Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Putting a racist slant on things - the "Chinky-Eye" Hall of Shame

Apparently making the slanty-eye gesture is the new hip thing to do. The latest celeb photographed committing this racist act is Joe Jonas, of pop act the Jonas Brothers. Now, normally I have no cause to waste any brain cells thinking about the Jonas Brothers. But when someone admired by millions of young people thinks it's a cool and funny thing to do, that's a problem.

You may recall teen star Miley Cyrus copping some criticism earlier this year for the same gesture. "I was just making a goofy face," she said in her defence. Did she mean to say gooky? Many Asians have been outraged by this, but LA woman Lucie J Kim took it upon herself to launch a $4 billion lawsuit against Cyrus, claiming damages on behalf of a million Asian-Americans who she claims were so traumatised by seeing the photo and the racism it will inevitably engender, that they need $4000 each.
Yeah, I get how such a photo is offensive and all, but frivolous cases like this only embarrass the Asian community.

But it's a gesture not restricted to teenybopper stars - clearly these female Argentinian footballers thought it hilarious as well.

And then there was this picture that appeared last year on the Spanish Tennis Federation's website, accompanied by caption, "We are ready for Beijing". Three female Olympic tennis players are in the photo.

This was the same week that the Spanish men's basketball team were photographed making the gesture, also in the leadup to the Beijing Olympics...

... as were the Spanish women's basketball team.

Which is surprising, since Spanish sporting culture is usually so enlightened when it comes to matters of race (what with the monkey chants aimed by crowds at black football players, and the former national coach referring to French striker Thierry Henry as a black sh*t).

In defence of the people the above photos, I don't think any of them were consciously trying to degrade Asian people. To make the leap to "The Jonas Brothers hate Asians" is going too far I hope. Without knowing the context in which a photo is taken, perhaps one shouldn't leap to judgement - the Cyrus and Jonas photos were clearly not meant to be disseminated into the public domain. In the Cyrus photo, the token Asian guy looks like he may be in on the joke. I know myself that I have little in-jokes with my friends of different ethnicities which might seem racist to an observer unaware of the context.

But it is a gesture that carries a sting for many people of East Asian background growing up in Western countries, much as the monkey references do for black people. It's a gesture many Asians are familiar with as a form of bullying in the schoolyard and on the street. Let's hope we see less of it.


  1. people need to lighten UP!

    that crazy oriental woman needs her head checked!

    Orientals get the operation to have more round eyes and they say whites are mocking the orientals please.

    I am half and if its a joke its a joke

    1. I'm Chinese and usually I am a pretty laid back person, but this really pisses me off. Seriously you are going to tell me to go get a freaking surgery done because I am sick of people making slanted eyes. That is like telling a black person to go get their fucking skin bleached because they hate being racially discriminated against. I like my eyes how they are and I shouldn't have to fucking change them so that I can live a normal life. I saw this shit growing up so fucking much and you know what I really have gotten sick of it. Yeah it is a joke, but it's seriously annoying and I do get offended because people don't understand that they are the freaking minority and that having slanted eyes is as normal as having a receding hair line or being tall. We can't fucking control our damn eyes, just as America apparently can't control their growing ignorance.

  2. It's not "oriental" if you're talking about people, you racist piece of shit.

  3. You tell him, Keiko! You outta be ashame of yourself you POS uneducated Asian wannabe!!