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Coming on the heels of the Abercrombie and Fitch scandal, the Washington City Paper’s cover last week (“Orient Expressions,” 4/19) was in very poor taste. For those who didn’t get to see it, I’ll fill you in: A yellowish hand held a pair of chopsticks, which in turn held a couple short lengths of film, for which the headline and kicker were “Orient Expressions: Filmfest DC Faces East.”
In referring to a film festival depicting cultures as vastly different as those of South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, the designers at the City Paper thought to collapse all the possible (nonstereotypical) images of East Asia into…yellow skin and chopsticks.
Even if the denizens of those countries weren’t multihued, with methods of lifting food to their mouths that include, but are not limited to, the chopstick, the City Paper’s use of the word “Orient” to describe their cinematic accomplishments would be offensive and racist.
I am sure that those who designed the cover and those who approved it had the best of intentions. Hell, how often do East Asian cultures get mentioned on the cover of anything? But like the fronts of some recent T-shirts, this publicity comes at too high a price.