Recently I was rereading Joel Spolsky’s introduction to distributed version control, Hg Init. (To be precise, it’s an introduction to Mercurial, but it also functions fairly well as an introduction to git or to distributed version control in general.) Of course, Joel is writing about this partly because he built a product around it, so he has something to sell, but Hg Init isn’t commercial.
Anyway, Joel’s tutorial begins with some reeducation for people used to other forms of version control, notably Subversion (svn). To illustrate different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at the same problem, he uses the example of Japanese and American addresses. The same problem — uniquely identifying buildings — is solved in notably different ways in Japan and the US. In the west, we think in terms of streets; Japan thinks in terms of blocks. A different conceptual model.
As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why? Because to them white is the Default Human Being.
Another way to look at this is to say that we’re not aware of our own stereotypes (or, at least, so long as we’re in the majority culture, we have no need to be aware of our own stereotypes).
Besides, that is not how the Japanese draw white or even Chinese people. The otherness of foreigners is clearly marked by physical stereotypes – just as Americans do with people of colour. In anime White Americans are stereotyped as having yellow hair, blue eyes and a long or big nose.
I suspect if an 11-year-old girl went on The View and said she was a good kisser already, she and her parents would be attacked in the press, people would express horror, and rumors would circulate about whether she’s been sexually abused, is already sexually active, etc. etc. But when an 11-year-old boy does it? That’s cute! He’s on his way to being a smooth-talking ladies’ man!
So apparently the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were divine retribution for Pearl Harbor. The fact that this vile nonsense was spouted on Facebook does rather give the lie to the idea that it’s anonymity which allows people to be jerks on the internet. People are apparently perfectly happy being obnoxious bigots under their real names.