The Boys Season 2 has released the first three episodes, each one has a scene brutally and inhumanely killing an Asian dude. Is that racist?
This piece will have spoilers from episodes 1-3. So stop reading if you don’t want spoilers. Also, I’m going to throw my answer out early, without build-up, because I want it known that it does not affect my love for the show at all. It is just something I noticed and a circumstantial part of a systemic issue. Is The Boys brutally killing Asian Men in each episode racist?
No, it isn’t racist. *Stormfront killing Kenji is racist and a hate crime; I’m focusing the overall trend I noticed in the first 3 episodes of Season 2.
Looking at those pictures, it’s hard not to think there’s some kind of anti-Asian sentiment. These guys are completely dominated and brutalized in their deaths. Okay, Blindspot may not be dead, but I can’t imagine them letting him live is good for Homelander, The 7, or Vought. The greatest hero horrendously deafens a blind minority? There’s no good PR spin for that. Plus, it’s definitely not healthy for that much blood to come out of anyone’s head.
I will concede that I followed a long thread down that making Blindspot Asian is racist. Here are the steps for that: the stereotype of Asians having small eyes so they have poor vision is taken one step further and just make him blind. Asians do martial arts. They just made an Asian martial artist a superhero and said he was blind. It’s a stretch, and one I’ll cop to overthinking. Also, if it is true, I think it’s funny. One of my best friends growing up got me good by telling me he’d blindfold me with dental floss, and it’s still one of the funniest jokes ever.
But back to the brutalizing and dehumanizing of Asian men. I do not think The Boys creative team did this with any racist intent. If anything it’s a trope. Asian men are constantly fodder, especially heterosexual ones. Western media constantly emasculates and humiliates Asian men in order to glorify their white protagonists. If anything, The Boys didn’t kill these Asian dudes to build up white characters. Blindspot and Kenji die to show how shitty Homelander and Stormfront are and the guy in the second episode is collateral damage from The Female’s backstory.
The only reason this is even noticeable is that Western media lacks good Asian representation. Aisha Tyler and Eric Kripke have a wonderful discussion on the kind of similar topic of fridging. If you don’t know what fridging is, it’s the trope of violently killing women for the story of the male character. Robin was fridged for Huey’s character, and Kripke is fully aware of it. But he rightfully explains it as a trope of the action genre. Men are fridged as well, but nowhere near as much. The narrative device of killing a loved one is not the issue, it’s that there aren’t more female-centered action stories. So it’s painfully obvious when women are fridged.
In the same vein, Asian men being brutalized, emasculated, and dehumanized isn’t the problem. There are plenty of other low level thugs/henchmen/dispensible characters who are violently killed and thrown away. They straight up explode Susan Raynor’s head! The Boys equally kill a bunch of people brutally and indiscriminately. The happenstance of three episodes in a row involving three focused scenes with violent acts against Asian men is just happenstance. The only reason it is noticeable, aside from me being more sensitive to the issue, is that the opposite events happening to Asian male characters in Western media are pretty much non-existent. Since Asians don’t get many opportunities to be onscreen, and most of those opportunities aren’t great, it’s really easy to see and point out when Asians are getting brutalized in a role. It just so happens this time it’s literally happening as well as metaphorically happening.
The Boys focusing on violently killing an Asian dude in each episode of Season 2 so far is not racist. It’s noticeable only because we don’t have enough opportunity and positive presence onscreen, and when we do it is often in the same capacity, though usually, it’s a metaphorical dehumanization rather than an actual visual one.
The first 3 episodes of The Boys Season 2 are available now on Prime Video with a new episode premiering every Friday (or Thursday 9:00pm PT if it was like the first 3 episodes).