Friday, December 3, 2010

The Office - racist or revolutionary?

"The Office, Season 7, Episode 10 – “China”
After reading an article about China growing as a global power, Michael decides China must be stopped before they take over the US. Everyone in the office complains about Dwight’s building standards and Pam threatens to move Dunder Mifflin to a new building."

I haven't watched it yet (queueing it up to stream right now, though...), but I'm already half-concerned, and half-hopeful, about the content of this week's Office episode about China.

Nationalistic and xenophobic "Yellow Panic" is just a reality of the times in which we live, where outsourcing and "The East" find themselves the scapegoat for Western concerns both economic and social. So it's natural that a show that has been increasingly explicit in capturing the American zeitgeist (the Glee episode from this season, anyone?) would turn its mockumentarian sights on Sino-American relations.

The Office is usually fairly on-the-mark with their biting look at middle-class middle American ignorance and panicked reactionism. So I'm hopeful that this episode, while probably not winding up in a treacly after-school-special message of hope and reconciliation, could actually turn out to be a fair treatment of the topic, if not even openly scornful of the ever-worsening tone of American public discourse regarding my country of residence.

Still, I've seen enough of how Asia has been treated in American media to be concerned. Once bitten, twice shy.

More to come after I've watched the episode.

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