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Monday, August 4, 2014

Are Sumo Suits Racist?

We live in an age where everything can be construed as being racist. Hell, even my blog's title is considered racist by some, as I have made it a parody of the movie It's A Wonderful Life by harping in the Japanese seeming inability to properly pronounce the letter "L", instead substituting it for the letter "R".

I admit that was done on purpose.

But does it make me racist? No. It's a fact that many Japanese folk can not pronounce the letter "L". It's not in the alphabet".

I'm not saying the Japanese are ignorant or inferior - in fact, this blog does the opposite, quite often, poking fun at the gaijin who doesn't understand the rule of Japan.".

I don't think that the inability to make the "L" sound is funny.".

I just turned it into what I hoped was a funny situation/phrase. It doesn't make me racist.".

I think many people fail to understand what the term racist means. I actually treat everyone equally and don't think one color, race, religion, sex or sexual preference is better than another. I doubt everyone can say that and mean it. I know of a few people who fail that way.".

So... what about people using the inflatable fat guy sumo suits? Does that count as being insensitive? Or is it just something funny that also happens to poke fun at Japan as m use of Rife does?".

It's a thin line...".

But ultimately, it boils down to intent... and perhaps to racial insensitivity.".

Am I racially insensitive? No. Is it my intent to put the Japanese people down? No. It is my intent to focus on a Japanese inability to say an alphabetic letter (for the most part)... yes... but not to be racist.".

At least that's how I justify things. I could, of course, be fugged in the head, and maybe it is all racist. But... like I said. I think many people do not properly define racist behavior.".

Back to the funny sumo suit.".

A week ago in London, UK... in Battersea Park, a large group of people got together to raise money for a charity. That was their intent".

The wanted to raise money for education of people living in sub-Saharian Africa, and chose to do it by gaining sponsors for them to complete a 5-kilometer run - while wearing inflatable sumo suits.

These suits are quite funny to see when people use them to try and belly-bump each other... at least it was the first time I saw it what seems like 10 years ago, but who knows.

It was to look silly while doing the run to earn money for a charity.

It was no one's intent to be racist and make fun of the Japanese... or rather Sumo wrestlers.

Sumo and sumo wrestlers are a part of Japanese symbology... then again, what the fug isn't a symbol of Japan to the Japanese?

You do know that foreigners - Americans - have been sumo champions, right?

So... is it racist to dress up like a heavy sumo wrestler... a symbol of Japan?

I once dressed up as a Japanese high school girl for Halloween... to the Japanese porno industry the Japanese high school girl look is quite the symbol of Japan.

But dressing up as a sumo wrestler - is that racist? I bet the sumo wrestlers don't think so. But maybe I'm wrong.

When media outlets in Japan reported on the charity run, apparently some Japanese called it racist cultural appropriation.

That's a new one. I'm not even sure I know what it means.

Look... wearing black face paint isn't cool to do anymore... it's why it is frowned upon every where. The same with dressing up as a Nazi for Halloween, even though I bet it really is the scariest thing you might see on a night when you are supposed to look scary. Me as a Japanese high school girl - now that was scary. I might have the legs - but I didn't shave my hairy, muscular gams.

Why did the running event choose to wear the sumo suits? That's why people are confused...

... well because it's effing funny, I suppose.

Some Japanese wondered:
  •  “My feelings are complicated on this, but don’t you think this is prejudice?”
  • “When Japan had that airline commercial with a guy wearing a big nose and yellow wig, [foreigners] were quick to object, but at this event, they wear body suits and sumo wigs and that’s okay?”
  • “If this was any other country besides Japan, there would be protests that it was racist or discriminatory against overweight people and they would be forced to cancel the event. Japan is always made fun of like this.”
So... no one should ever dress up as... what... Vikings, for fear of upsetting the Swedes? No one should dress up in kilts for fear of upsetting the Japanese porno industry... oh, or Scotland? No one should dress up as hockey players by blacking out their teeth to imply they are missing them for feat of upsetting say, Canada?

Fug. It's called having a sense of humor about one's self.

Other Japanese wondered:
  • “If it’s for an African charity, why did they choose sumo? I don’t get it.”
  • “As a Japanese, this made me smile, but what the heck is the point of this?”
  • “Is England really cool enough in summer for this? If we did this in Japan right now, people would be dropping like flies from heatstroke.”
African charity for education... oh yeah... they should all wear dunce caps or perhaps dress up as Japanese high school girls - you know... the symbol of Japanese porn... perhaps they could have dressed up as slaves? yeah... Oh yeah... maybe it should be something modern...

Hmmm... does anyone know anything about sub-Saharian Africa? No? Camel jockeys? Would that work? Would it be funny or amusing? Would that be racist? I have no idea? Why would it be?

So... are the folks running in the sumo suits racist?

Or, does Japan need to lighten up about itself?

Sometimes a spade is just a spade. Then again, sometimes its a shovel.

Discuss amongst yourselves. No throwing of sticks and stones.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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