Monday, August 31, 2009

Expat Culture in Taiwan: The embarrassment of seeing other foreigners on TV

As I say Taiwan wasn’t a multi-racial society – at least not one that included westerners. When a white face popped up on the TV you paid attention.
On this occasion we were at John’s place having a few beers when a couple of large people suddenly arrived on a variety show.
“Jesus, we are strange,” said Josh suddenly feeling awkward, embarrassed at the sight of these white people on a local TV show.
He knew he shouldn’t care, but he had a good job in a Taiwanese company so he found himself watching them to make sure they didn’t enforce too many stereotypes, that they had enough wisdom to show they understood the country they were in, and could fit in. Yes, he also knew he shouldn’t be thinking like this, because he was a minority and minorities should be respected for what they are, encouraged to show their diversity. In the west this PC approach was the prevailing philosophy of the educated of his generation – but in Taiwan it was different: his attitude now was the product of being an immigrant pioneer, and the ambassadorial responsibilities it carried. It was no wonder so many like Eric, brought up in the era of empowered ethnic minorities got so frustrated.
“Yeah, now I know how those in the black community felt, watching a couple of their own on Opportunity Knocks when I was a lad.” said John.
“I knew at the time! I felt with them,” replied Eric who was self-conscious for others as well as himself.
Pierre sat silently. He was actually thinking about the subject; he was thinking he didn’t like being a member of a minority group because it gave you certain obligations, it was much better to be an individual in the majority half because you could fuck up, behave like a dick, and everyone just blamed you and your character, they didn’t try and wrongly blame everyone in your group.

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