Check out the second installment in our Man on the Street series, where we ask questions to random people all over New York. In this video, we focused on Asians in the entertainment scene. Watch and see people’s answers!
Check out Generasian’s first video in our Man on the Street series! We gathered some of the most racist questions about Asians and asked them to people in New York. Watch the video to hear their answers!
Sometimes when I miss the unorthodox ways of the Chinese that made living in Shanghai unpredictable, I get on ChinaSmack and indulge in the site’s mix of official news stories, gossip and cheap scandal. With titles like “Chinese Man Rents Girlfriend for Holiday, Gets Her Pregnant”, you definitely won’t be bored. Besides, the site is a great way to familiarize yourself with local Chinese opinion and media if you don’t want to, or can’t, read Chinese. It’s worth a read, and maybe you’ll be back for more.
In a rare occasion in which we turn to the magazine writer himself rather than his article, let’s take some time to appreciate Variety’s Peter Debruge who recently wrote a seemingly a run-of-mill review of the new film, 21 and Over starring Justin Chon, Miles Teller, and Skylar Austin.
But, notice his ever-so-slight pointing out of the “unfortunate Chinese stereotype” portrayed in the film and the way in which Debruge takes the time to point out the specific ethnicities of “Korean-American […] Justin Chon” and “Cambodia-born Francois Chau.”
The criticism usually goes, the casting of Asians for films are careless because there is the tendency to group all Asians together and cast different ethnicities because of their racial appearance. This may then prompt stereotypes that all Asians are the same, or that all Asians must fit within a certain paradigm (like the conservative freshly-turned 21-year-old Jeff Chang in this particular film). And maybe Mr. Debruge is just a really detail-oriented man who wasn’t thinking about all this stuff when writing his article. But, let’s just say he did because God knows we need more writers like him to point Hollywood out on their shi*.
Perhaps these little parenthetical notes don’t mean anything to the average reader, but to the keen eyes of Generasian staff, they do and we certainly appreciate it. We don’t know who you are, Peter Debruge, but thanks anyway.
On another note, our editor Patrick attended the screening of 21 and Over last night and stuck around for the Q&A with the main cast. And I quote, from an exciting text message thread we shared after the screening:
“Some Asian guy was grilling Justin on how the movie is racist”
“[Justin Chon] said his character is not good at studying so it is going against stereotypes.”
Not sure if we buy your argument, Mr. Chon, or maybe we do. We’re not going to take any sides here, so maybe you should see for yourself. As Mr. Debruge puts it, it’s a big bag of “dumb-fun.”
For you filmmakers and other creatives, Jubilee Project is holding a 10-day summer fellowship in Southern California. Six to twelve aspiring filmmakers (18 years or older) will be chosen to live and work together as well as attend workshops held by Jubilee Project themselves as well as a number of guests, such as David Choi, George Bernard Shaw, and Wong Fu Productions. Applications are due March 25th, 2013.
Interested in applying or just finding out more about this great opportunity? Check out the application and some more information here!
Our interview with Taiwanese hip hop group Da Mouth (大嘴巴) has just reached over 1000 views on Youtube! We’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to all of our followers who watched it and if you haven’t watched it yet, check it out now!
Da Mouth (大嘴巴) is one of Taiwan’s leading hip hop groups. They performed for the very first time in America at the Union Square Ballroom in New York on October 18, 2012. Generasian was at the event and managed to score an exclusive English interview with the talented performers after their show!
This is pretty much the cutest thing ever. In case you needed a pick-me-up from all the angrymaking things on the internet today.
Another great, up-lifting video by the Jubilee Project! The Last Pick, featuring Jeremy Lin.
This past Saturday morning on ESPN, there was yet another faulty headline aimed at Korean soccer player, Lee Dong-Gook.
The headline read: “Gook double earns victory.”
Had ESPN made an innocent blunder of mixing up the soccer player’s name? Or was “gook*” actually used as some sort of perverse referral to Lee Dong-Gook’s Asian ethnicity?
Timothy Burke of Deadspin claims this wasn’t just a simple mistake:
“Gook” is actually just part of Lee’s given name, and not an especially descriptive one, either. Nobody who knew what they were doing would use “Gook” to mean Lee Dong-Gook…
Another issue that comes to mind is the fact that writers for ESPN, or particularly this one, may be oblivious to the ordering of Eastern names. The sheer number of Asian athletes should make it an obligation for writers of this major sports enterprise to know this, but here we see yet another disturbing headline from them after the “Chink in the Armor” incident.
Was this a case of carelessness or a sick play on words? In any case, ESPN has correctly changed this article’s headline to: “Lee double earns victory.” Even if they had seriously thought “Gook” was this player’s last name, it should’ve been a thoughtful gesture to have not given the article this title anyhow given the historic and all around offensive implications behind the term.
*Gook is an ethnic slur. It is aimed primarily at people of East Asian descent. More here.
TIME, in its recent issue, featured the new North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un on its cover illustrated by Tim O’Brien. TIME executives have coined him “Lil’ Kim” as the title so blatantly blasts.
