UPDATE (31 Oct. 2013):
The video linked in the original post is gone. I think this is mostly the same one:
- Brown-skinned people are either poor children with hearts of gold or scary witch-doctor/fortune-teller types, which is natural since brown-skinned people are all poor and have inborn magical abilities.
- No other brown-skinned local people besides poor children and scary witch-doctor/fortune-teller types should be included in shots. If they absolutely must do so, have them appear for no more than one second at a time, and in the background.
- Have your Korean characters talk to the few local brown-skinned people who appear onscreen in English only when they apparently cannot speak English; have the same characters speak primrily in long, fast Korean phrases when they meet a browqn-skinned local who can speak English. Don’t worry, since brown-skinned people are magical they can (somehow) understand much of what is being said in Korean.
- Make sure to include some white chicks, and dress them in bikinis whenever possible, even if everyone else is fully dressed in long pants/skirts and long-sleeved flowery shirts.
- Include some Korean boys, and dress them in outfits that look like a cross between Korean girls’ clothing, disco and early 80s singers’ outfits, and the clothing of Joey Jeremiah circa 1990 (pic here, but your eyes will bleed). Make sure they look bored on holiday in [unspecified warm country full of brown-skinned people], just as Joey did in school.
- Include some Korean girls, and dress the most sympathetic character as a cross between Strawberry Shortcake and your average agashi (ie. single girl). (Contrary to popular expat belief, there are some differences between the two. Strawberry Shortcake never wore high heels, for example.)
- Include plenty of stock footage of random islands and stuff because tourism is what the young people like these days.
Yes, I’m being harsh, but no, I’m not saying that similar criticisms couldn’t be made of most of what’s on North American TV. Many such criticisms could, I am sure, be made… and have been.
Television really bucks Sturgeon’s Law: something more like 98% of all TV everywhere is crap — not just crap, but slanted, weird, sexist, racist, insulting-your-intelligence crap. Or this is how I experience TV. The less I watch it, the more I feel like it’s a few drops of perfume dripped into a tank of sewage. You can isolate the perfume as it drips in, but there’s so little you can’t help but wander off.
Even if we’ve come a long way, the whole Magical Hot Asian Chick subplot in Jack’s past — the thing in Pattaya, in Thailand — jumps out at me as an example, even if Jin and Sun’s lives and characters are passable counter-examples to this generalization. (Jin isn’t simply an Asian gangster, and Sun isn’t simply a pretty Korean rich-girl.) Hell, even the good stuff on TV has a slant to it, and I wonder whether the nature of the medium is such that even the best shows can only play with it, the way Mad Men is relatively conscious of nonwhite characters and of giving us a glimpse of what they think and (justifiedly) feel even if they don’t really get to take center stage. Even TV shows that seek to deal with this kind of depend on a reverse slant, overstatement, or simplification.
As for Kkotboda Namja, the TV series from which the clip above is taken, I’m not sure whether, as a non-local, the stuff jumps out at me more, or whether this show made your average Korean guffaw in horror. Weirdly, I’d bet that the people with the reaction most similar to mine would be really old guys. But then, I dunno: have older men in Korea been bemoaning, of late, the girly clothing that young men are wearing? The lengthening hair, and the feminization of male fashion and iconography in the media? I’d be very curious to hear what grandpas and grandmas are saying, but having no Korean grandparents myself, I haven’t the foggiest idea. And I imagine maybe they aren’t, as a generation, as big consumers of recent media as it would take for them to care enough to complain.
Then again, I don’t have a TV in my house. So who knows?