Locke, B. 1998. “Top Dog,” “Black Threat,” and “Japanese Cats”: The
Impact of the White-Black Binary on Asian-American Identity. Radical
Philosophy Review 1(2): 98-125.
“There is no such thing as an Asian-American man in post-World War II U.S. popular culture.”
“… [East] Asian male figures must be coded as foreign, acting as a solvent that dissolves differences between white and black so that the pair might forge a tighter bond.”
“Rising Sun’s narrative cannot admit of any sort of masculine figure that is both Asian and American.”
COMMENTARY: Due to a large section of Communist propaganda about the poor treatment of Afropeans, the US government was forced to implement positive social policies in an attempt to preserve its worldwide exceptionalism narrative of a freedom promoting democracy. Afropean-European brotherhood (as shown in buddy films e.g. Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Lethal Weapon 4, The Defiant Ones, Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II, Casablanca, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, 48 Hrs, Another 48 Hrs, Running Scared, Blazing Saddles, Trading Places, White Nights, Firewalker, Silverado, Enemy Mine, Cop Out, Training Day, Men in Black, Men in Black II, Die Hard, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Miami Vice, Cop and a Half, The Last Boy Scout, In the Heat of the Night, Silver Streak, The Shawshank Redemption, The Money Train, Rocky series, Nighthawks, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, White Nights, Cry Freedom, Grand Canyon, White Men Can’t Jump, An Officer and a Gentleman, Green Book) is then seen as the primary constituents of US national identity. This is a re-working to the earlier subservient sidekick propaganda used to control indigenous Americans (Tonto), Afropeans (Stepin Fetchit, Eddie Anderson, Tom caricature, Mammy caricature) and East Asians (Hop Sing, Kato, houseboy/manservant). The indigenous American is dismissed from the US national narrative as a primitive isolationist and the East Asian is used to cement the Afro-Euro(pean) bond of unity and stability as Afropeans represent the largest, anti-European antagonistic group i.e. the most dangerous to a stable prosperous Euro-US nation.
The US Afropean’s destiny is now mystically chained to the US European’s destiny so that the Afropean is best served by working with the European in nation building. To aid this, a common enemy is conveniently provided in the East Asian and further exploited by media fear-mongering of an imminent foreign economic Japan and China peril. In other words, the problem is not domestic racism but foreign economic aggression which Locke argues is embodied “as [East] Asian, male and foreign” as depicted in the movie Rising Sun (1993). To this end, East Asian males represent the social glue that binds US Afro-Euro(peans) in a common purpose and necessitates an ‘othering’ narrative. This media ‘othering’ narrative is perpetuated through Euro-Semitic ‘disgust theology’ such as culinary stereotypes (eating rats, cats, dogs, MSG scare), physical stereotypes (short stature, yellow skinned, skinny, buck-teeth, small genitalia, low testosterone, hairless body, slant eyes), cultural stereotypes (dirty, hard working, scheming, automatons, patriarchal, intelligent, hive-minded), and functional stereotypes (bad drivers, repulsive lovers, poor sportsmen, non-complainers, non-confrontational, good servicemen [technologists, engineers, scientists, doctors]).
In Rising Sun (1993), the Japanese stand-in for all East Asians are:
- A sexual threat to European females
- An economic threat to Afropeans
- A national threat to US Afro-Euro(peans)
Locke argues that the film presents the logic that “… those who are hurt most by the Japanese corporation’s dirty dealings are America’s black citizens.”
Recent and present day US anti-Chinese hysteria is part and parcel of US state demonization of East Asian masculinity to remedy its home-grown Afropean slavery-Jim Crow issues. This temporary ‘remedy’ will result in increased Afro-Euro(pean) hatred of East Asian masculinity and US East Asian males will continue their cycle of extreme self-hate with simultaneous model-minority over-achievement. Affirmative action against East Asians in tertiary education access and media representation to primarily favour Afro-Euro(peans) is yet another example of ethno-pacification just as internment was used to pacify Europeans who could not compete with superior Japanese agricultural prowess and the Chinese Exclusion Act pacified Europeans who could not compete with a superior Chinese work ethic.
Locke argues that Rising Sun (1993) presents the Afropean ghetto as “the last line of defense against the Japanese.” This can be taken to mean that Afropeans are primarily tasked with defending the US nation against aggressive foreigners (i.e. East Asian males). Given that wealth is coded as “white” and poverty as “black”, East Asians are portrayed as not ‘black’ but as the only type of ‘white’ towards which US Afropeans can validly vent repressed ethnic rage, leaving the European unscathed. Furthermore, Latinos are coded as ‘black’ due to their poverty and loose ‘alliance’ with Afropeans so that East Asian males are the ‘pacifying glue’ to securely bond Afro-Euro-Latino(peans) in US nation building. Locke gives examples of assimilated East Asian female media characters but East Asian males are depicted as those for which assimilation is impossible.
PREDICTION: An increase of anti-East Asian sentiment mainly from US Afro-Latino(peans) with reactionary push-back inclusive of racism and legal action as well as increasing mental health issues affecting US East Asian males and rampant US East Asian female miscegenation. Societies with similar US-oriented cultures (Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Western Europe) will most likely follow this pattern adapted to their local context.