Wednesday, July 7, 2010


You notice these things, sometimes they smack you in the face with it, other times you just get a small itch of "uncorrectness" not really consciously taking it in. Racism.
I'm talking about Hollywood and how they have their set race-stereotypes which they seem unwilling to move away from. Since I moved to the USA I noticed how blatantly open racism is and how people treat it as an accepted, understandable element of a multi-racial/cultural society. This is then of course reflected in Hollywood movies. The following movies are all examples that I was able to list up from the top of my head, and I'm sure if I spent more time doing so I would come up with much more.

First example is the self sacrificing black man. Don't know how they came up with this character, but he can be found in many movies where he believes in dying for his white counter-parts.

Day of the Dead (2008) - in this remake we have a soldier who is black, and willing to sacrifice himself for the white woman officer whom he didn't seem to like most part of the movie. He tries to hold back a horde of zombies screaming back to her "run, get out of here". Note, in the original no such nonsense.

Starship Troopers - I liked this movie. It had an ironic view on the military regime and didn't take itself so seriously. But still, when it came to the scene where the "bugs" were about to overrun the barbie & ken-couple, it was the black man who got wounded and offered to stay behind with a grenade taking out as many of those damn bugs on his way out.

U-751 - (starring Bon Jovi? and Matthew McConaughey, both who I have a great dislike for (as actors-love Jovi's music --"shot through the heart"...who don't love that). in this sorry excuse of a movie which I have another bone to pick later, we have the first soldier to bravely sacrifice himself for his comrades, and yes, he's black.

Also, it's more obvious if the gangster in the movie is black, right?

Daredevil - this colossal failure is built on the comic-book character of the Daredevil. In the story he fights his nemesis, Kingpin, which by the way, is a villain also often appearing in the Spiderman comics. Both in Daredevil and Spiderman comicbooks the Kingpin character is basically a mob crime boss with no supernatural powers - a huge fat bold white guy. In the Daredevil movie they decided to make him a black guy. Then why not make Superman a black man? What? did I say something wrong? Fail to see the logic in that decision.

Being married to a beautiful woman from South Korea suddenly made me aware of the Asian stereotypes and has made me more sensitive about seeing how they are portrayed.

Very Bad Things - the story is similar to the Hangover but darker. A bachelor party to Las Vegas ends with a dead prostitute and the guys decide to chop her up, bury, and forget about it.
The prostitute that dies while having sex with one of them (bangs her head) is asian. To be more precise it's an Asian porn movie actress who plays her - Kobe Tai. The point that I'm trying to get at is that if women are to be shown in a really negative way ( prostitute + dead in freak sex-accident + chopped up & buried ) then it's better to have her be Asian. It's less unsettling.

Live Free or Die Hard - on that note: in the fourth Die Hard movies Bruce Willis fights an evil Asian woman. Of course she is good at martial arts... And although Bruce gets his ass kicked most of the time, he fights her as if fighting a guy - real dirty and brutal. I remember being shocked at how they showed that kind of violence against a woman. But again, it was an Asian woman, so not as bad. Oh, and here is one of the lines Bruce says in the movie about her: "Can I get another dead Asian hooker bitch over here right away?"

Another point that my wife made was that you very rarely see a really beautiful Asian woman in American movies - unless they are "Asian hooker bitches".

I hate Valentine's Day - not worth mentioning, but since I did the mistake of renting this with my wife: in the movie the asshole buddy of the male lead character brings one of his constantly changing dates to a party and totally ignores her. Even the main female character, who is supposed to be the "hero" character and sympathetic to the viewer, treats this poor girl, who is Asian, like dirt. But hey, again, it's ok because she looks like a nerdy Asian.

The Hangover - as already mentioned above, it's a bachelor party trip to Las Vegas movie. At one point they finally find their car, which had gotten lost during their drunken night out. In the trunk they find a tied up, naked Asian guy who turns out to be a gay gangster boss(?) of inconclusive Asian background: he uses a Korean word at some point but says "kiss my chinese ***". Love how much they don't care. As long as he acts Asian and has a thick accent. They had basically kidnapped and undressed this guy throwing him into the car-trunk because one of them thought he was like a funny mascot...
Another scene was when they got their kidnapped friend back from the Asian gangster, but found out it wasn't their friend. "Our guy is white, not black!" Yes, the person they got was a black guy. They even suggest the gangster taking him back. But the black guy doesn't even get upset by their remarks.
That being said, I laughed watching this movie, partly because it was incorrect in many ways, but it just becomes obviously one-sided who ends up in what stereo-typical role.

The Relic
- the female lead character is a professor working at a Museum. She is fighting to get a grant that will help fund her further research and without which she and her research team would be out of work. Oh, but that evil-nerdy-ass-kissing Asian Professor is trying to steal the grant away from her. He is portrayed as such an asshole, you just want him to get killed (it's a horror monster movie).

The only movie I ever recall having seen an Asian guy with a white female was in Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story - I guess Hollywood didn't decide to change the real story of Bruce Lee although I can really imagine one of the executives going: "Does she have to be white?"

Lastly I wanted to mention one story that I heard in a documentary. It was about horror movies and this older woman was telling how she had heard about this shocking new horror movie in 1968 called Night of the Living Dead. People had been buzzing about it and so many people were curious to see it and as was she. The real reason for that was that for the first time they had a black man in the main role. That was more shocking than the terror of walking dead people at that time. But that movie and it's remake are one of my favorite horror movies of all times because it doesn't follow cliches and treats the story just as something that is happening no matter what status the people may have had in their life previous to the horrors to follow.

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