During this time, I laughed, I drooled (in a good way), and I even threw up in my mouth a little bit at some of the swill that I was forced to sit through. But I made it through the fire and in the process learned two very important things: 1) the American mainstream media is a joke, and 2) for many "real" Americans, Rain is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma, and I don't think they can handle him.
At least not yet.
Yes, they can handle Rain's music (they've come to quite enjoy "black" music I've been told), they can handle his off-the-hook dancing (Justin Timberlake makes it okay), and they can most certainly handle his good looks and drool-worthy body (they're ignorant, not stupid). But judging by the foolishness that was on display when he was here promoting his movie Ninja Assassin, I'm not sure that white America is ready for an Asian man that doesn't apologize for being...well...Asian. And not only Asian, but Asian and foreign. (Dun dun dunnn!)
For their part, interviewers don't seem to know quite how to take him nor how to act around him. They ask him stupid questions, talk to him like a five-year-old, or make inane comparisons that have absolutely nothing to do with anything relevant. (Why, for instance, ask about Justin Timberlake during a Ninja Assassin interview?)
But Rain don't play that. He doesn't seem the least bit fazed by their bullshit and even manages to take it a step further by blatantly not giving two damns about them or their privilege and oh so subtly letting them know it. (And if you really pay attention, you'll notice that his English can get a tad bit spotty sometimes. Hmmm...wonder why that is?)
punked the Imperial Stormtroopers in Star Wars. POC may not know it, but the Force is strong in us. We have an uncanny ability to flawlessly play “the game” to our advantage, and we’ve become virtual Jedi Masters at making white people believe that we care what they think when we really, really don’t. The POC version of the Jedi mind trick if you will.
But I digress.
During my research*, it became glaringly apparent that some white folks have absolutely no idea how to quantify an Asian man who has massive amounts of swagger and sings and talks with such a deep, soulful voice that a woman’s clothes melt clean off her body. "But how can that be?" they ask themselves in amazement. "He's Asian! And foreign!" (Dun dun dunnn!) Or in other words, he's not the geeky, brainy, asexual, effeminate, fill-in-the-blank Asian stereotype that they've been told he should be.
In all of their high-minded privilege, these people seem to forget that this particular Asian man didn’t grow up in a country that treats him like a second-class citizen. They brush aside the fact that in Korea, he’s the majority, and therefore, doesn’t see white as an automatic default. To their neverending chagrin, this Asian man ain't bowing and scraping, shuckin’ and jivin’, skinnin’ and grinnin', or all around coonin' like a proper POC is supposed to do.
So what to do with him then? Read up on Korea to learn what his culture is all about? Understand that there are cultural differences that will inevitably pop up every now and again and react accordingly? Acknowledge that English is one of the hardest languages on the planet to learn, yet he's done an excellent job of it so far? And all while maintaining an extremely successful music and acting career?
Instead of opening their minds and, you know, actually trying to learn something new, their quick and easy answer is to play “cut and paste” with his personality in order to make themselves feel more comfortable. They throw around tired code words like “cocky” and “arrogant” (read: that uppity Asian man) to mask their racism and gleefully mock his accented English in blatant, unashamed displays of xenophobia. ("Fresh Ramen" instead of "Fresh Woman." Hardy har har...)
See, I've come to the conclusion that Rain doesn’t just want to take America by storm...he wants to conquer this shit. And they know it. He might not say it out loud, but come on...you know that’s what he wants to do.
And you also know that the white establishment ain’t trying to have that. So instead of Rain, we get the two Justins.
*cookies, research - please see the Addictionary