What are Ricers?
The other day, my non R-Hill friend remarked: “Wow, there are a lot of ricers here.” This surprised me, because as a long term citizen of Richmond Hill, I’d assumed these cars were normal. Then I opened my eyes and realized how prevalent the “ricer” phenomenon is, and its implications on our (sub)urban landscape.
According to the internet and personal observation, a “ricer” is a car that’s been fixed to the point of minimal resemblance to its actual factory model. It also refers to the person who owns such a car. Since I don’t know enough to define in my own terms, I’m providing a a visual that
makes fun of illuminates us on what ricers do:
An Asian ricer is called a “rice-boy” and his car is called a “rice-ride.” According to this informative page on Chinese American Stereotypes, a ricer will only date a 105-pound girlfriend – otherwise his already-low car will scrape the road.
In Richmond Hill, ricers/rice-boys can be found at:
- Bubble tea shops, the quintessential hangout: they’re usually floating around Go For Tea, Destiny’s, and more recently Chattime. You can have a field day with “count the ricers” in those jam-packed plazas late into the night.
- Pho. Another staple of young Asians: cheap, trendy, affordable.
- Goodlife/the local gym: Ricers often like to work out, correlating big guns and cars with masculinity. However, this variant of ricer tends to be less “douchy” and more considerate of others around them. They’re often quite helpful should you need a spotter, or help with your form.
- Fast food joints: you will find all the other non-Asians of Richmond Hill here. Ricers, with their love of late-night drive/racing will often be found pulling into McDonald’s at 4AM right before they change over to the breakfast menu.
- And, obviously: race tracks, casinos, and other stereotypical places where ricers may congregate.
If you are unsure what ricers are, you can always watch Fast and Furious.
Dismantling the Ricer
Why are ricers so prevalent in Richmond Hill and the neighbouring Markham? This may have to do with the Asian fascination with technology and cars, particularly Japanese cars. Because of the necessity of a private vehicle in getting yourself around town, Asians see cars as an opportunity to voice their coolness. (I’m sure girl ricers exist too, though probably rarer in number.)
In a more affluent neighbourhood like Richmond Hill, youths would usually go for a higher-end car (a Lexus), their ricer needs sponsored by their parents. They would have bought their cars already with the upgrades, and so do not need to make the tacky changes listed above. I’ve only included them here because, to me, they are also presenting the same image. We see the same traits:
- Creativity: creativity isn’t generally encouraged among Asians, so this is one opportunity for them to shine in a “practical matter” (ie. making their car go faster) even though, ironically, ricer upgrades tend to slow down your car.
- Masculinity: Big exhaust pipes, revving at traffic lights, congregating around the local gym, spikey hair: mostly to iterate their own masculine identity.
- Rap music is full of lyrics like “My wheels be spinnin’ / them Black, them white, and them Asian women” as though the sight of a carbon fibre hood will turn them on. Actually, women are really only interested in three things: 1) The car’s indication of your net income, 2) its colour, 3) its romance potential (if they are into that kind of thing, the texture of the seats, the lighting, the music, the finish has to be just right.)
- Competition: A common sight you’ll see in Richmond Hill is five rice-boys (who probably drove their own cars to the parking lot to show them off) congregating around one girl. Success goes to the guy who gets her into his car for a date/to go home/so forth.
- Note the ricer tendency to drive way too fast, “drift,” and cut you off. Do not retaliate (unless you are a ricer yourself). These racers are not afraid to die in a car crash, unlike you. I’ve learned to see this as a competition of courage or some form of warrior instinct, a tempting of the gods: no need to live fast and die young, really.
- Role Modeling: Inspired by Grand Theft Auto, Fast and Furious, and so forth, they’re living their adolescent dream of finally owning a colourful-rimmed, flashy neon car.
Whether we like it or not, riceboys are here to stay in R-Hill, sometimes inciting laughter and annoyance, and other times, inviting us to look at the tropes and stereotypes of a hybrid culture. Flashy, exuberant, and unforgettable (as they cut you off on the highway), a rice-boy provides valuable insight into masculine role modeling that you can’t just miss.