[LNH] The geo-politics of LNH Asia (was Re: REVIEWS: The Phippsian Reader)

phippsmartin at hotmail.com phippsmartin at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 6 11:35:05 PDT 2005

Jamas Enright wrote:
> On 15 May 2005 phippsmartin at hotmail.com wrote:
> > Jamas Enright wrote:

> > > (And yes, it is good to see that Martin is doing LNH Asia...)
> >
> > Which only goes to prove that you write what you know. :I
> Hmm...you're writing about events 20-odd years in the future...what DO you
> know...?

Well, I just realised something, something a bit bizarre.

When Asians (or at least Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and
Thais) say "foreigner" (actually "gaijin", "waigukjin", "weiren",
"foreigner" and "farang", respectively) they are actually talking about
Westerners and not each other.  How do I know this?

 * Most Westerners going to Japan assume that "gaijin" means
"Westerner" because that is what the term is used to mean even though
it literally means "outside person", ie foreigner.

 * Young children point to Westerners and say "gaijin" or "waigukjin"
(or "migukjin" if they assume the foreigner to be American).  They
don't do this when they see other Asians.

 * Chinese people IN NORTH AMERICA refer to white people as "weiren"
even though they are the ones who are foreigners.  I know this is a
generalisation but it shows how closely they come to assosiate the word
"weiren" to mean "white person".

 * My wife refers to white people as foreigners whether we are in the
Philippines or visiting Korea or Taiwan.  I point out to her that she
is not in her home country and so she is also a foreigner and she

 * My exposure to Thai culture is very limited but, in the context in
which I've been exposed to it at least, the word "farang" is used to
refer to Westerners.

Mind you, are Americans any different?  Do Americans consider
Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders to be "foreigners"?  I
remember one time during NBC's _Battle of the Network Stars_ (which was
a game show featuring NBC celebrities) they had Erik Estrada on the
"National Team" and William Shatner on the "International Team".  One
of the celebrities (I forgot who) asked for (jokingly?) the rationale
for this to which Erik Estrada (politely) reminded the dufus in
question that Puerto Rico was part of the United States but Canada
wasn't.  It would appear that Americans, by default, think "foreigner"
to mean "non-white person" and, by extension, "non-English speaking
person".  Of course, this might be changing with North American (if not
American) demographics slowly changing, as a result of immigration
patterns, to resemble those of the rest of the world.  For now though,
the American use of "foreigner" is not so different from the Asian use
of the word, in that some people are considered less foreign than

(Of course, Jamas, you may want to insist that Americans refer to you
as a "foreigner" because you are not American but they would probably
consider it a compliment.)

My point?  It seems that Asians, as much as they may still hate each
other following the second world war, are already thinking of
themselves as countrymen, of a sort.  Recently my wife asked me "When
are we going to visit the other country?" to which I replied "Huh?
We've been to Korea and Taiwan altready" but, no, she meant Canada or
the US or Europe.  Well, she'll have to settle for Hong Kong.  And, of
course, Europeans are probably the same way: the British may have one
time thought of a trip to Spain as travelling "overseas" but now they
can just drive there.  And yet they still manage to continue to hate
both the French and the Germans.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, here in Asia we have HBO Asia, CNN Asia, MTV Asia, ESPN
Asia, Cinemax, Star World, Star Sports, Star Movies, all broadcast from
Singapore and Hong Kong, in English of course with local subtitles.
Cable TV, of course, not only promotes Asian unity but also American
culture and the English language.  It is in the best interests of
AOL-Time-Warner, Viacom and Newscorp that Asians get along at least to
the extent that they are willing to accept something prepared for the
generic "Asian market".  Meanwhile, Asians are consuming each other's
entertainment: Hong Kong movies, Korean soap operas, Japanese cartoons,
etc. etc. etc.

So, in the future, we have LNH America, LNH Europe and LNH Asia, each
with their own distinct identities, representing not only the regions
within which they operate but the people who live there.  I've tried my
best to make LNH Europe and LNH Asia distinct from LNH America.  (It
helped that LNH Europe was a pre-existing team, of course.)  I think it
was the lack of distinctiveness that made Justice League Europe such of
a joke: the Justice League is an American team and sending six of their
members to Europe didn't strike me -or most readers I imagine- as very
authentic.  At best it was unrepresentative and at worst it was
imperialistic.  Part of the appeal of the New X-Men was that they were
mostly non-American, thereby making the theme of their being outcasts
that much more tangible and relatable.

Anyway, I am being presumptuous: LNH Asia isn't deep and meaningful...
but it is based on everyday experiences.  Such as for example, a few
days ago I felt the bed move and it wasn't Imelda: it was an
earthquake.  And when this happens you're wondering how far away the
epicenter was and how strong it was at the epicenter and if the place
is still standing.  That's a feeling I know pretty well now.


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