sarsparilla, or yet another post
about why it sucks being asian in america.


the first time i saw an asian onscreen was probably that asian kid who beat stephanie tanner in the spelling bee on an episode of full house. pretty white stephanie tanner couldn't spell sarsparilla, but of course, the asian kid remembered the silent 'r.' i remember being annoyed even then. why'd it have to be an asian kid who beat her? it was just perpetuating the stereotype that asian kids were smarter than white kids. i'm sure the producers of the show originally suggested a math-a-lon, but someone probably stepped up at some point and said, "uhh, how about a spelling bee instead?" people will argue that it's not a stereotype, but that it's actually a compliment. in any case, i won most of our class spelling bees in junior high. this made me hate that asian kid.

then there was data from the goonies, who also played short round in indiana jones and the temple of doom. i hated this kid, too, for the simple fact that he had an accent. the list went on: long duk dong in sixteen candles, toshiro takashi in revenge of the nerds, the ree brothers in better off dead. english, they no speak. i wanted to say, "hey hollywood, i speak perfect english! fucking cast me for a film!" what was up with that shit? i'd like to see the auditions they held back then. "this kid's really good," one person would say. "yeah, but so is his english. next!"

as a sidenote, i don't want to come across as though i hate asian people with accents. i really don't. what irritates me is how mainstream media continues to portray the same token asian/asian americans with accents, and rarely, if ever, showcase asian and asian-american individuals who speak english and have normal jobs that don't involve martial arts.

the stereotypes would just kept coming. e. honda from street fighter II with his cheap-ass hundred hand slap move. and his name was honda, for fuck's sake. why didn't they bother giving ryu a last name, too, like ryu kawasaki? and chun-li dim sum? the only asian character to ever appear on an episode of saved by the bell? a fucking nerd. johnny tran and lance, who shoot down the white, loveable geek in fast and the furious.

then, of course, there's everything jackie chan and jet li have ever done. once, jackie chan hosted saturday night live. my friend dong and i tried to watch the opening segment, but we couldn't finish it. "ugh," dong said, "it's like watching my uncle try to host." none of the skits were funny. what was truly painful about it, though, was the realization that the audience obviously wanted to laugh at his accent, but instead, they reserved it for the tragically unfunny punchlines.

in my ethics class in college, there was a loatian kid who had a thick accent. on the rare occassion that he would get the chance to voice his opinions, this small group of white boys would giggle to themselves. yes, i said college. and yes, i said ethics class. dr. painter and everyone else, myself included, just pretended like it didn't happen. it made me sick to think that even in a liberal college, one that supposedly stressed diversity and inclusion, this kind of shit went on. and of course, it still goes on. can't you hear the suppressed laughter?

things are better now, i guess. i mean, there was that movie motel, harold and kumar, and better luck tomorrow. i guess those should count for something. there was lane on the gilmore girls, and brian mcbrian got to fuck tibby in sisterhood of the traveling pants 2. still, it shouldn't have taken this long. last night, while talking to a friend, i came to realize why i enjoyed my recent trip to the philippines so much. "when i was there," i said, "i probably felt the way a white person must feel in the united states."

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