Thursday, May 23, 2002

Hmmmm... Stranger's "Last Day's" Column again raised the ugly argument Is the name and thematic design concept of the hot new nightclub Chop Suey insulting to Chinese people? As someone with an intense Asian culture fetish and double dose of cultural sensitivity training up the wazoo, I feel compelled to comment - "uhhhh, well... errrr. Guess you'll have to ask someone who is Chinese"... They do raise a good point that the name derives itself from the dish that was served to oppressed migrant workers, however at the same time, the place isn't an offensive characterization of Chinese people (like say, Abercrombie's offensive "coolie" shirts that were yanked off the site about a month ago)... I often worry that my own attraction to Asian culture borders on 19th century exoticism, often coming off as the creepy caucasian asiaphile that you see in the corner of some bar leering at the culture... Or not. I don't know. Is it morally acceptable to covet a particular culture's furniture? My friend Dana decorated her house with Chinese paper accents on the light and socket covers. Turns out that the pretty paper is actually called "Hell Money" - and is burned at Chinese funerals. Oh. Oops. The Chinese man that explained this wasn't offended - in fact, he was amused. I guess this at the end of the spectrum of cultural misunderstandings, this is mild. Chop Suey falls just left of the middle of the Spectrum, harmless and unintentional, but could be offensive if framed alot differently. It's much like the time in a Japanese department store that sought to promote the Christmas holiday. They decorated the store with much panache, everything letter perfect - right down to the lifesize statue of Santa hanging from a Crucifix just over the store's escalator.
In any case - where was I?
Oh yeah --- in the general scheme of things, arguments like this are incredibly trivial and silly.

No comments: