Saturday, February 21, 2009

half caucasian guitar hero, you got me beat.

So i was down in PDX visiting my family this past week. after a rousing viewing of Americal Idol Season whatever, my 13yr old cousin challenged me to a game of Guitar Hero II. sure why not? we retreated to the playroom upstairs.  the last time i played GH was like 6 years ago at the nickel arcade. i am a touch rusty. so i ran thru the moderately useful tutorial first. (for those unfamiliar, a song plays, little colored dots representing the notes slide down toward you and you have to hit the button on the 'guitar' as the dot crosses a certain pt.) we battled it out, her on level medium, me on easy.  i got the hang of it just barely and my abilities pretty much just platuaed soon after. a few songs/face-offs of me losing to her later, she comes out with 'so there was this kid on ELLEN,' - oh, good i thought, 'breaking the news' to her won't be that bad, she watches ELLEN, she's hip to the homes. never mind the fact that i look like a 13yr old boy and how the words 'ilxxxx' and 'dating' never occur in the same sentence so coming out to her would probably be more of a formality at this point. but regardless, this is a good start, go on then -  'who was like really good at Guitar Hero, like he could do the highest level without missing anything.' 'oh wow,' i sed. 'yeah, it's so not fair, ASIANS ARE SO GOOD AT EVERYTHING.' oh, wow  i thought. didn't see that one coming. so this is the point in the story where i should have said, 'well, actually, that is what we call a stereotype. and here is why it is not the best thing ever...' but in reality, i said nothing. a whole lot of nothing. i kinda spaced out trying to think of a response and missed like 5 dots in a row, thus ensuring yet another defeat.

in my head i imagine our relationship to be a buddy buddy, older relative/younger relative relationship in which i answer her questions and dispense advice about life, people and the world at large, spoken or otherwise, in a non-judgemental, easy to understand, informative, entertaining way. and to her i am someone who is easy to talk to and trustworthy, admirable, cool. but really, right now, i'm her quiet, awkward, older tomboy of a cousin who has tattoos and lives 200 miles away in Seattle. 

in hindsight, i can easily see that she was making a sweeping generalization about his perceived innate abilities and the color of his skin. and a simple, leading question like, 'well, why do you see that as unfair?' would have opened the doors for a rich discourse on racism and how it's not ok to make fun of gamer nerds. had she been some a-hole dude, or even a peer at a party, i (would like to think that i) would have no problem calling them out on what they said. but having the source of those words be a cute blonde blue eyed blood relative is a little disarming. i couldn't even bring myself to say, 'well, i can name like 5 asians i know right now that are not good at a lot of things.' which is, to be quite honest, the first retort that sprung to mind.

as we continued to play, i kept trying to figure out how to pull the convo back to the subject of ASIAN CHILD PRODIGIES. which is hard enough as is without having a stream of colored dots coming at me in a slightly predictable manner. all i could think of was to ask her if she's read the Joy Luck Club. but when you know the answer is already, 'No'...

so we just played. talked about video games. in the quiet spots of our conversation, i resolved to myself to in fact be that older cool relative who gives sage advice and challenges your ideas of what those billions of people whose descendants look nothing like you are actually like. next time, i will be prepared, have responses lined up, maybe even see it coming. but as of right now, in this very moment, i suck at this game. 

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