Master of None Asian Women

The authorship in Master of None was definitely noticeable. Not because it was extremely horrible. On the contrary, it was extremely great at presenting an in your face and authentic representation of reality. The opening scene of the pilot episode was a sex scene between a man of color and a white woman. Honestly, yeah, threw me off a bit. But, I kept watching and do I not, Not NOT regret that decision!

It does not go unnoticed by most fans of the show that white women are predominately his love interests. The only Asian woman (Annie Chang) that went to dinner and made an appearance as a potential love interest of Dev was only in it for the free food. She definitely wasn’t the one in bed with Dev in the pilot episode. What does this say about this writer/producer’s choice? It can be interpreted in a lot of ways. From a comical standpoint, it points out this idea of dinner dates as just free dinners that can just be the main motive as to why women would give men the time of day and vice versa. And thinking of it like this, can make it hilarious. Maybe, the choice was to not perpetuate this stereotype and avoid painting an image of orientalist Asian woman in the opening scene. It can also be interpreted as a message that says that not all Asian women are hypersexual beings: and can only be either the dragon lady or the lotus blossom. It could have been the choice to make a claim that those aren’t the only two personas Asian women can have when it comes to their sexuality as well as character. Since there is an Asian women fetish in porn as well, that just made the decision speak for itself? OR MAYBE, these could be totally wrong assumptions about the possible reasons why.

What is about to be noted here does not focus on the headline, but I just want to attach it to this post, and it is that the second episode “Parents” was one of my favorites. As mentioned by Amy Lam on bitchmedia.org, “It’s a story that’s so common for children of immigrants. But the part of what brought me to tears, as a first-generation American myself, was realizing how painful and true and jarring it is to see our narratives reflected back to us on screens that have ignored our stories for so long.” Lam was able to sum up my experience with this episode in just 2 sentences and that just highlights the collective experience immigrant children have. It also says something about this show and how this particular episode was able to captivate the true realities of lived-experiences that the network primetime television shows I have been exposed to, have failed at attempting to portray.

Like Lam, I am hoping to see more women of color included in the second season as well. Of course I do not require this demand to be met. The show in itself has done so much on accurately presenting & representing realistic experiences and there are much thanks to be given to that. But I won’t deny that it would be nice to see Asian women also being represented as well as presented.

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Asian Americans: How Old Media and New Media has Changed Representation

Fresh Off the Boat became the first Asian American sitcom in nearly two decades and since it’s premiere, more shows have debuted with Asian American leads and casts. Fresh Off the Boat is largely based off of celebrity chef Eddie Huang and details of his experiences growing up in suburban American while adhering to his Asian roots. This show began last year and it definitely has influenced this movement of new Asian American shows. Ken Jeong’s Dr. Ken and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None are just two of the latest examples of Asian American representation in the media.

Ansari’s show features a lot of depth and potential to the themes discussed and is giving a voice to historically unheard and unrepresented people. One of the episodes dived into stereotypes and mentioned how South Asians are constricted to play two dimensional characters with heavy accents. The same episode also tackles the relationship between immigrant parents and first generation children. To allow an audience exposure to these topics grants them the opportunity to explore their own identity and come to learn more about themselves. This opportunity also allows first generation children to see that they are being represented in the media and that their issues are legitimate and valid. Being able to see people who look like us with problems similar to us fosters an environment that encourages self-love, growth, and exploration of one’s own identity and culture. These shows with Asian American leads, casts, and themes fuels a changing society that will allow young Asian Americans and young people of color to see that their voices can be heard and they do have important stories to tell.

The documentary that was watched in class on Thursday tackled similar issues of Asian Americans and representation within the media. The film opened up with random participants being asked to name one Asian American actor or musician and many people struggled with this because there was very few names that could be given. Most of the answers even turned out to be “that one guy” which only reemphasizes the invisibility Asian Americans have even when portrayed on the big screen. I think the biggest takeaway from the film has to be the segment on what Kollaboration is. Kollaboration is an event that provides a platform for Asian Americans to display their artistic talents which can range from dancing, singing, playing an instrument, filming, beatboxing, rapping, stand up comedy, and so much more. As Kollaboration’s motto, empowerment through entertainment, suggests that honing and dedicating yourself to your artistic talents allows you to pursue your passions and truly accept who you are. If there is a lack of opportunity for representation or performances then it is on the community to create that space and that is exactly what Kollaboration is.

Below is a video from Kollaboration Chicago 2012. Their promo videos often feature their performers in a cover video where each artist gets their own moment to shine and collaborate with one another. It is also often a compilation of singers, dancers, beatboxers, musicians, and filmmakers so it truly does become a collaborative experience.

Nostalgia and Youtube

I find it interesting that in the last decade and a half – a time where I was young, growing, and participating in the information and technology revolution that was the Internet – I have witnessed a cultural revolution, one I was fully aware of at the time, but hadn’t realized what an insane impact it would have on my generation. Growing up with media outlets like Youtube, I was able to glimpse parts of the world and peer into the lives and lifestyles of others that I had never dreamed could exist, and all with just the click of a mouse. New human identities were created overnight, new ideological possibilities birthed into existence with every new day; I was front row seat to some of the greatest digital social and cultural movements of our time.

