The stereotype that Asians are bad drivers. If it is to be believed, Asians simultaneously drive too fast and too slow, supposedly due to their eyes not being wide enough to see all of the road.
In Real Life, this may have something to do with lax traffic laws in Asian countries and the fact that widespread automobile ownership in Asia is a new phenomenon for millions of people whose parents could only dream of driving a car. The result is that many of the defensive driving training and techniques developed and stressed in the West have not yet been as widely adapted in Asia. Finally, probably as a result of the workaholism encouraged by many Asian cultures, they are generally in a hurry. Also, China particularly is very heavily populated, which could lead to traffic jams and accidents.
The stereotype being used on Asians outside of Asia most likely has to do with anti-immigrant prejudices. In the US, it doesn't help that some of the prominent Asian immigrant communities are in California, New York and New Jersey, three states where the populations in general have reputations (backed by GMAC Insurance's annual study, no less) for being terrible drivers regardless of race. This likely means the Asian immigrants are convenient scapegoats for traffic accidents.
In fact, a recent study by 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com actually shows that Asian drivers are statistically safer, better drivers and therefore get lower auto insurance rates.
Compare Women Drivers.
- In the Nicolas Cage film Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), one of the team members is now a driving instructor, and his most hopeless student is an Asian woman. It's plain insulting.
- Hikaru Sulu accidentally leaves the external inertial dampers (aka, the "Parking Brake") on the Enterprise in Star Trek (2009). Luckily, this mistake saves the Enterprise by causing them to arrive late to Vulcan, preventing them from being obliterated like the rest of the fleet by Nero.
- This would be a more impressive example of a stereotype if it weren't for Kirk's ridiculously bad driving in the Star Trek TV Episode "A Piece of the Action," and the fact that Sulu "drives" the ship throughout the series. Why would a starship pilot know how to drive a car?
- The example also seems to poke fun less at Sulu being Asian and more at him being fresh out of school and new to the controls, since he does fine after that.
- Averted in Star Trek V, when Sulu pulls off some ridiculous fancy Coming in Hot maneuver with a shuttlecraft.
- Crash, for all its racial-awareness apparently couldn't resist a terrible Asian driver with an horrible accent to cause said car accident.
- MADtv: initially averted, then subverted in an "Average Asian" skit.
- Of course, the subversion was caused by his Aside Glance caused by the passengers' paranoia.
- The That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch where David Mitchell receives a green clarinet that makes you tell embarrassing truths in verse has him retaliate against a woman who cuts in front of him in the supermarket checkout line by forcing her to confess:
"I secretly harbor racist views, racist views, racist views / I secretly harbor racist views / I don't think Asians drive well."note
- In the "Diversity Day" episode of The Office, everyone is supposed to treat the others as the race named on a card stuck to their forehead. Dwight demands that Pam treat him as his new ethnicity (Asian), so he could figure out what it was.
Pam: Okay, if I have to do this, based on stereotypes that are totally untrue and that I do not agree with, you would maybe... not be a very good driver.Dwight: Aw, man! Am I a woman?
- In the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, Shatner at one point jokes about how brave a program Star Trek was. For God's sake, they let an Asian guynote drive!
- Shatner repeated the gag in the Roast of Charlie Sheen explaining that he understood why Charlie was acting so crazy was because Shatner's generation made it more difficult for Sheen's to do edgy things because they were now passe. He cites his famous kiss with Nichelle Nichols along with "Let the Asian man drive" as examples of edgy things done in his time that are just not so in the new millennium.
- In one episode of Modern Family, Lily's Asian pediatrician complains that her mother expected her to get married and be a mommy instead of having a career. She says "The only way she'll be happy is if I'm some Asian stereotype, but that just isn't me." Then she drives off, hitting Mitchel and Cameron's garbage pail and a car parked across the street.
- In a later episode, Lilly hurts herself when she drives her toy car into the wall. "Please do not blame me, " Cam says. "We always knew there was a strong possibility that she'd be a terrible driver."
- Referenced on the Community episode "Romantic Expressionism". Pierce is among the people wisecracking on a bad movie. He says the director "can't drive" due to being Asian. Senor Chang is present and not amused.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy may have Kai Chen in a high position of power on the Space Colony, but he is not allowed to pilot the Rangers' spaceship.
