From Mister Cheung to Ushi: When TV tells you you’re not really Dutch

Roosmarijn Wind used to wear sunglasses, “so people can’t see my eyes.” The actress was bullied at school due to her appearance in Southeast Asia. “I thought, What’s different about me? Is it my eyes maybe give this a try.” Presented by the actress hanky bunky bye, a short documentary on anti-Asian racism, will air on NPO3 on Wednesday, and is already available online. “I hope that through this documentary I can help other Dutch Asians. And that people who call you by name on the street are more aware of what they are doing.”

As an actress, Wind knew few role models she could emulate. „Only Pocahontas and the girl Winky Wong in Sinterklaas . horse. Moreover, Asians on TV are only mocked, which makes me feel ashamed.” She also faces racism in her work as an actress, and is often offered stereotypical roles: “as a massage parlor employee, or beauty parlor, or as a smart girl.”

hanky bunky bye It is the latest in a wave of protests against anti-Asian racism. This is how Pete Wu wrote the book Banana gel. The theatrical show is currently showing Whole Houses. In the wake of Kick Out Zwarte Piet and Black Lives Matter, young Dutch Asians have also stood up against racism, and for the first time they are being heard. There is also an urgent reason for this:Asian HateSignificantly increased since the Corona pandemic. Asians are subjected to physical and verbal abuse in the street. The perpetrators seem to see a connection between the Chinese origin of Corona and the Asian appearance. An example is the carnival song “Prevention is better than the Chinese” (2020) by Lex Gaarthuis. In the song, Radio 10’s DJ suggests that you get corona from eating Indo-Chinese dishes: “It’s all because of that stinky Chinese.”

By the way, the word “Asian” here refers to the Dutch, whose roots go back to East Asia and Southeast Asia, especially China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. But also, for example, Chinese and Javanese from Suriname and the Antilles, and people from the Indonesian archipelago. Yes, this is a very diverse group, but the whole idea of ​​racism is to bring people together.

Anti-Asian racism is fueled by the caricatured way Asians are portrayed on television. Known examples: O’Shea, Wendy Van Dyck’s character. Mr. Cheung Fei I love Holland. ping ping in Bon BenikMovies. Stupid, bizarre, and laxative types, acting as the “strange other”. Pete Wu, author Banana gel: “It’s supposed to be a fun joke, but they reflect on me, and determine how others view me. I also look at me as a joke because of that.” These ubiquitous stereotypes force Asians to prove all the time: I’m not. It contributes to low self-esteem. Wu: “Because representation has been negative for so long, you always have to relate to what’s ‘normal,’ and that’s why you’ll never be perfect as a human.”

A combative chief or asexual accountant

Media scientist Reza Kartossen Wong (UvA) conducted research on media use by Dutch Asian youth. It turns out that they have turned their backs on the Dutch media, in part due to the stereotypical way in which they portray Asians. They were born in Holland, but learned from TV that they are not real Dutch. Kartosen-Wong clarifies racial stereotypes: “Asians are very smart, hard-working, like robots. They are calm and submissive.” As shown, there are also conflicting stereotypes. On the one hand, you have the characteristics of the so-called oppressive racism (stupid, childish), on the other hand the characteristics of competition racism (cunning and dangerous). The latter includes the idea of ​​”yellow peril” – fear of the superpower China.

So-called positive stereotypes, such as those of “smart workaholics,” also have a suppressive effect, as writer Wu says: “What if you’re stupid and lazy, you don’t live up to expectations.” Researcher Kartosen-Wong points out the MBO student he met: “She was bothered because she ‘just’ did MBO, so she felt less Asian.”

Media scholar uses “Mr. Cheung” in his lectures as a case study in I love Holland. According to him, this game show offers “a very traditional and limited imagination of Dutch identity by blood and soil”. From 2004 to 2016, Minniere Cheung, a poor Dutch-speaking Chinese man, served as a counterpoint to this fantasy, largely to amuse his white surroundings. “The young Chinese I met knew their parents as Mr. Cheung – immigrants who have been ridiculed their whole lives. It hurts them.” According to him, Mr. Cheung acted as an “other” in the show to reduce Dutch identity. “Nationalism involves identifying who does not belong.” He finds it characteristic how presenter Linda de Mol treats Mr. Cheung: “I did his tie right, and treated him like a child.”

