Asians Are the New Black…

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

“bonakidSOX” tweets me, “asians are the new black… @dantebasco thoughts?”

My first thought is… “Hell, yeah!”

But are we really?

I think we might just be. Is that statement saying were the new “in” fashion thing? I think our time has come, or is coming… or at very least, it’s about time!

I’ve think the time of Asian in American pop culture is starting to happen. African American community has been apart of American pop culture since before rock and roll, back to the blues and jazz. And in cinema they really started to get a their own voice heard through the seventies and still have their own corner of the market today in Hollywood. In the mid to late 90’s the whole Latin explosion happened in American pop culture with stars coming on the scene like Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin and the Latin voice in America continues to be heard on radio, in the movies and  on television. The Latin community even gets incredible recognition with the Latin Grammy’s and the Alma Awards, which have become big Hollywood events every year.

With great things like this happening for other ethnic communities in America in the last few decades, it only makes sense that the time for Asians will happen sooner or later… maybe its sooner… maybe it’s now!

But why hasn’t it happened yet? That’s a topic of discussion that always comes up when your around a group of Asian artists… Where is our voice in the American culture? Where is our piece of the pie? Things are not equal by any means when it comes to representation in the arts, at least not in film. I think there needs to be more stories told representing every ethnic group, but especially for Asians, and more specifically Asian American stories. It seems Hollywood is very apt to putting out and applauding films of foreign Asians like “Crouching Tiger…” and celebrating stars like Jackie Chan or Chow Yun Fat, and these guys are great stars and make great films, but they hardly even speak english! I’m just saying, most the Asians I know speak english and with no accents! And in my case, have no idea how to speak my native language (which is kind of sad & I know I need to learn it) and, though it may not have been true ten years ago… the “kid next door” today is probably an Asian kid. God knows, if you went to college, we’re all over that place.

The truth of the matter is although I think things can be much better when it comes to Asian representation in American pop culture, were actually probably at the highest point we’ve ever been. Seems every television show has got to have a token Asian in the cast (I’ll take that over not being included at all), there’s Lucy Liu, Harold & Kumar, (shout out to John Cho, he’s a friend and he has a blossoming career), one of the biggest athletes in the world is Asian, Manny Pacquiao (and he’s Filipino! & actually Tiger Woods is Asian too, although everyone seems to forget that, I mean, being that he says his dad is black, white and Indian,his mom is all Thai… He’s actually more Asian then anything!). Hell, they’re even remaking Hawaii 5-0 right now in Hawaii with Daniel Day Kim!

So yeah… “Asians ARE the new black”… Yeah, I’m down with that… At least I hope we are…

  1. Lurial says:

    I’d love to see more Asian-American stars in movies – as much as I love the foreign Asian stars that often show up on the big screen here in America, it would be nice to have someone make it big who was born and raised here in the US. The music industry tends to feel even worse – like Asian singers are almost barred from becoming music stars here in America, because the industry feels like it would be too much of a ‘risk’.

  2. Josette says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking this as well! I’ve been seeing more and more Asians in the media, from runway models to TV shows. If you watch TV, there’s always that Asian in a commercial or what-have-you. I am really excited to think that we are becoming more mainstream. Hopefully, we’ll get past that “token”/”exotic creature” stage and into main character stage sooner than later.

    I think our penetration into modern culture is stilted because middle America really doesn’t know much about us. The most contact they’ve had with Asian culture is food and kung fu movies. Not that that’s bad, but there is still a long way to go.

    Glad to see another post from you! You are very eloquent, and your blogs are always fun and insightful!

  3. Tomi says:

    I do feel like the rise of the Asians in the entertainment industry is coming soon – just look on YouTube. Even though the music industry is unwilling to take the risk of putting out and promoting a major Asian artist yet, we’re rising in popularity through the unofficial media. With guys like Jay Park, Ryan Higa, and Natalie Tran garnering tons of views and subscribers, it’s really only a matter of time before people start to realize that America is ready for some big time Asian entertainers. Many of the most famous dance crews are predominantly Asian and people dig it. I think there’s definitely a need for not only telling Asian American stories in the movie business but also just casting Asians for general roles – Justin Beiber’s music videos have showcased a white girl, latina girl, and a black girl … I say its time for an Azn chick!! lol

    • cDonnaF says:

      Dante, I sure hope this is true. From a purely selfish point of view, I’m fed up with having to sit through bland, characterless, cardboard performances from “actors” who happen to have the “right” kind of look, with no real ability. Give me good actors in a good story! That’s what I’ll pay to see.

