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Pet Sins December 2001

Walker, Texas Ranger - the marginalization and erasure of Asian and Latino men

Walker, Texas Ranger -- produced and acted by Chuck Norris --is in my opinion, a half-decent cop show. The show sometimes deals fairly sensibly with timely issues like roofie rape and the white supremacist movement. The series takes a politically-correct interest in the problems of people of color and has a permanent Afro-Am character as sidekick.

Nevertheless, I find Walker, Texas Ranger alienating because it is so clearly a white man's perspective. There is an interesting trend in the series: the white male lead does not have any woman of color as main love interest, but in a number of episodes, he steps in as the father figure/protector of a woman of color and her family. The Latino or Asian man who could be his equivalent is never present.

In one episode, he visits a Latina single mother and her daughter and provides emotional support to the family when the daughter is raped. Another time, he protects an Asian single mother and her son from a psychotic Asian martial artist who is bent on killing her son.

A number of times, the series serves up 2-dimensional, stereotypical portrayals of Asians, particularly Asian men. The only Asian men I've seen in the series are:

  • typical nunchaku-swinging crooks who gets knocked over by Chuck Norris in one punch, or
  • compulsive-obsessive martial-artist-warrior-types with that possessed fixation on stereotypical "Eastern honor" that Europeans think they have, or
  • the very young/old who need the white man's protection.

In a culture where power is still perceived in male-dominated, heterosexist terms, the absence/displacement of capable Asian/Latino men silently disempowers people of color, both male and female, as much as if not more than explicit portrayals of racist stereotypes.

Asian martial artist