Interesting way of reading philosophy…bro style!
YouTube stars are empowered with a great deal of autonomy and agency in their work. With the support of large communities and beyond. They have inevitably made their contributions to the ongoing “Asian American Movement.” This movement requires progression. YouTubing is a tactic towards progression of the movement and does not necessarily lead to the conclusiveness of it.
The Asian American Movement:
The YouTube breakdown:
1) Motivation – what motivates the YouTuber to make a video and post it publicly?
2) Agency – the creator, the producer, the director, the editor
3) Platform – YouTube channel
4) Community – viewers, subscribers, and fans. definitely a change from AsianAvenue
5) Longevity – the survival of the YouTuber and his/her/their YouTube channel varies depending on the number of supporters, funding, personal desire to continue, etc.
Asian Americans in power: A move towards the multidimensional Asian American character.
The visibility of Asian Americans in the American public has definitely increased tremendously. However, I have yet to see more Asians and Asian Americans in Hollywood. More leading roles would be nice.
Perpetual foreigner. Model minority. Yellow peril. Dragon lady. Lotus blossom. Effeminate males. Accents. Buck teeth. Martial arts. Wisdom of Confucius. Bad driving. I think it’s safe to say that most of these ideas come from the media. I also think it’s time to lay these stereotypical and generalized images of Asians and Asian Americans to rest. There’s more to us than you think. There’s more to us than just Panda Express and ninjas. But I suppose ignorance is bliss.
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing number of Asian Americans visible in the media…primarily through YouTube. Each of these YouTube Stars usually embrace a particular identity and focus on their channels, attracting thousands to millions of subscribers and viewers. Many of these YouTube stars — Wong Fu Productions (Philip Wang, Ted Fu, and Wesley Chan), Niga Higa (Ryan Higa), Kevjumba (Kevin Wu), and DavidSoComedy (David So), just to name a few — employ humor (mostly racialized and/or stereotypical) in their videos.
These YouTube stars use humor as a tactic to respond to many stereotypes and perceptions of Asian Americans. But of course, the use of this kind of humor is not without its set of issues. This obviously doesn’t help rid of stereotypes, nor does it necessarily improve overall racial relations. These videos employ interesting ideas that “It’s okay to make fun of your own group of people. It’s not okay when another [white] person makes fun of Asians.” It’s obvious that these humorous videos can be problematic, but at least it attracts viewers and subscribers, right? It’s all in good humor.
1) We’ve got the producers and the directors.
2) We’ve got the music.
3) We’ve got the actors and actresses.
4) We’ve got the makeup artists.
5) We’ve got the red carpet.
6) We’ve got the fans!!!
7) We’ve even got merchandise!!!
8) …is there anything else we’re missing? We’ve got a community!
Wong Fu Productions. Kevjumba. NigaHiga. Jennifer Chung. Peter Chao. HappySlip. frmheadtotoe. David So. Cathy Nguyen. Jayesslee. David Choi. Freddie Wong. Michelle Phan. TimothyDeLaGhetto. Arden Cho. Harry Shum Jr.
When I was in grade school, I told my mom that I wanted to try more things. I wanted to try acting or something. “You can’t. You’re Chinese,” she would say.
My mother had a developed understanding that Asians can’t make it big in the American entertainment industry. Asians are faced with too many issues involving racism and discrimination. She would tell me, “Many white people discriminate against Asians. Asians also discriminate against other Asians. You’re going to have too hard of a time.” That peacefully ended my childhood imagination of a reality of being involved in the entertainment industry.
I suppose I’d have to agree with my mother to an extent. Asians just aren’t as visible in the American media. The media tends to collapse all of these identities and clump Asians together into two-dimensional, stereotypical, and often negative images. We are seen as simply “Asian,” thus leaving out the specifics of our differing cultures, histories, and experiences. The media neglects the Asian American identity as multifaceted.
