Tuesday, March 15, 2011
One of my favorite stories at the moment -- meaning it's one that just makes me shake my head at the absurdity of every facet of it -- involves the "anti-Asian rant" that a UCLA student shot and posted to YouTube. If you haven't seen it yet, it's an instant classic -- the kind of thing that was destined for viral transmission, followed by mass-media pick-up, followed by the inevitable contrived controversy and shouts of righteous indignation (and eventually ending with a Web Redemption segment on Tosh). Basically it goes like this: a girl named Alexandra Wallace was apparently so miffed at the fact that UCLA is overflowing with Asian students and their idiosyncrasies that she -- wait for it -- took to the internet to bitch about it. Her three-minute tirade is mildly offensive to say nothing of unbelievably dumb, but it's not like she's the Secretary of State and it's not like she set a Korean grocer on fire or something. She's a stupid kid whose shitty judgment should preclude her from graduating college long before her skewed belief system does.
But needless to say, there are already those out there demanding that she be expelled. Not because she's an idiot, but because she said something that offended them.
The great irony of this, of course, is that Alexandra Wallace is herself a walking fucking stereotype. In fact, she's got the ditzy, stacked Southern Cali blond thing down so flawlessly that I almost thought the video had to be some sort of parody. When I lived in L.A. I was generally more irritated by people like Alexandra than I was by the city's considerable Asian population. In fact, quite a few of my very close friends were Asian-American; I can't say I ever wanted to spend even a minute of my time with girls like Bryttnee from Brentwood here. But regardless of what I think of her statements about the student demographic which seems to be ruining her collegiate experience, she has a right to speak what little exists of her mind and not fear official reprisal. As Wallace reminds everyone ad nauseam in the clip, this is actually America -- and while, no, it doesn't mean that blonds have more claim to it than anyone else, it does mean that even a stupid opinion can be aired freely.
And what about that opinion? Well, it's just that -- an opinion. By its very nature that means that it's one person's view and you don't necessarily have to like it.
Apparently Alexandra has had issues with Asian students that she feels create a situation that's statistically significant enough for her to complain about those interactions and imply that they're part of a bigger picture. Not saying it's right -- although as I've said here before I'm of the mind that stereotypes exist for a reason; not everyone in a particular group will live up to a cookie-cutter image but apparently enough people have to create that stereotype in the first place -- but once again, it's her view and hers alone. Are there a lot of Asians at UCLA? Oh, hell yes. In fact, one of my best friends in the world, who's of Vietnamese descent, graduated from there and used to rattle off the familiar joke that UCLA stood for "University of Caucasians Lost Among Asians." (For those keeping score, USC was "University of Spoiled Children.") Do Asian students tend to have certain cultural quirks? Of course they do. Would these quirks irritate the hell out of you if you didn't grow up with them in your own household and now had to deal with them almost 24/7? Depends on who you are, but it's certainly possible.
So should Alexandra Wallace be punished in some way for bitching about her experiences with Asian students? No, actually. She's entitled to believe what she believes and to voice those beliefs.
Just like all the Asian and Asian-American kids who'll make response videos mercilessly mocking stupid, overly bubbly California bleach-blonds with big boobs will be entitled to that.
Besides, at the rate things are going, the Chinese students will eventually own Alexandra's ass anyway.
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Update: Well, if you thought there might be any surprises in store with regard to this little controversy, you can sleep easy tonight knowing that it's following its story arc down to the letter so far. Needless to say, Alexandra Wallace has now issued an apology via the Daily Bruin for her thoughtless comments. It reads as follows:
"Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I'd like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand."
So, that settles it, right?
Of course not.
She's apparently received several death threats and with the worldwide circulation of the apology by outlets across the internet there are already the obligatory indignant comments from journalists and the public demanding to know, "Is her apology enough?" "Why didn't she specifically say she's sorry to Asians both at UCLA and around the globe?" and "OMG, Why wasn't I included in her apology since I was so offended?!?!"
Look, the kid said she's sorry. Drop it. Of course there's an argument to be made that her apology isn't all that sincere because, well, it was demanded of her and continues to be. Forcing someone to say he or she is sorry kind of negates the power of the consequent apology, and yet people do it constantly these days, pretending that it will somehow salve their deeply offended sensibilities. And speaking of offended, guess what? Alexandra Wallace doesn't owe a pound of flesh -- or in this case ten minutes of contrite public self-flagellation -- to every fucking person who took offense to what she said in her idiotic little screed. It's ludicrous to allow everyone who claims to be aggrieved to dictate what her punishment should be and to whom it should be directed. She said something dumb and she now says she's sorry. Once again, you're not gonna get any more satisfaction than that so knock it the hell off and go back to your life. Which apparently consists largely of looking for things to be unnecessarily pissed off about.