilia usually involve the deconstruction of human beings into interchangeable objects, the commercial commodification of the Asian American female into exotic, slanty-eyed Bai Ling sex dolls, posable and disposable, a Rei Ayanami for ever Anglo-Saxon conqueror who wants one. That's why the entire topic of cultural appropriation and cultural theft has important real-world consequences for human interaction, in my opinion. I don't want other human beings degraded into (un)willing receptacles for other people's lusts, just because those capitalist culture vultures forget people are not Pocky.

Honestly, this commodification complex, where people of color only exist for White American leisure in some White American's minds, begins with the inability for some people to admit any impropriety with their love for the Western-constructed Far East, for manga and tea ceremonies, for tae kwon do and General Tso's Chicken, for anime-influenced faux Japanese names and Anna Ooura pinups.

Hell, the African American male experience has always involved some White Americans whose entire interest in jazz, Langston Hughes, Joe Louis, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, the blues, Muddy Waters, Cannonball Adderly, rock, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Living Color, SNCC, H. Rap Brown, Stokley Carmichael, Black Panthers, Eldrige Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, soul, James Brown, Issac Hayes, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, rap, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Common, Kanye West, black politics, Marcus Garvey, Fred Hampton, Geronimo Pratt, Spike Lee, Tupac Shakur - all emerged from a desire for personal sexual experience with the stereotypically sizable African American phallus.

Today, you can walk into any sex shop in America and find oversized dildos with burnt sienna colored latex denoted "Chocolate Thunder" or "Mandingo", that only serve the perverse and racially prejudiced desires of women who'd rather devolve my demographic into genitalia alone. One could argue that the rise of corporate influence over rap music encouraged and developed increased overt sexuality from African American rap artists as a function of their album marketing schemes. LL Cool J provides the most useful example; he still makes moderately successful rap records today because of his impressive sexual appeal to a mainly female fan base, eager to swoon over a muscular Black man promising sexual gratification of the highest order, man cast not as Superman, but as multiple orgasm provider - that is one real world cultural appropriation consequence in regards to the young African American male.

To all Hateraders: if you don't care about what the people think when you bastardize their culture, you won't care about the people when you bastardize them.

5/04/2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous BehindRoundEyes said...

It was an interesting thing to read with my breakfast, your original post and all the comments that followed.

Take my words as you will, after all I'm white. I'm not just a white boy...I'm THE White Boy.

There's really nothing I can say here, cuz I'd just be another TKD black belt, Buddhist, kung fu movie loving, sushi savaging, soju slamming white boy trying to make himself look good.

So instead, I'll pimp the causes I believe in and sacrifice for:

Liberty in North Korea, dedicated to assisting those who suffer in North Korea and the escapees trying to make it out.
http://www.linkglobal.org/

Kollaboration, the Korean-American and Asian-American show dedicated to getting Asian American entertainers into the spotlight they deserve. Started by my boy, PK.
http://www.kollaboration.org/

Oh, I care about shit...guess I suffer from white liberal guilt...;P

Anyway, good entry. Some people get it, some people don't. You can check my blog out here, "www.xanga.com/behind_round_eyes"

5/04/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you love asian men then?


As far as white posters here in this blog, can it be only reason they are providing comments is because they have asian love interests

5/04/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asian bitches sure like to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

5/04/2006 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever even been to Asia?

Asians emulate certain aspects of Western culture as well. What's wrong with combining the best or most interesting aspects of each culture?

5/04/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asians emulate certain aspects of Western culture as well. What's wrong with combining the best or most interesting aspects of each culture?

Where are the damn human beings then (you know, actors, singers, etc)? All I see are martial artist caricatures, or geek carticatures, or prostitute caricatures.

Where are the Asian actors, singers, etc in America? America borrows from other countries already... Eva Longoria, Robert DeNiro, etc etc. All I see from Asia are good actors that are forced into caricatures by Hollywood.

5/04/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous tw said...

Fuck yeah. Preach on, sister.

Reminds me of a quote from a black poet on white people doing hip hop. He said "They're getting all of the flavour without tasting any of the bitterness." No one can put it any better.

