Tag Archives: Archie Panjabi

Butterflies, Slumdogs, And Tiger Moms: Asian American Women And The Rescue Narrative

By Guest Contributor Sayantani DasGupta

“Can we try it more mysterious, with that mystique from the East?

… Channel a late night sex chat ad

… Maybe go back further into your heritage … A little more ethnic.”

Remember those racist-alicious ads from Michigan senatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra, the ones where the docile, limpid eyed, bike-riding Asian woman thanked “Debbie Spend It Now” for spending so much American money that she singlehandedly ruined the U.S. economy while giving more jobs to China? Well, that Sinophobic Super Bowl ad promptly inspired several spoofs including this one from Funny or Die, and this clever one from Kristina Wong that I found recently on Disgrasian.

In it, Wong plays an actress obviously starring in a “Debbie Spend it Now”-type commercial. The disembodied (presumably white, male) director’s voice is off-camera, insisting that Wong play her role with more ethnic “authenticity.” At one point, he asks her to read the lines like her mother might. When Wong delivers the lines in an American accent, the frustrated director corrects, “But that’s the same as you read it last time, is that how your mother talks?” Wong nods, deadpan. “She was born in San Francisco.” Later, he reminds Wong that she is “in a rice paddy.” To which she exclaims, “Oh, I thought we were in Runyon Canyon.”

Kristina Wong’s spoof speaks to the continued conflation of Asian American and Asian identity. No matter how many years, or generations, we’ve been in this country, we Asian Americans remain ‘contingent citizens’ and ‘perpetual foreigners.’ (You’ve heard the question: “Where are you from? … No, where are you really from?”)

Wong’s spoof also speaks to the sexualized, passive tropes surrounding Asian American womanhood. In a recent talk I gave for Wellesley College’s GenerAsians Magazine, I suggested that three tropes still seem to encapsulate much of how Asian American women continue to be perceived:

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Why I’m Team Kalinda: A New Face For Desi Women On TV

By Guest Contributor Anurag Lahiri

During my four months of funemployment after grad school I became hooked on a list of TV shows. A couple of my queer desi friends had been raving about The Chicago Code a while back and when I finally watched it I enjoyed it. So of course when the same friends started tweeting about The Good Wife, and specifically about one character, Kalinda Sharma, I decided to take the hint and marathon it.

The same things drew me to both shows: aside from the suspense and drama, they’re both set in Chicago. As a girl from the Midwest, I enjoy watching a show whose city politics I can relate to.

There is a difference between the two shows though: Chicago Code was mostly special for me because Jennifer Beals was in it and, for an L Word fan, she will always be Bette Porter. Yes, even if she is playing a superintendent of a police department. On the other hand, I will gladly embrace Archie Panjabi as Sharma, a queer, desi, private investigator on The Good Wife.

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