Note: I was just going through some of my unpublished drafts of blog posts and re-read this one that I initially began writing 10 months ago. Sometimes when I’m blogging, I end up shelving it because I don’t yet feel I have a good grasp on what I’m saying. Or in the course of writing it, I’ll forget what my point was. Anyway, I thought that what I wrote here, while nothing new, was at least interesting to read. Take it or leave it.
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This is gonna sound strange and slightly out of context and maybe even a little like “wtf is this dude talkin’ about?“. But I feel like, with all the things I’ve been seeing and processing and feeling inside, I think that this century, in the U.S. at least, is going to be the century of the empowered Asian American. Or at least, I like to envision it as that kind of century. And honestly, I want to contribute and be a part of this “movement” that I’m sensing. It’s not a conscious (i.e. “visible”) movement to me, although some activists might try and paint it that way. Not a movement that’s got our people out in the street with signs and banners singing “Bring the Man down!“. Nah. It’s a silent movement. Like a stealthy ninja comin’ to murder your ass in the night. And ironically so, considering the stereotype of Asian peeps being quiet, passive people who don’t make a fuss. But I mean quiet more in the sense of, you don’t hear of it happening out in the street. You don’t see an Asian Malcolm X or an Asian Black Panther Party. Nothing like that. Where I see the movement happening is through the arts. Not just mass media. But in the independent, underground as well. I mean like, we always been there. In the background, before the shit really got big. Or doin’ our own thing out of a garage. We been there and we been contributing. And sometimes we make headway. But most times not enough to stay on the radar and become pop culturally relevant. The only time the spotlight does seem to shine bright is when you get William Hung-type Asians out on the main stage dancin’ and shakin’ their uncool ass to some god awful song and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, cause you’re just in shock goin’ “Is this shit for real?”
The thing is, we haven’t been normalized yet in U.S. pop culture. I think there’s more of us there now and it seems like we makin’ headway. But it’s never enough and it’s never gonna be enough. White people don’t stop tellin’ stories about themselves and their history and their culture and their heroes and villains because there’s infinitely more stories to tell. There’s lots of shades of white out there. Not enough of the other colors. There’s lots of Asians everywhere, driving trucks, mopping floors, flying planes….we’re not just one type of people. But we don’t see that being portrayed in our mythology yet. People of color have been obligated to identify with the Luke Skywalker’s on screen, but if Luke Skywalker had an Asian face, would white audiences be able to relate? I think they would actually. But no one’s thought enough outside their box to try so (at least not in any consistently normalized way).
I like the idea of mixing shit up, just to fuck with people’s normalized conceptions of what they expect to see, but then hitting them with something they never could’ve imagined. At the core of my art now, that’s what I wanna do. My ideas revolve around that. It will probably evolve, as long as I keep maturing. But right now that’s what really grabs me. Cause even when we do mix it up and play with perceptions, beneath it all there’s something human. And that’s what I’m really looking for.
The William Hung’s of the world wouldn’t really be much of a “problem” if we had broader representation. He’d be just another dude lookin’ silly rather than some “stain” on the representation of East Asian males in U.S. pop culture media. How many dorky ass white dudes can you find like him? But you see why we get so sensitive bout William Hung? Cause, with what little representation we have in popular media, we don’t want the “ugliness” of us to become the face of all of us. That’s why watchin’ Mickey Rooney do Mr. whatever-his-name-was in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is still painful to watch. It’s just like, fuck man. I’m tired of bein’ the exotic butt of the joke. I know we got our nerds and our geeks and our misfits, but I just don’t think of my people in the same way you portraying him in this movie. Not even the obnoxiously slimy bastard ones.
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