5/04/2006 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There ain't nothing wrong with liking something based on its own inherent merit. But there's something seriously wrong if you like something superficially based on its race or culture.

Saying you like Korean noodles because they taste great is fine. Saying you like the noodles, do tae kwan do, and have dated five Asian women in a row is suspicious, to say the least. Actually, it's quite stupid. And you look like the ridiculous fraud that you are (well, at least to any other Asian other than those five idiot-chicks you managed to bag. But who cares - they're likely idiots themselves. Thanks for taking them off our hands.)

5/04/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so true. I see a shitload of that having done a number of martial arts and going to university. I'm quite happy to be Australian thank you very much. No sorry, I'd rather not wave my hands around like a fool pretending to channel my 'chi' or 'ki' or whatever other shit founded on a minor understanding of asian culture or, more likely, movies.(Experience of trying one and only one kung fu session - I'll stick to kickboxing or BJJ from here thanks.)

5/04/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the damn human beings then (you know, actors, singers, etc)? All I see are martial artist caricatures, or geek carticatures, or prostitute caricatures.

Where are the Asian actors, singers, etc in America? America borrows from other countries already... Eva Longoria, Robert DeNiro, etc etc. All I see from Asia are good actors that are forced into caricatures by Hollywood.


I meant in Asia. As in Japan or SKorea. Are Asians not allowed to play, listen to, or admire jazz or the blues because they're African American inventions? Are Asians not allowed to play punk rock or listen to The Clash because it's British? Hey, someone better tell Nada and Boxer that Americans invented Starcraft: Broodwar. Sorry Boxer, there goes your career. Maybe Japan should get rid of it's soccer team, since it originated in Europe. Blah blah blah blah blah.


Reminds me of a quote from a black poet on white people doing hip hop. He said "They're getting all of the flavour without tasting any of the bitterness." No one can put it any better.


Guess the names Slug, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Pedestrian all mean nothing to you. Does it bother you that modern graffiti art styles, one of the four aspects of hip hop, was largely influenced by several white kids? Yeah, you don't know shit about hip hop, that's what I thought.

5/05/2006 12:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant in Asia. As in Japan or SKorea. Are Asians not allowed to play, listen to, or admire jazz or the blues because they're African American inventions? Are Asians not allowed to play punk rock or listen to The Clash because it's British? Hey, someone better tell Nada and Boxer that Americans invented Starcraft: Broodwar. Sorry Boxer, there goes your career. Maybe Japan should get rid of it's soccer team, since it originated in Europe. Blah blah blah blah blah.

Looks like you totally did not get the point. I remember in Guild Wars, the first time Koreans won the arena battles, and Americans were quick to spew out the racist invective. There's no appreciation for the people the white Americans take their culture from, and that dehumanization is the main reason that appropriation is wrong. This lack of appreciation is also why Asian actors struggle in Hollywood. If you still choose to say there's no connection, then you're never going to get it.

Guess the names Slug, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Pedestrian all mean nothing to you. Does it bother you that modern graffiti art styles, one of the four aspects of hip hop, was largely influenced by several white kids? Yeah, you don't know shit about hip hop, that's what I thought.

Shrug. People still think Elvis and the Beatles invented Rock and Roll (as to just being an influence). Splinters and planks and all that.

5/05/2006 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with engaging in another one's culture with a sincere interest.

However, appropriation, commodifying, reinterpreting, distributing, and asserting authority is a common practice that strips away one's right to have an identity.

There are precedents for every minority in this country. Whites did their damnest to strip blacks of their culture, and there are plenty of great white hypes to prove this.

To deny one of their culture is certain death.

5/05/2006 01:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like you totally did not get the point. I remember in Guild Wars, the first time Koreans won the arena battles, and Americans were quick to spew out the racist invective. There's no appreciation for the people the white Americans take their culture from, and that dehumanization is the main reason that appropriation is wrong. This lack of appreciation is also why Asian actors struggle in Hollywood. If you still choose to say there's no connection, then you're never going to get it.

No, you missed my original point. Plenty of people in Asia admire European/American culture. Plenty of people in Europe/America admire Asian culture.

