Bad Read: 'The Ninja Handbook'

September 13, 2008

Chalk this up to a book I won't be buying because I'm sick of, white guys who create ninja characters, white ninjas, bad white ninja opening songs, white ninja accents, and just all around white ninja-like people and characters.

I mean do we really need more of this?

David Carradine

Chuck Norris

Steven Seagal

Chris Farley

Uma Thurman

More David Carradine

Tom Cruise

Jack Black

I'm thinking the answer is no.




Re: Ask A Ninja -I used to watch Ask A Ninja regularly until they got lazy and stopped making regular episodes. I never got the vibe that they were mocking Japanese culture or even "doing drag" so much as that they were mocking the people that do. Segal, though, has long disgusted me for being a fat, wife-beating, arrogant Japanese-drag imbecile.
Armory: Thanks for the comments and I'm glad you checked it out - and like you I was like "Do I really want to view all of this and give them more press?"Asiana: Sorry my comments are coming late - but I definitely see where you're coming from and I think there's a lot out there to discuss when it comes to what is or what isn't cultural appropriation - and the more voices the better - so thanks too for the discussion.
Wooooooow. I just went to I debated it (did I want to give them another hit on the site?) but figured I wanted a better understanding of exactly what was going on and OMG did I get it.This website is a great example of delusional white entitlement.Of course, if someone's sense of humor or "cool" rests in racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation, their expressions of "humor" and "coolness" are bound to be pretty damn tired, seeing as how those same ideas have been circulating for a while.Oh, and they're also oppressive!thanks for the article-amory
Slanty,Thanks for elaborating on the your post. Don't get me wrong, I always dig your posts. Most of the time when I comment on blogs I tend to comment on the idea raised and my initial response to it but I fail to keep in mind that the writer is a part of that post. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I totally get what you mean in terms of how media/film portrays the Asian archetype and although I laugh out loud at times at (I'm curious to hear what that email talked about) I do get the hint of ching chong that runs through it.My comment was directed at that general feeling that I sometimes think minorities pigeon-hole themselves in. And that is the idea of accusing "other" people of taking the shit that belongs to them. Of course when I see a someone mocking or make characature of something, it pisses me off. But I'm referring when a person has genuine interest in another culture there tends to be a quick draw by minorities to hate on them. I see this concern brought up several times on this blog (geisha tattoos, Gwen's Harajuku perfume). And this is a double edge sword because I would like to think many of us who subscribe to Hyphen are of multi-ethnic decent and that being said shouldn't every culture be accessible to everyone? A multi-cultural society will only lead to hybrid cultures that we can't even categorize- a time which I think is in the near future. Or do we have to hate on white people for digging cool things that originated in Asia or where ever else?Those were the concerns I had with the post but I didn't express the fact that I agree with the blatant stereo-typical portrayal of Asians- a point that was key to your post.OK I don't if that all makes sense. It's kind of early for my and I have no caffeine in the blood. Bottom line, thanks for good discussion.
Asiana,I don't think there's anything wrong with Asian Americans playing characters who are martial artists, or any other role (generally speaking) - I never really have, and my post doesn't make a claim to that opinion. That being said, I do have issues with the lack of mainstream roles for Asian Americans and how many times we're seen as only the martial artist/delivery man/massage therapist (who doesn't?) - and while I don't have a problem with those roles themselves, I have a problem with those being the typical roles, and I think there's a clear difference there, and why some can cringe at the sight of a martial arts role for an AA in mainstream media - because there's not a lot of balance.We're not all on the same page when it comes to what makes us cringe or offends us, but I think is kinda ching chong (and as a note I did get an e-mail from one of the creators via my blog which I haven't had time to respond to yet, but I'm sure there'll be an interesting discussion there).Some other notes:"we don't like white people holding swords, wearing ninja gear, throwing ninja stars or doing anything resembling the martial arts"Even though I don't actually say it (but I thought it was inferred), my post was in the context of media (versus people studying martial arts). I have a problem with the number of white heroes versus Asian American/Asian heroes in mainstream U.S. media. We have white martial arts hero characters (including David Carradine who took the place of Bruce Lee for "Kung Fu") but I can't really think of an Asian American in those roles who's had the popularity that those on the list have had with exception to Bruce and Brandon Lee (and then you have Jet and Jackie - but those are just two). Uma's role was fine alone in a vacuum, but looked at from a broader perspective (and strictly an Asian/White perspective versus Male/Female) she's another white hero - and one who comes in to kill all the people of color - which brings up the point that while you have a plethora of white martial art hero/main characters who are popular and very few Asian American/Asian ones in U.S. media - you do see a lot of Asian faces in the martial arts villan role. The message is that Asian faces are O.K. for villans, but not as the hero/main character.And then there's that racial drag thing and if mainstream media just thinks it's funny to see white people dressed up in "exotic costumes" while playing the fool..."And by using this logic, black people can hate on everyone who attempts to embrace rap, break dancing, hip hop and the Blues because when it comes down to it, they're just posers, yo!"I guess there are a couple of things with this.One is that it's logic I'm not actually making (like this post also doesn't say Asian Americans shouldn't play martial art roles). While I can freely admit that my post using pictures and interetextuality leaves some interpretation to the reader, and I can give some leeway there as to some comments and discussion - I'm not showing pictures of kids or adults in real martial art classes, but in the context of media and movies, as characters - two very different areas in my mind (and the whole post was setup using which has gotten recognition because of YouTube and in television).The second is that rap, break dancing, hip hop and the Blues are authentic forms of who a person is (or at least should be), unlike an actor playing a character, so I don't think those two are really comparable in the sense of authenticity (and I think that topic is a much larger conversation).At the same time, even with confusion if you thought I was talking about martial artists in real life versus movie/media characters (or a mix), while we all do things differently, I guess I think before you tie my post in with a prejudicial mindset, I think I'm at least a little deserving of one follow up question before that connection is made, versus what I see as being rhetorical questions to make a statement. But I could be wrong given the format of the post.Just my thoughts.
I guess I'm a ninja sympathizer because I find Ask A Ninja entertaining, I liked Uma's samurai skills, and I laugh at Jack Black's high kicks. So, let me get this straight, we don't like Asian actors being cast for ninja roles and we don't like white people holding swords, wearing ninja gear, throwing ninja stars or doing anything resembling the martial arts? Damn, that's a lot of hater-aid to swallow all at once, wouldn't you say? I'm Filipino so I guess I too can't embrace the way of the Ninja or Samurai but I can still pose like a machete wielding pirate and be legit- right? And by using this logic, black people can hate on everyone who attempts to embrace rap, break dancing, hip hop and the Blues because when it comes down to it, they're just posers, yo!