Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yellowface In Hollywood. The Saga Continues.

Here we go again. Hollywood's perpetual yellowface in blockbuster films continues. Never mind that Hollywood repeatedly fails to deliver brilliant performances based on popular selling novels and video games, Cloud Atlas is yet another forgone opportunity for an Asian American MALE actor to shatter antiquated stereotypes and finally play a role that reflects reality. I don't know about you, but all of my Asian American guy friends aren't comic reliefs, hanging from wires, demonstrating martial arts or speaking with thick Chinese accents. Warner Bros. could have easily chosen an Asian or Asian American male actor to reflect the times. Instead, Hollywood's predisposition to choose white actors in yellowface was sufficient just like they did with The Last Airbender, 21, Dragonball-Z, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Kung Fu...
"Asian men are not allowed to get intimate with beautiful women on screen." -Behind closed doors 
The movie is based on the novel, Cloud Atlas, which consists of six nested stories interwoven from the perspective of the main character of each subsequent story. One of those stories takes place in a futuristic Korea where actress Doona Bae plays Sonmi's character next to her white cast mate Jim Sturgess, you know, the same guy who played the lead role, originally an Asian from MIT in 21.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Actor & Comedian Randall Park Does It In The Sandbox

Korean American actor and comical genius Randall Park does it again. I've blogged about his creative funny works before in the Dr. Miracles mini series. This time around he's put together a funny short about playing in the sandbox as a minority outcast only to impart a comparable kind of racist behavior against his new found friend. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Was Melo Hatin' On Yellow? A Look At Jeremy Lin's Departure From NYC

Jeremy Lin's back in action being on the front cover of zines. Only this time, it's not for ESPN or Sports Illustrated but for the gentlemans' magazine, GQ, their November 2012 issue. The published article covers a candid interview with Jeremy Lin and his rise from being a no name D-League player to becoming a household name in America.

Much of the interview discusses what happened with him during the Knicks advocated "test the market" period that eventually lead to Lin's departure for Houston, one that he was not anticipating. It was only after the New York franchise failed to match Houston's generous offer of $25 million after three seasons with the team that Lin decided to take off like a Rocket. Pun intended. The team who he thought embraced him really didn't. 

I had a hunch after Melo returned from his groin injury that the two could not co-exist and execute as a winning team as they had been with Linsanity running the show. In fact, I believe Melo was the reason why the Knicks game suffered after he returned and also the reason for coach Mike D'Antoni and finally Lin's departure. This is just my opinion. Cry foul all you want, but it wasn't just me who believed this. ESPN released an article that aligns with my suspicion. Here's what I mean, 
"Lin was getting what Carmelo was promised," says a source close to the team. "And Carmelo thought D'Antoni was going to favor Jeremy, so he had to get D'Antoni out of there.
"It works out perfect for Carmelo. There's little if any of his DNA on there."
I also found it odd how Melo, given his professional stature, would denounce his teammates newfound glory contract of $25 million by saying it was "ridiculous" when he was supposedly very supportive of Lin. It's just not professional to do period, but here's where it gets even more interesting. An unnamed source close to the Knicks speaks of Melo saying,
"He needs to be around someone who is feared, someone who could tell him what to do. He just couldn't see Jeremy Lin that way. He could see Kobe and LeBron that way in the Olympics, sure, but not Jeremy Lin. Carmelo's whole thing is perception."
I've witnessed this occurrence in the business world frequently as well. Thankfully, there are a number of Indians who are leveraging their ethnic community to network and rise above the ranks and create their own destiny. Still, there is this unspoken perception that Asian Americans are not meant to be leaders or alphas where non-Asians just can't see Asian Americans in leadership roles (see Paper Tigers).

