What if Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid didn’t have a Japanese Accent?

Mark Lee over at Overthinking It hated Mister Miyagi’s accent in The Karate Kid and the phrase “Wax on, wax off” that got him teased growing up. Really hated it. So much so, that he re-dubbed the famous scene in the movie without the accent. (Compare the dubbed scene above with the original clip from the movie.)

… there was plenty of racism to go around when I grew up [in Birmingham, AL] in the 90’s, and I took my fare share of lumps for being one of the only Asian kids in my middle and high schools. Those lumps came in a variety of forms, including squinting eyebrows to make a “Chinese face,” accusations that my ancestors were kamikaze pilots, and, you guessed it: “Wax on, wax off.” Said in an exaggerated accent, of course. Perhaps in combination with the squinting eyebrows.

I won’t lie — there have been plenty of squinty-eye faces and “ching chong” stuff growing up that have gotten me plenty fucking angry growing up. Mister Miyagi, not so much; if a kid ever did the “Wax on, wax off” did, I would tell the kid politely that I was Chinese, not Japanese. (And then I would tell my grandmother over the weekend and she would go on a tiride of how horrible the Japanese were; but that’s another blog post entirely.) None the less, Mark’s recount of Mister Miyagi, growing up in the deep south and his feelings about Asian-American “otherness” is a must-read for people who are fascinated with how pop culture has effected their own racial identity.

And a footnote: A YouTube comment mentions Miyagi “doesn’t seem as wise” without the accent. Agree? Disagree?

(via Andy Baio)

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About Ernie

I'm the creator of 8 Asians and one of the editors. While I'm a regular blogger to the site as well, think of my role as Barbara Walters on "The View," except without the weird white hair. During the day, I'm a Developer for a major Internet company and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've also been writing in my blog, littleyellowdifferent.com, for seven years.
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