Apr 3, 2013

Mistaken Identity - a Rant!

Today I want to address something that has been bothering me for a long while. That is the problem of being mistaken for another performer. In my case, my fellow friend and performer Minx Arcana gets mistaken for me ALL THE TIME. I haven't been mistaken as her mainly because she's a relatively new performer in the scene. She has walked down the street when someone called out, "Calamity! We love your fan dance!" She's sick of being mistaken as me and rightfully so for she has her own identity and style to establish, and our performance styles are not similar. One time she finally replied, "Wrong Asian."

It didn't bother me the first couple of times she told me about these awkward encounters. But it has really gotten on my nerves by the 20th time! Most recently I got a Facebook email that said, "SO-and-so tagged you in a picture" and of course the photographer had tagged ME as Minx who performed at a show I've never ever performed in! On top of that, I found out through others who were present at that particular show, the photographer in question was there the entire show! What an idiot! I'm sorry, but if your job is to look at faces and people for a living, he fucked up or maybe it's just blatant ignorance at the lightest and racism at the darkest.

I don't want to "go there" but all this does feel like there is a racist subtext. "All Asians look alike." Culturally, people don't say all Black people look alike. Or all Hispanics look alike. They DO say that about Asian people. How many times have I heard that growing up? My friend Dyske even made a satirical site years ago called All Look Same, an online aptitude test to test your knowledge of how to tell Asians apart. The site states, "Is there any truth to the stereotype, or is it ignorance? Well, enter the exam room here and find out for yourself. We have eight tests in different categories such as face, art, architecture, and food. Remember: We are not here to make a statement; it's a question. Good luck and enjoy."

I've talked to performers who are not Asian and several redheaded performers said they get mistaken for each other, as do some of the black performers of a certain body type and hair styles. Some friends have calmly theorized that audience members are not necessarily doing a careful character study of performers but rather just taking general impressions when watching us perform. That made sooome sense to me. A certain height. A certain hairstyle and color. Skin tone similarities. Oh, same person!

But nevertheless I am here to say - it pisses me off!

If any performers of an ethnic background out there reading this, please feel free to comment your experience and how YOU deal with these feelings of oversight, ignorance, and sheer stupidity.

1 comment:

  1. I've only stage kittened one show so I haven't experienced it in the burlesque community. However, I have been mistaken for other Asian cosplayers and steampunks. What's worse is when I'm automatically assumed to be dressing as the Asian character when my costume clearly indicates otherwise (it's even happened when I wore blonde wig).