Xavier Héraud 「Yu Zhou, de la Semaine LGBT Chinoise: « Dans la communauté chinoise en France, l’homosexualité reste encore souvent un tabou à cause du poids de la famille »」

Posted on February 26, 2015 commentaires
Yu Zhou à l'ouverture de la semaine LGBT Chinoise. - Photo : Xavier Héraud

Pourquoi une semaine LGBT Chinoise en France ? Réponse avec l'un de ses organisateurs.

La première semaine LGBT Chinoise qui se tient du 24 février au 3 mars bat actuellement son plein. Nous avons rencontré le président de l’association organisatrice.

Comment est née cette semaine LGBT Chinoise ?

L’idée de la Semaine LGBT chinoise est née lorsque j’ai assisté à la « Shanghai-Pride » en juin 2014. Certaines manifestations étaient organisées dans des consulats étrangers ou étaient contraintes de changer de lieu ou d’être annulées au dernier moment pour diverses raisons. Je me disais à l’époque que si l’on organisait quelque chose à Paris, il n’y aurait pas ce souci. Ensuite, je pense également que dans la communauté chinoise en France, l’homosexualité reste encore souvent un tabou à cause du poids de la famille, alors que la société française évolue vers plus d’ouverture, de tolérance sur cette question.

Mais c’est surtout la rencontre avec Jean-Jaques Augier [propriétaire de『Têtu』], sinologue et sinophile, avec qui nous avons co-fondé ce festival décembre 2014, qui a été déterminante.

Quels vont être les temps forts de cette semaine ?

Il y a au total neuf évènements, soirée, exposition, débat, projections, conférence, dîner et atelier. C’est aussi un événement culturel à l’occasion du Nouvel An chinois 2015, qui réunira des personnes de différentes origines et sensibilités, pour évoquer cet amour de la « pêche-partagée » (synonyme d’homosexualité) en Chine, sous l’aspect historique, politique, social et artistique. Le programme se trouve sur notre site.

Que peut-on dire que la situation des LGBT en Chine ?

La forte tradition familiale et le poids de la politique rendent l’évolution plus difficile et plus lente par rapport à la France. Cette citation de Mencuis, l’un des plus grands philosophes chinois du IVe siècle avant J.-C., « ne pas laisser de descendant est le pire manquement aux règles de piété filiale » reste toujours présente dans la tête des Chinois. Ensuite les médias, les ONG LGBT sont surveillés ET contrôlés par les pouvoirs politiques. Les mouvements LGBT en Chine n’auraient jamais la même ampleur qu’en France. Il faut aussi dire qu’en Chine, il n’y pas (ou très rarement) de haine, ou de violence contre les personnes LGBT. C’est plus une indifférence, une incompréhension, une discrimination et enfin, une négation de soi-même des personnes LGBT elles-mêmes.

Comment vit-on son appartenance à deux minorités (LGBT et chinois ou d’origine chinoise) en France ?

Nous avons deux microsphères : le Marais (ou des applications) pour les gays, le 13e arrondissement ou le quartier Arts et métiers (dans le Marais) pour les personnes d’origine chinoise. Et puis, on a notre Paris, l’Île-de-France, et la belle France. Que demanderait-on plus ?

Penses-tu qu’il y ait des préjugés contre les Chinois et les personnes asiatiques au sein même de la communauté LGBT ?

Même s’il n’y a que 10% de vérité dans ces préjugés (ceux sur le physique non compris), il vaudrait mieux que chacun de nous s’efforce d’abord de changer et de s’améliorer pour que ces préjugés n’aient plus de raison d’exister.

Publié par Xavier Héraud, co-fondateur de Yagg. Rédacteur en chef adjoint / Responsable développement.

La Semaine LGBT Chinoise à Paris
Official Website: http://www.semainelgbtchinoise.fr/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/semaineLGBTchinoise
もっと More

Lee Djane 「Ils m'appellent Chinois」

Posted on February 24, 2015 commentaires

Lee Djane 「Ils m'appellent Chinois」 - posted on February 24, 2015.

もっと More

GenderBen 「Racism in the World of Gay Apps – An Interview with Dang Nguyen」

Posted on February 21, 2015 commentaires
Dang is the creator of racistsofgrindr.tumblr.com – a site which allows submissions of screenshots of racially problematic encounters on the now infamous app, or similar. He offered me some of his time to talk about this issue.

