Ignorance in 5 minutes or less

Imagine if Donald Trump, Paula Deen, and Hitler somehow had a kid. Well this song is about two times more racist as that kid.

I honestly don’t know where to begin any analysis of this song and video. The song and lyrics are blatantly racist; they fetishize and sexualize Asian women and Asian cultures to an extent that is disgusting and uncomfortable. It is not even necessary to analyze the lyrics for any metaphors hidden meanings, as it is explicit in its degradation and stereotyping.

Within the first six seconds, the video shows the song’s title in a font that is intended to call to mind and mimic fonts used in movies produced in East Asian countries (or that depict East Asian countries). The song then begins with the Oriental Riff, which is defined as a “musical riff or phrase that has often been used in Western culture as a trope or stereotype of orientalism to represent the idea of the Orient, China, Japan or a generic East Asian theme.” The band’s use of the Western stereotypes of East Asian culture implies that this song is simply about the fetishization of a created and expected culture and not an actual appreciation for East Asian women and/or culture. The lyrics to the song are just as asinine as the stereotypes presented in the video. The song simply lists things that have come to be expected of Asians by the Western world with the words “Asian girl/She’s my Asian girl” interspersed throughout. The song and video are laced with the band’s perspective on East Asian women and cultured from the members’ limited racist and sexist viewpoints.

Worse than the inherent racism and sexism that is portrayed is the group’s response to the backlash. The group posted:

This song is us, Day Above Ground, making fun of ourselves (and many, many other guys) obsession with the always lovely, Asian Woman. It pushes this concept to an absurd level, but at the same time is endearing & submissive.. WE ARE NOT RACIST, HAHA! I mean, look at our band, it’s multicultural!! The guy in the bow-tie, our cutie bass player, was born in Indonesia, and he steals the show!! Please don’t take this tongue-in-cheek tribute to some of the most gorgeous women on the planet too seriously!! You’ll ruin the fun of it all!! Thanks for watching, sincerely!!

Day Above Ground literally pulled the ‘I can’t be racist because I have a(n) [insert race here] friend’ card. Their dismissal of the criticisms and comments received show that this piece was not intended to be an appreciation of East Asian women or the culture. Instead of accepting that they had done wrong and apologizing, the group defended their racism and sexism. Just as they did in their song with the lines “I love your creamy yellow thighs/I love your slanted eyes”, Day Above Ground continues objectifying the women they sing about by identifying their song as a “tongue-in-cheek tribute to some of the most gorgeous women on the planet”. The group then removes all responsibility for their actions from themselves by implying that critics are the ones who have the problem and the ones who are wrong for seeing and calling out the racial implications of the video and song.

Through our readings from Kant and Herder we know that this was the typical description of Asian immigrants (yellow skinned, slits in eyes) and therefore places them in a particular racial category. While the lyrics may not demean the race with slurs, it minimizes the value of Asian women. Westernized views on culture can be somewhat tricky. What is deemed a appreciation by musicians, movies and shows can quickly become racist. This song crosses the line with its ‘attempt’ at appreciating East Asian women and culture.

 

– Christa-Gaye Kerr and Jessye McVane

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