Karate and Kung Fu.
I'm not talking about knowing the intricate movements by eye. I don't expect everyone to be knowledgeable about a Karate kick and a Kung Fu hand slap.
But if I tell you, "My kid is studying Karate," I do expect that 99 percent of you to suddenly visualize Japan, Japanese, sushi, Mr. Miyagi. OTOH, if I say, "My kid is taking up Kung Fu," your brain should instantly connect to images of Chinese, China, Bruce Lee.
Am I taking for granted that my fellow Americans, even those who aren't totally exposed to international culture, in today's 1001 cable channels, 5000 video games, 1,000,000 Youtube connections, should know that Karate is Japanese and Kung Fu is Chinese?
My offhanded joking comment this last week on one of my social networks was just a wry observation at that moment: "Y'all know there's no Karate in Karate Kid (2), right?" Meaning, I was pointing out something that was obvious to me, funny, too, because I know Hollywood ain't that dumb when they named a movie Karate Kid and set it in China with Kung Fu. Hollywood knew the difference.
A commenter remarked that she couldn't tell the difference and didn't really care because she's all about the emotional connection in the story. To me, there are readers out there who correct every "incorrect" historical detail in a historical romance, expressing horror about the use of champagne flutes in such a such a year, etc. Yet, when I pointed out this--to me, quite big--detail, I was told that it shouldn't matter to me.
It matters to me, just as it offends many people that all Asians--Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese--are lumped together and dismissed as looking "alike." Sure, it's not easy to tell us apart, but these days, most people ask where I'm from originally; they no longer just assume I'm a "Chink" from China. When my friends and I reply, Malaysia, or Singapore, or Thailand, they have an idea about the general locations of those countries.
So, I've been assuming that in the last 25 years, there has been some sort of progress. Am I wrong? Do most of you not know that Karate is Japanese and Kung Fu is Chinese? That it's stupid funny to call a movie Karate Kid when it's set in China with the kid learning Kung Fu?
Again, I'm not talking about knowing the artforms and all their movements. I'm talking about the words themselves.
I wasn't even upset or thinking much about this subject till the online conversation. She didn't know. Okay, I can accept that. But now that I've done my best to help her know, she still didn't care. I don't know whether I can accept that.
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