Ben: Hi Dang, so tell me, where and how have you experienced racism in LGBTQ contexts?

Dang: Oh, well, it’s definitely most prevalent online and in hookup culture. I can’t speak for other orientations, but among MSM (men who have sex with men) you see it in people’s profiles as if it’s no big thing – “no Asians” or “no Indians” – or else in the way they see race first and a person second, whether or not they’re trying to be complimentary.

Ben: Do you think it’s more obvious as a digital phenomenon?

Dang: Definitely. It’s a cliché, but I do think it’s easier for people to be douchebags from behind a computer monitor. It gives us a sense of distance and helps us dehumanise the people we’re talking to, so we say and do shit we would never dream of doing in real life. So while a lot of people – I hope – would never verbalise their racism in the flesh, they feel perfectly comfortable doing it online because they can be reasonably confident they won’t get bottled for it.

Ben: What do you think of the defence ‘but it’s just a preference’, that can be used?

Dang: I think that the people who use it haven’t really examined its implications. Of course we all have our preferences, we’re all turned on by different things, but those things are informed by assumptions about those qualities to which we’re attracted. Some people like well-groomed men because of the assumption that they’re classy and genteel, while others like rugged men because of the assumption that they’re strong and masculine. I like well-read men who slow-dance because of the assumption that they’re intelligent and romantic. The same applies to race-pursuing, or dismissing someone based on their ethnicity. To do so is basically making an assumption about it, and in the case of Asian men, it’s assumed we’re effeminate and submissive. It’s even seen in those who are trying to turn it into a compliment. I’ve seen men describe Asians as being “smooth” and “cute” and “polite” – all terms denoting delicacy, infantilism and effeminacy.

It’s also fucking stupid in that Asians literally come in every shape, size and colour, from dark Sri Lankans to the most moon-pale Korean, from a big-bellied paterfamilias in Mongolia to a lithe nymph in Vietnam. So it’s not an aversion to the way we look, it’s an aversion to Asianness and all the assumptions that go with it.

Ben: Do you think that most people who fetishise Asian men sexually have a broadly similar conflation of what it means to ‘be’ Asian in mind?

Dang: Oh, definitely! If they specify that they prefer Asian men, ask them why. What is it they like about Asian men? Nine times out of ten they’ll reply with some shit about how Asian boys – and it is almost always “boys”, never men – are smooth, or polite, or friendly, or humble, or some other absurd trope that continues the grand tradition of inscrutable, submissive, sexless Orientals who are never a threat to white masculinity.

Ben: So it’s tied up in a power dynamic, then.

Dang: Partly, although I don’t think it’s a conscious domination thing. I mean, I don’t think white men are sitting at home thinking up new ways to retake Hong Kong and conquer the Celestial Empire for its tea and porcelain, but there’s definitely a reason why so many relationships between Asian men and white men have a not insignificant age disparity, as well as the fact that the language white men tend to use about Asian men has pretty heavy connotations of, well, effeminacy (I keep using that word!) which in turn has connotations of weakness. So yes, I do think there’s a power dynamic there.

Ben: How about responses these guys give to rejection, or being called out?

Dang: In both instances, I’ve found that white men tend to dismiss the people who reject or call them out. They can afford to – whiteness is normalised and reinforced everywhere as being not just the standard or the norm, but the ideal, while Asian men occupy a spot near the bottom of the totem pole of desirability. So if one Asian out of five calls out or rejects their racist bullshit, they can just block him and move on to the next Asian, because a lot of Asian men aren’t as picky. They feel like they can’t be.

Ben: Is it just blocking, or does it ever result in abuse? i’m imagining the potential for guys to be affronted, as if by giving their attention they’ve offered a compliment, positioning you as ‘ungrateful’, for instance. I’m imagining a parallel with when men who compliment women will say things like ‘yeah well you’re ugly anyway’ after a rejection.

Dang: It can. I mean, rejection always hurts, no matter how much of a pig-ignorant punk ass douchewaffle you are. Mostly I just get blocked because I tend to be pretty belligerent, but I’ve had a few men deliver parting blows at my bitchiness. One even called me “a yellow”. He used the particle and everything, it was so retro.

Ben: You say the totem pole – do you conceive of a fairly clear hierarchy then? who is situated where? Can you say a bit more about the idea that Asian men feel they can’t afford to be picky? where does that come from? Especially given how it implicitly positions rejecting racially problematic overtures as a ‘pickiness’!

