Tag Archives: asian-american

YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!


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MadTV spoofs Korean dramas

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Hat tip to Angry Asian Man and Mike Kang for this one! Apparently MadTV did this spoof of Korean dramas awhile back. Even as someone who hasn’t watched any (though I’ve seen plenty of Hong Kong and Japanese dramas, and I have a feeling they are somewhat similar stylistically) this is pretty damn funny. Love the long subtitles whizzing by. :) And Bobby Lee and Sung Kang are hilarious.

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Comic strip explores being a “Single Asian Female”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I just read about this new comic strip called Single Asian Female on Angry Asian Man.

It’s actually written by a man named Ethan Lee, but the protagonist is a 21 year-old fourth-generation Chinese American who goes to UC Berkeley. Check out this AsianWeek article about Lee and check out the comic strip’s web site.

I’m kind of disappointed that it’s not actually written by a woman. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with writing a comic from a perspective that’s not your own, but as we know there are a lot of really dicey gender issues in the Asian-American community, and I guess I just hope that this comic will try to be as realistic and balanced as possible.

Update: Check out Jenn’s take on it at Reappropriate. I’m willing to give this comic benefit of the doubt since it’s just starting out, but I agree with this statement from Jenn: “With Asian American feminism in its nascency, we must be careful about the voices that are perceived to define our identity and voice our narrative.”
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Musical yellowface

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

musical yellowface chinky musicThe bare title of this post might already be enough to summon, in your head, the ubiquitous musical phrase that says “chinky!” with as much self-conscious gusto as bamboo fonts and gongs:

Having grown up in a music-loving household filled with both Chinese and Western classical music, this little melody has always annoyed me. It’s basically what white folks play every time Orientalism is invoked in a TV show, movie, or pop song. It’s so prevalent that I honestly suspect that many white folks unconsciously hear this ditty when they see me walk into the room.

Funny thing is, it’s neither Chinese nor even representative of Chinese music. It’s a white supremacist construction whose artistic purpose is to caricaturize, mock, and dehumanize Asians.

From Ask The A.V. Club:

Nilsson calls this “the Far East Proto-Cliché,” and documents its use in popular and light classical music back to the 1880s. Although it was used to signify generalized Asian exoticism (associated with places as far-flung as Persia and Egypt), by the early 20th century, it’s nearly omnipresent in music associated with “chinoiserie,” the fad for Oriental décor and dress.

Every two-bit jazz combo in the country seems to have recorded a novelty song with some version of the Proto-Cliché, from “Chinatown My Chinatown” to “Chong, He Come From Hong Kong” to “My Yokohama Girl.” The Walt Disney music department was especially fond of the trope. Versions occur in “The China Plate” (a Disney Silly Symphony in which painted figures on a piece of porcelain come to life), a few propaganda cartoons from the World War II period, and most beloved by The A.V. Club, the classic music-ed cartoon “Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom.”

Check out the exhaustive research piece by Martin Nilsson.

Whites stereotype Asians, Asians stereotype blacks

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this old Jell-O ad from the sixties that mocks an Asian baby trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks. It has just about every offensive stereotype you can think of: the dreaded Asian font and a presumably white dude narrating with an awful fake accent and dropped words: “Chinese motha bling baby Jell-O. Famous western delicacy!”

And then on the flipside, check out this (by the looks of it, fairly recent) Japanese (possibly Thai?) toothpaste commercial, featuring a big black guy who helps a Japanese child retrieve her balloon, only to have her mother snatch her baby and run away, screaming. He’s just misunderstood and uh… somehow ends up sleeping on a giant toothbrush and morphing into dark toothpaste. You kinda have to just watch it.

Props to Adrianna for finding this site!

Yellow Trash: Jimmy Wang Yang

by Michael Park, originally published at Tripmaster Monkey

jimmy wang yang wwe wrestler asianAfter decades of racist characterizations, World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation) has finally broken its own mold—by merging two stereotypes into one. Meet one of the WWE’s newest faces, Jimmy Wang Yang, the Asian Redneck, played by real-life Georgia boy James Yun.

