Saturday, December 02, 2006

Overheard on the train platform this week

Two schoolgirls in nondescript private school uniform. Probably year 11 or 12. Slightly offbeat in a hipster kind of way. Cropped, mussed, dyed and streaked hair, teamed with funky spectacles. They shriek excitedly among themselves.

I tune in to: ‘You’ve got a hot Asian and I don’t! Where’s the justice?’

Tune out again.

Tune in (but don’t look up) as the decibels shoot up again sharply.

‘GUESS WHAT? She’s got a hot Asian and I don’t! That’s so not fair.’

A moment of silence.

Curious, I look up, just in time to see a flicker of something cross the face of their newly arrived companion. (She’s Asian.) One second later, she is laughing with them.

‘She’s got a hot Asian,’ continues the loud one. ‘And you are a hot Asian. What about me?’

The train arrives. Torn between morbid curiosity and the same kind of moral restraint that keeps me from watching Neighbours these days, I decide not to be nosy and choose a seat at the far end of the carriage from the trio.

Still, I can’t help but hear the shrieking continue. It’s mostly muffled, but as we pull up to Footscray station, the decibels rise again. The loud one is squealing about her desperate quest for a Hot Asian to call her own.

The weird thing is, I think these girls are having their own crazy stab at political correctness. Positive discrimination. I’m reasonably sure they mean well. There was no malice whatsoever directed at the ‘hot Asian’ friend. In fact, the show was further dramatised for her benefit.

But I wonder: how does she feel about it? How does the ‘hot Asian’ boy feel?

One of my dearest friends, Indian by birth, has always hated the idea that men might dally with her as an ‘exotic’ experience. I don’t blame her. When we first met, we had a mutual friend who was engaged to an Indian and was subsequently obsessed with Indian culture. The Dear Friend similarly hated the idea that perhaps Mutual Friend saw her as a collectable, a cultural accessory. I’m sure Mutual Friend would have been genuinely horrified at the thought herself. If it was true, it was both subconscious and (inappropriately) well meaning.

But, back to the schoolgirls: I guess teenagers are, on the whole, pretty obsessed with stereotypes. And positive ones are better than the alternative. Hopefully, they’ll grow out of it.

But what do I really know on this? Maybe I’m wrong.


redcap said...

Sigh. (Engage nanna voice) Young people these days.

Ariel said...

Public transport is my main link with 'the youth of today'. Sometimes they surprise you in good ways, too. A couple of weeks ago the four schoolboys behind me talked animatedly (and intelligently) about Macbeth. And they looked like right little larrikins. Obviously exams were looming. But still, they were right into it. I would have been too afraid of seeming uncool back in the day, I think.

redcap said...

Thank God they're still studying Shakespeare, at least.