Fresh Off the Boat Halloween Episode!

I just finished watching Season 2 Episode 5 entitled “Miracle on Dead Street” of Fresh Off the Boat and wanted to write about a few of my reactions.  My first reaction to the episode was that it was hilarious and entertaining but while digesting the content I came to think of a topic that has been argued a lot in the media recently on college campuses in particular.  The issues surrounding ‘dressing up’ as another race always are most discussed at the end of October for obvious reasons, and this episode of Fresh Off the Boat being Halloween themed was no exception to that rule.

In our modern 2015 world that we are all blessed to live in, it has for several years been common knowledge among highly educated people that dressing as another ethnicity for amusement perpetuates negative stereotypes, and should be considered offensive and inappropriate.  I believe John Oliver said it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxQq8HTtb4A.   I may at least for college campuses, however, have an answer to John Oliver’s question of ‘how is this still a thing?’  The answer is simple: the unfortunate existence of college party culture.  It is not that college students today are more racist or even as racist as the generation that came prior, the average college student today is more liberal and accepting of people of different cultures and ethnicity than ever before, but in the heat of the college party culture how ‘sexy’ you look matters far more than the meaning of the image you portray.  This precedent plus Halloween yields what we all see today in the media: offensive outfits.  College students when in the settings that these offensive outfits are worn in are not even considering the image they are portraying, but only focused on how good they look in their costume.   So, at the end of the day, all I have left is a quick word of advice for all of my college peers who are considering dressing up offensively for a party: you don’t look that good, go change. #2015

Sorry this post got a bit off topic, but it was what I had on my mind hahaha.

Growing up in an Asian Household

SPOILER ALERT: if you have not watched the episode yet, do not read ahead.

I really felt the need to discuss about this week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat. To briefly summarize the episode, Eddie is turning 12 and doesn’t want his parents to throw him a birthday party. Instead, he throws himself one and invites all his friends, except his family. Jessica and Louis obviously finds out about the ordeal, and are upset at Eddie. Eddie reveals to his parents that the reason why he didn’t want them to host a birthday party for him is because he cannot act himself when he is around them. At home, he constantly has to act a certain way to appease his parents due to the many strict rules they have set up. So, to acknowledge Eddie’s feelings, Jessica and Louis loosens up a bit and allows Eddie to attend a sleepover at Dave’s. It is there when Eddie realizes that living with his parents’ strict rules isn’t so bad after all.

This episode actually hit me pretty hard because the concept of “The Big 1-2” is something I definitely relate with. Like Eddie, I also grew up with many strict rules and regulations in my household. After school, I would have to finish my homework then do my chores immediately. My parents never really allowed me to do after school activities or hang out with my friends either. Growing up, my childhood was literally school and home. I really hated that because I felt like I had no social life, so I started rebelling. I would skip out on chores simply because I didn’t feel like it. I would go my friends’ houses after school and not come home until late. This made my parents worry about me a lot. After doing all of this, I began to realize the reasons behind my parents’ strict ways, again like Eddie. At his sleepover, Eddie saw a major difference between his family and Dave’s. It was too laid back at Dave’s house that it gave him an awkward vibe. That’s when Eddie learned to appreciate the rules in his household. The rules his parents set up were to keep him in tact in life. It’s true, our Asian parents do shelter us a lot and that’s something we can’t escape. Some Asian parents are just strict and I guess that’s normal. But they do it for our own good. For one part, it’s to protect us from any sort of harm, but it’s also to teach us about respect and discipline. If you can’t act properly at home, then how are you going to act in public? Through my parents’ strictness, I learned what to do (be responsible) and what not to do (don’t rebel, lol); basically, how to put myself on check. Now I’m living on my own and going to school, becoming the responsible person they taught me to be. Thanks to them, I didn’t end up being a criminal or a deviant. We, Asians, may have had a harsher way of living as kids but I’m sure we all appreciate our parents’ for implicitly teaching us life lessons. In the end, there’s really no place like home.

Thank you, FOB, for reminding us that growing up in an Asian household really wasn’t all that bad.

Good Morning Orlando!

In this episode of Fresh Off the Boat, while Eddie and his friends are trying to figure out their middle school dating life, the more important part of the show is Louis’ storyline. In this episode, Louis gets the opportunity to go on Good Morning Orlando, a morning news talk show because the news anchors loved his impressions. Jessica urges him to make sure he promotes the restaurant, which Louis does. But much to Jessica’s dismay, he makes jokes and does his impressions. She later reprimands him exclaiming that Asians don’t get a lot of opportunities to be on television and he wasted his making jokes. She demands he go back on the show and right his “wrongs” and fixing the fact that he was “too funny.” He later goes on and is much more serious, which is still the wrong thing. According to Jessica, he must present himself as intelligent, but can also be funny — just not too funny, political — but not too political, interesting, pleasant and tall. Louis retorts with the fact that one person cannot be everything — they can and should only be themselves. From this storyline, I took away a couple of things.

