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James Hong

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Asianz have come a long way

As I was growing up, asians in the US mass media were either depicted as hot subservient women that would make great newscasters or tekashi/long-duk-dong style nerds. Sure I played the violin (or piano) like every other asian kid too, but that didn't automatically make me an incompetent driving, accent sporting nerd.

There was a brief attempt in the 90's to change this, with Russell Wong getting his own show called the Vanishing Son , but 1) he's half asian and 2) he was still a martial arts expert. It was basically the show "Kung Fu" all over again, and it wasn't very good. There was also a rap group out of LA called the L.A. Boyz. They were pretty talented, but probably came to the conclusion that Asian rappers would never make it in the States in those days, so they had to go to Taiwan to build an audience.

So it's pretty cool to see a lot of Asians in the half generation behind me actually making it in the entertainment scene. One of my high school classmates, Tim Kang (pic left), is on some big CSI type show called the Mentalist.. and while I can't say that it is exactly my favorite show, it's nice to see that he isn't forced to fake an accent or anything. Is he a math whiz in the show or something that I don't know about? Also notable is John Cho from the Harold and Kumar series.. and even though he does play a somewhat anal asian stereotype, the dude likes to light up and that is new.

But the place you are really seeing it is in the music scene. I am a big fan of the MTV show America's Best Dance Crew, and quite consistently there are really strong asian teams on there. Many of them win. One of the members of the Black Eyed Peas is Filipino-American. The current lead singer of Journey is a Filipino dude that they actually discovered on YouTube. The reason I was just thinking about this is because I just realized that Far East Movement, the group that did that "Like A G6" and now "Rocketeer" song is a bunch of Asian dudes from LA. (In retrospect it should have been obvious they are Asian-Americans based on the name of their group, but the fact it wasn't probably says something).

I'm very happy to see this happening, and for once I think I will actually buy an album in order to support this effort. Anything to help erode lingering memories of Long Duk Hong ;) It's nice to think that Jackson will grow up in an environment where nobody's thinking he can't be cool because he's Asian.


Blogger SmellyCat said...

Although it's a bit difficult to tell out here from Beijing, I have the sense that besides Far East Movement, there is something really afoot amongst the teenage population and the stuff that director Jon Chu (the Justin Bieber movie, Step Up 3, LXD) and Harry Shum are doing. The whole LXD, street dance battles thing is really grassroots and social media friendly and their projects including LXD are really at the forefront beyond what what is usually available on broadcast media.

7:57 AM  

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