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I'd hate to go against Angry Asian Man on this one.

... But let's see some of the wonderful commentary the last post has received in the last fourteen hours or so since I've written it. Two comments on this very site have advised me to "watch the show before you go calling for a protest," and that "that's actually what he does...he squints when he's about to teleport". Even Angry Asian Man himself can't seem to find fault in Kristin's offhanded remark, saying "he's squinty because, well... he squints." One anonymous commenter went far enough to say "lol you slants are such losers, lighten up"; needless to say, this one was just straight up removed.

Funny things, because I've seen every episode produced of this sometimes problematic show. Not only do I often write about Heroes on this blog, I do Heroes recaps for Racialicious through the lens of race. Hence, the claims that I don't watch the show or don't know better aren't so valid. For those who do watch the show and find the term "squinty" in line with what they see Hiro actually do, let's clear up some misconceptions. I'm not exactly a trigger-happy blogger.

If I weren't a regular watcher I would have included the few words following Kristin's "squinty" remark - calling him a "carp". However carp was clearly a reference to Adam Munroe's line about Hiro in the Primatech plant. So don't say I don't know this show.

According to the handy Merriam-Webster Online, to squint is to "to look or peer with eyes partly closed". The key point of this definition is that the act of squinting requires that you keep your eyes open. Does Hiro keep his eyes open while teleporting? No, he squeezes them shut. What he does while exercising his superpower resembles nothing close to "squinting".

A fine distinction, I know. But insignificant? Probably not. Does this flaw in word choice on the part of E!Online's Kristin point to a negligence in her writing or something more? As co-editor Marilla put it: If Masi weren't ethnically Japanese, would his "squinting" get pointed out? The analogy is to Matt Parkman, who squints and furrows his brows in order to read minds - but would he be labeled "squinty"? I wouldn't hesitate to say that calling someone of Asian descent "squinty" is actually a much bigger offense than it reasonably seems. Maybe nothing more than a word choice flaw, this still points to something greater.

Am I the only person "sensitive" enough to notice? Comment 188 on the E!Online site writes:

"Thank you David! I thought I was the only one who cared that she used the term "squinty." Most people here aren't Asian or don't care, I guess, but I'm with you. It's totally inappropriate."
Comment 202 writes:
"I do believe this is the 2nd racist comment that Kristin has made about Hiro in as many weeks. Last week she made fun of the way he talks and this week she called him "squinty." You may be his "friend" but please watch what you say about him. Maybe you don't think it was racist, but it kind of was. You could have just written " torment our favorite teleporter" and left out the "squinty" I think we would have known who you were talking about. Instead you use a word that could be construed as racist. Bad Kristin."

While I'd like to know what the first racist comment was that Kristin made about Masi Oka, I probably have more interesting things to write about. Still, if calling out someone on this insensitive remark is "making a big deal" of it, then as bloggers of color what are we really doing?


  1. Anonymous said...

    there's a big difference between being "racially insensitive" and "racist." In a world that's full of racism, nitpicking over "racially insensitive" remarks seems childish to me, since as far as I can tell there's no objective criteria for it other "something that involves race and offends me."  

  2. David said...

    Did this not offend you, though, truly in the way that one might call it racist? It did to me.  

  3. Anonymous said...

    How did this offend you? Do you think the author was subtly trying to suggest that asians are somehow uglier than other people? stupider? what exactly did she do wrong here?

    it's sort of like the controversies over use of the word "niggardly." if people are offended by something like that, its their problem, not the fault of the person who said it.  

  4. David said...

    are you serious?  

  5. Yumyumcha said...

    Oh...everything was all good until the statement about "niggardly". But thats another thread all together. But here's a question in general. Since there is some disagreement as to weather what she said was racist (ignorant yes, inappropriate...maybe), at what point is it considered valid (I suppose everyone's opinion is valid). If 30% of the asian population thinks a statement is racist, 25%? 15%...I suppose as long as someone feels indignant about it, than I guess its racist?

    And you know what...I look at my friends and myself in the mirror, we got squinty eyes. Shrug.  

  6. David said...

    It's not the fact alone that someone feels bad about this comment - it's coupled with the history that such a term has in the treatment of people of a race, leading in the past to attacks physical and psychological, and the fact that there are some who see the same treatment perpetuated in such an instance.  

  7. Yumyumcha said...

    Although there is history, slang or derogatory words only has power if we allow it. If I'm not insulted by this person saying "squinty" in the context of this particular writing, should I be from an "intellectual" perspective although I'm not "emotionally" stung by it. How about the term "fucker". I think a lot of people were called that too just before bad things happen to them. Should we, as a people take that up as a cause as well?

    As the first person (anonymous) said, "racially insensitive" is different than "racist". I view one as ignorant while the other intentional.  


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