Patrice Wilson (of the song ‘Friday’ fame) is back with another viral hit, and this time it is casual racism at its best. Alison Gold is a tween pop wannabe, a foodie celebrating her love of Chinese food. Culturally awkward, it’s cringe worthy.
Allow me to save 3.5 minutes of your life; Gold prances around after a night of clubbing (yes, this 11 year old is hungry after a night of dancing), she is so hungry and wants to eat Chinese. Here’s a little snippet of the song, in the chorus, she sings:
I love Chinese food (Yeah)
You know that it’s true (Yeah)
I love fried rice (Yeah)
I love noodles (Yeah)
I love Chow mein
Chow Me-Me-Me-Me Mein
She says she LOVES Chinese food. How can that be racist?!
So perky that it can be easily dismissed as harmless fun. This little junior is following the footsteps of a racist monstrosity, “Asian Girlz.” The song is G-rated and filled with absurd and obvious racial stereotypes.
Wilson takes it to another level and decides to make it ‘authentically’ Chinese. Let’s chuck in some oriental flavour: A black man in a Panda suit – check. Rapping in an Asian voice – check. Geisha dancing girls, Udon noodle flying clouds. American fortune cookie. Oriental Avenue. A gong sound. Check. Check. Wow, it’s so Chinese.
There were noodles floating in the sky – the noodles were udon. Udon is a Japanese food, not Chinese. You’ll see dancers dressed up as Geishas. Geisha are Japanese, not Chinese. Too lazily painted over distinctions between vastly different Asian cultures with “All Asians are Chinese!”
Wilson may genuinely love to eat Chinese food, however I wonder if he wrote the song fully understanding how harmful racial stereotyping and being misinformed can be. The song doesn’t fit into textbook racism. It lacks malicious intent. How can that be racist right? Wrong, racism can be unintentional. It doesn’t need to be hateful or vicious to be racist. It’s foundation is ignorance and undermines a huge swathe of people. When one reinforces an idea which enables people to over exaggerate and demean a race – that’s racist.
In Australia, there is a clear communication barrier. There’s a space that exists between the idea of multiculturalism and the commitment of hate crimes. Within that space, people generally “mean well” and love to casually joke around. Of course, many of these people won’t consider themselves as racist. And these same people may unconsciously inflict damage to others but refuse to acknowledge such harm and the impact that it creates. This is the world we live in today.
Let’s exploit stereotypes because it doesn’t hurt others. That’s the unfortunate clear message of the viral video. “Chinese food” is casually racist because it camouflages the general attitude towards other races. People will see this and won’t realise the damage it can do. We live in a shared culture that likes to talk about what’s trending. For the sake of entertainment, the video showcases a group of people in a patronising and inaccurate manner – in an exotic, gigantic fictionalised way. By laughing it off as funny, it encourages us to internalise those ideas and make it somewhat acceptable, when it’s not.
Chow mein, noodles, chop suey and egg rolls?
That’s casual racism at its best.
Written by Suzanne Nguyen
Founder and Creative director behind “The Two Chairs” initiative, Suzanne is exploring her cultural identity as an Asian Australian. She secretly thinks B1 and B2 are Asian-Australian. In her spare time you can find her sitting in cafes, sipping coffee and contemplating about life mysteries. She loves to eat and travel. Find her on the twitterverse @StringStory or on her blog.