A Story of the Underdog

In this video, I attempt to illustrate a progression of an Asian American experience as a result of misrepresentations of them in the media. My idea was to debunk this stereotype of how Asian Americans are expected to be the sidekick or the underdog. What the media has done is influenced young Asian Americans and their perception of how they should act in a white hegemony and give them no agency when facing injustice and a constant silencing. This video should illustrate how, as life progresses, the Asian American eventually has enough of the disrespect and has an agency to turn his situation around.

Cultural Appropriation in Media

After watching various videos on cultural appropriation in class this week, I’ve become even more aware of the contents that are going around in the media throughout our daily lives. This connects to several weeks ago when we were discussing the same issue with using the oriental as props. Even though a lot of the videos include Asian Americans, those Asian Americans still aren’t given the chance to speak up nor to break out of the stereotypes. In the videos we see, Asian Americans are usually the backup dancers who look identical to each other and with no facial expressions. Just because some of the lyrics are related to or the singers want to convey the extent to which they’re interested in the Asian culture doesn’t mean they should go ahead and incorporate those aspects that they associate Asians/Asian Americans with in their videos. By doing so, those singers sound more oblivious toward the offensive contents that they’re producing.

Take Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty,” for example – when I first heard the song a year ago, I simply thought it was weird; now that I revisited it in class, I couldn’t look past the video’s attempt in making the Japanese backup dancers look identical. If the video were truly about embracing Japanese culture, then what were the reasons for having four backup dancers to look the same? Furthermore, why were those dancers dancing in the background with straight faces? They look more like moving dolls – merely decorations in the music video compared to actually being in the video.

Yes, sometimes, it may be difficult to define the fine line between what’s offensive and what’s not. Yet, other times, the extent to which people don’t see offensive materials when the media is presenting those right in people’s faces is just downright surprising.

Dr. Ken: “Thanksgiving Culture Clash”

The episode “Thanksgiving Culture Clash” from Dr. Ken talked about the issues Dr. Ken’s family faced when the family members tried to celebrate Thanksgiving among a multicultural family setting. The issue arose from the parents finding out about Molly’s Japanese word tattoo, then eventually extended to the family settling in and incorporating both Korean and Japanese culture into the household, especially during the Thanksgiving dinner. After discovering Molly’s tattoo, Dr. Ken became increasing worried that the children weren’t as familiar with their Korean heritage in comparison to their Japanese background. He then started to dive into all sorts of possibilities that might expose the children to more Korean culture (such as insisting on having Korean dishes (kimchi and bulgogi) and wearing traditional Korean clothing.

This episode reminds me of my family’s attempt in finding a balance between the Taiwanese and American cultures. Since Thanksgiving just passed, I would like to share my family’s tradition during Thanksgiving as well. The biggest difference between the show and my family is that my family doesn’t really have a big family/relatives get-together for Thanksgiving dinner. Not that my family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, rather, Thanksgiving dinner has become more of a small setting with everything toned down (now that I’m in college so I’m not home as often). Like Dave from the show, I’m not entirely sure how to explain my family’s Thanksgiving traditions, either. Because of this, seeing the show addresses a similar situation really speaks to me and presents a position other families may also be in.

The Fung Brothers

The Fung brothers are an Asian-American duos, specifically of Chinese descent, composed of rappers and comedians, Andrew Fung and David Fung. They are located in Alhambra, California but originate from Seattle, Washington. They are extremely popular on Youtube for their comedic and entertaining videos regarding Asian-American subjects. What I found most compelling about their work is the amount of collaborating they do with other Asian-American individuals. It adds this greater level of exposure and diversity in their videos. It also rapidly expands their audience base. They have done some notable collaborations with people such as professional Asian-American basketball player, Jeremy Lin. They are also in a rap group titled “Model Minority,” with Jason Chu, which has even been reviewed in a positive light by the Los Angeles Time. Therefore, they do great work at addressing and deconstructing the issues that the Asian-American population has to deal with in a really fun, engaging, and clearly successful manner.

While they have an extensive amount of youtube videos addressing a variety of issues, some of my favorite ones are “18 types of asian girls” and “east coast asian vs. west coast asian.” I find these videos most exciting because, not only did they incorporate the collaboration aspect with some other fantastic asian-american individuals, but they also highlighted this idea of diversity among a population of people that is so very often grouped as one.

We see that in the 18 types of asian girls, there are so many types that the fung bros describe, along with their subgroups. What’s notable is that even though all these are described, they bring about the main idea that there are so many different presented types that you cannot just pigeonhole a race or ethnicity into one way of being. The East Coast vs. West Coast Asian does that as well, with both genders. I also really appreciate that they will touch upon little historical backgrounds or fun educational facts.

While not entirely unrecognized, the Fung Bros definitely deserves acknowledgment, as well as further recognition and publicity. Keep up the good work!

Below are the links to the discussed videos:

 

Cultural Appropriation

Based on the videos we watched in class on Tuesday I feel that we are being too harsh on some of the examples shown.

For example the first video about Asian girls was clearly offensive, but Gwen Stefani I feel was actually trying to show her appreciation towards Harajuku girls. I understand that the actual girls in the video are not talking, but it is a music video and they are backup dancers, so considering the circumstances I don’t think it’s fair to say that she was exploiting them. Especially because the song is about them to begin with.

With the Katy Perry example, I can understand why it would be offensive since the song she performed is not about Asian culture or relevant. But again, performances are about themes and why should it be offensive for her to choose an Asian theme? I felt as though the class was a bit harsh in these two circumstances considering how musical pop performances are usually created.