Yellow Peril 2.0

nma anchorsIt’s the 21st century, and that means it’s time to get your news the 21st century way: not read by some Western talking head on TV, but in the form of Chinese computer-generated animation!

Ever since my first encounter with the Chinese news organization NMA News’ animated take on the Tiger Woods car crash/infidelity story, I’ve been checking on their YouTube channel regularly to see their takes on various news stories, from less-serious stuff like the clash between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, their hilarious one-minute synopsis of the Facebook movie The Social Network and their coverage of George W. Bush’s new memoir

…to more serious pieces like the Tyler Clementi suicide and the emergency go-around that a China Airlines jet had to do to avoid landing on an EVA Air cargo plane still on the runway. You might not understand the language of the voice-overs, but you will get the gist.

NMA News are aware of their popularity of their YouTube postings and have since expanded to create a “World Edition” version of their channel in English. The latest posting to this channel is an amusing gangsta rap number that does a pretty decent “101 level” introduction to the currency battle between the U.S. and China, as rapped by Hu Jintao and Barack Obama:

macleans asian student

Money is not the only resource over which “Westerners” and “Asians” seem to be doing battle – universities are another one. The Canadian magazine Macleans (for those of you outside Canada, think Newsweek with a more conservative bent) publishes an annual issue in which they rank Canada’s universities and feature stories on university life and other issues surrounding post-secondary education. As they are wont to do, Macleans went straight for the cultural “hot button” with an article titled Too Asian?, which starts off with these paragraphs:

When Alexandra and her friend Rachel, both graduates of Toronto’s Havergal College, an all-girls private school, were deciding which university to go to, they didn’t even bother considering the University of Toronto. “The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian,” explains Alexandra, a second-year student who looks like a girl from an Aritzia billboard. “All the white kids,” she says, “go to Queen’s, Western and McGill.”

Alexandra eventually chose the University of Western Ontario. Her younger brother, now a high school senior deciding where he’d like to go, will head “either east, west or to McGill”—unusual academic options, but in keeping with what he wants from his university experience. “East would suit him because it’s chill, out west he could be a ski bum,” says Alexandra, who explains her little brother wants to study hard, but is also looking for a good time—which rules out U of T, a school with an academic reputation that can be a bit of a killjoy.

Or, as Alexandra puts it—she asked that her real name not be used in this article, and broached the topic of race at universities hesitantly—a “reputation of being Asian.”

Those of you who know me well know that I went to one of the “white kids” schools – Crazy Go Nuts University, a.k.a. Queen’s. For me, it’ wasn’t that University of Toronto was too Asian, but too close to home; going there felt like flying to Paris and eating at McDonald’s. Queen’s, and for that matter, the other “Canadian Ivies” Western and McGill (where my sister did her undergrad), were popular choices with those Asian students who wanted to work both sides of the cultural divide. I led an experience more akin to Harold and Kumar than Long Duk Dong, but still majored in computer science. Crazy Go Nuts University let me sharpen both my computer programming skills and schmooze-fu, and both have proven to be a handy yin and yang that have kept me quite recession-proof (I even ended up benefiting from the econopocalypse of 2008).

The article hints at the possibility of Canadian universities establishing secret – or perhaps not-so-secret – quotas on Asian enrollment. It’s not the first time that people have talked about the insidious presence of a visible minority with a reputation for academics, and it’s just as creepy this time ‘round.

To anyone who’s a bit freaked out over Asians taking over universities, I have two things to say:

  1. Would it kill you to crack open a math book once in a while and solve for x?
  2. Remember the sage words of “Jack” (the TV exec on 30 Rock played by Alec Baldwin): “This country was built by immigrants. The first generation works their fingers to the bone building it from the ground up. The second generation goes to college, drives innovation, and makes a better life for their families. The third generation…[sigh] snowboards and takes improv classes.”

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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