I'm sure that the Japanese who listen to or play jazz/blues don't fully appreciate the plight of the blacks during the turn of the century. So what?

Shrug. People still think Elvis and the Beatles invented Rock and Roll (as to just being an influence). Splinters and planks and all that.

What's your point? Mine was that there have been may influential white people in hip hop, race doesn't mean shit if you have the skills.

Unless you're a suburban white kid, who are the primary consumers of people like JayZ and Nelly. They will only listen to black artists.

5/05/2006 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but I've met very people who are willing to understand the ins and outs of Asian culture. More often, they only select snippets and appropriate them.

Sorry but comparing the US to Japan loses its affect after a while. Perry's gunboat diplomacy, oil embargos, conquest, and subsequent neo-colonial occupation tends to suggest an unequal relationship.

Yes, whites as well as other races helped in furthering the creativity of hip-hop. But there are plenty of corporate embarassments. If you are skilled you have always a better chance than someone else. But to suggest race never plays apart in anything is just foolish.

5/05/2006 01:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Americans really "admire" culture, help AAs out by doing two things.

1.) Support AA programs here in the U.S.
2.) Stop trafficing Chinese babies. Enough with the global child fetish already.

5/05/2006 02:00:00 AM  
Anonymous BehindRoundEyes said...

"2.) Stop trafficing Chinese babies. Enough with the global child fetish already."

I can't speak for the Chinese children...but my boy PK, comedian and Asian American civil rights activist, has spoke out on Korean adoption time and time again.

White American parents adopt Korean kids.

Korean American and Korean parents rarely do.

He's had some essays on it in the past on his blog, www.xanga.com/prokreation.

I would recommend anyone interested in addressing Korean American issues specifically and Asian American issues look at what he has to say. He's brought up a lot of topics that are hard to face on both his page and in his stage work.

5/05/2006 03:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but comparing the US to Japan loses its affect after a while. Perry's gunboat diplomacy, oil embargos, conquest, and subsequent neo-colonial occupation tends to suggest an unequal relationship.

Yeah because the Japanese are just fucking awesome. Rape of Nanking, what the hell is that!?

5/05/2006 04:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but I've met very people who are willing to understand the ins and outs of Asian culture. More often, they only select snippets and appropriate them.

Why the hell should you have to? If I see something from another culture and I like it, then that's great. You don't have to understand the ins and outs of a culture to enjoy certain aspects of it.

I like Sushi because it tastes good. I take Thai Kickboxing because it's fun. I watch a few anime because I like them. I drive a Scion because they're reliable cars. Why the hell would I need to understand the ins and outs of thai and japanese culture to enjoy these things?

5/05/2006 04:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never was anything stated that Japan is "awesome," nor did I defend Japan in any form. However, using Japan as a cultural reference to the US is faulty. The relationship of Japan to America is far different from the relationship of US to Japan. And believe me, the US has done far worse to this world than Japan has ever did. The only real similarity between the two is their conquests in Asia.


Why the hell should you have to? If I see something from another culture and I like it, then that's great. You don't have to understand the ins and outs of a culture to enjoy certain aspects of it.

Because people like you use the term "admire" in their argument and drive Scions, which is the epitome of Japanese culture.

5/05/2006 06:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn,

In light of all the controversy, could you please confirm once and for all and without ambiguity whether you really meant _only whites_, or if in error you said whites in all your examples when you really meant (non race-specific) "dumbasses?"

This would quickly clear up all the speculation and determine whether this is an issue of racism or not, and then people will know whether or not to be offended or to agree that they also dislike dumbasses without getting into hairsplitting.

And if you meant "dumbasses of any race," if you edited your original post to say "dumbass", then people would stop calling you racist.

^.^ KTHNX

5/05/2006 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US has done far worse than Japan in this world?

Please...

The Japanese did far worse than the Nazis in Korea for a period of nearly 50 years.

