Monday, March 05, 2012

Go Read Matt's History of Blackface in Korea

[Update: still more great Blackface insights that I'd like to keep connected to the rest of this discussion:

Gord Sellar with another really great insight about blackface in Korea
and Eugene is Huge topped himself, and wrote an even better post about unintentional/intentional racism, and when a "pass"should and shouldn't be granted.

After the storm and thunder, two great last words to add to the discussion:

1. Eugene Is Huge, with a perspective on how much we can infer about Korean people in general, from this Blackface thing. I look forward to the day his comment, "that not everyone in Korea feels that this is not a problem, and that Koreans themselves are not a hive mind" feels like an unnecessary stating of the obvious, when "Oh, Korea" issues come up, rather than feeling like a worthwhile reminder.

2. Matt, from Popular Gusts, has a very well-researched history of Blackface in Korea, tracing the first time blackface was used in comedy, what happened before the '88 Olympics, and a case where Koreans called out a TV station for inappropriate programming, after a case of a Korean comedian imitating a black person.


Stupid Ugly Foreigner said...

Hold on there, buddy. Are you saying it's problematic to generalize and make out an entire nationality as monolith in discussions about racism? That's just crazy talk!

Koreans! They're basically just the Borg and the KKK shoved together! This is the proper reaction! As many exclamation points! as! possible!

roboseyo said...

wouldn't ya know, huh?

Mattvanv said...

Thanks for the link!

Guest said...

Well, I think South Korea should not be forgiven for this so readily because they keep doing it. 

I actually see a Nazi-slant that permeates from these images.....Since the government is funding the Hallyu, other nations need to pay attention to the messages that it sends out because they are bordering on undermining what nations have worked on geopolitically for decades with the use of Kpop idols as "ambassadors" of [     ] what exactly? 
What's the ROK govt's agenda because dividing peoples based on skin color will not garner, I hope at this time, the praises, fortunes and primetime spot it covets among the league of nations it wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with. 

It's good to know who the haters are, but we cannot allow another Hitler to arise from the ashes...No.

Here is an interesting article from 2008 in Korea Times.

roboseyo said...

Wow. Godwin's law in only four comments? That's got to be a record!

While racism in any form isn't cool, don't you think it's a going a little overboard to suggest using blackface on TV is tantamount to rounding up entire groups of people and gassing them to death en masse?

Roboseyo Oyesobor said...

Here's another way to think about it, M3RceD3s...

There are a lot of steps involved in a CANADIAN taking on AMERICAN cultural guilt about blackface, and then carrying it over to Korea and forcing the AMERICAN (not Canadian) race-relations paradigm onto Koreans, out of a misguided desire to be "teh enlightened cracker sticking up for teh dark-skinned people"...

perhaps it's something much simpler:

Maybe I'm a father who wants his kid to grow up feeling like he's a normal part of a healthy society.

Koreans have a clumsy, insensitive way of portraying "The Other:" not just black people. Check out the pictures in Matt's post, which I linked here. As an "Other" to Koreans, and as the father of a kid who's partially "Other" to Koreans, I have a blood-deep (literally) vested interest in seeing Korea's media find a more respectful way of presenting "other" to the population... so that my son can feel like he and his father are acknowledged, and respected parts of Korean society.

I'm not forcing anyone to take on the values of another culture... I just care very much about what kind of society my son grows up in. So can we put the white savior bullshit away? I'm not saving anyone, and I'm not talking about this because I think I'm better than anyone. I'm talking about this because it needs to be talked about.

roboseyo said...

OK, M3RceD3s

Here's the thing:

1. this blog post is not about adoption. You clearly feel strongly about this, and that's fine... but it's also not on topic here. This blog post is also not about the experience of Asians in Western countries. I don't have much experience with that, never having had that experience, so others are MUCH better qualified to talk about it than myself.

2. there are a bunch of blogs written by adoptees who have come to Korea and are living a version of the expat life, or who are sorting through their identities in other places. I have a number of friends and colleagues who are adoptees, many of them are super-awesome people, and I'm aware of their situation and some of the issues they deal with. But they are not the topic of this post: they frequent other websites, where your comments would be more germane.

3. while adoption IS a pressing issue, it's silly to act as if a society or a government can only deal with one issue at a time... therefore we cannot talk about blackface until the adoption issue is resolved. Imagine if we had that "one at a time" approach to all social issues? "We CAN'T deal with civil rights, education, or immigration policy, or health care, until we've got this banks thing fixed." -- that's not how it works.

4. I don't usually talk about adoptee issues on this blog, not because I think its' unimportant, but because it's outside my realm of experience, except vicariously, and I think the adoptees I know are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves (as they have)

5. and if I started talking about adoptee issues all the time, wouldn't I be open to that same "get off your high horse, white savior, and let the adoptees speak for themselves" criticism you launched at me in regards to blackface?

6. You are invited to reply, but please keep your response shorter than 300 words. Two off-topic TL/DR-range comments is my limit. Thanks.

M3RceD3s said...

You misread my reply Rob. I told you I KNOW that this is not the forum for adoptee issues.

You missed obviously.

On #3, to imply Korea should only deal with adoption issues and not with anything else is intimating that I'm narrow-minded and self-absorbed.

And I have kept to your decree of 'shorter than 300 words'.

Now you have a nice day.

roboseyo said...

You too!