      Tomi sez: Justin Beiber’s music videos have showcased a white girl, latina girl, and a black girl … I say its time for an Azn chick!! lol
      Ah, but according to AngryAsianMan, Bieber’s already been sharing the stage with Asian-Americans. He’s had the Filipino-American R&B group Legaci as his back-up singers. Check out the link:
      legaci and the age of the youtube musician
      Plus he’s got a whole Asian-American dance crew in one of his recent videos!
      asians! dancing! in justin bieber’s “somebody to love” music video

  4. goldlilys says:

    First time reading your blog. Been a fan of your work since Hook. Anyways, I was born in Philippines and came to the US when I was 9 so I pretty much grew up here. But unlike you, I can still speak and write in Tagalog.

    I found your site by reading comments about Avatar boycotting and wanted to know what you thought of it since you were the original voice of Zuko.

    As for “Asians are the new black”, this could have come earlier.

    I respect the Asian actors that are big in America (eg: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yan Fat, Lucy Liu, etc) except from these lists, these are actors mostly inclined to the “Asian Profiling” of must know martial arts like Kung Fu or Karate. Heck I used to be ignorant before too and thought all Asians besides Filipinos were “inchik” as Filipinos call it. But this Inchik only represents Chinese descent and does not count Japanese, Koreans, Laosians, Vietnamese, whatever other Asian countries. It’s a derogatory term that I try to avoid nowadays.

    When I started college, I got into watching Asian shows (Japanese, Chinese, Korean shows with English subtitles). From these shows, I gained insight that Hollywood is not the only film industry that can produce awesome movies, shows, and music. That our Asian counterparts have a lot more to offer than what the American media has to offer. American media is basically centered around other Non-Asian cultures (besides Kung-fu).

    I want to be able to see, for starters, an Asian American, to have a leading role in movies or TV shows. Which would have an awesomely written script and not just about martial arts. Proving that Asians can act, can sing, can be funny, can cry, can dance and be a star all on our own. All we need is a chance.

    PS: Sorry for making it too long.

  5. Zedster says:

    I found out about your blog from a crosspost of your Airbender post over @Racebending, and I was so impressed by what you had to say. It’s so refreshing to see that there are such thoughtful people in Hollywood—people of color, no less—who are not afraid to speak up about the glass ceiling that continues to be denied.

    I remember some years back I was at home watching TV when a Home Depot ad came on: it was of a girl and her dad talking about their kitchen. My brother and I got dead silent as we watched it, trying to figure out what was so different about the ad. And then I realized: both father and daughter were Asian. But it wasn’t that which made the ad unusual, it was that their race had nothing to do with their role on the commercial—no samurai or kung fu, no foreign stereotypes or anything. They were just people, sitting in a kitchen, remarking on how old their fridge was.

    I was at once happy, shocked, and sad: happy that Home Depot had made such an ad, shocked by the fact that the two were portrayed that way, and saddened by the fact that I found it shocking, so accustomed I am to seeing any POC in MSM and preparing to roll my eyes. But it was one of the first good examples of color-blind casting I had seen in a commercial.

    Here it is, albeit of very poor quality

  6. Bri says:

    I’m late with this comment. I know. Ive been a fan since 7th grade, but I never knew you had this blog.
    I do agree that asians are the new black. They deserve to be in the media more than they already are, but not in the stereotypical way they have been for decades.
    There are tons of asian american actors i’d like to see making it big.
    I remember seeing Camp Rock for the first time and I saw this absolutely gorgeous actress who I thought Disney might cast as the lead in a show. (they are always doing that). Anna Maria Perez de Tagle is her name, and I searced her up but I hardly found anything on her. And she did not get a show to my disappointment.
    But, recently, I’ve had a couple inspirations to write a some stories about asian americans. They’re all based on people that I know. My current novel in the works (definately in rough, rough draft form), is a teen horror and one of the main characters is half korean. I’m excited about the storyline, and he is by far my favorite character to write about. I fear the publishing companies won’t feel the same, though.
    But, I do hope one day soon this won’t be a concern.

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