“He may look ‘Asian,’ but in reality he is one certified redneck,” the WWE Web site assures viewers. “If any Yankees slip up, Jimmy Wang Yang is sure to culture them with a good ol’-fashioned country-style whippin’.”

Yes, this counts as progress in the pro-wrestling world.

Consider the starting point: Against good ol’ boys like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage, foreign-born and non-white villains like sneaky Oriental Mr. Fuji, Cold War automaton Nikolai Volkoff, snobby French pouf Rene Dupree and mustachioed Middle-Eastern strongman Iron Sheik were caricatured (and eventually dispatched) with comforting certitude.

Asians fared especially badly—Mr. Fuji, the perennial “heel” manager, was infamous for creeping up to “faces,” or “good-guy” characters, and throwing salt in their eyes when his wrestlers were losing. That is, when he wasn’t threatening to ruin the U.S. economy by selling us affordable cars with good mileage.

Okay, so what to make of Jimmy Wang Yang?

“Ain’t no yeller about me,” the 205-pound, 5’9” cowboy-hatted Yang drawls into the camera in WWE promos. You could read this statement in several ways:

1) He’s a self-hater who equates being Asian with being un-American, or even wimpy.

2) Group affiliations can overcome racial differences, i.e. red-state trumps yellow skin.

3) This isn’t your daddy’s Model Minority.

We vote for three. As the Asian Redneck might say, “Ain’t we got enough docters and lahyers and folks what can count?”

Hey Hollywood, Black, Asian, and Latino Men Do Fall In Love!

by guest contributor Rachel Sullivan, originally posted at Rachel’s Tavern

empty bedI saw this great post on the All Things Considered Blog about love scenes in the top grossing movies. The author, Steven Barnes, reviewed love scenes in the 350 films that have earned more than $100 million dollars. Barnes found that 50 of these movies had loves scenes, which he operationalizes as scenes that insinuate sex, but not one of those scenes included a male actor who was not white.

From PG through R, from Bond through Basic Instinct, you’ll find such scenes in about 15 percent of the most popular films ever made. And every single one features a white guy.

If you scan the same list for American films with non-white leads (again, there are about 50), you’ll find love scenes in zero percent. That’s right, zero. No blacks. No Latinos. No Asians. Hollywood makes such films; you can find them further down on the list. But America won’t watch them.

Barnes goes on to make an argument that I don’t agree with. He says that the problem is about “male territorial behavior,”

I’m convinced that the problem is not just “Hollywood executives.” They’re no better or worse than the rest of us. They simply try to keep track of what the audience wants and rejects, as measured by box office receipts.

And I don’t believe there’s something especially twisted or limited about the white majority. I think this little statistical blip has to do with human perception itself — and most specifically, male territorial behavior.

When confronted with this statistic, some people ask why I don’t count movies such as Will Smith’s delightful Hitch. Simple: There are no love scenes. Hugs and kisses don’t make babies. I suspect that it’s the depiction of specific reproductive behavior, even at a genteel When Harry Met Sally level, that triggers the most powerful negative response, especially in male alpha-warrior types.

This is where he and I part ways. This can’t just be reduced to male on male competition, and better analysis would incorporate the structures of race, gender, and sexuality.

I think one of the primary ways that groups are marginalized is through control of their sexuality. The control can be exercised directly through sexual violence (i.e. rape), forced breeding, and coercion. It can been done indirectly through stereotyping and erasure. I think one of the primary ways that Black, Asian, Latino, and American Indian sexuality is controlled today is through what Patricia Hill Collins calls controlling images. Popular movies, TV programs, music, and almost every other major form of popular culture contribute these controlling images when they avoid showing African Americans in intimate, loving relationships. Not only are people of color not shown in loving relationships, we also rarely see intimate family relationships. Continue reading