Racist—not funny

Here’s a story: It was an ordinary night and my friend and I were walking back home along Division Street as two guys were coming towards us. One of them looked at me and in what I presume to be some kind of Asian accent, he said “ya ya, me love you long time.” For those of you who don’t know that line, it comes from Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket.

The movie tells of the experiences of three marines during the Vietnam War.

In one particular scene, the character played by Matthew Modine is sitting at a GI bar when a prostitute comes up to him and says the line, “Me so horny. Me love you long time.” They then proceed to discuss matters of payment and she tells him what he’ll receive in return.

Needless to say, when I was confronted with this line while minding my own business, I was shocked and pissed off.

Unless jeans and a Queen’s sweatshirt is the new uniform of sex trade workers, I don’t know what about my appearance would prompt him to say such a thing. Perhaps the guy thought it was funny and wasn’t trying to be offensive.

Maybe he didn’t even know what the line really meant but that doesn’t matter because within those five words, there lies a world of stereotypes and we all know that you don’t have to intend to offend someone to insult them.

The line has become as ubiquitous as “May the force be with you” or “Beam me up Scottie.” It also doesn’t help that if you turn the radio on right now, you’ll probably hear it coming from Fergie, Nelly Furtado and Jay-Z.

Whether you agree with me or not, I think it’s offensive and racist.

Thousands of women became prostitutes or “comfort women,” to American and British soldiers during the Vietnam war. Women were raped, abused and sometimes murdered by ‘enemy’ hands.

At the same time, Bangkok became the “rest and recreation” centre for the military and as many as 70,000 women worked in the red-light district to provide services for increasing demands.

That was about 40 years ago but the remnants of the past are still present, and alive and well in many countries.

I’m not out to change any minds and I’m not pointing any fingers. The line has become so overused that most people that say it probably don’t even know where it’s from, but now you do.

If you choose to say it and think it’s not hurting anybody then do what you must. You might think what you’re saying is harmless but it has an impact on an entire community.

And after this public sound off, maybe I’ll finally be able to let this one go. Maybe.

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