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Rachel Udin

Rachel Udin

Castle: Ninja Episode (Season 6, Episode 18) review

I know how highly fictional Castle is. It’s fanciful, especially, as put on Writing Excuses he does almost no writing and puts out a draft most of the time in a few hours after spending most of the year with Beckett.

I’ve watched the majority of the episodes if not all of them to date, so I’m aware that the show puts a lot of effort into being fair to at least PoCs and Women’s rights, though sometimes misses the mark on culture and some of the facts here and there are shady or often fictiionalized wrong. (Also tends to do well on Gay rights when it comes up… though it doesn’t come up often and sometimes puts me on edge.) I’m ignoring the adoption stuff that does come up once in a while because about everyone does it wrong anyway.

However, this particular episode rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed like a loose outsider’s mash up of Japanese culture, which put me on edge.

For example, the Shinto shrine seemed odd. When you are trying to remember parents, etc, you usually place it in your home, not in some abandoned warehouse. The place where Shinto shrines are put are significant to Shintoism. They aren’t put there arbitrarily. They are put there with thought and action. Just like Western Churches and pop up shrines are. I have a feeling it was put into the warehouse to make it “exotic” and “mysterious” and I can’t agree with that. Usually shrines to people are put in places where that person would like to visit. In addition, if memory serves, while some people in Japanese culture do blend between Shintoism, and Buddhism, the home shrine dedicated to people is actually Buddhist, not Shinto. But they mentioned a Shinto god in conjunction with the shrine which is unlikely. Since the majority of shrines dedicated to Shinto gods are not put into a personal space and include things like steps, torii, bells, donation boxes and the like. I disliked the confusion put forward about a peoples and culture. This blending together and stating things as “mysterious” and exotic” rather than really getting into what they are is hurtful. Asians are often, as the episode points out made out to be permanent foreigners. But in pointing that out, it doesn’t make it OK to use the trope. It’s like a backwards apology.

The use of Ninjas was iffy….

And I kinda felt on edge about the fact that it’s yet another show about Asian culture that includes the trifecta. Martial arts, exotic/permanent foreigner, and Yakuza. There is so much more to Japanese culture that could be introduced interesting ways that doesn’t have to rely on the stereotypes. You could even gently introduce new ideas to your viewer. I mean tanuki, the Japanese concept of aliens (Snerk), oni, the ten thousand types of ghosts, demons, and spirits? If done right, it can show things such as Japan not being rife with drugs, gangsters and following only old traditions. You can show what Japan really excels at–the odd conjunction of old and new often next to each other–such as the Shinto shrine I found on top of an Office Building. (And there are explanations for that.)

I DO like the fact they put in jabs like real life Ninjas don’t exist, the tropes found in Ninja movies aren’t the same and just because he’s Asian doesn’t mean he’s Japanese. I would have liked to see Castle be a bigger man and apologize for it… but maybe I’m asking for too much. Even a mention of an apology for being racist… (I know it’s reaching for it when I ask for a role model…)

But it’s one thing to make fun of stereotypes, and then overthrow them, and it’s another to hold up stereotypes and using as permission to be able to use them. The first feels good and can genuinely be funny because it challenges people to think about the world. The second feels like apologizing and then talking behind that person’s back and repeating the behavior.

This isn’t to say that all stereotypes are bad, but when the main theme of the story relies on only stereotypes and uses them for jokes as an excuse to be able to use them, it’s no longer the fault of the character, it’s the fault of the story. And I’m sad to say, then it’s the writer that is at fault, not the character.

BTW, in case you forgot, I did take Japanese language, and a Japanese History course. I’ve been interested in Asian folklore (not just East Asian) since I was little. A mystery is doable within the confounds I stated.

There are People who will tell you failure is the only option

Ignore them. They hate that you are breaking from mediocrity. That you are hoping to get published despite the really bad odds. That you are trying to publish a book that has so little chance of getting published, that you don’t care about money above all things. That you care about matters of the heart over material goods. That you succeeded despite their negative words. That you went above and beyond them.

People like that hate it when they see your heart shine and suceed beyond them. That effort and perseverance is sometimes enough. That the risk is worth the failures on the way to success.

They hate you for all your talents and successes. Because on some level you are happy and they are lost and are not.

Today is one of those days I remember the naysayers, because I am winning an impossible hand yet again.

Or in less elegant words: Suck it.

Because the best revenge is succeeding where they only failed. And they failed because they quit.