In T. C. Boyle’s novel East Is East, the prejudiced artists are the writers at the writers’ colony in Georgia. When Hiro is first mentioned, he is turned into a source of amusement for the artists and people at the colony. Saxby, whose mom runs the colony, compares him to a “Chinese Elmer Fudd.” Irving Thalamus, the Jewish writer, then tries out a stereotypical impression of a Chinese person for laughs. Finally, Bob, a poet, flippantly speculates that Hiro might have been practicing for the Olympics.
The artists’ treatment of Hiro does not cause them to come across as tolerant or progressive. It makes them seem hardhearted, apathetic, and, as the question already notes, prejudiced. It’s like they don’t think of Hiro as a human being in distress but as a joke or a form of entertainment.
Initially, it appears as if Ruth, the short story writer, is not one of the bigoted artists. She lambasts them for joking about somebody who could be drowning. She suggests that they try to get him help. However, as Ruth’s story runs its course, it seems like she also treats Hiro in a demeaning and discriminatory manner. She, too, seems to view him as an object instead of a person. But for Ruth, Hiro is less of an object for laughs and more of an object for sex and to generate another short story.