5/05/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as white posters here in this blog, can it be only reason they are providing comments is because they have asian love interests

Aaaw, c'mon. If love is the reason then that's a good reason. It's a good reason not to jump off a cliff or to actually wake up in the morning, really.
Love's a great changer of people.
Have a little faith in what it can achieve and the doors it can open.
If it takes that level of caring about someone to break through the apathy, then be glad it came along, 'cause apathy needs to be broken through.
So if a little love interest sparks a little interest, so be it.

5/05/2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous lo said...

It's really a very interesting question.
I understand the distinction between appropriation/abuse and usage, and I understand that it can be extremely difficult to extricate the two. If the band at the minstrel show is really good-- I mean really damn good, one of the best shows you've ever seen-- can you enjoy the minstrel show? Can you love the art and despise the associated racist apparatus?

I think you can. We encounter this in classical music a great deal surrounding the works of Wagner, an acknowledged antisemite; and in philosophy with Heidegger, who made broadcasts for the Nazis, but had a lot of interesting things to say on language and time. Dave Sim's Cerebus has already been brought up in the thread-- a raving misogynist, but an interesting comic. In generaly, people believe that we can separate the art from its producer. But can we separate the art from its discourse?

I hope that we can do this also. I hope that I can practice and enjoy taiji, because it's excellent exercise-- and a healthful philosophy-- despite being a white woman; I hope that I can do this without becoming something of a minstrel show, that is, othering the Chinese culture to further my own white norm with a flourish. I hope I can enjoy Saul Williams and appreciate something of what he's talking about without being deluded that I've identified on some deep level with blackness. I may not have the bitterness, but does that make my experience of the poetry somehow invalid? I don't believe it does. It makes my experience different, not necessarily what was intended by the writer, but it doesn't mean I have somehow no right to enjoy these things, no right to attempt to experience them. What is created by this angle of viewing is a situation where art becomes compartmentalized, restricted, and commodified in its attachment to particular culture. Which shamefully devalues art.

In the end, it's idealistic, but I think we must as a culture attempt to dissociate ideas and art from their discourses. This is not a simple project; to dissociate one must first understand the associations. I'm all for looking at what the ninja means to America as well as what it means to Japan, watching how the idea-- AS AN IDEA!-- develops in all these dimensions. I think that once we attempt this dissociation, we stand a chance of losing some of the apparatus of diverse culturalism, but we also gain the greatest chance of losing the minstrel show once and for all.

5/05/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Japanese did far worse than the Nazis in Korea for a period of nearly 50 years.

I recognize Japanese atrocities, and I am not going defend them. However, if you think American genocide of the natives, participation in the slavery holocaust, amd exercising unfettered global imperialism is unsubstantial, then yes, Japan is the worst nation on the planet.


Aaaw, c'mon. If love is the reason then that's a good reason.


Sorry but this "love" is no more than rampant Asian fetishism, a sickness that strips the humanity of those fetishized.

5/05/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the band at the minstrel show is really good-- I mean really damn good, one of the best shows you've ever seen-- can you enjoy the minstrel show?

Could possibly enjoy it? Maybe. However, I would deeply criticize your diluted imitations, your racial caricaturs as "art," undermining its legitimacy. At the very least, this would be an indictment of bad taste.

In generaly, people believe that we can separate the art from its producer.

Sorry but we still attribute pieces to respective artists. Doesn't any discourse of van Gogh's art include biographical details? What is art if there is no artist? To deny the actual character of a person is to deny them claim to their artistry.

have somehow no right to enjoy these things, no right to attempt to experience them.

Literally speaking, you have no right. If you can show me your license, then I shall oblige. With that said, I have no right, no priviledge to deny you access.

If you choose to enjoy it, so be it. However, I will be critical of your intentions. I am critical of all the Asiaphiles running around acting as if they are Asians. I am critical of some lame ass who professes his love for culture because he wants to get in someone's pants. I am critical of your "admiration" if you treat certain cultures as novelty. I am critical of your "worldly" and "cultured" authority.

5/05/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaaw, c'mon. If love is the reason then that's a good reason. It's a good reason not to jump off a cliff or to actually wake up in the morning, really.

