In 2001, a very particular movie was released. This movie was called Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and it tells the story of two young Americans, one native from Korea and the other from India, who go on a quest to White Castle while they have the “munchies” after having smoked some pot. But is there more to this movie than all of its obscenities? I think there definitely is. Indeed, to me, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle makes a definite attempt to subvert cultural stereotypes is definitely present and the movie does a pretty good job in doing so. Firstly, I will support this thesis by displaying how Harold defies the prefabricated image we, occidentals, have of Asian people. Secondly I will do the same but for how Kumar defies the prefabricated image we have of Indian people.
Firstly, when we hear of Asians in general, our occidental society immediately assume we are speaking of this nerdy, work fanatic, disciplined and submitted person. We get a good view of this in the movie when, at its beginning, we see Harold’s work colleagues dumping their extra work on Harold whom, they assume, will execute the task without any problem. Harold impresses them though when he runs into them towards the end of the movie and, visibly offended, starts having a temper tantrum and tells them he will no longer let them walk all over him. Way to tell them Harold! Also, just the fact that he would do small things as smoking pot and having these American fantasies (sex, fast food, drugs, etc.) are also contrary to the image of Asian people we might have made for ourselves.
Secondly, Kumar, on his side, defies our preconceived image of Indian people. These people, whom we immediately assume cannot speak proper English, also appear to us as small, timid, usually reserved people. Kumar is the complete opposite of this description. For starters, if you would close your eyes and listen to him speak for a moment, you would immediately assume he is just another white American young man. His English is deprived of any accent and the expressions he uses in his dialect are just the same as any young US-born person would use. Also, anyone who knows Kumar at least a little could tell you is not a shy person and even less a reserved one. This funny guy has no problem socializing and does not hold his tongue in his pocket. He will speak out his mind without any problem and whenever he feels it is appropriated to do so. A good example of this in the movie is when he and Harold find themselves in a convenience store where this group of redneck, uncivilized and vulgar Americans bullying the Indian store owner. Kumar then gathers up all of his courage and stands up to these aggressors to defend his “Indian companion”.
To conclude, although Harold and Kumar go to White Castle might appear to some as a light humoured movie, and it does at first look, it is also a great eye opener on racial stereotypes and uses caricature and humour to break the bonds between races and their preconceived images. The lifestyle of both Harold and Kumar in this movie is clearly in close association to the very same lifestyle of young American-born people and for all I know, the two main characters are in fact to Caucasian occidentals souls in the body of a foreigner.