As quickly as Hollywood is cementing its number one position on my shit list, Kulture is claiming its position as my favorite media review site.
I’m referring to a deservedly critical review of Deadpool, a dry and quirky superhero movie that despite its desire to appear sexually progressive (huh, I never would have pegged Deadpool as a bottom) and edgy, can’t help but to contribute to America’s traditional pastime of putting nonwhites “in their place”. I use that phrase because, as we’ll discuss below, the original script wasn’t degrading enough to the Asian man, Dopinder, so they made a few changes to make it more racist. This seems to do well with primarily white audiences who are so accustomed to seeing nonwhites portrayed as inferior to whites it went unnoticed by moviegoing whites. Kulturemedia.org writes:
In Deadpool, there is an Indian cab driver named Dopinder, played by Karan Soni. In the original script, Dopinder is described as looking “like Aziz Ansari’s and Dev Patel’s love child. He is young, thin, bearded, brown.” In the beginning of the film, Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, and Dopinder introduce themselves to each other and have casual conversation. Deadpool spots a picture of a young Indian woman and asks Dopinder who she is. Dopinder responds that she is the woman of his dreams, but he is unable to be with her due to his more attractive and cunning cousin who stole her away from Dopinder (we’ll return to this). They arrive at their destination, but since Deadpool didn’t bring his wallet, he simply leaves Dopinder without paying and does not even promise to repay him. Dopinder doesn’t get mad and quietly takes it like a good little beta.
As I read up to this point in the article, I thought that the creators of Deadpool did the right thing in removing the obviously racist comment about Dopinder’s looks. That he bore the looks of a lovechild of two other south Asian men underscores writers’ discomfort with the sexuality of Asian men.
It’s a telling sign of the times when an Asian brother can’t even get laid hypothetically… in a racist Anti-Asian joke. Seeing that the director removed this “joke”, I was willing to withhold judgment on the distasteful choice of using the tired racial trope of an Indian man serving as the taxi chauffeur to a white superhero.
“Distasteful? BAP, they were merely sticking to the way the story was written originally!” Oh right, I forgot about how they always do that, and about how Hollywood filmmakers never touted their creative “post racial colorblind progressiveness” by whitewashing a role deemed too good for “colored folks”.
There was a possibility that Dopinder’s trope role was the subconscious expression by a writer indoctrinated in a culture of racist depictions. The likelihood of that possibility, however, quickly decreased as I read on.
Dopinder is a good example of the way Hollywood portrays Indian men as beta males and white men as alpha males. Dopinder is happy with Deadpool stiffing him. Dopinder is unable to get the girl he wants. He has has to resort to kidnapping his competition like a terrorist. Dopinder is incompetent, getting into an accident, killing his cousin, and getting caught. Dopinder is a failure. Dopinder is weak. Dopinder is beta.
Even his made-up name, Dopinder, is a derivative of dope as in doofus or loser. These racist insults are staring at you right in the face.
What’s interesting to us at Kulture is that in the original leaked screenplay from 2010, they originally had Deadpool helping Dopinder with his predicament. Deadpool was originally going to kill Dopinder’s cousin for him as a favor. Instead, they opted to make Dopinder a bad guy by kidnapping his cousin for his own selfish desires and showing his incompetence by allowing his character to fail.
Sigh. Even when (non-Asian) Americans notice racist portrayals like this and even when they are made aware of its negative impact on people like me, their subconscious seems to put yet another racist subconscious belief into play, resulting in tacit endorsement of America’s defacto racial caste system. It’s the view of Asians as outsiders, not “real” Americans.
It’s not that Americans are bad people. We aren’t. Americans tend to stand up and defend their neighbors. I know this because I do stand up and defend my neighbors. The problem is that when you see me walking down the street, “neighbor” isn’t the first thing that enters your mind.