As much as people like to think people's ideas of who they're attracted to are created in a vacuum, that's not true. Read http://www.audreymagazine.com/Sep2005/Features03.asp

Your environment does have a significant influence on what you like. And the environment in North America and what it exports to the rest of the world is pretty sucky, to say the least.

Love's a great changer of people.
Have a little faith in what it can achieve and the doors it can open.
If it takes that level of caring about someone to break through the apathy, then be glad it came along, 'cause apathy needs to be broken through.
So if a little love interest sparks a little interest, so be it.


I've seen enough white people (majority of them being white men, because that's the reality) spew generalization after generalization of Asian people and then justifying it using their spouse that I'm a bit cynical to that point of view. As I remember someone said "antiracism isn't transferred through osmosis or bodily fluids."

5/05/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Ruth (Gaudior) said...

Jenn-- thanks very much for this post. A friend of mine linked to it, and it really made me think and wrestle with the issues. I wrote a livejournal entry about it (http://gaudior.livejournal.com) which you're welcome to read or not (I can see that you already have an overwhelmingly huge response). I found myself coming to a lot of the points made above by Bankuei, James, TW, and Christopher, but I'm really glad to have had the chance to come to them on my own and really chew on the question. So thank you, very much, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog!

5/05/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Ruth (Gaudior) said...

(Perhaps it would be helpful if I put my correct link here. Sorry!)

5/05/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im sorry, but tasting foods of different cultures is not that big of a deal. Are you going to tell me that china, japan, korea ect dont dabble in eachothers cultures? It seems you are extremely ignorant to the fact that asia is OBSESSED with American pop culture. The way you write things like "MY CULTURE" further shows your ignorance. I do believe "Your culture" was around a lot longer than you have been alive. Also, i dont see how you can even be mad about "white" people who like the asian culture...your comments almost lead me to believe you hate anyone that isnt like you.

Bottom line is this

You are saying THIS IS MY CULTURE AND I WANT IT ALL TO MYSELF.

Im sorry honey, but you need to grow up and move on.

And someone needs to smash the soapbox you are currently using as a stairway to la la land.

5/07/2006 12:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's ignore the fact, then that the West colonised the world and pretty much forced their views and culture down everybody else's throats proclaiming that it is the best. And then turned around and picked and chose whatever parts of other cultures they thought "cool" to make themselves different while still denigrating the people from whom those cultures originated as backward and inferior.

There is certainly nothing wrong with appreciating foods from different cultures. Its different to redefining someone else's culture to suit your own tastes.

5/07/2006 01:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Fucked In THe Head And A Raceist at that "white boy" an from what i here your canadian so defending your "parents" culture not your own yes there are some dumb fucks who think that thay are "ninja" cuz thay can climb a tree abut dose this mean every west'erner like my self who respects and likes finding more about other cultures such as your parents is a "asiaphile" ? and no i dont agree with what the yanks did to japan Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that aside asia and usa are obsesd whit MY culture of England so your all Britishphilie's ? or just intreseded eat crumpets and call yourself british and when you go to your shrine of diana not no'ng why you copy the fantasy without noing what we stand for i dont give a fuck you all say we have bad teeth well for a fact i do not :D see ha just get over your self copy my culter if u want im not gona cry bout it why should you ?

5/07/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog, just to prove that other people have thought similar things.

For simplicity's sake, let's say I agree with everything you wrote. And then onto the more trivial points:

Only been to Starbucks once, and when I was there they had some samples of a 'Green Tea Frappicino' concoction; tasted more like sugar than green tea, but that seems to be the trend nowadays. But in theory, I personally wouldn't get mad at a bunch of white kids buying green tea at a 'white' establishment; sure, yeah, they could probably find better stuff at the local ethnic grocery, but do they know about that? Probably not.

A LOT of people got pissed about Memoirs of a Geisha, for various reasons. Yeah, it's too bad Americans prefer a hollywood telling of the geisha tale as opposed to a subtitled Japanese film. And a lot of people got pissed about Zhang Ziyi not being Japanese but playing a geisha. I can't get angry at Americans for taking geisha stories in English because hey, not everyone speaks Japanese. And I haven't even seen the Geisha movie myself, so whatever.

