Undeclared: That Doesn't Sound So Good

Friday, April 17, 2009

Caught this via some alerts and well...I'll just reprint some of it:

I was just watching Undeclared , which is a pretty awesome show (Judd Apatow/Freaks and Geeks, anyone?). In this particular episode, the character Marshall is trying to make his crush jealous, grabbing the first girl in the common room to use as a pseudo-girlfriend. Okay, fine, that happens. What pissed me off was that this girl Kikuki, the only Asian featured on the show, did not speak a lick of English. Despite the language barrier, Marshall opts to use her as an accessory to get the attention of the girl he's actually into. A lot of the episode's humor revolves around the fact that the two are unable to communicate with each other and depend on electronic translators to keep the 'relationship' intact.

As an Asian-American woman myself, I didn't know how to react to this - I'm not sure which lens I wanted to look through first - race or gender? I kept on asking myself, what kind of message is this sending?? The invisibility of Asians in the media is one thing, but to portray the only Asian as a non-English-speaking foreigner - well, aren't we just perpetuating the stereotype? The character Ron even goes as far to say, "She seems dumb because she's foreign." Why does that make her less-than? Moreover, every time Kikuki meets one of Marshall's friends, she gives them a cookie. Marshall explains, "It's like a tradition or something," in a tone connoting that he thinks she's a bit weird for doing so. It also pissed me off that the White male was simply using the Asian female like a trophy, another stereotype that is detrimental to the Asian/Asian-American woman. He keeps on saying things like "Isn't she cute?" even though he clearly is not too comfortable with her. To further exotify her racial features, he announces, "She doesn't speak any English - she's all Japanese." What, does that give you ten bonus points or something??
Doesn't really make me want to watch the show...check out the full post as well as the comments down at Community Feministing.