Main All Asians Are Alike Discussion

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07:29:51 AM Sep 12th 2013
Page disambiguated per TRS.
05:49:44 PM May 8th 2012
This is a really cool article. I guess I am not the only one who has trouble. However there is a big difference between distinguishing between individuals and distinguishing cultures.

Distinguishing individuals can be rather tricky for me. There are plenty of whites in my family and society so I can tell them apart more easily. The thing I admire most about them is a variety of hair and eye color. However the Beatles are white, and I had a difficult time telling them apart. They all have dark brown mop top hair, so they look alike. I can tell them apart now, but it took lots of practice. My favorite funny part in Help! is when Swami tries to find Ringo, but he confronts Paul and John instead. I am glad the trope page listed it as a subversion, and gave the whole saying. This gets more complicated when other similar looking people get involved. For example, George Harrison not only looks like the other three Beatles, but he also looks like Keith Richards and Spock. his son, Dhani, bears an especially striking resemblince.

I am less familiar with blacks and orientals, so I have a harder time telling individuals apart within each race. I have been living on my college campus for the last few years (except the breaks). I have encountered the races a lot more than before. At first they seemed really cool because they are exotic. I notice that they are new, but I want to do so in a positive way. Later I get used to them. They may look different, but they are still students and faculty, like everybody else. I am even getting better at telling individuals apart. One really cool thing about black people is the variety of skin color. It ranges from a very dark ebony to a lighter brown (by brown, I mean the label for a medium skin tone). Yesterday, I was noticing the differences among oriental guys. Contrary to the steriotype, I don't think they are any less atractive than a guy of a different race.

I have an easier time distinguishing countries. I did go through a Geography phase when I was younger. I had the impresion that there will be similarities among countries in a region. However every country has its own unique culture. Two such countries I am familiar with is China and Japan. They are similar but they have thier own things that make them cool. For example, China is the large contry on the Asian mainland. It has interesting philosophical ideas like Dao, Chi, Yin Yang, five elements, etc. On the other hand, Japan is the little archepeligo of the coast. It has the great and mighty genre of Anime. Of course there are plenty of other details, so philosohy and Anime are just examples.

It does seem ignorant to lump the Asian contries together. One may even mistaken the continant for a whole country. That would be like getting all the Europian contries mixed up. For example, one could have czars in Spain and togas in Sweden. I like to give an analogy for a region most familiar to a white person. Then the ones who confuse Asian contries may better understand how ludicrus it can be. I am from America. It can get really bad if we would have pan pipes and llamas in North America and teepees and totem poles in South America.

Sometimes the stuff I read on the internet has shock value. A major example is the bizare misconceptions people have about animals. The real life tab in this trope page provides some. There is a joke that called Anime "Chinese prnographic cartoons". DEAR GOSH! ANIME IS NOT CHINESE!! It is also really varied. Sure there is hentai, but there are planty of other anime that is cleaner. Some of it is very kid-friendly. There are also references of mistaking Hawaiians and Native Amaricans for Asian. That is going a bit too far for me. That amount of lumping seems a bit Eurocentric to me. There were plenty of Native Amaricans in my hometown, so I am more familiar with them. I can tell the difference between a Oriental person and a Native Amarican person easily. It's obvious for me.
12:48:01 PM May 31st 2012
Well, I get where you're coming from. People seem to do this with whites, believe it or not. When was the last time you heard someone use the term 'white guy'? That is a skin color, not a race; the person could be Dutch, Irish, Nordic, Slavic, German, etc. Believe me, just try telling an Irish or Scottish person that Scots and Irish are the same. You'll get a beer bottle to the face, I guarantee it.