Otaku who extend their obsession from just the shows to something else (-chan and -kun, as you said) disturb me greatly. But if they have some strange fixation on DBZ or Sailor Moon (only girls and Sailor Moon, guys loving SM creeps me out)... who am I to get angry, I have friends obsessed with Family Guy and I don't judge.

What's always intrigued me was that there are teenagers all over the world who want to be white because of media portrayals, and copy off of American styles. This has its ups and down of course, the worst down being the spread of rap music.

Thanks again for the blog entry. Make the ol' brain cells stimulated.

5/07/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous CoolGuy_007 said...

CoolGuy_007: JAPANPHILE (ASIANPHILE)

Well Said :thumbsup:

To all the Asiaphile or JapanPhile who have Asian Fetish(aka obessession) on Japanese women and asian women. Hear this, your nothing then a WHITE TRASH RACISTS REDNECK. Your very ignorant on Asian and Japanese culture/tradation and don't know anything about it. Instead learning or taking time to understand their lifestyle and environment. You only based it on stereotype or/and generalisation especiall from the media aka Hollywood.

Only different between those two: -

* Japanhile (Asianphile)

Based it only in stereotype, gernalisation or media (aka brainwashed or proganda). For E.g cute, exotic or tight pussy etc.

* Asian Fan

Curiousity or fasication on Asian culture. Taking time to learn, respect and appreciate. And based on aganda such only there for getting Asian or Japanese women. Based on you heared or seen without realising the real truth or facts in it.

Comment or flame:

CoolGuy_202@hotmail.com

5/08/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger CoolGuy_007 said...

Correcting Sentence: -

[quote]
* Asian Fan

Curiousity or fasication on Asian culture. Taking time to learn, respect and appreciate. And based on aganda such only there for getting Asian or Japanese women. Based on you heared or seen without realising the real truth or facts in it.
[/quote]

* Asian Fan

Curiousity or fasication on Asian culture. Taking time to learn it, respect it and appreciate it. And NOT based it on aganda such only there for getting Asian or Japanese women for the sake of it. What you heared or seen without realising the real truth or facts behind it.

So GET THE HELL OUT of Japan and Asia if you don't appreciate their culture and tradation. For not understanding or getting to know what it's like there. With no illogical reason whatsoever. For not knowing or being ignorant.

5/08/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're the same anonymous, I don't get what you're pointing at.

You say that certain members of this board have asian love interests and that's the only motivation for coming here.

If you're insinuating someone in particular, spit it out, if you're talking about asiaphiles in general, you're totally unfounded in specifically pointing the finger at people here!

But talking about a particular love as fetischism without saying which one is non sequitur

5/08/2006 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger Rahul Nirmal said...

I just want to say that I love you for saying this. Well, I'm an Indian, I like anime and manga a bit, but am now starting to like American cartoons more and just getting so fucking sick of all the disgusting white otakus I see around me. I personally find the white otakus to be the worst kind.

You rock, thats all I have to say, I support you. : )

5/08/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger CoolGuy_007 said...

NO Not the same anonymous but a different person. Just annoyed to those who are ignorant and come Asia to think they have some privedgle over some country or race. Basing it on their beauty or complexity.

Also very ashame to those Asian who have sort of lost their self respect and have lost their asian-ness and act whitewashed or banana. Be proud of your heritage because its possible to live in each others countries and still be yourself and have some kind of respect for yourself as an Asian man or Asian Woman.

5/08/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! I'M AMERICAN! I OBVIOUSLY SUPPORT WHAT MY COUNTRY DOES!!!!!!!!

/sarcasm

Okay, what the fuck? You act like YOU'RE offended, which you're just trying to get attention.

So what?

I'm sick of people always playing the race card.

So what if we enjoy some aspects of the culture?

Just look at religion. People pretend to be Christians, but only act out the parts of religion that THEY like. And still call themselves fullfledged Christians. Get over yourself.

5/08/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, Canada doesn't make any good Anime. And there were no ninjas in canada. No one wants to be a Canadia-o-phile because it's too similar to America and America does it better.

Oh wait, you think you're Chinese? Cute.

