“Ching Chong,” My Good Friend Said. Which good friend? My best good friend!

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.

Madoka crying
Art by temo

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.


8 thoughts on ““Ching Chong,” My Good Friend Said. Which good friend? My best good friend!

  1. Great post. I very much agree with your argument. I was bulled at my first elementary school. The kids made fun of me because I was held back and my one of my teachers told my parents that I was a failure and would never amount to anything. We moved to my second school and I changed my behavior, as well as somehow became a staight A student, and was bulled for that. Then my 9/11 happened and everything change. At my next school, I tried to hide. I tried to make sure no one would pay attention to me. At my next and last elementary school, I didn’t fit in at all. It was a completely different environment, and so I was bullied for excelling at everything.

    In middle school, I tried to be as tough as possible, while being quite so as not to be noticed. I made sure all my grades were average and only tried to do well in sports and tech classes. In high school, I tried to become even more invible, until my Junior year when I desided to try and be my normal self, but I couldn’t figure out which persona was the real me. I am still trying to find out who I am, but those are answers only God can show me. Now, I am trying to focus on helping other people find who they are.

    One thing I would like to add to your post, is that I think we struggle to like characters like Shinji because they remind us of ourselves. I have learned from talking to people from everywhere, that it is common to be unsatisfied with who we are. So instead, we look to idols of some form of greatness, no matter how flad in hopes to at least change ourselves a bit or be rescued from our own consequences.

    1. Wow, I have posted such a huge comment.
      Your title really drove me crazy, until I read the post. Whenever people find out that I have learned Mandarin Chinese, the come up and say, “Ching Chong.” And I never have a response, because it doesn’t mean anything (except as being racist) in Chinese.

    2. Thanks for sharing so much, man. You had so many struggles in school – gosh, I feel so bad for you! I do think that, perhaps, God has prepared you well for the future – not only in ministry, but maybe someday if you have your own children. I know my experiences (good and bad) are already informing me as I prepare my kids to start school. And with the level of bullying today, it may be those who were bullied as kids who will have the insight to help their children succeed in the face of such issues.

      And thanks for the addition – those are great comments. Shinji…there are probably two dozen posts we could write on this blog about him!

  2. Nice post. Regarding the last part about lead characters, I believe the reasons most people dismiss bland heroes and heroines as such is because their character does not make for interesting fiction. Even if we would not like to deal with someone with a disturbing or obnoxious attitude, these characters make for interesting and potentially well-written fiction moreso than a clean-cut, [often] nothing-special character.

    1. Yeah, I think that’s generally what people feel. And it’s true – they’re not as interesting, and certainly if they don’t exhibit some flaws, they become annoying unrealistic.

  3. I can relate re being an anime/manga fan… I still try to hide it. Solution…. make another WP account , and all about my favorite mangas and animes ! I think I’ll do that soon.

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