Along with new lessons and new activities in this year’s English textbooks came new cartoons and animations. They seem generally improved, less 1990’s and more 2000’s, which I appreciate if only because it keeps the kids’ attention a tad longer. But then I started teaching 5th grade Lessons 4 and 5, where a bumbling pair of ginger-headed waygook tourists help demonstrate how to comment on landmarks (“What a tall tower!”) and get directions to said landmarks (“Where is Gyeongbokwuilhswgkhs?”).
Meet the Mr. and Mrs. Waygook.
What strikes you about these folks? I’ll tell you what struck me about them: they are UGLY. I mean, do you see the schnoz on that fool??
If you’re not familiar with last year’s people it might not seem so odd. But having known the previous cartoon foreigners, I am offended because this is a huge change. What is with their noses?!? Geez oh pete. Seriously, could they have drawn them any bigger or misshapen? Perhaps it seems I’m overreacting, but let’s take a look at Mr. and Mrs. Homely standing next to Mrs. Korean and her daughter.
To be fair, Westerners come in many different shapes and sizes, especially our noses. And I guess you could say Koreans have uniformly inoffensive, round, medium-sized noses (if we’re oversimplifying). But still. Why is that the feature they chose to differentiate? Koreans don’t have the same round ball shaped eyes as us (unless they plastic surgeried themselves). And Koreans claim they have way bigger heads/faces than Westerners. So why the noses man?
This obviously isn’t a huge deal, except all of my students noticed it too. When these guys appeared on screen there were titters across the room, followed by a brave few students who cried, “Ugly, teacher! Ugly! Whyyyy?” (Which is not how people react to you in real life. In fact, I bet if you asked any foreign chick in Korea, she’d say she’s been told she’s “beautiful” here more times than in her entire life put together).
Maybe because some Korean artist gets his jollies by uglifying obnoxious waygooks? Or maybe some Western goon was trying to see what would happen if Steve Martin, Hitler and CarrotTop had a cartoon baby? (A gingery monstrosity, that’s what).
I just don’t know children. I don’t know.