Deadly Viper: Kung Fu, Asian Stereotypes, & Racial ReconciliationPosted: November 4, 2009
Not sure if you’ve seen some of the dialogue happening around this issue, but here’s a quick summary of what the whole ruckus is about.
Zondervan Publishing and the authors Mike Foster & Jud White have a book out, since 2007, called, “Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung-Fu Survival Guide for Life & Leadership”. It’s essentially a book on character building and integrity keeping for Christian leaders, which no one doubts the contents of. But what’s caused a stir is their marketing and apparent exploitation of Asian stereotypes.
Brought to the forefront by Dr. Soong Chan Rah (North Park Theological Seminary), the issue surrounding Deadly Viper’s misuse of Asian stereotypes is alarming. Catch up with the conversation by reading this interaction between Dr. Rah and one of the authors of the book, this open letter to Zondervan & the authors, and this response by Mike & Jud.
I just thought I’d share a few quick thoughts on all this.
some caveats: I don’t know Mike or Jud personally, so please don’t take my remarks as lambasting them and their character. I realize Mike & Jud’s marketing of the book was all in good intention and I scarcely see how they were being racist or are racist. I also recognize that Mike & Jud are brothers in Christ, who share a passion to develop godly Christian leaders.
My surprise with this whole issue is the seeming unawareness of both the authors, Zondervan, and many of the book’s readership. How could anyone overlook the blatant racially charged stereotype of Asians for nearly 2 years since publishing the book? How did it get overlooked for so long? Did it have to take an Asian to point out the obvious flaws? Are we so blind to issues of racial stereotyping? I thought not, but this makes me rethink. I mean, do we really need “Kung-Fu Fighting” as intro music (click on Deadly Viper at Catalyst) to anything remotely Asian? Do we need images like this one to promote a Christian leadership book?
Do we really need random Kanji characters to authenticate our Kung-Fu theme? Don’t we realize that Kanji is a Japanese use of Chinese characters and that Kung-Fu is a Chinese martial art? I wonder how different this would all be if it was a book on character with pictures and themes depicting Native-American Stereotypes, or maybe more poignantly, African-American stereotypes?
It all just confuses me and mostly saddens me. I thought the people of God, the multi-ethnic multitude, were to love and encourage one another, not exploit and sell each other out. It saddens me that in 2009, we deal with issues like this, where there was no obvious malicious intent, but still a lack of awareness of different cultures and peoples. I know we’re all works in progress, especially me, but I hope that we can all work toward a respectful unity that exemplifies the Body of Christ and its beauty in diversity.