Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
rezaf

racism on desperate housewives?

Recommended Posts

gato
Honestly, I don't think portraying one race in a particularly bad light is racism. I define racism as something that has an appreciable effect on the person/race. Making Rosa Parks move to the back of the bus. Now thats racism; making fun of a race/portraying them badly on T.V.? Not so much.

Interesting view. Racism is probably something you have to experience to understand. If it hasn't affected you personally, most likely you don't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

nipponman

As an African American, it has and does affect me...Anyway, I think that people that lobby against so-called "racism" on T.V. are weakening the cause against true racism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gato

Ok, I take that back then, but you do have to realize that media influences people. Somebody people used to argue that violence in the media doesn't matter because "it's not to cause me to go out and kill people." Well, maybe it only influences 1 in 1000 people strongly to cause them to do something awful, and you are not one of them. But multiple 1/1000 by the whole population, and you'll get a large enough effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fireball9261

Gato, I sort of agree with you in a way about the media's influence. I am a Chinese woman in LA and in software industry (where and when women are rare), so I experienced discriminations. However, I do feel if the media or TV series reflects some sorts of reality for a ethnic group, I would not call it racism. I would like TV and movies show Asians other than nerds or Kungfu fighters or hot girls. However, I do know some of the Asians are like those people. If the media twisted their images or exaggerated their images, I would call them racism. Otherwise, I just call them reflecting what's going on in the society. One of the movie critics complained about Jet Li's movie "Romeo must die" for having racist words -- He pointed out how the African Americans in the movie cursed Jet Li's character using racist words "Chink". I have to laugh at this kinds of sentiments. Do you expect a LA African American gang member yelling and cursing at a Chinese with the words, "Hey you, Asian American guy, come back here and let me beat you up!"

Anyway, I watched Desperate Housewife every week and liked it - nice brainless fun - a bit better than soap operas. I have also seen those Chinese women on TV. Since I live in the greater LA area for the last 30 years and am involved with other first generation Chinese immigrants, I could tell you that those women were not that off the reality. Personally, I could think of a few real examples that are as bad and worse than those women. Therefore, I don't consider them racism.

I did consider racism when the comic strip writer for the Dennis the Menace on LA times used the mouth of Dennis the Menace to shout out, "Go back to China!" That turned me off on the comic strip Dennis the Menace completely even though it was the first American comic strip I had encountered when I was just a kid and I had always liked it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gato
I would like TV and movies show Asians other than nerds or Kungfu fighters or hot girls. However, I do know some of the Asians are like those people. If the media twisted their images or exaggerated their images, I would call them racism. Otherwise, I just call them reflecting what's going on in the society.

Just a small, unrepresentative slice of reality. I would consider Ang Lee's "Wedding Banquet" or even "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" as examples of a more balanced portrayal of Asians in the U.S. without turning it into a educational film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

Those two movies were decent.

As someone who watched Desperate Housewives and the scenes having to do with the illegal Chinese maid who is used as a surrogate mother for Carlos and his wife. The humor is satirical. The chinese characters were secondary background characters and of course are used to point out the idoicy of the main characters.

Gabby was going to fire the maid and report her to INS immigration but happenned on the surrogate idea. Later after the baby is born Gabby catches Carlos and the maid in the garage. (Previously she had said Carlos could cheat as she had cheated with the gardener) . When she found out it was the maid however she kicked Carlos out and divorced him, keeping the maid to take care of the baby, though the maid leaves an episode or two after that.

My Chinese wife watches it too and doesn't consider it racist. It's satirical comedy that pokes fun at Suburban wife, the criticism is against Gabby the rich ex-model latina wife not the chinese maid. Criticizing the show because the maid happens to be a chinese person is like me criticizing Da Shan for playing the fool in doubletalk stand up act. That's just the role he plays at that time.

As other people said there are other Shows (not many but some) grey's anatomy that show Asians in a positive light. The previous survivour's Asian's have gone almost to the end as well.

I prefer these satirical dramedies to Taiwan "meteor garden" fluffy soaps with no substance save for the changes in the hot girl's crushes.

There are riot's over hui/han zu issues and issues of uighers in xinjiang, this silly show can hardly be considered major racism. Get a grip people.

have fun,

Simon:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nipponman
Ok, I take that back then, but you do have to realize that media influences people. Somebody people used to argue that violence in the media doesn't matter because "it's not to cause me to go out and kill people." Well, maybe it only influences 1 in 1000 people strongly to cause them to do something awful, and you are not one of them. But multiple 1/1000 by the whole population, and you'll get a large enough effect.