The first thing I took away from this relates to the stereotype that we have discussed in class about Asians not being able to make fun of themselves and being too serious. By having Louis go back and make sure they don’t think he is too funny and just a jokester, Jessica is proving this generalization to be true to an extent. At the same time, however, this whole story line makes a point how because of unequal opportunity in American society, those with less opportunity cannot waste opportunities like this and must present themselves in a way to gain respect, which can in turn mean being more serious and business-like. Asian people are “more serious” because they have less room to prove themselves as “worthy members of society” and capable of the same success and prosperity as their white counterparts.

The second thing I took away from this focuses on Louis’ point of how one person cannot be everything. This TV show has received a lot of criticism for different things. On one hand it is supposed to be a family sit come along the coming of age lines as we follow Eddie and his family as he goes through a growing period in his life. On the other hand, the show tackles lots of issues regarding race, such as this one. The show gets criticized for going too far one direction — it’s not talking about race enough or it’s stereotyping/generalizing too much. The show, like Louis, cannot be everything.

Welcome to Asian American Television

The latest episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” might have been one of my favorite one out of season 2. I am so happy about how the show is coming to be. I started watching the show without even realizing that this is the first national television show about an Asian American family. This recent episode is just what the nation needs to realize. We are slowly changing the representation of Asian Americans in the media. I like how in this episode they reference the yellow face in Sixteen Candles. I believe all Asian Americans can relate to what Louis was going through with the flash backs when his friends would refer about to the stereotypical Asian in the media. The lines in which Jessica spoke to Louis are the same lines we are learning in Asian American Studies 118. We need to change the representation of Asian Americans. I feel like this episode is a 20 minutes lecture of ASAM 118.
Asian American Awareness is slowly changing and Fresh Off the Boat is the beginning of such change. I enjoy how the show does not have yellow face characters, or any references to yellow face. These are real Asian Americans trying to find the American Dream. The episode shows how this show is created to recreate he representation of Asian Americans in the media. Asian Americans are not the stereotypical hypersexualized females or emasculated males, but rather just people trying to be noticed by the society. I enjoy how the episode was set up, it did not beginning with Louis perfectly being on the new channel but he messed up. Jessica’s role in the family is reinforce when she encourages Louis to be more than just a stereotype. The characters Lois and Jessica goes hand in hand, they are both serious and funny at the same time. This makes the show what it is for Asian Americans.

A Long Duck Dong Situation

The latest episode of Fresh off the Boat was one of my favorites. It touched on the big issue that Long Duck Dong had created regarding stereotypes about asian men and it wasn’t afraid to get aggressive while doing so.

In the episode Louis is offered  to be a guest speaker on the “Good Morning
Orlanda” morning show. He accepts and ends up being a recurring guest due to his own ignorance. The first time he is featured on the show he makes a fool of himself and creates a “Long Duck Dong Situation”, as Jessica called. The LDDS, is pretty much just people making fun of Louis and asian men for being like the character from sixteen candles. The show actually features flashbacks to when Louis was being made fun of because of the gross stereotype.

Louis goes on the show and does a bunch of poorly done celebrity impressions and as a result he becomes a laughing stock of the community. He doesn’t realize this until Jessica points it out and he starts to experience people “gross laughing” at him. So, he goes back on the show but with more intensity. He might have overreacted on the show but in real life his reaction is something I’d expect a normal and sane person would do. He questions his white hosts on if they feel that “potstickers” were the only food they associated with Chinese people and so on and so far. He pretty much grills them on TV.

The fact that they published this episode makes me extremely happy. It’s like a big middle finger to the long duck dong stereotype and anything related.

Dear White People,

Dear Katy St. Clair,

The article “Fresh off the Boat Misses the Mark,” written by you, presented a different take on the show that I think we have not discussed before. As much praise and groundbreaking the show Fresh Off the Boat has received, there are also some problems with it simultaneously. The show utilizes stereotypes to show their sense of humor and can at times lend itself to be self-destructive and harmful. If this show is supposed to show visibility towards Asian Americans then this show should also try to combat those same stereotypes and not rely on them for the jokes that they have already been used for previously.

The show does seem to use a lot of hip hop and black culture references and that can be alarming to some people. An issue I always relate to is that I feel most people love black culture but most people do not love black people. Black people have also gone through a history of being commercialized but never humanized. Eddie often refers to black musical artists as his idols and uses them for his aspirations. This usage of black culture can be alarming but there are some truths within it as well. As a minority, hip hop serves as a voice and entry way into American culture. A quote from Fresh Off the Boat describes hip hop as “the anthem for the outsiders.” Just like any other art form, musicians are able to have more freedom in how they choose to express themselves so hip hop serves as a medium to explicitly challenge the dominant paradigm.

While I agree that the show should be assessed critically, I do not agree with most of the ideas this article discussed. The literature discussed how visibility is not needed if other shows have done something similar before and that is where I disagree the most. St. Clair argued that Modern Family had already touched upon some minority topics so a show like Fresh Off the Boat was redundant and repetitive. The author fails to note that intersectionality is important but it is also more important to understand the unique struggles a community faces. Fresh Off the Boat is able to showcase the specific challenges Asian Americans face and no other show can do that. Modern Family may touch upon a few of those issues but Fresh Off the Boat features an Asian American lead and predominantly an Asian American cast so they are more equipped to represent and display Asian American identity issues through the media. My people are still being persecuted so I have a right to be hostile.

Sincerely,
An underrepresented youth