Maybe it’s just the immense joy of the surprise interview, but John Oliver’s conversation with the Dalai Lama last night was one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. They were goddamn delightful. (Although I would still want to have some words with the Lam about that bullshit he said about women a couple of years back. Yes, I get that in addition to being the spiritual and political leader of a group of oppressed people, he is also an 81-year-old man, and therefore might have been raised with some regressive views on gender. That nonsense still doesn’t fly regardless of who you are.) And they managed to lay the groundwork for the greatest buddy-cop series of all time.
That’s right. Oliver and Lama: Demon Brothers.
In fact, everything about the episode was so overwhelmingly entertaining and educational, I don’t think I have anything upon which to perform my usual rage … except.
Listen, I’m not the first person to bring this up, but can we all stop treating Eastern Asian culture as though it’s imbued with some sort of exotic mysticism? Like, yes, they have religions that might be different from our own or from those most familiar to us, but can we not use an entire school of religious teaching as a stand in for “A Dude Who Is Super Chill”? Also, if you’re usually a skeptic and demand rigorous peer-reviewed scientific studies, you can’t tell people you moved the furniture around your apartment because you wanted to improve the flow of qi.
And I get that treating all Asians as if they are advanced spiritual teachers isn’t the worst kind of bigotry or racism, but it is undeniably racism and bigotry. To the point that there is a real political and culture crisis happening in Tibet right now, and most people aren’t interested, because it doesn’t teach us how to enter the astral plane using hand motions. Because the history of Tibet, its occupation by China, and its current political climate is fascinating. Imaging if a western government forcibly took land from the native people, and then refused to grant them autonomy because of the rich resources and strategic position? We would all be shouting about the injustice of the U.S. government endangering the welfare of the local inhabitants just because they needed that area to support the energy needs of- oh fuck.
OK, maybe we still wouldn’t be as interesting as we should be because we’re assholes, but we still need to stop treating all Eastern Asian people as though they’re our own personal conduit for the secret eternal, happy life.