American Girl’s Hawaiian doll is a Caucasian

Hawaiian my assWhen last we checked in with American Girl™®© they were selling a doll which they described as homeless for a mere $95. But that’s so 2009. They are kicking off this year with their 2011 Girl Of The Year®, Kanani Akina™ who “loves welcoming visitors to her Hawaiian home.” No big deal if it weren’t for the fact that Kanani has dark blonde hair, brown eyes and a skin color that suggests a health-minded approach to tanning. In other words, she doesn’t look in the least bit like actual native Hawaiians who usually have black hair, black eyes and a darker skin color. It is especially odd that American Girl™®© decided to call American Surfer Girl Hawaiian at a time when The World’s Most Famous Hawaiian (and Leader of The Free World™®©) is known for his surfeit of melanin.

lilo2In Hawaiian Kanani means"the beautiful one." Apparently the beautiful one in Hawaii is Haole. While her last name, Akina, may sound Hawaiian it is actually Japanese (another group known primarily for black hair and eyes and a distinctly non-Caucasian skin tone). So American Girl™®© just decided to appropriate some ethnic sounding names, put a flower in the doll’s hair and call it Hawaiian. Aznuts, as the Hawaiians say. Hell, even Disney – which has a very long history of messing up on ethnic issues — was able to do this right.

wolf13This doll was brought to my attention by my wife, Jennifer — aka “Mrs. CollateralDamage” aka “Broke Hoedown” aka “One of Those Darn Cats” – who has spent quite a bit of time in Hawaii and so was totally flabbergasted when she came across it that her eyes did that Tex Avery thing. For that, at least, I can say, “Well done, American Girl™®©!”

BTW, Soong-Chan Rah has a wonderful tale of a parent and child dealing with American Girl’s issues around ethnicity. Highly recommended.

Ninjas — not pirates — sent to fight tourism slump

ninjas-kill-peopleNine ninjas have been sent to Honolulu to lure visitors from Japan. No, I am not making this up. The stealthy killers were hired by Hawaii Tourism Japan and come from Iga City, a castle town in Japan which apparently specializes in all things related to the ninja art.

Officials said it was the first time the ninja group has come to Hawai’i to promote a historically accurate depiction of a Japanese art popular in Hawai’i and worldwide. The tourism authorities emphasize that this ninja group is faithful to the ancient traditions. The black-clad specialists show off skills in swordplay, sickle work, juggling, throwing stars and even “piercing objects with flying chopsticks.”

Who knew that “piercing objects with flying chopsticks” was part of the ninjitsu tradition? Equally obscure is why Japanese would be lured to Hawaii by the chance to see something developed and practiced in their backyard. Would people from Illinois come to Hawaii for the chance to see one of their corrupt (redundant?) politicians take a bribe?

Related — and true — story: Friend of mine got a call from kindergarten her daughter was attending. Seems the teachers were concerned because the little girl kept insisting her father was a ninja. When told this issue of lying was a problem the friend replied with complete accuracy, “Her father teaches ninjitsu — what would  you call him?”

I would call him “sir” unless told otherwise.

Divorce Hawaiian Style: “Ex-soap opera star freed from jail”

Of the many bright spots about visiting Hawaii — yes that’s where I was — not the least is getting to read the local press. The Maui Times, which covers the island I was on, is generally as devoid of conflict-driven news as any other small-town daily that’s based in paradise. The same cannot be said for the Honolulu Advertiser which covers an actual city with all the attendent fun. So you can imagine how my otherwise drowsy, vacation-filled eyes perked up when I came across the following in the Advertiser:

Hollywood actress Brenda Dickson’s 16-day stay in jail here ended yesterday after two lively court hearings in which Dickson mocked a lawyer with Nazi salutes and told the judge her divorce settlement was “a fraud,” but ultimately swore to abide by the terms of her property settlement.

The 58-year-old Ms. Dickson, who was on The Young and The Restless back in the ’70s but apparently still qualifies as a “star,” several times asked to borrow money from the lawyer of her former husband, an attorney named Jan Wienberg. She also saluted the attorney several times with the words, “Heil Hitler. Third Reich.”

Can’t imagine why he didn’t give her a few dollars.

Here’s an actual connection between this story and last night’s Oscar show which I missed entirely: Ms. D also appeared in Taxi Driver, another movie that Martin Scorsese had not won an Oscar for. She played the part of Soap Opera Woman.