Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Superman Syndrome

I read an interesting piece over at What the Kimchi about a white guy who couldn't fathom a person not singing the praises of Korean people. In my mind all it meant was he probably hasn't spent a lot of time speaking to Thai, Filipino, or Nigerian factory workers, Russian hookers, or South East Asian juicy girls. But it is deeper than that of course, the way those largely invisible people are treated would have no bearing on the perception and treatment of a white male from a wealthy western nation. The invisible privilege cloak that those men walk around with allows them to not only not see the disparate treatment of others , it also allows them to discount and marginalize the experiences other whose accounts are wildly different. It is sort of like living next door to a serial killer who was also the town's little league coach. They often bring that incredulity to the discussion of Korean culture vis-a-vis foreigners.

If you are at all familiar with Superman comics you know that Superman comes from Krypton a dead planet that orbited a red sun. On Krypton the boy known as Kal-El would have grown up to be an average shithead. But fate allowed him to be rocketed to a planet with a yellow sun. He found that he was bigger, stronger , faster and some ways smarter than the people of his new home. Instead of being a Kryptonian zero he was now an Earth hero. This is not dissimilar to the transformation a lot of white men go through as they step off the plane in Incheon airport. Suddenly they are slightly taller than all of the people around them. Women are finding them better looking and since these women speak low to intermediate English every word they utter is met with raucous adulation not seen since the death of Oscar Wilde. The streets of Seoul are literally overflowing with vagina and money. If you don't like your girl replace her with two more . If you don't like your job quit and get released and find a new one or don't get released and do private teaching for 50.00 to 80.00 per hour. Nothing they do will effect them adversely which leads to an almost bulletproof feeling just like Superman.

What's funny is these people actually think their situation is a product of some sort of personal goodness or innate quality that was invisible to the people they grew up with but was manifested and recognized by the inscrutable wise ancient Asian culture. Perhaps , but my theory is that the overvaluation of white skin has its roots in economic and cultural imperialism. For the past 600 years or so the Western European nations have dominated the global economic market coupled with the fact that most Asian countries put a premium on white skin has led to the fetish like worship of white people. As the stranglehold on the global marketplace waned it was replaced by the greatest intellectual imperialistic force in the history of mankind in the form of Hollywood. Every movie and t.v. shown on H.B.O and AXN is a celebration of white beauty, white talent, and white intelligence and you can be sure if the movie has a hero it is going to be a white man.

Damn it Mike I think you are just talking shit. Well perhaps let's see what's at the Box Office

Barry Switzer

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.

One might question why I singled out white men and quite frankly it is because I have never met a non-white male Hanophile. Sure , there are many people who had or are having a great time in Korea. But I have never personally met or read any non-white male speak effusively about their love of Korea. Most of the people I have met temper their praise of Korea by acknowledging that either the experience wasn't one hundred percent positive or a one hundred percent positive was not the norm. The white women I met also gave a more nuanced account because even though they enjoy even more privilege in Korea their egos aren't tied up in in bedding down Koreans. An average looking woman has had the ability to have sex on command since she was 13 years old and though in some ways creepier , Korea is nothing new.

So why the knee jerk defense of all things Korea? If I say it is a shit stain and they say it is Valhalla can't we both be right. I readily admit that my impression of Korea is colored by who I am as a person but I think the kimpartisans have a vested interest in defending the culture of Korea. If Korea holds them in high regards and I point out the myriad ways they are in fact shitheads whose opinions should never be trusted I have in essence lowered the value of their opinion of that person.

Ultimately, I don't expect them to recognize their privilege in Asia anymore than I expect them to recognize it in the U.S. I want them to keep singing Korea's name to the rafters but please don't act like I'm intellectually or socially deficient because my time in the Land of the Morning Bullshit was very different.


  1. I agree - well said.

    Last year, after I'd been here for about four months, I was with a group of people and I told them I could not understand why so many other teachers kept raving about how "great" Korea is.

    One woman asked me, "Are they all men?"

    The answer was yes, all men.

    And all white.

  2. "In my mind all it meant was he probably hasn't spent a lot of time speaking to Thai, Filipino, or Nigerian factory workers, Russian hookers, or South East Asian juicy girls." When did you have a chance to talk to these people?

  3. No Russian Hookers, Nigerian factory workers in Itaewon and Incheon. Filipinos every Sunday on the basketball court of YeonSu- Gu Incheon and no South East Asian Juicy Girls but I don't go around discounting the experiences of others either.

  4. I'm glad that I haven't met too many people who gush about how great the place is. One guy who did, was a black man who was in his mid fifties, but he eventually got fed up with bullshit at his school and left for the U.A.E. He made a lot of connections with people, but he might have felt that they were just using him.

    I love your point about the television shows. All those crime shows either have no black people, or they have one sprinkled in as if the black 12% of America are that one guy who is with the other white people. Detroit 1-8-7 was a good multiracial show, though. The cast was mostly black except for one white guy. It was a good show too, all those other cop shows are are getting crazy.

    Bottom line on Korea, I hope I can escape some day.

  5. The same thing applies to just about every Asian country. It's a White man's world, and we as Black folks need to stop trying to live peacefully in it.