The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sexy Little Geisha? Really?

We’re going to change up the programming a little around here, and try to put out more posts on more topics, and try not to write War and Peace over everything.  And yes, less Kimberlin.  The case will go on (indeed interesting developments tonight), and I will try to get you updates as they occur.  The disclaimers at the end of each post ain’t gonna change.  But we are almost a month away from the election and other things are going on and I want to talk about them.  So there.

Which is not to say I won’t write some of the big long thoughtful posts.  I hope some of you like that.  But I’m going to mix things up a little.

So this crossed my Twitter feed last night.  Apparently Victoria’s secret came up with a “Sexy Little Geisha” teddy for women to wear.  It’s been pulled due to controversy, but here it is for informational purposes (and not Rule 5 purposes! Heavens no!):

Yes, it comes with a matching fan and hair chopsticks.

Now there are lots of people complaining that this is racist, but more basically than that, in my opinion it looks, well... silly.  All the “Geisha” touches actually make the woman look less attractive, not more.  It’s dumb.

As for the claim it is racist, eh, well, that is really complicated.  For instance, Dina Yuen, aka @AsianFusionGirl felt that only Asian women should be wearing geisha-inspired clothing, but with respect I disagree with that.

I mean what geisha represents is one tradition that crops up now and then that pretends that prostitution is anything but what it is: a degrading way to make a living.  It is literally trying to take an ugly profession and put a nice little bow on it.

And of course it was that tradition that contributed significantly to the “Asian woman = whore” stereotype that gets thrown at Asian American woman waaay too often.  It comes down to this.  Back when Europe first had serious interaction with Asia, European sexual mores were much more restrictive than they were in Asia.  So Asia became synonymous in their minds with forbidden pleasure, including prostitution.  And in their bigoted minds it became that Asian women were all whores.  My guess is that at the time in Europe a woman was just as likely to be a prostitute, but they didn’t put a pretty bow on it.

Which makes Yuen’s comment a little dubious.  Isn’t making the woman a white girl actually in a way defying the stereotypes?  Is that all bad?  I myself get a little creeped out when there is too much race-matching, when people are too obviously self-conscious about getting all the races “right.”  So when you see two guys going at it in a dojo...

…and only one of them has even partial Asian blood, I think that is actually better.  It shows a blissful lack of concern for the races of the characters, because ultimately there is no reason to think people of all races can’t do kung fu, if they work at it, or to think that Neo and Morpheus couldn’t be played by any people of any color.

I understand the desire not to see Asian roles go to non-Asians.  I just finally watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time recently on Netflix, and one of the things that stuck out for me was just how much the movie is harmed by Mickey Rooney’s performance in it.  Here’s a still image that gives you some kind of sense of it (see right):

When I talked about that on twitter one writer responded by saying “I loved that movie until the day I thought it'd be romantic to share it with my Japanese husband. Errrmmm ...”  Which is too bad, because it is genuinely romantic in parts, but Rooney’s performance lays a giant turd in the middle of it.  Remaking it seems like a losing proposition because you lose Audrey Hepburn’s indispensable performance, but keeping as it is makes it kind of suck, too.  I can almost see a case for actually doing a CGI insertion of a normal Asian actor similar to how Jabba the Hutt was inserted in the original Star Wars in the late 90’s.  Yeah, arguably that is desecration, too, but it might be the best option available.

And likewise I recently talked about the absolutely evil movie, Birth of a Nation.  The movie features one scene when a black man, literally drooling, is chasing a white woman with intent to rape her and she ends up committing suicide rather than submitting, as part of an Orwellian plot where the KKK is cast as the good guys.  And I guess they literally couldn’t find a black person willing to play that part, so they put a guy in blackface to do it.

And so it’s almost like a due process rule to say you can’t have a white dude playing an Asian dude or a black dude: like if the role is so offensive that you can’t get a member of that race to play it, then maybe you need to rewrite it until that problem is solved.  I could see that argument.

But that requires you to believe that only an Asian woman can be a geisha.  Indeed, when Memoirs of a Geisha came out, there were people complaining that the lead actress was Zhang Ziyi, best known previously for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, because she was the wrong kind of Asian.  Geisha is a Japanese tradition, the argument went, and Zhang is Chinese.

And just so you know who we are talking about (and not for any Rule 5 purposes), this is Ms. Zhang on the left.*

And you see it to a lesser degree in other movies.  Consider Sean Connery who plays outside of his ethnicity all the time.  His most famous role, James Bond, had him playing an Englishman, in The Hunt for Red October he played a Russian and in The Untouchables he played an Irish cop.  Heck, in The Highlander, which involved an immortal man from Connery’s native Scotland; where it would have been the simplest thing to make Connery a fellow Scotsman, Connery was cast as an Egyptian!  And yet I think the world would be a poorer place without Connery as Bond, and the Motion Picture Academy graced him with an Oscar for The Untouchables; indeed, I can’t think of a role he was actually bad in, even if the movie itself wasn’t particularly good.  Then again I couldn’t even sit through the entire The Avengers for free (this one, not this one), so maybe I just haven’t seen the right (meaning wrong) performance.

I think the answer is that we shouldn’t worry too much about racial and ethnic matching.  In most movies the actual ethnicities of the characters don’t matter.  That is why, for instance, the fans generally responded favorably to changing Nick Fury from being a white guy in the original comics**... being Samuel L. Jackson...

...because while he might not look like the how character has been depicted, but in just about every other way he embodies him perfectly.  In fact, I have trouble thinking of any actor of any race who could pull off the kind of badassery needed for the role.  Maybe R. Lee Ermey, but he’s getting on in years.  Certainly not David Hasselhoff:

So joking aside, I think the answer is that ask first if a character even has a relevant ethnic background that matters.  And when the background matters, try not to cast someone too distractingly outside of that zone, but otherwise not to worry about it.

As for the Victoria’s Secret geisha teddy, I don’t think adding the hair chopsticks, or the fan, or the bow makes it racist (though you can hear the other side here).  It is part of the culture they are tapping into.

No, the real problem with this outfit is that it is just plain dumb.  Its dinky.  It would fit more as part of a Halloween costume than anything else.

But I will also add that I don’t blame people for calling it racist.  How can I say this?  I think sometimes when people see something dumb that relates to a particular ethnicity or race, and jump to the conclusion  racism is behind it.  But with respect for the people reasonably calling it racist, I think stupidity is the better explanation.


* I call her Ms. Zhang because traditionally in China the family name goes first.  Admittedly that is an educated guess, because for all I know, she might have put her family name last knowing we in the west would get confused.

** I am aware that in the “Ultimate” universe comics, Fury has been depicted as black has led more than a few people to compare the new Fury to Samuel L. Jackson long before they recruited him for this role.


My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger’s Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

1 comment:

  1. I am aware that in the “Ultimate” universe comics, Fury has been depicted as black has led more than a few people to compare the new Fury to Samuel L. Jackson long before they recruited him for this role.

    Actually, it was a much closer connection than that. When they redesigned Nick Fury in 2000, they actually based the new version on Mr. Jackson. You might say that the role was made for him.

    IMDB Reference

    I'm not a comic book fan, but when I heard this it stuck in my mind because it's kind of neat.

    As for your main topic, some people just seem to be looking for excuses to be "offended."