I haven’t read the comics. I recently watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which I enjoyed despite the racism.
Scott Pilgrim’s world is one where white is not a race, it is the abscence of race:
- Knives Chau is Scott’s “Chinese girlfriend”, but Ramona Flowers is not Scott’s “new white girlfriend”, she’s just his girlfriend.
- Matthew (evil ex #1) doesn’t just happen to look Indian, he has to do a (effeminate) Bollywood dance. And of course Asian guys can’t be sex symbols, so he never got to 1st base with Ramona.
- The Katayanagi twins (evil exs #5 & 6) don’t just happen to be Japanese, they play electronic music on superior consumer electronics and send their Asian dragons (or robots in the comics) to attack across the sea [of people].
Knives Chau embodies a number of Asian woman stereotypes:
- To Internet geeks in particular, Asian girls are innocent and passive, waiting to be conquered.
- Asian people cannot have an alternative look, they are all clones (the Katayanagi twins literally). When Knives dyes her hair, it doesn’t last long.
- Asian characters must always fight with martial arts and Asian weapons.
This is surprising given the diversity of Asian culture presented in manga and implied by video games that Scott Pilgrim pays homage to. Remember, these tropes might not be a big deal if they appeared in a single film, but when they appear in Hollywood movie after Hollywood movie they serve to create a culture of oppression.
I thought the handling of gay characters was much more reasonable, although it’s a shame that Ramona only dated Roxie (evil ex #4) because she liked her cherry chapstick.