The producer of the Nickelodeon ‘K-pop’ show “Make It Pop” (which stars Megan Lee) joked that he would never have Asian males on his show, according to a first-person account of an individual present at a meeting. I have no idea if the story’s true or not, but the writer of the account was willing to name names later on and it’s been spreading around quickly on Reddit, so it’s too amusing to not at least mention.
This morning I sat in a boardroom meeting with TV executives and producers to hear about their new live action kids show “Make It Pop”, a K-pop (Korean pop) inspired musical comedy. I was excited to hear Asian culture was beginning to influence the western mainstream, and when they told me two out of the three main female leads were Asian girls (a Korean and a Chinese Malaysian), I was delighted… that was, until I found out the show had no Asian guys in them. Surprise (not really): only white guys are in the show as the love interests for the Asian girls.
After the producer’s presentation, during the Q&A, I mustered up the courage to ask “Will there be an Asian guy in it”? In a joking manner, the producer said “Nope! Never! Asian guys in my show, not gonna happen!”, while everyone else–albeit uncomfortably–laughed it off. Come on now, it’s a show about Korean pop. Half the artists from the K-pop industry are Asian men. Most K-pop fans are actually non-Asian girls / women who are a fan of K-pop men. Excluding Asian men in K-pop is like going to Hooters without scantily clad waitresses – nobody wins. The producer began to answer the question seriously and said he was hoping to get PSY to play the father of the main Korean girl. Mentally, I was shaking my head in disappointment.
1) I have no idea how true this is. It almost sounds TOO stereotypical to even believe, where like the evil white overseers mock Asian people in private.
2) Then again, there are so many situations where similar things actually do happen like this, and the lack of representation for just normal Asian characters obviously makes it believable.
3) Additionally, in the comments of the original article, the author singles out a Thomas Lynch (or Tom Lynch) as the guy who said it, which is oddly specific. Oh yeah, and his company (Tom Lynch Company) is indeed working on “Make It Pop”.
In any case, as regular readers know by now, I don’t take stuff like this too personal, regardless if it hits my demo or not. But like with other issues, it’s worth at least pointing out the obvious and grounding with reality here. The offense is not the “joke” about Asian dudes, but rather the implicit reality that Asian men can comfortably be used as a punchline (“BLACK WOMEN IN MY SHOW?! LMAO!” would go over … poorly), and that a show like this would never be done in reverse. A group of teenage Asian boys who all find love with white girls, and then a showrunner says “jokingly”, “No Asian girls on my show! LULULULULZ!” Yeah, will never happen.
As far as credibility goes, I was less inclined to believe the story until it got oddly specific, and if nothing else, I hope we get a response just for the drama potential.