Our internal e-mail lists have us discussing all kinds of stuff: Asian American identity, representation in the media, the experiences of activism in an academia setting and its progression as we transition to the working, adult world. And sometimes, we talk about popular essayist and This American Life contributor David Sedaris and a controversial essay about his recent trip to China. Read our thoughts — including my opinion which will probably be not-so-popular with 8asians commenters — after the jump.
Koji: Hmm. I love David Sedaris, but this makes me very sad; I feel like my friend just talked shit about me behind my back.
Ernie: I’m actually not offended. Mostly because I know enough of his writing that he finds pretty much everything annoying and disdainful, and I’ve heard him enough on NPR that, while hilarious and I totally have bought a bunch of his essays, he’s a mousy fancy gay writer who lives in
FranceEngland. Have you heard his voice on This American Life? I’d be more concerned if he loved China.
Tim: I have to agree with Ernie. It’s typical David Sedaris, and he’s like this with every culture, object, etc.
Moye: Okay, phew. I thought I was going to be the only one who still loved Sedaris. He lived in Japan for a year and his essays about that were always hilarious.
Which brings me to the following point: A lot of David Sedaris’ humor is clever and self-deprecating — the essay is less “All Chinese People are disgusting!” and more “Look at the irony; I’m a sheltered gay man from North Carolina, didn’t like Chinese food and now I’m in China! And they spit!” (Let’s face it, you guys: people in mainland China hock loogeys in mid-sentence, enough for the government to notice.) Besides, David Sedaris is funny the way you think comics in The New Yorker are funny — less CollegeHumor LOL and more mid-thirties “oh, that’s clever” chuckle while you book your vacations to a ski lodge in the winter. There are things in the world that have offended me more, but on my “does this offend Ernie” scale, this gets a “meh.”
Or have I been reading too much New Yorker? Discuss in the comments.
(Flickr photo credit: Aaron_M)