South Park’s China Probrem (accent get it? probLem??)
When it comes to racial humour, my rule is that it had better be pretty damn funny, and South Park is usually pretty damn funny. I missed watching the show from the start, but Cartman’s misguided quest to stop the invasion of the Chinese, starting with PF Chang’s (which it turns out doesn’t even have that many Chinese people there) isn’t nearly as disgusting as watching George Lucas and Steve Spielberg molest Indiana Jones, not to mention a litany of un-natural acts committed against various other Star Wars characters.
The last time they did an Asian invasion was the Chinpoko Mon which was montage of every bad Asian stereotype from commie Chinese and North Koreans to Japanese with the characters turning into anime smiles, which was also funny as heck once you got over the racist characterizations of Asian culture.
Episode summary starts:
It’s up to Cartman to face down the Chinese while the American populace is wracked by the haunting memory of recent events.
- Butters: I can’t stop the Chinese tonight, Eric. I’m suppose to make a model car with my dad.
- Butters: So wait, that’s it? What about the Chinese invasion?
Cartman: I really don’t care anymore, Butters. You see, I’ve learned something today. As Americans, our fear of seeing another country become powerful can turn us into monsters. Watching how crazy you went, watching you just shoot people in the dick like that, it made me realize that I want America to be safe but not at the cost of losing its dignity. I’d rather us be Chinese than a nation of unethical dick-shooters.(turns to walk away and points at Butters) You think about that.
(Cartman walks away)
Butters: Can’t believe they put ‘em in jail. I thought that movie was pretty good
Pixar Spurns Asians Again
Here is Wikipedia’s character list, and guess what the problem is????
- Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen
- Larry the Cable Guy as Mater
- Michael Caine as Finn McMissile
- Emily Mortimer as Holley Shiftwell
- Eddie Izzard as Miles Axlerod
- John Turturro as Francesco Bernoulli
- Jason Isaacs as Siddeley and Leland Turbo
- Thomas Kretschmann as Professor Zündapp
- Joe Mantegna as Grem
- Peter Jacobson as Acer
- Tony Shalhoub as Luigi
- Guido Quaroni as Guido
- Paul Dooley as Sarge
- John Ratzenberger as Mack
- Jeff Gordon as Jeff Gorvette
- Lewis Hamilton as Lewis Hamilton
- Darrell Waltrip as Darrell Cartrip
- Brent Musburger as Brent Mustangburger
- David Hobbs as David Hobbscap
- Bruce Campbell as Rod “Torque” Redline
- John Lasseter as John Lassetire
- Franco Nero as Uncle Topolino
- Stanley Townsend as Vladimir Trunkov, Ivan and Victor Hugo
- Velibor Topic as Alexander Hugo
- John Mainier as J. Curby Gremlin
- Brad Lewis as Tubbs Pacer
- Vanessa Redgrave as Mama Topolino and The Queen. Sophia Loren provides the Italian dub of Topolino.
- Michel Michelis as Tomber
- Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera
- Cheech Marin as Ramone
- Jenifer Lewis as Flo
- Michael Wallis as Sheriff
- Lloyd Sherr as Fillmore and Tony Trihull
- Sig Hansen as Crabby the Boat
- Jeff Garlin as Otis
- Katherine Helmond as Lizzie
- Patrick Walker as Mel Dorado
- Edie McClurg as Minny
- Richard Kind as Van
- Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Additional Voices
- Jess Harnell as Additional Voices
One of the major locations is Japan, but other than grunts and confused glances from the raking and wasabi guys, there are NO SPEAKING ASIAN PARTS.
Like I mentioned last time, while I adore everything Pixar puts out since I first saw their shorts at Siggraph, for an outfit based in the San Francisco Bay Area with more than their share of geek and parent Asian American fans, they have been AWFUL in casting Asians parts and just as awful in promoting what Asian character they have had, Collette the chef-ette and they hid Russell, the cute Asian boy sidekick that steals the show in favor of Ellie who doesn’t even have a speaking part as an adult for the Academy awards.
I mentioned before (but obviously they don’t read Asian Week) that they missed out on casting Tommy Chong as Fillmore the hippie VW bus as he was the other half of Cheech (who did get recast in Cars 2) and Chong. George Carlin is truly great, but it was Cheech and Chong who immortalized “wow man” hippie stoner culture from funny LPs to feature length movies. This time they probably didn’t even call Chong as they recast Fillmore as some guy I never heard of. At least the kept Jennifer Lewis as Flo, an accomplished black female singer who was in the underappreciated Frog and Princess.
The original automobile cast is an assortment of American cars, with german (vw) and italian (fiat) imports, but NO JAPANESE CARS, which are now not just the best selling imports, but nearly the top nameplates in the US. Even Transformers introduced my favorite 60’s japanese car, the Datsun 510. I mentioned before they should have introduced Margaret Cho as an evil alternative love interest for Lightning McQueen, then they’d have both Asian and LGBT casting covered. It’s not too late to fix things for Cars 3 or in animated cartoon series. I am an AMC buff delighted to see the mis-shapen Gremlin and Pacer featured as bad guys (they weren’t unreliable lemons, just too wierd looking to be remembered as good cars) but even their gang of “bad cars” didn’t include the Hyundai Excel which gave Korean cars a bad name until the latest round of Audi-inspired Kias.
However I did catch this blurb in the China Daily that there was a special character inserted into the China version:
China Daily/Asia News Network
Sunday, Sep 04, 2011
By Liu Wei
Although Chinese elements are very much in evidence in Cars 2, the sequel to Pixar’s 2006 box office hit, the animation studio says it has no immediate plans to set a story in China.
Shortly after the film begins, viewers will see a Chinese racecar named Long Ge, literally Brother Dragon. The car is a friend of Lightning McQueen, main protagonist of the franchise.
It shows up only in the film’s version screened in China, while in English-speaking countries the character is a yellow US car named Jeff.
Long Ge is a red racecar decorated with a dragon totem and a yellow star.
John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar and its corporate parent, Walt Disney Co, and director of the film, tells China Daily the car was inspired by the uniforms of Chinese athletes in the Beijing Olympics.
“We studied the beautiful uniforms Chinese athletes had at the Olympics,” he says in a telephone interview.
“They were stunning in their design, pattern and shape. We were inspired by them and created a really cool car.”
The car makes only a short cameo appearance, at the first stop of McQueen and best friend Mater’s international adventure to prevent a conspiracy involving alternative fuel.
For my other thoughts on the cars in Cars 2 see my blog at