I hope Jeremy Lin has an even better year in Houston taking the team all the way to the finals and helps turn that preconceived notion on its head. In the meantime, I hope to do my part to change this perception too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

With Every Psy Comes Another *Sigh*

As I sit here typing this, I open up another tab on my browser and search for "Gangnam Style" on YouTube, curious to see how many more views Psy has accumulated since yesterday. Psy has garnered over 510 million views on YouTube and captivated the world with its crazy horse riding maneuvers making appearances on The Today Show, Ellen, VMA music awards, etc. Thank you America for being so openminded to embrace someone like Psy to run the US airwaves even if it does end up being a flash in the pan. Strangely enough, with all of the fame and fortune that coattails with Psy comes another *sigh*. 

Whether you like the song or not, you have to give it up to the guy for cracking the American market and becoming a cultural icon in less than a month. Psy's comical infectious horse riding dance is too hard to resist and not laugh at, which is where the controversy around the "Gangnam Style" begins. When will America embrace Asian males as sex symbols for the female population and not just as comic reliefs?

As happy as I am for Psy cracking the US market, my whole contention and consternation with his current popularity status is the mere fact that he's all satire, not sex or sizzle. Don't get me wrong. Psy is an entertaining and respectable guy in Korea, but his onstage goofy, flamboyant persona reinforces a long-lived stereotype where ethnic male minorities are constantly being made a mockery of having to be laughed at or laughed with (as if this is any better). It isn't as if he's viewed any differently by the Korean population, but the irrefutable difference is, in Psy's homeland of Korea, there are other Korean male celebrities who do serve as bona fide sex symbols for the female audience.

There were several blogs that I read recently which compelled me to write about this. The first is from Psy And The Acceptable Asian Man, on Racialicious. The author does a fantastic job summarizing all of the moments in American entertainment history where the Asian male leads did not get the girl, and were once again pigeonholed into stereotypical roles: the asexual martial artist, the clown, the geek, the villain. And yes, I made a premature prognostication that K-Pop boy band Big Bang would dominate the world music scene before Psy would take the world by storm, because as the author of the blog argues,
...the potential threat of Asian male sexuality is clearly not and, therefore, for heterosexual Asian and Asian American men to see mainstream success, it genuinely helps not only to fit one of the pre-ordained acceptable Asian male roles (nerd, martial artist, gangster, and clown), but also to avoid any positive displays of sexuality and presenting yourself in a manner that can be seen as desirable to heterosexual women.
Then again, it's not just Asians who've had to struggle with this type of systemic racism issued by the white-dominated mainstream media and entertainment. Blacks have dealt with this for generations being typecast as comics and still do to a certain extent unless your name is Will Smith or Denzel Washington. See Spin's response in the bottom Comments section of this article.

This mentality transcends the realm of entertainment by bleeding into the mindset of, sadly, too many non-Asian males. Ben Efsaneyim writes about his discovery of INP's blog who describes in great detail her dating experience as an expat in Korea, and the unfortunate flack she receives from Western males for dating the locals. Wow! You want to be envious and discriminatory in your country, that's one thing, but to go to a foreign land by where the males of that country rule and roam, and to behave the same envious racist way is absolutely asinine. See Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch douchbaggery here.

