Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In a Nutshell: Why Firefly is Cultural Appropriation

As you may know, the whole 10 Unpopular Opinions thing is going around Facebook right now. One
Asians pictured: 0
of mine was that Firefly (great show! love it!) is cultural appropriation (and makes me cringe while I'm loving it! we have a complicated relationship!). I've gotten a lot of flak about this one from (all white, all male as far as I can remember... not an accusation, just a fact of my personal experience) people over the years... it's probably my most unpopular (SFF-related) opinion ever, other than that Revenge of the Sith is the worst Star Wars prequel (but I digress).
I've given the whole spiel about why Firefly is problematic (still one of my favorite shows! such a complicated relationship!) on countless panels and during countless one-on-one conversations with fellow geeks, so when one of my Facebook friends commented on my post asking me to explain, my in-a-nutshell response was pretty much locked and loaded.

And so that I'll be able to copy/paste it in the future instead of typing it all out again, here it is on the blog:

The issue with Firefly is that it features Chinese culture -- Chinese clothes, Chinese language, Chinese decor, etc. -- but no Chinese people (there are maybe 3 random extras who appear to be East Asian). And it's no better behind the scenes. So basically they took all the cool Chinese stuff but didn't want any actual Chinese folk on their show.

IF the show had featured Chinese (or at least East Asian) cast members and had a decent number of Chinese (or any kind of Asian) writers and directors behind the scenes, this would not be an issue. But why having any actual Asians in a show about a world that's 50% Asian? *eyeroll*

It would also be less of an issue if Asian Americans were regularly represented in the media. But Asians are severely underrepresented (especially Asian *Americans*), so to take their culture without hiring any of their people in visible roles (I say visible because I don't know who did the visual effects, set dressing, etc) is just a slap in the face. (Also, slightly off topic, media originating from Asia -- martial arts films, anime, etc. -- doesn't count as representation for Asians in *America*)

Et voila!

No comments:

Post a Comment