To begin, let me just say that I wholeheartedly agree with most of the article. It’s well written and worth the read.
The Asian male is the most under represented demographic group in any form of entertainment. Shows have been created to feature gays and lesbians, black men and black women, heavy people, skinny people, nerds and geeks, but there isn’t a single show that is based on an Asian guy.
That’s basically the premise and there’s no argument there.
There is no ethnic group in America that is less represented, less bankable, and easier to publicly insult than Asians.
The simplest example is that nobody gets fired when they clown on Asians.
Mainstream media makes a casually stated racist joke about a black American? Fired. The same situation for an Asian American? Eh, no biggie.
Football coach makes a Jap joke? Apologize and it’s done. Make a derisive joke about Koreans eating dogs on a late night talk show? Nobody even makes a stink. Make clanging sounds to imitate the Chinese language on a daytime television show? Make shitty apology and resume life.
Any other race in a similar situation? Fired. Immediately.
So why is that? Basically because the Asian influence in America is not that strong. More importantly, the Asian American rights groups don’t have the power or pull to force or affect change.
The lack of representation, respect, and bankability of Asian Americans in America segues perfectly into the part of the allkpop editorial that I disagreed with*.
*You could make the case that this editorial should have been about Asian Americans as a whole, not just Asian American males, because the Asian American females get the same stereotypical roles and are only more frequently cast because females are easier to sexualize. But that’s a different topic.
Besides the fact that it’s a common sense type of editorial that most people already knew about (especially their target audience), the solution it suggests to the problem of Asian American males not having influence is overly simplistic.
Executives in the TV, movie and music industries need to be agents of social change and push for more inclusion and open doors for actors and musicians. As more and more Asians enter the entertainment industries in the front offices or behind the camera, they need to do their part by pushing for Asians in roles, to help Asian musicians get air play. It’s not easy and no one ever said it would be but social equality has to be a priority in entertainment like it is in professional sports.
This is an odd solution.
In a way it’s advocating for special treatment, as if Hollywood has a duty to promote political agendas of certain minorities. Of course, the problem is that they don’t, as it’s a business for them.
The author even acknowledges that fact in the next paragraph.
At the end of the day, entertainment is a business and everyone will do what brings in the most money which is why the people with the most power are us. As fans and consumers, we have do our part by supporting Asian entertainers and show Hollywood and the music world that we are ready and the rest of the world is ready to see Asian men take larger and broader roles in today’s entertainment world. Support Asian actors and let your voices be heard through what you watch and what you buy. Your voice is much louder than you can possibly imagine, so use it.
I’m not sure why the author realizes this but doesn’t expand on it and instead chooses to blame Hollywood for everything.
To use an example from the author’s own article, Will Smith didn’t break down barriers because Hollywood felt they needed to make up for racial injustice and turn a random black actor into a movie star. No, he broke down barriers because he worked from the bottom up, making music as part of a rap duo, starring on the “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air“, and then specifically targeting movies with his manager that would make the most money based on observed trends of success.
Seriously? Yeah, seriously.
The math of moviemaking enthralls Smith, who calls himself a “student of universal patterns.” To hear him talk about analyzing the weekend box office with Lassiter is to see flashes of the aspiring engineer who almost attended MIT. “Every Monday morning, we sit down–’O.K., what happened this weekend, and what are the things that resemble things that have happened the last 10, 20, 30 weekends?’ It is so much fun to look at something everyone’s looking at to see if a different pattern comes out for you.” With Legend, Smith hopes to break one of Hollywood’s rigid rules. “Summer movies are about things that happen, and fall movies are about how people respond to things that happen,” he says. “The drill was to try to blend those two things, to make a movie that is 100% about following the character [scientist Robert Neville] and how the character reacts to what happened [the destruction of humanity].” Smith traditionally owns July 4 weekend, with things-that-happen movies like Independence Day. “There is a youthful energy that I have that fits during that time of release and rejuvenation,” he says, expressing a level of self-knowledge rare for people who make their living playing make-believe. For a December release like Legend, “I have to focus more ’cause it’s not my natural lane.”
A career axiom that Smith figured out early on still stymies plenty of big-name American actors. “Movie stars are made with worldwide box office,” Smith says. “You put a movie out in the U.S., and let’s say it breaks even. Then the studio needs you to go around the world and get profit. Being able to get $30 mil in England, 37 in Japan, 15 in Germany is what makes the studio support your movies differently than they support other actors’ movies.” He has built his global audience systematically: with each film, Smith introduces himself to a new people, often piggybacking on a local event that will attract worldwide attention. For Men in Black II, he toured in South Korea during the World Cup; for Hitch, he hit Brazil during carnival; for next year’s fallen-superhero tale Hancock, he’s trying to get into Beijing during the Olympics.
That shit right there is why he’s successful and breaks barriers. He didn’t just magically get handed everything, he put together a plan to prove he could be financially viable and then had the determination, intelligence, and talent to execute it … over and over and over again. He showed Hollywood executives that he could make them a ton of money and thus he changed the game. That’s how you get into the business, not by praying that Hollywood feels bad and gives you a shot.
Look, nobody doubts that there’s discrimination against Asian American males in the American entertainment business, but it’s not like a black American rapper from Philadelphia had it any easier in his quest to become relevant.
Hell, the article starts off by citing the success of Jeremy Lin, and he’s perfect for my point as he’s both an Asian American and a male. The fact of the matter is that he didn’t become a household name due to the NBA needing to fill some social or cultural Asian American quota. No, he became a household name because he did something that nobody else in NBA history ever did before, regardless of race.
I expanded on those two examples from the author’s own article to say that the blame doesn’t fall on Hollywood, but on the fact that Asian American males aren’t bankable in America to begin with.
That’s the reality, in my opinion.
As such, what needs to be explored here is not Hollywood, but the reason why Asian American males don’t resonate in America.
As the author states, the fans of Asian American entertainers need to speak with their wallets if they want Asians to have more power in the entertainment business. However, even that isn’t enough, as the cold reality is that the niche of fans who currently exist for Asian American entertainers pales in comparison to their peers, and they simply don’t wield the buying power that will matter to the decision making executives.
It’s a harsh reality, but the change and acceptance that has to occur in order for Asian American entertainers to have relevance must happen on the grander social and cultural level, not from a Hollywood welfare plan. The entertainment industry force feeding Asians to the public and going broke from it is not going to do any favors to anybody, and it won’t put a dent in the bias that America has against Asian Americans either.
In other words, affecting change in a societal and cultural sense should be the priority here, and if you want to put the blame on Hollywood by asking them where all the Asian guys are, then they have every right to ask right back, “Hey Asian guys, where’s our money?”
They aren’t still in business because they dole out welfare, they’re in it because they know how to make bank. It’s simplistic to cry for Hollywood to pay attention to Asian males, because the change that has to occur is much more complicated than that.
It’s already slowly getting better, as I see more Asian guys on television and film than I ever had before, but nobody said this was going to be an accelerated process.
Just ask the other minorities.