We here at the Philebs are fans of seeing our great city featured in app and game form, but The Teachers of Philly, a new iPhone game made by Gamemian Studios gives us a bit of a … different feeling. The game makes teachers into superheroes, fighting back against Mayor Nutter, Arlene Ackerman, and Tom Corbett to save schools and the education system.
That actually sounds kinda fun, but let’s take a look at the cast of characters a bit. On the far left of the picture on the right is Teng, the Asian character in the multi-racial band of superheroes. The problem is, however, that Teng looks like he was drawn by a racist in the 1940s. NOT EVEN A MODERN RACIST, A CRAZY 1940’S RACIST! Let’s break this down. Bowl cut? Check. Glasses? Yup. Slanted eyes? Uh huh. Fu Manchu facial hair? Ugh.
Not suprisingly, actual hero Helen Gym took issue with this, saying on Twitter “Um, what the heck is up with the racist caricature of the Asian Teng?” To this, @teachersphilly, the game’s official Twitter account, said “We are mostly asian.” Ah, rock solid defense. But Gym doesn’t buy it. “The racist caricature of Asian Teng looks straight out of a 1940s clip file. Galling even if creator is Asian.” Game, set, match. Winner: Helen Gym.
But Gym didn’t retire without issuing a final challenge, “Ya couldn’t do w/o the slanty eyes/fu manchu stache? Let’s vote in AsianAm blogosphere. My guess:Teng needs to change fast.” We probably don’t fall under the umbrella term of AsianAm blogosphere, but we want to know what you think anyway. Let us know in the comments.