The Disney Channel is adding more diverse faces in its program line-up. Corbin Bleu and Brenda Song are ones to watch. Corbin Bleu is one of the stars of the Disney Channel’s break-away hit High School Musical. The half Jamaican, half Italian star has found his stride in the the ‘tween and teen audience. He stars in the upcoming Disney Channel movie “Jump In” opposite of Akeelah and the Bee’s, KeKe Palmer. He recently signed a record deal and has an album slated for Fall 2007 release.
I find it a little sad that a couple of the most asked questions he gets according to his journal are: 1.) What is your ethnicity? and 2.) How does he get his hair like that? In an interview Bleu was aked what are some of the struggles for him in the entertainment business? His answer:
…A lot of times, they’re not looking for your type, especially because I’m mixed, especially. A lot of times they either want to go full on Caucasian or they want to go full on black. They either want somebody who is really black and from the street, and urban, and a little bit ghetto, or they want a Caucasian. That’s probably one of the hardest struggles for me.
Then there’s Brenda Song. The leading Asian-American face on The Disney Channel. She’s Thai-American and Hmong according to her website. She’s a regular cast member on the Suite Life of Zack & Cody and she starred in the Disney Channel original movie “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”.
Although it’s nice to see her get a leading role, it would have been better if it wasn’t a martial arts movie. Our minds won’t melt if we don’t see a predominantly Asian cast do backflips.
Since The Disney Channel seems to groom its stars the old Hollywood studio style, we’ll probably be seeing Bleu and Song in various Disney related projects. And if they’re really blessed, they’ll get Hilary Duff type success and hopefully more interesting parts will be developed for them.
One Tree Hill pulled out a refreshing plot twist: Peyton’s real half-brother Derek is biracial (black and white). And the really surprising part was that it didn’t take them five episodes to explain “how” that could happen. The writers deserve big kudos for that alone.
Ernest Waddell’s (Derek) portrayal of the tough as nails Marine with a big heart is the best addition to the series. On the good side, this shows that the American television audience is ready to embrace the fact that multi-ethnic families do exist and that they are growing in numbers. This new turn gracefully counters the “you can only pick one” line of thinking.
On the bad side, what took Hollywood so long to do an episode like this? And better yet, why aren’t there more shows with this kind of content? One Tree Hill may have an abundance of teen angst melodrama but this storyline is a true diamond in the rough.
Well, I finally got to sit down and get a somewhat satisfying session in with True Crime Streets of LA. I haven’t finished it, but I think I can safely say that the elements of the game’s plot that caught my attention – the strong presence of racial minorities in the game, including a biracial protagonist, set in Los Angeles – ended up more as a product of the mix of two film genres – a cop movie and a kung-fu movie – than anything else. Nick Kang may be half-Chinese, half-Caucasian, but lines like “It’s dim sum time!” don’t really hold a whole lot of progressive appeal. I do have a weak spot for Nick Kang, as Asian American men rarely get roles as cops who play fast and loose with the rules, but he doesn’t do a whole lot to redeem the game.
One thing that caught my attention was the focus on international organized crime. The main forces (possible spoiler?) in True Crime: Streets of LA are the Chinese Triads, the Russian Mafia, and the North Korean People’s Army, putting Nick Kang and the rest of his Elite Operations Division in the position of Saving America From The Rest Of The World. On one hand, that should establish the multi-colored EOD as the vanguard of America, disassociating the identity of ‘white’ with that of ‘American’. On the other hand, it’s not quite clear whether some of the characters are Chinese or Chinese American, Russian or Russian American, etc. Certainly, ethnic enclaves like Chinatown or Little Tokyo will have some kind of connection to China or Japan, as those places are often the easiest points of entry for new immigrants, but I can’t say I like how True Crime: Streets of LA seems to equate those centers as universally working against the good of America.
For a game that does invoke race, ethnicity, and nationality as often as True Crime: Streets of LA does, I’d think that they could have utilized the setting much more eloquently than they did. The only Los Angeles in TCLA is in the street names. Yes, we have Asians and Chicano/Latinos and African Americans working together, and I’d like to think that somewhere in LA is a police department that looks like the EOD. But they could have done so much with the racial tensions that historically have actually occurred in Los Angeles. Wouldn’t you rather play Nick Kang, a Korean American police officer fighting to protect Koreatown from the LA riots?
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World