Pete Wu books with Banana gel Biographical letter about the struggle of a Chinese immigrant child. Part of this struggle is the way the white environment perceives it. Wu refers to another stereotype: the kung fu fighter, based on movie stars Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Not necessarily bad, but yet one. “I was attached to Bruce Lee as a kid and I’m not a fighter at all.” This stereotype comes from Hollywood, which often played Asian characters by white actors. This practice is called yellow face, similar to the black face, like Zwarte Piet. The kung fu stereotype also includes ideas of mysticism, mystery, and danger in East Asia. Wu: “As an Asian man, you can choose from two stereotypes: you’re a geek, non-sexual fighter or accountant with a calculator and thick tires. As a woman, you’re attached to a geisha, a Vietnamese bitch, Madama Butterfly – an obedient slut. In rape porn, more than half Victims are Asian women.”

Also actress and writer Nhung Dam who is currently working Banana gel It can be seen, stereotypes encountered. ‘At drama school in Amsterdam I was praised to heaven. But when I came out, I couldn’t get an internship anywhere.’ One director said, ‘A little Chinese doing a Shakespeare monologue – that sounds strange.’ Like Wind, she was offered many stereotypical roles, Which she sometimes did: “People from the profession said to me: If I want to put a foot in the door, that’s the only option. I always searched to see if there was something I could do with the role in terms of acting. A silent servant in a Chinese restaurant is of no use to me.”

Hui-Hui Pan says it’s not just entertainment that introduces harmful stereotypes. For example, the founder of Pan Asian Collective (PAC), a platform for creative people of Asian descent, points to the Journey series Tokidoki by Paulien Cornelisse; “She lists in it all that the Dutch find foreign to Japan, so that this country should not come well.” She believes that this is not true, but one-sided. “It’s in the balance: we don’t get regular pictures of those countries.” Another example I mentioned is presenter Jort Kelder who participated in 1 “Chapped Eyes”, after previous participants in Who is a mole? (Aphrotros) Verb.

Another Hui-Hui Pan mentions in 1About the alleged filth of Chinese markets that would be the cause of Corona. The supposedly strange eating habits and alleged lack of hygiene in the Chinese seem to be new elements in anti-Asian racism since Corona. But according to Pete Wu, this image fits perfectly with the old myth that the Chinese would eat dogs. Kartosen-Wong adds: “Asians are ‘dirty,’ and ‘cluck’ – this is all part of the racist idea: they are morally inferior.”

minority model

In contrast to racism against black Dutch and Muslims, racism against Asians has remained under the radar for a long time. How did this happen? Kartosen-Wong: “The Chinese and other Asians are a ‘model minority’ that doesn’t cause any problems. From a social and economic point of view, they do a good job (education, work, income). It is recognized that racism against black Dutch or Muslims is really from different system.” He says interest in this is also paid In your face Racial violence pictures. Hui-Hui Pan of PAC points out that Asian Dutch have not been included in government minority policy for a long time. “The idea was: You’re not in politics because you don’t cause trouble – be happy.” Writer Pete Wu: “You still think: Something’s not right here because I’m discriminated against.”

The label “model minority” can be a nuisance. You can’t complain, is the main message. And most Asians haven’t done that for long. This was also due to the fact that the parents and grandparents of the current generation were recent immigrants, who, according to Pete Wu, were “in survival mode”: “So you shouldn’t stand out too much.” Actress Nhung Dam: “My dad had a vietnamese spring roll booth in Groningen, and he had to laugh at a lot of racist jokes. Of course he wouldn’t correct those customers, because he had to sell those spring rolls.”

Are there bright spots? Interviewees consider the fact that anti-Asian racism can now be discussed as an added advantage. Little Kartosen-Wong success Banana gel “A new beginning”. Writer Pete Wu points to streaming services like Netflix, where Asians are much better represented than on Dutch TV, with popular Korean series for example. Actress Roosmarijn Wind takes part in the shooting of the movie Tatas “I was cast because I can act, not because of my appearance,” he says with relief. Her co-star Nhung Dam finally played a classic Three sisters from Chekhov. “I started making theater myself, and followed my invisible path. I inherited this entrepreneurial spirit from my father.”

hanky bunky bye (KRO-NCRV), Wednesday, NPO3 at 11.20 p.m. And on the NPO start. Banana gel from the East Pole. Theater tour until December 17th.

Leave a Comment