Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom next to the comedy sketch on SVT.
Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom next to the comedy sketch on SVT. Photo: Private/SVT.

Asian stereotypes offend - Lisa Sjöblom speaks out

"This is all I get - racist caricatures".
9:09 min

Lisa Sjöblom, graphic designer and illustrator, co-authored an opinion piece in reaction to Swedish Television airing a sketch from 1995. In the sketch, two Koreans adopt a Swedish boy, and fulfill many offensive stereotypes about Asians. We spoke to Lisa about her opinions on the sketch.

SVT has expressed sadness over the fact that many are offended by the sketch, but has since defended its airing, claiming that the humor is so abstract and absurd it cannot be seen as racist.

Lisa Sjöblom does not see it this way, and finds such depictions of Asians as highly problematic.

"Many of us who are Asians in Sweden are actually adopted. We grow up in white cultures with white families and we tend to have white friends and very much identify as Swedes.

I think that the case with me and Tobias, who co-authored the opinion piece, is that we've been looking at these issues for some time and identify ourselves as Asians. I think that is a first step to even realise that this humour is directly connected to us. But  a lot of adoptees tend to see themselves as white, and to criticise these things is sort of turning you into an Asian person and that could be quite sensitive for an adoptee.

When we talk about racism against Asians who aren't adopted - they have their own cultures and other images that show positive or varied representation, whereas with adoptees this is all we get.

It's not like I consume any kind of Korean culture just because I was born there - I am very much a Swede. This is all I get in Swedish Television, and I would say in Western culture in general. Mainly, just racist caricatures of myself. I don't have anywhere else to go where I can get positive images and positive role models. One has to understand that the problem with these sketches is that it represents a broader issue - we need positive images of ourselves. When this is all we get these sketches become deeply problematic."

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