A little exchange between the optometrist and myself has become an unintentional annual tradition for me. He or she (it occurs no matter who is examining my eyes) will tell me to open my eyes wide, which I do. Then the optometrist asks the same question again, as if I wasn’t listening, and I reply, “This is as big as they get.”
I have the anti-anime-eye syndrome – small, slanty eyes, befitting my Asian background. But even among Koreans, my eyes are particularly closed tight. Not quite “Brock eyes,” but close.
Growing up, I got teased about this and otherwise for being Asian, and even assaulted. But don’t feel bad for me – I didn’t get it so bad, and certainly less so than many others (further, I was a bully myself during middle school). Still, many of these instances left a mark on me.
My post on Anime Amino regarding bullying and otaku continues to gather responses, and a trend I’ve noticed has to do with racist comments. The utterance, “ching chong,” is still apparently going strong (even though it’s sooo
1980s 1890s), and now used when making fun of otaku, often by that person’s “friends.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that racist comments are thrown around with such abandonment, but hey, we are human. This is not an excuse – it’s a reason why we sin.
Certainly, the instigators are young and immature – though to be sure, ignorant youngsters may mature with time, but they may still also grow into ignorant adults.
I’m reminded of the lead characters (especially males) we see in media. In anime, we often criticize the bland male lead, who among other characteristics, is full of character. We decry Kirito as a bore, while we praise the recent wave of super hero depiction in film as more realistic. However, I don’t think Robert Downey Jr.’s selfish Tony Stark is any more or less realistic than Christoper Reeve’s selfless Superman. I think our flawed (in some cases, severely flawed) heroes are rather good depictions of how most of us think and behave, while our bland anime leads are perhaps more indicative of how we would like to act (at least I’d like to have the character many of these heroes do).
There’s a certain responsibility here. We can’t force others to change, but we can affect change in our families, households, and communities by what we teach and what we do. And certainly it all starts with facing and examining our own beliefs, and praying for and making change in our lives.
Perhaps next time you think to yourself that Kirito or another hero (or heroine) is dull as a brick, ponder instead on what he does well. That boring character might just have character worth mimicking.