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Friday, April 20, 2007

Letter to Washington Post

Yesterday the NY Times had on its front page a juxtaposed picture of Seung-Hui Cho wielding a hammer and a scene from the Korean movie Oldboy. The movie scene depicts the main protagonist holding a hammer. The article purports that it may have found the clue to Mr. Cho's violent rampage. Paul Harill, a faculty at VA Tech, initially alerted the NY Times on the possible similarities.

Today, the Washington Post's film critic Stephen Hunter wrote an article describing the similarity between Mr. Cho's rampage and the movie The Killer by John Woo. I wrote an email to Mr. Hunter.

Mr. Hunter,

At this point, don't you think it is a little premature to speculate what influenced Mr. Cho?

Maybe it's Asian movies, maybe it's American movies, maybe it's violent video games, maybe he came up with the stuff on his own. We don't know, there could be 10,000 possibilities. The only thing we know for sure is that the Columbine murderers (two Caucasians) definitely influenced him.

Yet, I find it odd that people like you, the NY Times and Paul Harrill (the initial tipster to NY Times on Oldboy), somehow deem it so conclusive that you write an article on the correlation between violent Asian movies and Mr. Cho.

Mr. Cho came to this country at age 8 and never went back to Korea even once. Maybe Mr. Cho clung on to Korean traditions, but maybe Mr. Cho was fully Americanized and didn't identify being a Korean national at all. We don't know! And yet what stood out in your mind, the mind of the NY Times and Mr. Harrill is that he is of Korean ancestry and therefore must be influenced by Korean and Asian movies.

Is it too much to ask you and the others to treat Asians and Asian Americans in this country as human beings and Americans first, rather than as Korean, Chinese, Japanese, first? If all facts of this case had been the same, except Mr. Cho is a White or Black person, would Oldboy and The Killer have been the first movies that jump out in your mind?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Cat!! Please let us know if you ever hear back from Mr. Hunter.

-H

Anonymous said...

Yeah, no one refers to the Columbine killers as "two white kids." The fact that Cho is Korean gets mentioned like a gazillion times. The whole thing just reeks of xenophoebia. The human mind is already prone to jumping into conclusions and reconciling events in the simplest terms. To add ethnicity into the equation just makes it easier for Americans to conclude, erroneously, that those Asians are crazy violent murderers. Similar to how Americans promptly decided that Muslims are terrorists on 9/11 - T.

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