Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Full Metal Stereotype

Of the many topics we discussed and essays we had to read in my Theory and Criticism class my senior year of college, Edward Said’s (pronounced sah-YEED) Orientalism was by far the only one that I found genuinely interesting. It was a relief amidst a sea of Derrida’s deconstruction, Segdwick’s Queer Theory, Freud’s Penis Envy, and Foucault’s Panoptic Eye (although this was pretty interesting too, and we got to watch Pink Floyd’s, The Wall in class). For the most part, these essays were like wading through literary goo that oozed on and on, traced and retraced trains of seemingly endless and pointless thought, and made me want to jab pointy objects into the eyes of anyone who ever wrote fifty pages about why the word “chair” means “chair” instead of, perhaps, “elephant” or “foot.”

It’s a fucking chair, shut up.

I guess the fact that I am “oriental” (please do not use this word to describe Asian people), added to the appeal of Said’s essay, but the entire class agreed that it was much easier to follow than any of the other crap we had to read.

Said said (hah) that Orientalism was the way Western society (aka the Occident) portrayed Eastern society (aka Yellow Folk). While many of their portrayals were not damning, they adulterated one’s perception of the Orient in a way that was more damaging than straight racism. Why? Because in an attempt to accurately depict Asian people, even if it was in a flattering manner, they drove many stereotypes home. Therefore, under the guise of an accurate portrayal of a culture, they further misled Western society to believe that Asian people were submissive, loyal, overachievers, men were feminine, women were "dragon-ladies" or prostitutes, etc. People readily accepted these portrayals because they weren't racist, but representative.

Are you following me? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, this brings me to my favorite example of Orientalism, Full Metal Jacket. Possibly one of the best films ever made. If you have not watched it, hurry up and Netflix it (and if you don’t have Netflix…get with it, asshole). It chronicles the journey of several American soldiers from boot camp to Vietnam. It is also the source of numerous famous quotes (What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?) including everyone’s favorite, the bane of every Asian woman’s existence from now until the end of time, “Me love you long time.”

Shudder.

I mean, come on, couldn’t Stanley Kubrick put something like this in Eyes Wide Shut instead? At least that was a crappy, forgettable film. Instead, this line got strapped into his best film (maybe not best because A Clockwork Orange is pretty awesome-er), and will live on for all eternity as the most irritating five words in existence.

So, what have we learned?
-Edward Said's name is pronounced (sah-YEED).
-Don't call Asian people "oriental."
-I will not "love you long time," so stop fucking asking me.
-Vietnamese chicks make for good snipers (you've gotta watch the film to get this one).

-L

9 Comments:

Anonymous Lolo said...

All that orientalism shit had the effect of reinforcing my sterotyping of white folks being dumb as mud. That and anytime some hick (and it doesn't matter how expensive your suit is, when you say this shit you are marked as a hick) tells me "you remind me of Michelle Yeoh" I sneer and and reply "uh huh, and I'm wishing that I could dropkick your flat, witey heiny right the fuck now".

It's mind numbingly stupid, how they could try and put a generality to a myriad of cultures that span the sub continent to the islands of Japan.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

Agreed, fuck white people.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

White people are great, it's Witey that you gotta watch around the silverware and underwear.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Algernonymous1999 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:53 PM  
Blogger CEO of the World said...

I don't know where the "dumb whitey" theme came from, but I sure as hell didn't mention anything about it. In fact, I didn't mention the word "white" once in that entire post.

I don't know how it came to pass that a post that I wrote in jest about an essay on Orientalism and a funny/irritating phrase was miscontrued as my "Korean Power Burn the White People!" manifesto, but if at some point it does, kindly quote the phrase, and I'll consider remedying it.

By the way, I didn't realize that there was an official document written listing Kubrick's movies from best to worst. I was of the impression that was a matter of opinion.

Thanks for reading!

-L

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Lolo said...

Oh, sorry there Mr. Marine. I'm the one responsible for hitting the post button before putting my name to my snarky comment about "witey". Of course, you in your much greater military and prostitutional (hey, a new word!) wisdom are able to speak to the non-racist attribution of "me love you long time" and for that I salute you, or whatever it is that former Marines prefer. I am happy to concur that what our armed forces are looking for in a bought woman is her pussy and not the racial stereotype/mystique/allure that is ascribed to that foreign poon. I'm sure if they had a choice between good old fashioned american pie and oriental or fancy french that what they would go for is the good old U.S. of Ass since they wouldn't be ascribing any traits based on racial preconceptions.

I do apologise, sincerely, for my generalising and stereotyping of white people as a whole. That was rude and very misleading because I think that rednecks can be found the whole world over. It just happened that it was white people that were the first "group" that introduced me to being ugly to someone based on skin colour but I've since learned that bigots come from every country on our planet.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://blacklava.net/store/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=17&products_id=63

I think that in Said's essay the Orient was originally refering to the more Indian parts of Asia, and not so much the area thought of as the "orient" now. It was a term used to blanket a large geographic area and to stigmatize it as the other. It was the west vs. the orient (wherever that happens to be) Basically a us vs. whoever the fuck they are kinda thing, but I'm sure you know all of this, just wanted to add a comment, I like your guy's writing, oh and I hated Foucault and Derrida too, sign, signifier, symbol, bullshit

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://blacklava.net/store/product_info.php?cPath=2&products_id=63

This place has a shirt that says, "I will not love you long time"

6:41 PM  
Blogger CEO of the World said...

Thanks for the link. Pure genius.

9:39 AM  

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