What I didn’t realize was how race played into the equation of this digital age and awakening of global awareness, but it become more and more apparent over time that there was a different ethnic group dominating this new space and age of digital and media expansion: Asian Americans, specifically Asian American Youtubers.

Major popular media icons like Kevjumba, Freddie Wong and Ryan Higa began to change the face of the Internet, and consequently assumed a greater level of visibility in the country’s social spectrum for Asian Americans. Now, they are some of the most well-known names among people of my generation. Coming from humble beginnings, many Asian American media icons and Youtubers alike have banded together to fight for their voice and representation in social media spheres today, a long battle many have been fighting for some time. Many major stars have raised thousands upon thousands of dollars to support various noble causes and charities, and have voiced their support for a number of issues concerning social activism, such as: visibility for the Asian American community, equal rights for women, gay rights, accurate representations of Asian femininity and masculinity and the (re)humanizing of the portrayal of Asian American identities in society and the media.

Having been a participant and supporter of these amazing individuals and social movements, it is beyond moving to see how, years in the future from what is was then,  many of them have grown to become prosperous, promoting positive and tangible change in the world; they are the living example of success, hope and change for this and future generations still to come. It was unreal to watch so many of my childhood icons discuss the real issues surrounding Asian American representations in the media, their struggle and that of so many other individuals like them, and how their journey has brought so much great joy and positive change to our world. I can’t wait to see what they and others will progress next in our thinking, performing and understanding of ourselves and our society. It is inspiring to imagine that one day many of us can bring upon such great change like they have…

… and all with the touch of a screen.

My Identity is Political and Don’t Tell Me Otherwise

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This past weekend, I led 85 UCSB students to UC Berkeley to participate in the annual Students of Color Conference. As an Pilipinx, I had always known about the hxstory of my people, the story of our fight for freedom, and my experiences of being a Generation 1.5 immigrant. In a caucus specifically for Pilipinx-Americans, I was blessed to share a space and feel comfortable being a in a sphere where my experiences were validated and relatable. One of the main things I discussed was how my/our existence is political and how that goes against the stereotypes that are constantly put against us.

“Keep your head low, don’t make noise, your only way to success is by being the best, BUT DON’T STIR TROUBLE” was internalized in me right from the get-go. This Model Minority Myth that established this totality that I can succeed is based on the eurocentric perspective that APIs can experience upward mobility if we just lay low.

I grew up in a conflicted position where loving my culture and hxstory was okay as long as you didn’t challenge the status quo with it. I was caught in between wanting to spread the awareness of my people and making sure I stayed in rank of society.

Upon entering college, I was welcomed into spaces that allowed me to fully express myself, to love my identity and see where it fits in the intersectionality of other oppressed peoples. Furthermore, college was the first time in my life where I understood and recognized that my hxstory fuels the larger progressive movement.

So no, I will not keep my head down. I will not let the white man recolonize my identity. I will continue to fight for the black and brown bodies. I will continue to fight for my people today and for everyone before me. The fight it not over. My existence is political and I will not remain complicit.

Vincent Who? and White Who?

I didn’t know who is Vincent Chin until I watched the video clip of Who Killed Vincent Chin (1988). The Chinese American man was enjoying his bachelor party with friends at a local bar in Detroit on the night of June 19, 1982. During the celebration, two white men, Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz accosted Vincent Chin and his friends. “It’s because of you we’re out of work,” the white men shouted to Vincent Chin and blamed him for the success of Japanese auto industry.

The fling abuses eventually turned into a fighting. Ebens bludgeoned Vincent Chin with a baseball bat until his head cracked open. Vincent was sent to hospital. Four days after Vincent fell into a coma. He died, at the age of 27, and left behind his beloved fiancée and heart-stricken mother. Ebens and Nitz finally pleaded guilty for manslaughter. They are sentenced to three years of probation and fined $3000.

I was very confused and angry about lawsuit. I held my breath when I saw Ms. Huang testified in the courtroom. The old lady choked and was unable to fluently speak one sentence. I shouted to myself, “What a ridiculous fate. What a pathetic United States of American.” I suddenly recalled a satire poem:

Dear white fella, something you should know:
when I was born, I black
when I grow up, I black
when I go in sun, I black
when I cold, I black
when I scared, I black
when I mad, I black
when I sick, I black
and when I die, I still black.

You white fella:
when you born, you pink
when you grow up, you white
when you go sun, you brown
when you cold, you blue
when you scared, you yellow
when you mad, you red
when you sick, you green
and when you die, you grey.

And you have the nerve to call me colored.

—-“Dear White Fella” by Anonymous

In my opinion, Vincent is not only a victim of parochial ethnocentrism, but also he is a victim of long-lasting fear of the yellow peril. Like Ken A. Ono had Vincent Pham had mentioned in the book Asian Americans and the Media that white people identified themselves by contradiction. In order world, white people earn the sense of presence by contrasting themselves to other so-called colored people. Thus, colored people become the reference to enable white people identify themselves. I think the concept of yellow peril represents the existential anxiety of white people. Of course they would never eulogize colored people, if they do that, according to the approach of self-identification-by-contrast, white people will have to admit that they are just the opposite of kind and civilized.

Dear white fella, could you identify yourself without barbaric trample other people?

==>See clips of the Documentary: Who Killed Vincent Chin?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_P2BSmCw8E

==>See the Documentary: Vincent Who? (2009) by Curtis Chin.

http://vincentwhomovie.com/