Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's not funny.

There's a website called Blackout Korea, run by an American expat, that consists solely of photos of drunken Koreans passed out on sidewalks, in the subway, and in other public places, usually accompanied by grinning young Westerners showing how very funny they think the unconscious locals are.

I can only scratch the surface as to how disgusting an idea I think this is. For one thing, the Chosun Ilbo, one of Korea's premier newspapers, has run an article about the site, which can only inflame anti-American feeling; if the site doesn't reek of racism, it certainly is a case of culturalism.

There are a lot of things in Korea that a Westerner can find curious or backward or (in the case of some of the treatment of animals) repulsive. Sleeping in a closed room with a fan on will not kill you and your blood type does not dictate your personality. A Westerner doesn't have to address, say, his sister's husband's younger brother with a different honorific from our sister's husband's older brother.

...and Korea has the highest per capita consumption of hard liquor in the world. Heavy drinking is very much a part of the male-centric culture and sometimes the locals can get very drunk indeed. But I would have hoped we'd outgrown ridiculing the hopeless and the helpless.

I feel the same way about that "People of Walmart" site; I don't think that the fat, the sloppy, and the toothless people there deserve the ridicule of their "betters". It makes me squirm. How far off is it from making fun of the mentally or physically handicapped? It's no wonder so much of America thinks those of us from the coasts are self-satisfied, pompous jerks. That's the kind of thing that keeps people like Sarah Palin in business, stirring up resentment and suspicion.

And I can only feel that Blackout Korea will stir up resentment and suspicion of Westerners here. It's ugly and I don't like it.

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