I personally find it harder to distinguish Asiatic people, since they do share similar features (straight dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, etc.). They have some general things in common (ie: writing, which isn't the same, but share some common features that differ greatly from Western/Europic writing), but I can usually tell if a writing is Korean, Chinese, or Japanese*. It's interesting to note that many non-European cultures tend to stereotype 'whites' as being blond, blue-eyed and fair skinned, and usually tall. I suppose this trope (or similar ones) works both ways.
06:15:23 AM Jan 8th 2013
I really think this should be two different tropes... being unable to distinguish ethnicity is pretty different from thinking every Asian person is identical.
07:06:50 AM Jan 8th 2013
edited by Larkmarn
Tried to make a TRS thread... doesn't seem like it's happening any time soon, so I'm going to post this here until there's an opening:

"The trope covers two major things: that someone cannot distinguish one Asian culture from another, and then shoehorned in is the notion that people have issue telling Asian individuals apart from one another.

I really think that should be a separate trope (make All Asians Look Alike its own trope, possibly?). For one, it gets used very differently. The former usually is a case of Did Not Do the Research or They Just Didn't Care (either in-universe or out), whereas in media the latter is always intentional and usually used to make a character seem ignorant.

The trope just seems to cover such wildly disparate things, it makes sense to split them. "
12:35:26 PM Feb 5th 2013
Made a TRS thread, FYI.
11:04:32 AM Apr 20th 2012
For the Dexter examples isn't Japan traditionally Buhddist and Shinto? I generally understand that religion isn't that big a deal in Japan either way but both traditions are equally strong.
10:17:23 PM Nov 16th 2011
edited by CaptainCrawdad
  • "Japanese" steakhouses is actually largely founded by a chain, Benihana. The idea is actually closer to golgi, or Korean style meat. For that matter, sushi is not the indigenous product, of Japan, having come first through Southeast Asia (the anime Hunter Hunter even points this out, as during a cooking challenge, virtually nobody there knows how to make sushi). That Americans are able to make this mistake says a great deal, as does the rise of "Asian fusion" restaurants.

I'm not a chef, but isn't Benihani an example of teppanyaki food? I would imagine that it's not particularly authentic, but every culture adapts foreign cuisine to their local taste. That's not an example of the trope. And originating elsewhere doesn't mean that sushi isn't Japanese. Hot dogs weren't invented in America, but they're classic American food. That's not an example of the trope either.
01:04:32 PM Aug 27th 2011
I don't like the tone of this page. It complains about people generalising Asian cultures and people, but it does exactly the same by speaking of 'the west' like it's a single homogenic culture. I have been to Italy, and the culture over there was so different from what I'm used to in the Netherlands that it made me feel uneasy (just an example). I don't think it's OK to throw my culture on the same heap as theirs. This whole talk about 'western culture' is based on a misconception or a very broad and wrong generalisation. I feel very sorry for complaining like this, but the way the term 'western' is thrown around on this site makes me feel some editors don't know what they write about.
12:24:43 PM Aug 5th 2011
edited by piearty
I'll put it here to avoid natter but...
  • "For the 2011 Green Hornet movie, The Internet Movie Database at one point listed Korean-American John Cho as Kato, when in fact the role was played by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou. About 500 subsequent movie reviews have also committed the same error.
    • Cho himself joked on Twitter: "I am beginning to suspect that I am not in the Green Hornet movie."
      • To be fair, the two guys really do look similar.

        -Intense Facepalm-
01:33:14 PM Sep 8th 2011
They do resemble one another somewhat, but Chou has much more delicate features and a different cast to his skin. Meh.
06:02:36 AM Mar 11th 2011
edited by AKK
I'm trying to figure out what trope the below belongs under.

Benny Hill(British Comedian) Former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Dr Tony Tan(Southeast Asian Chinese) look very much alike. (Do separate image searches for "Dr Tony Tan" and "Benny Hill Chinese") I had pictures here, but wasn't allowed to hotlink images.
05:47:28 PM Mar 28th 2011
06:11:24 AM Dec 12th 2010
In the real life section it says that the inversion is justified when you can't tell the difference between, say, French and German, but immediately afterwords someone rants about people not being able to tell the difference between Japanese and Korean. Unfortunate Implications much? There are plenty of differences between the various Caucasian ethnicities, and suggesting it is okay to lump them all together but not Asians is bizarre. Admittedly, those two points were probably made by different editors.
04:52:51 AM Jun 3rd 2011
Yeah, and if we're to be sensitive to it due to the history those Asian races have had with conflict amongst each other, well, its not like we Caucasians haven't had our long standing enmities and conflicts among our various races.

