My Thoughts on the HRE Theme
Year of the Dragon

On Stereotypes:

The HRE's 2000 theme and subthemes obviously promote
stereotypes of Asians, thus affecting the Asian-American
community.  Stereotypes can not only be wrong or create
wrong impressions, but they can also project simplistic 
images of entire cultures and peoples.  In every day life,
encounters that reinforce my impression that stereotypes 
run quite rampant are very very annoying.  In the long 
run, the existence of stereotypes can cause various forms
of social oppression and create social barriers between 
peoples of different ethnic backgrounds.

On the Usage of the Theme & Subthemes:

First of all, I would like to point out how very wrong 
it is to use any one aspect of any East Asian culture to 
represent all of East Asia.  Every culture in Asia is 
very different, even if many non-Asians think that 
they must all be quite similar.  

Secondly, the lumping together of Japanese themes 
("tsunami" and "shogun") and Chinese ones 
("China doll" and "fried rice") implies that these 
things represent the same culture.  East Asians have 
always been made to seem homogeneous, which causes 
people to tend to blur the diverse cultures of East Asia.  

On Cultural (Mis)Representation:

Using the least poetic-sounding of common menu 
items (fried rice, happy family) to supposedly promote 
cultural awareness seems like a dire mistake to me.  
I'm quite embarrassed to think that the essence of my 
sister culture is symbolized by a platter of greasy rice, 
vegetables, and chicken.  If the HRE truly cared about 
cultural awareness and all of that, would they not have 
picked subthemes that were more representative of the 
cultures' values?  I'm sorry, but I'm not quite sure 
that fried rice says anything particularly significant 
about Chinese culture, or that tsunamis are considered 
the root of what it means to be Japanese.  Moreover, 
wouldn't the HRE have done more research on East Asian 
cultures if their intentions had truly been so noble?

On "Exotification":

I consider exotification really dumb, because basically, 
it happens when people of one culture notice certain 
external aspects of another people's culture and customs 
that are quite different from their own, and then, blow 
it up to represent the culture itself.  This irritates 
me so much because the dumbest things are always exoticized:  
soy sauce, egg rolls, chopsticks, etc.