Here is my final project and my artist statement as well as the final script. I hope you all enjoy!
Failed Dating Advice to the Low-Key Racist:
My final project is entitled: Failed Dating Advice to the Low-key Racist. This was inspired by a goal to use subversion to undermine the legitimacy of Asian American stereotypes that persist in today’s society. The premise of the sketch was a simple one: a low-key racist asks an Asian American friend for dating advice with Asian women. I want viewers to identify the irony in the fact that the racist figure in the sketch is overtly unaware of his own racism. This was to highlight how unfortunately common ignorance of Asian American institutional racism truly is and how commonplace these sort of exaggerated questions can be even in today’s society.
The idea for the sketch came to me during the last day of class. When writing my initial project proposal, I was very mistaken with the direction of my work. I initially wanted to use an informative video style to prove to uneducated viewers the legitimacy of anti-Asian American bias in the American media, but this would not be sufficient help to undermine the problem at hand. I identified that a better way to present to viewers a powerful statement about Asian American racism in today’s media would be a more humorous and light hearted approach that people might actually want to share on a social media site. The actual idea for the premise of the sketch was highly inspired by the helpmefindparents Youtube video entitled What kind of Asian are you? which featured an Asian American woman on a run being interrupted by a white male and asked several questions that the white male feels are acceptable but are supposed to be interpreted as low-key racist by the viewer, and obviously interpreted as racist by the Asian American jogger (“What Kind of Asian Are You?). I felt the dynamics of that interaction perfectly represent the anti-Asian American bias in the media and I feel that much less exaggerated versions of those exact same conversations occur daily even on campus here at UCSB. Taking that idea, I decided to put my personal spin on it by changing the basis of the conversation from a random encounter in public to a more intimate conversation among good ‘bros.’ Although only males are represented in this sketch, discussing dating advice is done by both most adults and everyone should be able to relate to the content of the video.
For this video, the research I conducted involved scouring the internet to find the most offensive questions that people may actually inquire about when asking for about dating advice. I found several very helpful articles including a one published by Diversity Inc. entitled 7 Things NOT to Say to Asian-Americans which I drew from heavily in the making of my script. This article highlighted, with diction intended for a casual reader, the most common offensive conversational slip ups, many of which were questions. The question I most directly drew from was the “where are you from? No, where are you really from?” section of the article. This question highlights the idea that Asian Americans are eternal foreigners and are unable to ever be fully assimilated (Straczynski). In addition, asking that question is almost always done through a paradigm of Orientalism and the asker is only inquiring to confirm his own preconceived notions about people from that region. This question is offensive, yet unfortunately commonplace. It is the type of question that people in today’s world actually may ask and that’s why I chose it to represent it in my video to tear it down and change the general opinion of society towards the social acceptability of inquiring about race in such a intolerant fashion. Further research also led me to an article entitled The Answers to Your Racist Questions about Asians from which I also drew inspiration during the writing of my script. This article helped me find other racist questions such as “can Asians see very well?” (a question which was cut from the final script). This question was supposed to highlight that physical differences in appearance are common among all cultures and ridiculous questions like this promote discrimination and spread ignorance (Gao).
Going over the rest of the script of the piece, the other questions asked in the sketch were compiled from a brainstorming session with two Asian American peers and myself. The first statement by the low-key racist in the sketch is: “Yo man I need some dating advice. Some Asian dating advice.” The response given by the Asian American character, Matt, became a reoccurring theme for the rest of the piece: “Dude. It’s literally the same shit…” This is followed by an awkward and basically rejected fist bump as an attempt for the low-key racist to reaffirm that he is not racist.
The first real question asked by the low-key racist is more overtly racist than most of the other questions asked. This was intentional to set the tone of exaggerated unknowing racism. By starting with one of the more ridiculous questions, the sketch is able to set a tone that is consistent with how ridiculous the premise actually is. The actual verbiage of the question is: “[at dinner] should I use chopsticks?”
The second question asked by the low-key racist is about as offensive as the first. The goal was to keep up the portrayal of a unknowing racist from start to finish, and I feel that we did this with great success. The second question was: “if I meet her parents, should I do the normal handshake thing… or a little bow?” This was to highlight how stereotypes and prejudice can easily translate into offensive actions in everyday life. This was supposed to pull attention to, again, the type of question that could be asked by someone who does not consider themselves a racist, but is clearly a low-key racist.
Continuing to the last question on the script the sketch reaches the end of the rising action segment in the storyline. This final question was supposed to be the one that sets Matt off. The question that leads all the pent up anger from the entirety of the sketch to be let loose. To set up for this question, the low-key racist pauses for a moment to think on what he had just been told about racism and how to treat Asian Americans. He collects his thoughts and asks: “but is it just a myth that I should burp when I eat?” This question ignites a fire in Matt representing an unwillingness to bend to such blatantly intolerant questions, but then after a short outburst, he changes his tone to a very sarcastic one. The last minute switch of tone is supposed to be a comical undermining of these stereotypes by letting his friend be racist on his date and, of course, not get the girl.