And yet today, I'll admit I can't really identify even those races on sight (without very obvious cultural markings anyway). So its not like we're specifically singling out the asians here.

I can tell you at least where I live, we don't see many asians outside of television and, well, since television is guilty of this trope, I can't be expected to know the differences can I? Its not exactly useful information in my daily life. Among the asians I do know, we don't talk about race much.

In fact, that brings me to another point, aren't we supposed to be striving to be a color blind society? I'll grant you, lumping all asians together isn't right, but it actually seems like its closer to being right for our society than if we were going to single them out, focusing on grouping them based on superficial visual differences.

If originators of this article are trying to argue that we should be able to tell the cultures apart, well I'd be more in agreement with that. But the asians we see over here and quite often in media (Sulu for example) are often shown to be the same culture as the other characters. Culture is the more important distinction to make since culture is made of ideas and choices.
01:07:25 PM Aug 12th 2011
First, you're mixing "race" with "ethnicity". "Asian" and "Caucasian" are classified as racial groups. "Chinese", "German", etc. are classified as ethnicities.

Second, no, we're not supposed to be striving to be a color blind society. Two reasons: First, ethnicity/culture gives that group an identity that is important to the majority of them in determining who they are. "Color-blindedness" takes away that identity. Second, although it would be very much ideal that we don't judge people by skin color, it still is very much a part of our society. Just take a look at the racial tropes and see how common they still are. The idea of "color-blindedness" doesn't eliminate these tropes, it just eliminates the ability to notice them and draw attention to it.

Finally, it is true that Caucasians all come from different backgrounds as much as Asians have. However, for the majority of Caucasians, these distinctions were lost generations ago and have taken on its own culture, which can be somewhat classified as "American". Take, for example, a German immigrant who recently came to the United States. Most likely, they will not be lumped together as "European" but instead, they will be correctly classified as "German".
12:04:35 AM Dec 16th 2011
German is not an ethnicity, it's a nationality
09:53:51 AM Jan 6th 2012
It is also an ethnicity, to the extent that they founded a country based on it and ethnic Germans (even those whose families had lived there for centuries) were expelled from most of Eastern Europe after WWII). Although speaking in terms of long-range heritage, the French are mostly German and the English largely so, though all three have Nordic and Celtic elements as well, in differing portions. The waves of invasion rolled ever West for a very long time.

Similarly, Koreans and Japanese are largely descended from the Han, and Taiwanese (apart from Taiwanese natives, who are in pretty much the same position as American natives or the Ainu) are still ethnically Han; there is quite often no way of telling phenotypically, though there are features that increase the probability one or another case is true. On the other hand, there do exist Chinese nationals who are not Han, though they are in the distinct minority.

Korea is Japan's nearest neighbor and ethnically and linguistically closest relative. They have a long history consisting mostly of reasons to hate one another. It is both understandable that they resent confusion and inevitable that it is going to happen. Until a person has the data to work with, they can't distinguish these things, and most Americans don't get the material to tell written Korean from written Chinese, let alone Chinese from Japanese or any of them spoken.

Also, I thought this trope referred less to national categories than to black and white people literally not being able to tell which Asian individual is which. As someone with moderate prosopagnosia, I have problems distinguishing everyone from everyone until I've known them a while, but it is a little more acute in a group of Asians than of Causasians since the big, obvious things I can actually process, like hair color, are more likely to be similar.
11:39:10 AM Sep 8th 2010
This article needs a rewrite to smooth it out. Right now it seems like a bunch of people's comments lashed together into an article. The rant portion on India in general seems very out of place (although if you want to get super technical about it Indians would be Caucasian owing to the Indo-Aryan migrations).
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