Satire: the use of humor, exaggeration, ridicule, or irony to criticize the flaws of mankind/society. Indeed, satire is the purest form of self-reflection as it takes things quirks that are so small one may not even notice their presence, and blow them so far out of proportion that the viewer can fully understand how meaningless, unreasonable, or just plain stupid certain things are. Out among the current mass media is a television show that has been criticizing American society’s flaws since 1997 and continues to do so to this day. I’m talking about South Park. It’s vulgar, rude, and the most politically incorrect program on TV, but at the same time all of those things are what make it the perfect judgement of the state of America. Especially when every stereotype, racist concept, or ridiculous are hoisted up and thrown at the viewer to the point that one will physically cringe at how stupid an unwarranted fear of another race truly is.
The image above is taken from an episode aired just after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 entitled “The China Problem”. In it, the characters are so stricken with fear over the Yellow Peril and belief that the Chinese are coming to invade that they dress up in extreme explicit yellowface, go to a PF Chang’s, and hold the restaurant hostage while demanding that the few Americanized Chinese people there tell them the invasion plans. Now while such a chain of events is absurd and would never happen in the real world, it makes the viewer realize that those who are bigots and counter-productive to social equality look just as moronic as the boys in the show.
While Asians play a large role in the show, it is not the sole focus of the show. Instead South Park works to take its viewers’ own homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, extreme political views, religious views, etc. and effectively slap them in the face with all of it. Satire of this nature is an interesting thing to analyze on the basis that it takes a dominant reading of society and pushes it so hard that it evolves into resistant reading.
Bruce Lee was one of the first Asian-Americans to become famous in Hollywood and made the first steps toward the recognition of Asians in film. His films presented key cultural aspects of China to an audience that (generally speaking) had very little knowledge of Asian culture including daily life, religious views, history, and various other topics. In addition, one could say that he was the first to fight the stereotype of Asian males being effeminate by showing physical prowess through the use of Chinese martial arts. All of this took place throughout Bruce Lee’s filmography in a careful manner so as to not build onto the Yellow-Peril stereotype that was already growing during his time due to the Cold War.
On April 16th, commemorating the 40th anniversary of his death, his wife will be collecting a the Founder Award from the London Asian Awards for his ground breaking work. This award, once restricted to South Asian countries, has grown to include nearly the entirety of the Asian continent and is quickly becoming a globally recognized honor. This, in turn, can be a motivating force to drive new actors and screenwriters to create works that actually portray the Asian community in the modern world instead of simply conforming to the status quo and perpetuating stereotypes. I can foresee this honor gaining momentum and becoming one of the primary driving forces behind the movement from the regulated phase to the final plateau of respect. While it is sad that people have to jump through hoops like these in order to achieve equality, I believe that a system of rewarding actions that move toward a more homogeneous society is the best way to start and in time these actions will become second nature.
Article by The Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/uk-asian-awards-honor-bruce-433208
In recent times many Americans have seen various organizations and companies taking a stand for or against major issues going on in today’s society. In November 2012, protesters refused to eat at the fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A due to their anti-gay policies while those with opposing views staged a counter-boycott in which supporters flocked to the restaurant. Well, the same thing is happening with the Starbucks Coffee company. Contrary to Chick-Fil-A’s situation, Starbucks is supporting marriage equality and has even endorsed bills in Washington which later became laws, giving equal rights to those entering into a same-sex marriage. Many people are questioning whether or not the coffee kingpin was just speaking out for the money or if they actually supported the cause.
Any time that issues such as homosexuality are brought up, the media eats the topic alive and (depending on the news source) tends to frame the issue in a more liberal manner. Through this frame the media is able to depict the situation for what it is and equate a violation of group of people’s individual rights to racism. Thus, by showing its support for marriage equality, Starbucks is putting itself in the limelight as a champion against racism and discrimination in all of its forms. Publicity in this form is an odd mixture of both dominant and resistant representations as it calls for equality against the current established legal system while also siding with an ideal that has become the mainstream way of thinking. It is because of this that proponents of the rights of individuals will always see more support than those who stick by older beliefs which seek to encourage that which the liberal frame of the media interprets as racist. Despite the boycott, Starbucks is still showing considerable profit and is proving that a company can support what is right while still making money.