5/08/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I don't understand is the atomic bomb thing.

The Japanese were the ultimate racists in WWII, not counting Germany. They wanted to spread their special brand of racial superiority all over Asia, and they were well on their way in doing so.

They allied with Hitler, they chose their side, and they attacked America. I guess it's hard to understand, being in born and raised in Canada, what it's like to have your country attacked. Back in WWII, we had a couple of choices. One was to continue island hopping and attempting an attack on the Japanese mainland. This would have killed far more Japanese than the atomic bombs did. It would have been a meat grinder for America troops (the bad guys since they're white and everything) and Japanese troops alike. The Japanese leaders wanted to fight to the death, even after the bombs fell, but thankfully the Emperor agreed to surrender.

This is how war works. This was not classic colonialism or imperialism. Imperialists DO NOT give the conquered country back to the people to whom it belongs after only a few years of occupation.

I guess it's nice to sit in a free country like Canada and talk about the white devil's "imperialism" in Japan. It must be nice to be able to say what you like on the internet then go back to your comfortable life. The Japanese now have the freedoms you and I enjoy because of WWII and the American occupation. Japan is the second biggest economy in the world now. Do you think any of them would trade it for the violent, imperial government under which they lived during and prior to WWII?

In the same vein as when the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso recently stated that the Japanese occupation of Taiwan was the reason for Taiwan's current high standards of education (and boy, China sure loved that one!), the U.S. occupation of Japan is undoubtably the best thing to have ever happened to Japan.

5/08/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck all white people that like anime, manga, Japapanese culture or other asian culture, damn Europe and damn the white race! Filthy barbarians!

5/08/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"In light of all the controversy, could you please confirm once and for all and without ambiguity whether you really meant _only whites_, or if in error you said whites in all your examples when you really meant (non race-specific) "dumbasses?""

All Asiaphiles bother me. White Asiaphiles are the most prevalent kind, and they have the added bonus of coming from a position of White privilege.

Accusations of racism don't bother me, because as far as I'm concerned, they are insubstantial. You can see "Dumb Defenses that Don't Fly" for further discussion on this, and "Who I Am and Who We Be" for some discussion on the distinction between patriotism towards Asians and connection between Asian and Asian American culture (i.e. stop mixing up culture from nationalism).

Any request to edit the original post strike me as a reluctance of Whites to accept the responsibility of their fetishism and racism towards Asian people because ultimately, White Asiaphiles bother me in this particular post, and yes, their race has something to do with the fucked-up-ed-ness of their fetish, considering how it is placed in a larger context of sexual and cultural imperialism and colonization.

To all the Hateraders, thank you for still proving my point. There are too many of you to read and respond to, however I encourage you to read other posts in this blog, as many of your points are being addressed in subsequent AAHM posts.

anonymous (somewhere up there) said:
"Your Fucked In THe Head And A Raceist at that "white boy" an from what i here your canadian so defending your "parents" culture not your own yes there are some dumb fucks who think that thay are "ninja" cuz thay can climb a tree abut dose this mean every west'erner like my self who respects and likes finding more about other cultures such as your parents is a "asiaphile" ? and no i dont agree with what the yanks did to japan Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that aside asia and usa are obsesd whit MY culture of England so your all Britishphilie's ? or just intreseded eat crumpets and call yourself british and when you go to your shrine of diana not no'ng why you copy the fantasy without noing what we stand for i dont give a fuck you all say we have bad teeth well for a fact i do not :D see ha just get over your self copy my culter if u want im not gona cry bout it why should you ? "

The period is your friend.

5/08/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Angie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I'm really glad I'm not alone in this feeling.

5/08/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

angie, thank you for reading!

5/09/2006 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article.

But whats wrong with learning karate?

Especially kyokushin, where they actually do good in PRIDE and UFC?

And judo is great: Yoshida does well in submission wrestling tournaments and even dominated Royce gracie.

Also, for internal martial arts like taiji, some people think they can get extra body mechanics by taiji who are already training in another style or love the ki kung.

But i agree, toooooooooooo

many wierd white boys running around thinking thier ninjas, or samurai or dressing up like sepheroth.

