Recently a lot of Asian Americans are getting their pantsu in a bunch about an Android app called “Make Me Asian” that allows users to slant their eyes, yellow their skin and add other stereotypical Asian features to their photos.
Critics say the app uses dated and racist stereotypes that marginalize and humiliate Asian Americans. There is even an online petition asking Google to remove the app, which has nearly 3,000 signatures as of December 28.
Alright, so the Asian American community is clearly offended, but what do Asian Asians think of this app?
Well, they think it’s pretty fun, actually.
CNN Japan ran a story about the about the app yesterday, which then got picked up and discussed on Japanese internet message board 2channel.
“I tried this myself and it was hilarious. I don’t see why people are upset,” comments one Japanese netizen. Another writes, “Why isn’t there an app that makes you black? That seems like it would be the most fun”.
Others suggest making similar apps for all races so everyone can be equally offended. Many just don’t seem to understand what the big deal is in the first place.
Our own Japanese staff in Tokyo had a great time with the app, running their own photos through to see if they could be made Asian as well:
When asked what they thought about their new Asian faces, our staff replied, “It makes us feel more touch with our roots.”
Of course, this is coming from a country where a single ethnic group makes up an overwhelmingly large percent of the population and general attitudes towards race are far different than they are in more diverse countries.
What is considered an “offensive generalization” in America is just a “generalization” in Japan. Stereotypes are usually all you have to go off of when everyone around you growing up is of the same ethnic background. I’ve had Japanese people comment in wonder about my pale skin, round eyes, and large nose countless times, but it’s always more of an observation than an intentionally humiliating remark. Racist? Yes. Offensive? Nah.
And as one Japanese netizen comments , “We put on Groucho Glasses and pretend to be white people, so we have no right to be mad.”