In the cover article titled, “Meet Kim Jong-Un,” information about his early life to his present day situation is covered. Kim is reported as being very smart and reliable, yet that his skills are not necessarily important - simply the ability to keep things at status quo will be enough in order to keep the North Korean regime from collapsing. In addition, the article features little tidbits like how Kim was an avid fan of the Chicago Bulls during his early years studying in Switzerland - so much so that he wore a jersey of Dennis Rodman around. Though this may well be compelling information on this 29-year-old successor, we may very well wonder why such a comically natured nickname such as “Lil’ Kim” must even exist. Isn’t it enough that he is now the leader of nuclear armed nation, capable of initiating World War III? The name-play is punny, but there really is no association (nor should there be) with actual ever-so-classy rapper Lil’ Kim and a dictator responsible for millions of citizens deprived of essential human rights. Also, don’t forget the accompanying words: “A look into the bizarre world,” aka the nation of North Korea.
It may be in our interest to think about what message this sort of cover sends out to those passing by newstands in both America and Europe. The nation is secretive, it’s true, and its leaders have or have had their set of particular interests from basketball to expensive liquor. But, to those of us not familiar with the nuclear arms situation in North Korea or the human rights situation there, this cover may be one of the few impressions we’ll ever have of this “bizarre” nation. Is that really fair?
I suppose I did not have high expectations as I decided to make the better choice of streaming the Korean pop girl group’s new Nickelodeon movie, The Wonder Girls, over homework on a Saturday afternoon. The trailer was not promising, as it featured one of the girls, Lim, exclaiming “Fo’shizzle!” (I cringed). Still, I thought I would watch “The Wonder Girls” anyway out of sheer curiosity. It’s not every day you see a Korean girl group on a self-titled movie on TeenNick, is it?
The synopsis goes a little like this: The Wonder Girls arrive in New York for their world tour. Excited to be in the city, the five girls go behind their manager, JYP’s, back and sneak off to the Apollo all starry-eyed and giddy. In a flurry of emotions, they find themselves competing in an amateur talent show that happened to be occurring that night. Introduced as “the Asian invasion,” the Wonder Girls show off their singing and dancing on stage. They fare well in the competition and are met with enthusiastic applause from the audience as well as some animosity by the reigning amateurs, School Gyrls. When they go back to their hotel from their wild night, they decide to pursue the competition even further. Along comes a brief group dispute, a romance between Yenny and DJ Skillz amongst some classy chicken and waffles, and a face-off at the club with the School Gyrls once again. But the Girls decide to pursue the competition after all after a nice, big “Wonder Girls hug” and enter the competition behind JY’s back, wins it, and then admits that they’re actually huge superstars in Korea and forfeits the win to the School Gyrls like a boss. And in the end, School Gyrls and Wonder Girls hug it out and even join them for their worldwide tour. Oh, and DJ Skillz can come too.
In all honesty, the movie had its all-around good moments. In spite of myself, I found myself laughing at JY’s sassy accent (the Wonder Girls’ on-screen manager and real-life label owner). I thought the Girls’ English wasn’t half-bad either, and I was rather proud of their endeavor to enter the American market (again) through the teen stream. Yes, the movie was all sorts of cheesy and had its share of cringe-worthy moments, but as with any teen-targeted movie, it was the kind of “bad” that we love to watch.
The movie’s bad parts were what you would typically expect - the unnecessary fling with DJ Skillz, the overexcessive clapping and giggling, and so on. But mostly, I was looking out for the racial implications that could possibly be embedded within the movie. There were some, more apparent than others. I swear, the phrase “the Asian invasion!!!” was used at least five times throughout the movie. And there were the misinterpretations such as their tour guide saying, “It’s off the chain,” and one of the girls responding, “But we’re not wearing any chains!” (Ba-dam-chi!) But the part that got me was the final cat fight between the School Gyrls and the Wonder Girls. As the School Gyrls try to bring down their competition, the Filipino member in the School Gyrls (Monica Parales) tells her fellow members to cut it out with the Asian jokes. “Hey, I’m Asian too,” she says. Then she turns to the Wonder Girls and wishes them a hearty good luck and a smile, but she’s the only one. She even lingers for a half second as her fellow members turn their backs to the Wonder Girls with sassy finesse.
What bothered me was not so much the need to emphasize the Wonder Girls’ foreignness. In fact, this was an incremental part of the plot. But for ones of the lines from the School Gyrls to be, “You don’t belong here,” carried racist tones. In fact, one moment from the scene went:
“Where are you guys from anyway?”
“Well ya’ll need to go back.”
Why did this amateur singing contest turn into some sort of arena for racist undertones? Since when was this “diva-off” between the two girl groups turn into some sort of deeper outsider-insider-type confrontation? Forgive me if I’m being too sensitive, but the scriptwriters needed to be more careful about the sort of implications they were sending out to their preteen market.
It’s as if it’s not enough that stereotypes of colored people are ridden in our everyday lives. There was no real need to bring to pit the Asians against the non-Asians in this innocent context. What had built up to be a contest of dance moves and vocals turned into a weird, tense racial confrontation. It was really odd how fast this innocent teen movie had turned sour for a few minutes. Maybe it was just me, but maybe it wasn’t. While I could forgive the “Asian invasion”-s, this sort of dialogue was a bit too weird for me.
Nonetheless, it was exciting to see the Wonder Girls in mainstream television. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. I’d say watch the movie and judge for yourselves, if you haven’t streamed it already.
Although most newspapers obeyed orders from government authorities not to publish reports on the high-speed rail crash July 23, China’s Economic Observer ran a special this past weekend focusing on one 2-year-old girl who had been rescued from the crash.