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Portrayal of Japanese on kids' TV shows


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My kids just tuned into an iCarly episode with the following plot: Cast goes to Japan, gets tricked by Japanese folks with bad accents.

Hadn't seen this episode before, but the plot sounded really familiar. Ant Farm and Suite Life on Deck had almost identical plots - cast goes to Japan, gets tricked by some devious Japanese characters.

What's up with the really nasty ethnic stereotyping here?

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This surprises me. In the shows I watch and that my children watch, the Japanese are always stereotyped as smarter and more technically capable than the rest of us. (All my kids would name Grant Imahara from Mythbusters if you asked them about "typical Japanese".) My European-Australian niece who works in IT gets really offended by this stereotype but my Chinese-Australian niece thinks it's brilliant because she gets mistaken for Japanese and therefore, as capable, regularly.

Edited to add: Just asked Mr16 what he thought of the Japanese. He named the creator of Nintendo as the most famous/successful and said that the Japanese are really nice, gentle people who are awesome at computers.

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My kids just tuned into an iCarly episode with the following plot: Cast goes to Japan, gets tricked by Japanese folks with bad accents.

Hadn't seen this episode before, but the plot sounded really familiar. Ant Farm and Suite Life on Deck had almost identical plots - cast goes to Japan, gets tricked by some devious Japanese characters.

What's up with the really nasty ethnic stereotyping here?

I haven't seen those particular shows, but I think that's always been a common plot line in kids sitcoms, not with Japanese people in particular, but in any episode where the cast goes on an away trip. Cast goes to x city/ region/ country, people in x somehow trick cast members, improbable mystery/ adventure follows.

Seems to usually happen when shows have been on a little too long. Maybe Japan's the current choice so the cast can also do personal appearances, if the show is popular there? Don't know, just a guess.

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Boy R&M used to watch icarly pretty religiously, and I actually caught that particular episode with him. From my perspective, it didn't seem like it was Japanese people in general that were being portrayed in a negative light, it was one particular group of kids that were competing against icarly for an award for most popular web television show. These kids really wanted to win, and resorted to unscrupulous tactics to make sure Carly, Sam and Freddie didn't even make it to the show so their webcast would win by default.

Personally, I found the story to be funny and engaging, and it just seemed like that particular group of kids was depicted as behaving badly, and was not meant to be a reflection of the culture in general.

I'm also familiar with Ant Farm and Suite Life on Deck, but have not seen those particular similarly-themed episodes. I agree that it does seem kind of strange that different kid shows are revisiting the same country and clashing-of-the-cultures issues in their story arcs, especially since they're on different networks. Ant Farm and Suite Life are on Disney, and iCarly is on Nickelodeon. Maybe they had higher ratings than usual and there was a copycat effect?

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