Thus, I'm not surprised why Tiger JK would go on a rampage like he did the other day chewing out those stupid foreign white hecklers for rudely interrupting his performance on stage when he was spittin'. Some say Tiger JK's response was akin to Michael Richards, AKA Kramer, when he went on a diatribe calling black people the n-word repeatedly. Nothing could be further from the truth! First off, Tiger JK is not a comic, he's a raw emcee. Tiger JK grew up around Los Angeles, CA as an Asian-American and most likely encountered all kinds of racism for his ethnicity during his youth when humans are probably the most psychologically vulnerable. Second, never mind that the hecklers were being disruptive and disrespectful to begin with, but their comments were fueled by racism. Had the hecklers yelled out cries of generic "boos" only, then by all means, Tiger JK should be found guilty, but that was not the case. They provoked him with racially motivated heckling. Amy argues this perfectly in her Seoulbeats article (yes, I'll assume Amy is female),
The burden of being on the receiving end of racism — whether obvious or invisible — is not something that is negated because he cursed out a couple of white hecklers and then went on to curse a group of people (“white boys”) and a system (Hollywood). These people and that system are at fault for creating an image and upholding racist beliefs that give those white hecklers the idea that they are entitled to demand the horse dance from Tiger JK. It is because of those white hecklers’ white privilege that they think they have the right to repeatedly interrupt JK’s set, that he stop what he’s doing to do the horse dance.
Tiger JK, who has nothing to do with Psy, who has nothing to do with “Gangnam Style,” who has nothing to do with anything related to this phenomenon, other than the sole fact that he is Asian like Psy is Asian. And in the minds of those hecklers, JK and Psy are probably interchangeable because of they are both Asian, and that is racist. They probably didn’t have any intention of acting like racists, but just the act of expecting certain things from JK because he is X like Psy is X, or conflating the two, is racist. People of color have to deal with these subtle acts of racism in disgusting frequency because the actions of people who happen to be their race are equalized as being the actions of entire races.
I applaud Tiger JK for standing up for himself, and all Asian males for that matter, who are sick and tired of being plagued by the same, ongoing Asian stereotypes popularized by similar racist "white boys". I also applaud Amy for standing up for the Asian community coming to Tiger JK's defense. Try to argue against Tiger JK all you want for lashing out, but from my understanding of the situation there weren't any Koreans in the audience who were crying out to Tiger JK, "Do the horse-riding dance!" Just like I don't go to a NaS concert and yell out, "Teach me how to dougie!" when he's is about to rip the mic, they shouldn't have either, because the two are completely independent individuals and musical genres.

I was bit irritated by the whirlwind of news around Psy recently, but now that I've put it down on paper electronically, I'm also pretty happy, because Asian and Asian American males are viewed as a threat to the hegemonic power structure. This is flattering to be quite honest. In spite of all of this negativity, I shouldn't forget the progress Asian and Asian-American males have made within the last decade. I guess my sigh can now be one filled with more relief.
  • Jeremy Lin, NBA and The Rockets
  • Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead
  • Tim Kang, The Mentalist
  • Far East Movement, Cherry Hill Records
  • Daniel Dae Kim, Hawaii Five-0
  • Yul Kwon, Survivor
  • Eliot Chang, Comedian (and gets the ladies)
  • BIGBANG, See my previous blog posts on the K-Pop group
  • Justin Lin, Powerhouse Hollywood Director
  • Tony Hsieh, CEO of
  • Asian Playboy, ABC's of Attraction
Shall I keep going?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Different Kind of Asian-American Band

I'm not one to listen to this genre of music, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize talent when I see it, and this band definitely has it. They're called Monsters Calling Home. Now that I've grown so accustomed to seeing Asians make R&B, dance and ballad tunes, discovering a new type of sound coming from a group of Asian artists is incredibly refreshing.

Honda chose them recently to be in one of their commercials since they filmed their single "Fight to Keep" in their Hondas. Pretty creative and original if you ask me. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steven Yeun On Conan

First time I saw Steven Yeun it was on YouTube a couple of years ago where he played this Asian-American male character out in Chicago. He's in this scene with his buddy buying some BYC Korean underwear explaining the importance of it in order to get the ladies. I tried searching for it on YouTube again, but came up unsuccessful.

Who would've thought that same guy wind up on becoming part of one of the most popular shows in America as Glenn on The Walking Dead? Great to see a regular, English speaking Asian-American male coming on a late night talkshow like Conan. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Destroy & Rebuild Comes Back To Life

What's up everyone? For those of you who check back occasionally to see how I'm doing I want to give a big thanks. I have almost 50,000 views in total since I started this blog and so today I decided I wanted to reincarnate MaSir Jones into a positive voice for Asian-Americans. Not just the males, but the females as well. In fact, I changed my blog from "MaSir Jones" to "Destroy To Rebuild". As much of a fan I am of NaS, one of the greatest emcees in hip hop, I want to ditch the name to avoid any legal troubles.

I've gone through a variety of bitter, happy and fulfilling times with this blog. Today I'd like to start a new and say, "I'm ba~~~~ck!"