The shooting of my project was very easy. For a camera, I decided to keep it simple and use my phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which has a sixteen Megapixel camera and adquite audio recording microphone to handle dialogue. While filming we did encounter several problems, the most significant of which being background noise from living in Isla Vista. We had to film several excellent takes before there was a take with both good acting, timing and no integrity ruining background audio. Another problem was encountered when filming was more technical. I had a serious issue moving the data from my phone to a computer without compressing the video and losing video quality. To solve this problem, I did some mild internet research and found that I needed some form of physical medium (or a large data capacity cloud system) to transfer the data. Luckily, I had a two sided flash drive with both an end for my phone and USB for my computer enabling me to successfully edit the video on my computer and finalize the project.
To edit the video, I used the basic Mac software: iMovie There were very few cuts and transitions used making it very easy to edit the entire sketch together into one under two minute clip. iMovie proved very easy to work with and finalized the project without any difficulty. The only video effects I used in the making of the project was to represent the text messages received by the low-key racist. I was inspired by the BBC television series Sherlock and emulated, to the best with meager video effects abilities, their style of text message representation.
In the end, my goal from making this video was to spread awareness about Asian American oppression in the American media. I hope that people will see this on their facebook pages and twitter feed and laugh while clicking share. These are the types of videos that can go viral and start a revolution. The power of the internet and social media is expanding faster than ever before, and it is imperitive that a responsible community claim space for Asian Americans tio ensure they are properly represented and respected. The world has a lot of potential for great change, and I feel this video can make a small difference somewhere along the line.
The video alone, however, is useless. The only power that comes from this video is in the changes in lifestyle from the viewer. That means there must be viewers. To best promote and spread this video I will start by sharing it on all of my social media accounts as well as my Asian American Studies 118 WordPress blog. I will ask my friends to share and hopefully they will ask their friends to share. Maybe it will go viral, or maybe it won’t travel far. Either way, I’m glad that I was able to leave a mark in that space of the vast internet for a subversive promotion for respectful treatment of Asian Americans.
Gao, Sally. “The Answers to Your Racist Questions about Asians.” Slant. Slant News, 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.
Straczynski, Stacy. “7 Things NOT to Say to Asian-Americans – DiversityInc.” DiversityInc. N.p., 10 May 2013. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.
What Kind of Asian Are You? Dir. David Neptune. Perf. Scott Beehner, Stella Choe. Helpmefindparents, 2013. Youtube.
Final Script for Failed Dating Advice to the Low-key Racist
Ricky and Matt are on the couch. Ricky gets a text message: Yeah, let’s meet up and have lunch tomorrow!
Ricky (smiles then looks worried): Yo man, I need some dating advice. Some Asian dating advice.
Matt (looking mildly angry): Dude. It’s literally the same shit as dating a white girl. Take her out, just actually do nothing different
Ricky (Matt all the while holding a still and mildly angry face): Yeah of course, sorry for asking. I’m not a racist, bro. Like, I’m literally taking out an Asian chick. And you’re Asian and I love you bro. We’re bros. We’re good.
Ricky (continued): Yeah, we’re good.
Ricky’s phone vibrates again. Text message: looking forward to tomorrow *winking emoji*
Ricky: Literally nothing different, of course, obvious. I love Asian chicks, dude. I’m just really worried and don’t want to mess this up. Like, obviously it’s nothing different, but, like, hmm… just for example, let’s just say I take her somewhere really nice, like, I don’t know PF Changs, should I use chop sticks?
Matt: Dude, that’s like basically a strait up racist question. Use chopsticks if you want to use chopsticks. I already told you man, literally nothing different.
Ricky: Noooo, that’s not what I meant, bro! I meant like, if I meet her parents, should I do the normal hand shake thing or like a little bow?
Matt: Normal. Nothing Different. Dude, these questions are getting more racist.
Ricky: Noooo, noo, bro, no. That’s not what I meant. I just meant like what if I go over to her house and her parents just like, don’t speak English, like what would I do!
Matt: What would you do if she came over to your house and your parents started speaking Spanish? It wouldn’t be a big deal.
Ricky: Dude, my parents don’t speak Spanish, they were born in Palo Alto.
Matt: Come on, man, you get the point.
Slight pause. Ricky is thinking for a minute
Ricky (continued): Whatever, but is it just a myth that I should burp when I eat?
Matt (suddenly very outwardly angry): God dam it, how do you not get it! (calms down, suddenly very sarcastic) Never mind man, don’t worry about it, you’re going to do great, it’ll be chill.
Ricky: Yeah, I got a good feeling. I’m not racist, we’re all good bro.
Awkward fist bump
Ricky (continued): Yeah, we’re all good.
Matt facepalms (cut to credits)
Staring Matt Choi as Matt and Ricky Zandian as Ricky. Created and directed by Jacob Klein.