In Romanticizing Ancient Chinese Wisdom at Sociological Images, Lisa Wade writes:
This 40-second commercial for HSBC bank, sent in by Michelle F., is an excellent example of the way that non-white and non-Western people are often portrayed as more deeply cultural, connected to the past, and closer to nature than their white, Western counterparts. Sometimes this is done in order to demonize a culture as “barbaric,” other times it is used to infantilize them as “primitive.” In this case, it romanticizes.
Running on both English and Chinese language channels, the commercial contrasts the wise Chinese man with the young, white man. The music, the boats, their clothing and hats, and their fishing methods all suggest that the Chinese are more connected to their own long-standing (ancient?) cultural traditions, ones that offered them an intimate and cooperative relationship to nature. Simultaneously, it erases Chinese modernity, fixing China somewhere back in time.
This is cross-posted at Geek Feminism.
In the futuristic city of Metropolis, Cindi Mayweather, a.k.a. Android # 57821, falls in love with a human named Anthony Greendown. As a result, the Star Commission schedules for her immediate disassembly. Cindi Mayweather hides in the Neon Valley Street District, while card-carrying android bounty hunters are urged to capture her for a reward. The Droid Control Marshalls forbid the bounty hunters from using phasers that day; they can only use chainsaws and electro-daggers.
Cindi Mayweather is actually the alter-ego of Janelle Monáe, an underrated, multi-talented American recording artist, and apparent science fiction geek. Jason Heller of sci-fl/fantasy site Tor writes of Monáe:
Monáe herself has said how indebted to the SF canon she is: In interviews she’s gushed about Philip K. Dick, The Matrix, Metropolis (a film she pays visual tribute to on the cover of The ArchAndroid), and most often Octavia E. Butler, a visionary writer whose ethnocentric SF clearly marks her as Monáe’s aesthetic godmother. […] Monáe isn’t dabbling in SF. She takes the stuff passionately and seriously.
Here is a link round-up of some bad news in Toronto.
Long story short: Pride Toronto, which is an internationally famous week-long celebration of queer and trans pride, has made conscious or unconscious attempts to curtail the wholehearted participation of queer and trans folks of colour and their allies in Pride. They have attempted to relocate and shrink black-identified spaces, and they [had] banned [Queers Against Israeli Apartheid] from participation in Pride 2010.
(In this video, G20 protesters finish singing the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada”, and immediately after, a line of riot police charge at them.)
Video after video, photo after photo, story after story came pouring in this weekend telling us about another friend or another relative who had been unlawfully arrested, beaten, spit on, psychologically, physically, and emotionally abused and relentlessly harassed by the police in Toronto.
One really annoying stereotype that non-Canadians have about Canadians is that “Canadian” means “white”, and Classified’s video ends up perpetuating this stereotype. Understandably, Classified is representing his home province Nova Scotia, when most Canadian rappers are from Toronto or Vancouver. However, for someone living in Toronto and accustomed to racial diversity, the framing of Classified’s video as a neo-national-anthem looks like an erasure of Canadians of colour.
“Immigrant” Def Poetry by Wyclef Jean (2005):