God i hate people who dress like sephiroth.

5/09/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It goes both ways you know. In japan, the japanese seem to believe anything non-japanese is better; and love american culture just as much as retarded white guys do. Infact, there is even a theory of japanese culture becoming pure pop culture.

5/09/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"sexual and cultural imperialism and colonization."

When did the U.S. ever colonize Japan? You're confusing [winning a] war with something very different.

5/09/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This needs an edit button...

What we did in Japan is no more different than what we did in Germany, except we did it fast enough to keep the Russians out, keeping Japan united, unlike what happened with Germany and the wall and whatnot.

5/09/2006 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Cooluy_202@hotmail.com said...

Japanophile: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanophile

The biggest problem with white people is that good portion of them are always refusing to adjust to new cultures and respect them. Why don't people understand that hentai, chikans, perverted manga, weird porn are all part of Japanese culture? You don't like the fact that Japanese girls look young? Then don't date them. You don't like Japanese culture and Japanese viewpoints on sex? If you don't like it there then get out of Japan, nobody needs you there.

But you know what some western people are like. They are always imposing their bullshit religion, bullshit christian holidays, retarded moralist ideas and their close-minded viewpoints on other people and cultures. Not sure where I am going with this but as saying you they even know the real history and events that made asians the people they are today?!

Some Japanophiles have been criticised for having a limited perception of Japanese culture, and many of their likes of Japan are based on Western perceptions. Anime and Japanese video game fans are often criticised for this. Another peril of japanophilia is the tendency to have a biased view through an adopted, Japanese cultural filter; e.g. equating mastery of all forms of swordsmanship with formal rank and recognition in Kendo (a Japanese sport).

Alot of this Asiaphile have Asian Fetish based on steretype and generalisation even from the Media (baised views and missrepresentation towards Asian). They only come there for their personal agenda thinking they can expliot or have white previdgle (the lazy way). Only come there to get Japanese women because they can't get it back home and blame those who are against WF/AM.

No wonder alot of Westnerners especially from America and Canda mostly White Guys complaining, whinging or whinning about Japanese/Asian girls being tight ass in Asia and blaiming their culture, tradation, society and family values etc. Anyway nothing wrong about Westerners taking interest in Asian or Japan culture and tradation. But at least try to understand, appericate, educate, learn and study the culture and tradation there. Asian will look up to you the most if you learn, educate, understand, respect and appreciate their culture or tradation. Take Early Asian History that focused on Southeast Asia and Modern Asian History that focused on Japan, South Korea and China. Learned some much about the asian culture from these classes. Not only from the textbooks and the novels you read but by professor or scholar on Asian history with a focus on China.

The only difference between Asiaphile and those people who have fascination or curiousity (let's call them "Asian Fans") is that they take time to learn and educate themself about Asia. Often heard and seen many of these otaku folks and they are competely obessed with anything japanese/ or asian for the matter.


Asian (Asia): -

* Education (learning)

* Resilience (Survival)

* Culture and Tradation

* Patience (Taking time)

* Ambition (Hardworking)

* Hospitality (Mannerisim)

* Loyalty (Sticking together)

* Family Values (Close Network)

Westerners: -

* Democracy

* Capatilisim

* Independence

* Freedom (Having fun)

* Individuality (Each to their own)

Related: -

* Asian Fetish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_fetish)

* Asiaphile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiaphile)

5/16/2006 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous CoolGuy_007 said...

Asian Fetish: -

[quote]Only come there to get Japanese women because they can't get it back home and blame those who are against WF/AM.
[/quote]


Oppz ment to say "Only come there to get Japanese women because they can't get it back home (a.k.a feminists or independence) and blame those who are against WM/AF."

Oh yeah NOT Asian American (which nothing wrong with that) but have connection or links with them and support their course there because they been throught alot. They need all the help because of discrimination due to racisim.

5/16/2006 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Dude, I'm Japanese American, and you can get back to me after you take the juvenile pink manga art down off your blog.

5/21/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

Jenn, where do you live?

Do you celebrate Christmas?

5/24/2006 11:18:00 PM  

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