What’s more, there aren’t too many Asians and Asian Americans that are visible in the American mainstream media as compared to other races and ethnic groups. More often people think of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Zhang Ziyi, and now perhaps Bobby Lee, John Cho, Kal Penn, and Ken Jeong. Okay, so we can name a few.
Wait. There’s a problem. The American public eye associates Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan with martial arts. Many of the roles that Lucy Liu and Zhang Ziyi play are exoticized and/or hypersexualized, often dealing with images of the “Dragon Lady” and the “Lotus Blossom.”
And then, there’s these guys: Bobby Lee, John Cho, Kal Penn, and Ken Jeong. These Asian American comedians and actors employ much racial humor into their work…
I’ve experienced plenty of instances surrounding the issue of “fitting in.” There were times when I am questioned by a non-Asian stranger of my fluency in the English language. “I wasn’t sure if you spoke English,” a white middle aged male said to me as I waited in line to buy ice cream. I hate it when this happens. There were other times when I am questioned of my fluency in the Chinese language. “Oh, so you’re an ABC. Your Cantonese isn’t too bad.” my relatives in China would say to me. There were also times when I just feel out of place. “Your English is very good. Where are you from? I can tell you’re not from around here,” remarked a male passerby as a friend and I chatted while we waited in line to see a pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China. Oh, how I loathe being a “perpetual foreigner” of this world.
We live in a very race conscious society. When people make comments about a person’s race, people are taking note of other people’s differences, positively or negatively. But why does race even matter? Why can’t our society simply be “color blind”? Can a “color blind” society even exist? To what extent?
As Lisa Nakamura mentions in her book, Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet:
So what’s my problem? Why does race matter so much? Isn’t it always there? Surely you cannot change who you are (to an extent). What’s the issue with race and the media?
My answer is that everyone is a consumer, consciously or subconsciously. Everyone consumes some form of media. The dissemination of news, weather reports, events, concerts, music, films, TV shows, and products relies heavily on the existence and use of the media. The media also tends to shape public perceptions of people. Actors and actresses portray the lives of characters. Films and TV shows portray some sort of world, which can either be real, imaginary, or somewhere inbetween. Nevertheless, many people tend to consume the media and the thoughts and ideas that go with it. The media tends to “set the norm” on how we should think, feel, and/or act.
I am also a consumer of the media because I am engaged with it. However, this does not mean that I am fully accepting of it. I have many issues with the American media that often surrounds itself with racialized humor and stereotyping. I’ll admit it. Some of these jokes I find funny, but not all. There are many portrayals and images in which I find offensive, appalling, and even hurtful. The “love you long time,” “Confucius says,” and “ching chong ting tong ling long” speeches have seriously got to go.
Many people may find it funny when an Asian guy shows up on televisions with an accent. I think there are boundaries to which this may be funny. Surely a comedy (nowadays) is meant to poke fun of almost everyone and everything (not that this isn’t problematic). But, remember when William Hung showed up on “American Idol”? At first, I found that episode to be funny. It wasn’t particularly because of his accent, but because of his awkwardness and strong confidence in his vocal and dancing abilities. Then, I started to cringe. His accent was indeed real. It started to remind me of my immigrant parents and how they struggled to learn English and get to where they are now. I thought about my parents, and I felt bad.
These racialized, stereotypical, and/or negative images of Asians and Asian Americans are transcended through the media. Race is everywhere. Race matters because it affects everyone.
Nakamura, Lisa. Introduction. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2008. 1-35. Print.
Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second Books, 2006. Print.
A few nights ago, I watched “Dear John” with my roommate. It’s the second time I’ve watched this movie since it was first released. It’s amazing how quickly time passes. Although I’ve only known her for about three months, I often feel as though I’ve known her for much longer than that. As strange as it sounds, sometimes all it takes is an intimate conversation and some tears to break the ice between two complete strangers.
It’s definitely different watching “Dear John” for the second time around, and it’s not only because I first watched it in theaters. Beyond the sappiness and superficiality that this type of movie tends to employ, I have grown to appreciate this movie so much more.