I see your point, but racism is such a strong issue that "T.V." racism seems kinda like a drop in the ocean. Lets fix the racism that actually affects more than peoples emotions. Chances are if you're watching and enjoying racist television programs you probably felt that way already.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rezaf

considering that many people in the us or in other parts of the world don't know much about china or chinese people, the chinese girl is not just a background actor, they use her as a symbol of china for a few minutes. the problem is not carlos betraying his wife. the problem is showing the chinese girl coming from an inferior country and shows americans as superior people who should teach these primitive people (who sell their girls for slavery) about technology and democracy and in return they betray you. of course it's a silly show but the influence of these silly shows is not that small. i lived in iran where there are practically no asians. the only thing that i knew about china was a combination of kongfu movies and these small background rolls in hollywood movies and tv shows and frankly before coming to china i thought china as a very poor country with unfriendly people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rezaf

the same thing is true about black people. although there are more realistic movies about black people these days but in most of the movies they are still being shown as either clowns or drug dealers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nipponman

^ Again, while this is true there are more pressing things forcing black ppl right now than whether or not we are positively portrayed in the media.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nipponman
I lived in a (big) house with different nationalities to my own : Italian, Egyptian, Scottish (ok British), Japanese and Chinese; that's for the housemates, the landlady, who also lived in the house, was Cypriot. But I wasn't stupid enough to think that this one Italian girl or this one Japanese guy could be representative of their respective countries.

Why all the hostility?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rezaf

just to make it clear i am not taking sides in this game of racism or hating america(I love America:D). i just say what i see. for the last few centuries the western countries have been the world's superpowers and those who have power try to gain more power by harming the weaker nations. i think the same thing would happen if the weaker nations had that power. we all love to be better than others and who are "others", those who have different colours? those who have different eyes? those who have different religions?...

these days with the mixture of races, defining the word "others" is becoming more and more complicated and eventually racism is becoming more and more complex. these few minutes in desperate housewives particularly attracted my attention because it clearly attacks a nation and it mentions the words: technology and democracy. the favorite words of the world's current superpower to colonize inferior nations. symbolism plays a great roll in our lives and one small thing such as that few minutes can change a lot of things in a lot of places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fireball9261

rezaf, I understand what you are saying. However, from my point of view, the Chinese maids actually turned the table on Gabe and her husband and taught the rich Americans with superior attitude a lesson. It's really on how you view the show and other similar shows.

When I came to U.S., I had the misconcept from movies that all American families sit down to dinner with these long dining room tables and formal eating manners. When I was dating my American husband, I was really worried about having to live my life that way -- I hate keeping my manners when eating -- you can kill me first before forcing me to live that kind of life! Then, I was invited to the family dinner with my then boyfriend's family and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there were long dining room tables, but it was not as formal as I feared. When we stayed over for the Thanksgiving for the first time, I found the American breakfast time was even more like any other Chinese family's breakfast with people coming in and out of the room and sitting down to eat and leaving. Thus, I learned movies and TV do not really show the complete picture of a country or a ethnic group.

However, say that to someone who has lived in his/her own country all his/her life no matter whether the country is U.S., Iran, or China. In addition, I don't think it really matters about the kind of movies or TV programs because people would gain good or bad impressions from their own perceptions no matter what. I have heard from people who told me they gained really bad impressions about U.S. from some films I thought was very accurate and good. I also heard from people who told me they gained good impressions about China from some films that were totally conjured up by modern western minds. Therefore, I agree with nipponman, let's fix the racisms in reality first. I dearly hope more people would jump out and defend me when I encountered racism and gender descriminations in schools, in workplace, and on streets in U.S.

Btw, I defended my 1/4 Russian, 1/4 Swedish, 1/2 Chinese classmate against 56 (or so) of my other classmates in Taiwan who called her "golden furred monkey" (金毛猴子) and chased away more than 15 boys who wouldn't leave her alone with a badminton racquet when I was about 10 years old. I wasn't even her friend and just knew her for a few days. In addition, I wasn't the bravest or toughest girl in my class or in my neighborhood. I was bullied by others both in my neighborhood as well as my class all the way to the end of Junior High School. I did it because it was the right thing to do and I was there. These classmates were not from other classrooms or just from the same school. We were in the same class since first grade (some of them since kindergarden), and the boys were in the same class with me till the end of 6th grade, and the girls were with me till the end of 9th grade. They never bothered that girl again, and they never revenged on or made troubles for me because of this incidence because they knew they did wrong. The girl changed school a few weeks afterwards because she could not fit in anyway and had many bad feelings about the school. I think she eventually went to an American school in Taipei where there were a lot of mixed raced children who would not pick on her. In addition, the girl's grandfather and great-grandfather were in very high position and had great power in Taiwan's KMT and government at the time, and the other children had no problems picking on her for days on end. It was in the beginning of 1970's. This showed the KMT's tolerance in minor matters like this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
huisheng

There was this scene between Gabrielle Solis and a Chinese restaurant owner, at which I loled heavily. The former was a presumedly typical American bourgeoise who even imagined once her illegal immigrant maid Xiao Mei got deported back to Shanghai, she would have to work in a farm; the latter was an American Chinese who provided shelter for illegal immigrants. When they both lost it over the conflict that Gabrielle wanted to force take Xiao Mei away from the restaurant, Gabrielle threatened to call a food inspector to check what they used to make their Mu Xu pork. For starters, I had never heard of this dish. And I really want to know what it usually consists of, in real life. Desperate Housewives isn't particularly racist. If anything, it satirises any nationality portrayed in the drama.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...