teen wolf. season 3b. orientialism and the yellow peril
July 4, 2014
soooo. when i saw that season 3b of teen wolf was intended to be largely stiles-focused i pretty much decided to give it a pass. so much of a pass that i haven”t even been reading any fic because i literally hate stiles this much, at the moment. i hate him.
what i also hate?
is that a supernatural show decides to include some East Asian mythology (yes, in the show they use the Japanese variations of the fox myths, which started in China). they do this… and they have all the (mostly) white characters being threatened by Japanese spirit warriors/demons called Oni, who are in turn controlled by a fox demon… or something. through the journey they get to visit many mystical Asians who guide them on their way. Yay! Or something.
sooo i would hope that the orientalism of all of this is pretty apparent. like, yeah, obviously no one expects a white created/written werewolf show to have accurate and authentic Japanese lore. heck, they play pretty fast and loose with all mythology. ok. ok.
but the problem is, is that these are the first Asian characters we are seeing on the show. and. of course. they are demons. and. of course. they are also threatening the show”s maiden, stiles.1
mainly because idk why white ppl seem to fucking love the fox myths of East Asia. but. ur pretty much fucking guaranteed that if there is going to be East Asian supernatural something in a white produced show, it”ll be foxes. always with the foxes….
but what about the yellow peril????
well. beyond the obvious notion that Japanese ppl and their spirits have literally invaced a white town to threaten its denizens, part of this comes from the fact that it isn”t just Japanese ‘people” who are threatening beacon hills.
but the fact that it is actually Japanese fox spirits…
one fairly common literary interpretation of the origin of the fox myth in China (where Japan also gets it from) is that fox myths represent Chinese fears and anxieties about barbarians (which were all the bordering non-Chinese peoples). this is a fairly common literary interpretation because, well, the Chinese character for barbarian is pronounced ‘hu”. And the Chinese character for fox is also pronounced ‘hu”.
and when you read the fox stories in various parts of Chinese history2, you can see this anxiety played out in the ways that the stories happen. the problem with foxes, is that they were always taking the forms/shapes of (mostly) women, infiltrating communities, and often trying steal the ‘essence” of men so that they could become truly human3.
do u see? do u see where this interpretation that fox myths represent xenophobia about these non-humans (barbarians) infiltrating your community and stealing your essence (culture) to become real humans???
soooo… when we take this to beacon hills. where being Asian in a white town that has a nasty habit of murdering its poc. but being Asians are fox spirits (non-humans pretending to be human) where one of them (yes the ‘bad” one vs. the ‘good” ones) has literally invaded the body of the village maiden and everything is chaos and misery.
yellow. fucking. peril.
because even this distinction bw the ‘good” fox spirits and the ‘bad” one, maintains this understanding that to be a ‘good” non-human in the human town means being invisible, unseen and unheard. this is how one is a ‘good” Asian American in a white supremacist settler state that fundamentally requires (esp. since we are talking about Asian women) that Asians be docile and submissive to whiteness, in order to be the acceptable kind.
anywya. not even sure where i”m going with this anymore.
but fuck teen wolf is always such a clusterfuck of white supremacist fail. and pushing aside the character of colour hero (scott) to have this little side trip to remind Asians that, yes, we a eternal foreigners (and not really quite humans), that we should remember our places, else we will be killed off.