- Power Rangers Time Force averts this by making Lucas (who at least looks Asian) a racecar driver, albeit from the future. Although, he does seem to end up in traffic school a lot.
- British sketch show Not the Nine O'Clock News parodied what was then a commercial for FIAT cars with Designed By Computer. (shots of car in outline desgn rotating on computer screen) Built by Robots (Shots of cars on assembly line being tooled by long sophisticated robotic arm). But driven by Italians (Shots of rush-hour traffic in Rome and attendant motoring mayhem.)
- Almost at least one shows up per season in the aptly titled Canada's Worst Driver.
- In the pilot for 21 Jump Street, Doug teases that Ioki should not be allowed to drive any nice/expensive car. Ioki responds with "Hey! It's genetic."
- Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani lampoons this along with Middle Eastern stereotypes:
"We're making progress in this country. You know how I know this? I saw a car commercial, and the driver was Asian. Good for that car company. They're taking a stand. They're saying 'No, Asians can drive, and they will drive - our cars.' Then I thought, maybe they're making kind of a racist statement, like, 'Our cars are so safe even Asians can drive them.' But still... I mean, you're never going to see a Middle Eastern pilot in an airline commercial. [putting on accent] 'Come fly the friendly skies... my friend.'"
- Indian-Canadian comic Russell Peters claims that he thinks the media perpetuates stereotypes more subtly in modern times. For example, on the news, if they show a car crash, the first person they cut to for a comment will be, if they can possibly manage it, an Asian person...
- A stand-up comedian once did a bit about a car game called "Guess the Race of the Driver In Front of You" and says that no matter what, you will always guess the same thing every time: Chinese.
- Whenever Asian-American comedian Elliot Chang passes by a car accident, he says "Please don't be Asian, please don't be Asian."
- One Asian comedian poked holes in this stereotype. "You think we can't drive? We make the best cars. You don't think we can drive them?!"
- Carlos Mencia wonders what happens to some of the smartest, hardest-working people in the world behind the wheel (Asians, naturally). He then switches into Asian Speekee Engrish to act out an Asian person being confused by the pedals.
- Eat Your Kimchi frequently refer to the bad driving that they encounter. In the Halloween episode they refer to an approaching vehicle as a "murder car".
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged - After the spaceship crash-lands with Bulma driving, Krillin quips that this is why women shouldn't drive. Bulma retorts that that's rich coming from the Asian.
Gohan: Well, I'm half-Saiyan. What does that make me?Krillin / Bulma: FIVE!
- Apparently, even Asians believe this about themselves. This satirical essay, written by a Chinese person, mocks other Chinese for excessively running red lights and honking horns.
- Drawn Together includes this in a no-holds-barred barrage of Asian stereotypes (against Ling-Ling, the Pikachu-looking monster), all of which are apparently caused by the shape of the eyes. In fact, it's Ling-Ling's failure at the DMV that kick-starts his side of the plot.
- Also, in one episode, a carriage of Disney Princesses crash in a horrific and gory way: it's suggested that it happened because they "let Mulan drive". Subverted when it actually turns out that Captain Hero caused the crash in order to get back at Clara, who'd strung him along despite using him to fulfill her fetish of watching auto crashes.
- One King of the Hill has Hank go to a "Def-ensive Driving" course in search of a driving course without any gimmicks, only to discover that it is a Live At The Apollo-esque stand-up class. The "instructor" states that one of the most heinous mistakes he sees on the road is "DWO: Driving While Oriental".
Kahn: Ooh, cheap shot.
- One gag in Family Guy depicts an Asian woman cutting across to the other side of the highway without signaling, causing many cars to crash into each other.
Woman: How much signal I need to cut across eight lane? None? I turn now. Good luck everybody else!
- "How can Santa be Asian? He doesn't drive around at 20 miles an hour with his left blinker on!"
- The NASCAR in China gag, where the whole field piles up at the drop of the green flag, then all the drivers start arguing with each other about who was at fault.
- In American Dad!, Stan and Roger were dropping Steve at school when a car crashed into them. Roger yells "Watch where you're going, Asian!".