I am reminded that time is both significant and insignificant. You can be someone’s friend for over four years and yet be unaware of some of that person’s traits and tendencies. It is possible to know a person for three months and yet feel as though you’ve known this person for almost a lifetime. It can take only two weeks for two people to fall for each other. It can even take almost three years for a couple to separate. It seems that nothing can heal the wounds of a broken heart other than the passing of time. Just as an injury on my knee is healed into a faint scar, so are the moments of our lives eventually reduced to memories. It is only a matter of time. With time’s passing, we tend to cherish the good memories. We are able to reflect upon the past and hopefully become better and wiser people. For me, there is also the lingering hope that people can be reunited.
I have learned that people are planted into your life for a reason. Whether that person is an acquaintance, a roommate, a friend, or a boyfriend, I have learned that each of these people play a special role in shaping who you are today. Your family is always there to love and support you. You meet teachers and mentors who wholeheartedly help and inspire you to do greater things with your intellect and to pursue your passions. You meet unpleasant people who help you develop thicker skin and further your patience. You develop friends who not only create joy in your life, but they also support you during tough times and keep you accountable when you are wrong. A boyfriend is not necessarily your soulmate, although there is the possibility. I have grown to understand that just because two people care for and love each other, it does not necessarily mean that these people are meant to be together. Of course there were good memories that we want to cling onto, but we also have to remember that there were also unpleasant moments. Perhaps the boy’s role was to teach you some lessons in life and to prepare you for someone even greater. Or, perhaps that boy is the one for you but the both of you needed some time to grow. We cannot foresee what is ahead of us. A lot can happen in five years or even in just a few months. Life is a melody of black and white piano keys.
Someone once told me that the love and bond between two people is like two trains running on parallel tracks and moving towards the same direction. When these two trains begin to take different paths, that is when you realize that these two trains might have different destinations. These trains can possibly intersect and end up in the same destination, or they might not ever meet again. In any case, these trains must continue moving forward. We should not keep living in the past. Rather, we must learn from the past. We must move forward with our lives. The choice is ours to make.
Saying goodbye is never easy. I always want to believe in “see you later’s.” I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with change. A new haircut, a new school, a new living space, a new country, or even a new relationship can mean starting off on a cleaner slate. This kind of change can suggest something fresh and anew. On the other hand, change can also mean never being the same as it once was. I really want to live and work abroad, but I am also cast with many fears. Although I still believe in long distance relationships, I am also deeply aware that a lot can happen in the future. I am therefore afraid of farewells. At times I can be uncomfortable with change. I am afraid of forgetting, and I am afraid of being forgotten.
It still amazes me how small this world seems. What is the probability of meeting someone that you thought you would never see again? From what I’ve seen and experienced, the chances are shockingly high. There must be reasons for people entering and re-entering your life. This summer has helped reaffirm these beliefs. The time has also made me realize that it is possible for two very different people to get along and become very good friends. Similar interests, an open mind, a level of understanding, and some encouragements can truly help create solidarity and propel a lasting friendship. What’s amazing in a strong friendship is that friends can learn from each other.
For the past couple of months, I have learned that I need to be more receptive to people’s advice and that I need to be more accepting of people’s help. It is alright to ask for help. It is alright to do things for myself sometimes. Doing these things are not necessarily being selfish, but are rather being self-deserving (during some occasions). I realized that I tend to blame myself for many instances that happen, thus trapping myself into much self-degradation. I learned to be more assertive and confident in myself. I shouldn’t care so much about what other people think, but I cannot and will not stop caring about how others feel.
I’ve changed so much since I first watched “Dear John” with some friends. I’ve definitely grown so much since college. I’m excited yet terrified of this new chapter of my life. I am thrilled that I am another step closer towards my dream. I am also afraid of the many obstacles that I will face. However, I need to remind myself that these experiences are the stepping stones of my journey. A lot can happen. Things might not be what they are expected to be. Things can change. I can and will change. I must remember to be still in the Lord. I still have much to learn and much more growing to do.