I read today's (24 Jan 2010) Doonesbury this morning in the Sunday comics section. I am only showing the last panel of it because I don't want to get in trouble for copyright infringement. You can look it up by day at the Doonesbury archive at gocomics.com. My first thought was, "Is she wearing the ruffles scarf from Scarf Style?" Because that is a really cool scarf and it's in my queue of stuff I would like to knit someday.
Bad Dad. His first thought was, "Cool, MIT is in the comics!"
"That character has been at MIT for years. Is there anything odd about the picture?" I asked.
"Is this supposed to be present day MIT?"
"Yup, and he's killed off all the Asians at MIT."
I shouldn't have typecast. I expected better from Garry Trudeau because he appears to be a liberal. But I guess liberals are just as racist as anybody else.
I lived in many places as a child, but spent more time in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else. I consider that my hometown. When I moved from Berkeley to Boulder, I was homesick. When I heard about a new TV show set in SF called Party of Five, I tuned in to catch a glimpse of home.
It was sickening. I was physically ill.
It wasn't just incredulity that these financially-struggling orphans could be living in a multi-million dollar mansion in pricey Pacific Heights (with Danielle Steele for a neighbor). It was a classroom scene with 11-year old Claudia who supposedly attended a public school in SF. The camera panned across the classroom and all but one student was white. There was a token black kid in the back row of chairs*.
We were wiped out of the picture.
I told Bad Dad about the disturbing scene and the dearth of Asian characters in movies and TV overall. He said that, to be fair, a lot of movies are constrained in their casting by their genre.
"How so? Which genres?" I asked.
"Science fiction and things set in the future."
"Are you saying that, in the future, a virus has wiped out all the Asian people on earth, over half the world's population, and it is never mentioned in the story lines?"
Now that is creepy.
In the original 1966 Star Trek TV series, there was Sulu. (OK, one character represented all the Asians on Earth, but at least he was there.) Fast forward to the four Star Trek series from 1987 to 2005 and all the Asians in the universe had died out with the exception of Sulu, who made a brief guest appearance.
Other TV series purportedly set in SF were no better. Dharma and Greg, Suddenly Susan--all ethnically cleansed.
A friend told me that televisions are not designed to bring entertainment to people's homes. It's designed to deliver eyeballs to advertisers.
If TV shows are going to advocate ethnic cleansing, then they will have to do it without my eyeballs. I haven't watched network television (with the exception of the Simpsons) for the last 15 years.
And now you know the secret to my knitting and sewing productivity and why I have time to read so many books (and blog)!
I grew up in the burbs, but Eric attended public HS within the SF city limits. Would he care to state the ethnic breakdown of his senior class?
* At around that time, I read in the newspaper that the public school population of SFUSD was about 80% Asian-American. The rest were mainly Latino and black. See the current demographics. Whites (second column) now make up 10% of the district overall and Asians represent about half. I wonder when we will see that on TV or in the movies? I won't hold my breath.
See pictures of present day MIT when we attended Bad Dad's college reunion last year. I need to print a retraction/clarification about what Iris was emulating in the photo. She was not taking a swig as I had joked; she was emulating a park ranger who had shown her how to tear open a paper packet of gunpowder with her teeth and load a musket (and then fire the musket at redcoats).