Being a West Coaster for most of my life, I didn’t even know what White Castle was until I saw the poster for “Harold and Kumar.” After my uncle told me it was a fast-food joint, I was curious as to why Harold and Kumar went. In truth, what initially attracted me to the film was the fact that two Asian Americans, John Cho and Kal Penn, were cast as the leads. Yeah, there was Better Luck Tomorrow, in which Cho also starred, but this movie was bigger and well-funded.
On the surface, the story is the typical stoner epic with gross humor and outrageous events thrown in. Boys get high. Boys get the munchies. Boys go through hell to get the cravings satisfied. However, a twist is added: the boys are Asian American.
In their quest for White Castle sliders, the boys are confronted by the white “extremists,” a group of guys obsessed into making everything “X-treme.” They are the oppressors, the enemy dedicated to foil the heroes’ plans. Yes, their racism is X-treme and X-aggerated, but it serves to point out some of the racist tendancies still inherent in American society. People still laugh at the comedic portrayl of South Asian convienent store owners (*cough*Apu*cough*), but most people do not realize that there are obstacles in the path of immigrants to go beyond the small business owner.
Racism was also personified by the white policement, determined to arrest all minorities. Harold finds himself jailed with an African American, arrested for “DWB” (Driving While Black).
Harold and Kumar, along with all the other racial minorities depicted in the film, finally got their revenge–the X-tremists were exposed to be “posers” that rocked out to Wilson Phillips and arrested for drug possession, the racist police department was dismantled, the white guys at work were caught in their lies, and Harold and Kumar get their sliders.
The movie tried to address serious issues concerning race relations in the United States. The discrimination against racial minorities were magnified to bring out the absurdity of the practice. By joking about racism, the movie showed that you did not have to be white to be American. The freedom to smoke pot and go to fast food joints is available to all, no matter race, creed, or religion; it is the American way.