Are Asian Americans being cut out from the American embrace of Asian culture? And is this really a problem? Teen and Jess talk about the Asian American female critical abhorrence of ‘Isle of Dogs,’ in particular the character Tracy Walker. The conversation turns towards the bias against women having public conflicts, the concept of Asian American cultural property, and the rising anxiety caused by an American culture that increasingly admires authentic Asian culture.
The following are edited excerpts from “‘Isle of Dogs’ Has a White Woman Problem,” the 24th episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A.
Oh my god, my blood pressure started rising the instant [Tracy] walked in on the movie. It was just playbook. She’s the embodiment of white attitudes towards Asians. It’s not as blatant as the commonly trotted out stereotypes about us. But in actual lived experience, how she treats the characters in the movies, in my experience, replicates how we’re treated in daily life. It’s not about being considered an easy prostitute, especially as an Asian woman, on a day-to-day basis. The reality of it though is that white women, in particular, assuming dominance of the situation.
I felt that that scene [of Tracy bullying Yoko in the bar] was really relevant to why so many Asian Americans are decrying this movie. I felt that the cultural appropriation argument just doesn’t really ring true to me. They really took a lot of care with this movie. They weren’t otherwise abusing or fucking it up. They had a lot of consultants and co-producers. I felt like the real heart of the objection came from that: the characterization of Asian women as mostly irrelevant and totally subservient. I don’t know that objection didn’t come out more directly.