Dang: There’s a very clear racialised hierarchy of gay attractiveness. White men are at the peak, of course. Beneath them are Latino men. Beneath them in turn are Middle Eastern and Black men, with Asians and Indians at the bottom. There are other hierarchies of attractiveness – body type, clique or “tribe”, scene or fetish – but I’m not sure I’d be qualified to pronounce on those.The fact is that white men are wanted by everyone, including each other. Those who will express interest in Asian men are in high demand but comparatively low supply. Asian men, however, are rarely wanted by anyone. Low demand and comparatively high supply. So when one of the sought-after white men is willing to fuck an Asian man, Asian men jockey for attention. It’s no secret that Asian men – just like men of every other colour – often prefer white men over other Asian men. So an Asian man who is willing to write off a potential white sexual partner is seen as picky, because he’s turning down a chance to have sex with one of the coveted Caucasians.

Ben: What do you think positions Latino men above Black and Middle Eastern men? or indeed those groups above Asian and Indian men?

Dang: The cynic in me wants to say that the racial totem pole is formatted according to proximity to white aesthetic values, but again, I think it’s based on certain assumptions about race. We have the Latin lover stereotype, in which both Hispanic men and women are stereotyped as being promiscuous and passionate. Middle Eastern men have the benefit of being more likely to appeal to Eurocentric aesthetic tastes while retaining a sense of exoticism and Otherness (both in a way that can be fetishised and rejected) while black male sexuality has a long and horrifying history of being stereotyped as threatening, but also wild and exciting. Asian and Indian men both suffer from being seen as intellectual, polite and dispassionate – whitefaced geisha and smiling grocery store owners and short but wealthy businessmen and computer technicians.

Ben: What do you say to people who would argue ‘if you don’t like it, don’t use the app!’ or ‘you can just ignore those people!’?

Dang: I think that I shouldn’t have to make room for the shitty behaviour of others. I shouldn’t have to avoid spaces I want to inhabit for fear of being casually dehumanised. Besides, if I just grin and bear it, I’m basically normalising it as an acceptable status quo.

Ben: Do you think there’s any room for men of colour to use racial profiling to their advantage? Playing up to a fantasy in order to procure sex with someone they like the look of, for instance.

Dang: Oh, definitely. If they’re willing to stomach it, they could have frequent and satisfying sex by playing the role set out for them. Many do. I did for a long time, because I was convinced I wouldn’t get a man any other way. There’s something in Sartre about that, isn’t there? Protect yourself from being objectified by pre-objectifying yourself. Make yourself an obscene object and people lose all their power to hurt you.

Ben: Finally, if you had to give any advice to queer men of colour who struggle with self-image due to racist standards of attractiveness, what would it be?

Dang: Don’t take it lying down. Don’t accept things the way they are. Shout, rant, get angry, spit venom, throw a molotov. Try to make it so that no one else ever has to feel the same way you did.

Dang Nguyen is a knot of serpents masquerading as a boy. His divinity has spent twenty-two years in its current mortal vessel, which resides in the principality of Melbourne, Australia. His hobbies include embroidery, literary analysis and the pursuit of ageless immortality.

もっと More

Xin Seha 신세하 「Tell Her」


Xin Seha 「맞닿음」 - from『24Town』released on February 21, 2015.

Directed by N’Ouir

もっと More

Jimmy Nguyen 「A New Era for Asian Americans in Starring Roles」

February 2015 will go down in history as a great month for Asian Americans in entertainment. For the first time in 20 years, U.S. network television has a sitcom led by an Asian American cast as ABC's 「Fresh Off The Boat」 premiered to strong ratings and good reviews. Days later, news came that George Takei's 「Allegiance」 musical about Japanese American interment during World War II is making it to Broadway; it will become the first Asian-led Broadway musical in over a decade. And for a proverbial cherry on top, ABC also greenlit a pilot for 「Dr. Ken」 — starring Ken Jeong from 「The Hangover」 movies and sitcom 「Community」. After years of waiting for greater representation of Asian performers, I hope this wave launches a new era: when Asian Americans can step out of the supporting shadows and into the spotlight as stars.

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I rarely saw Asian faces on television or in movies — unless they were in Kung Fu Theater martial arts films or in the annual Miss Universe pageant telecasts. That reinforced my keen awareness — as part of a Vietnamese immigrant family in the United States — that I was different. When I looked on screen, I did not find faces that reflected my life experience or inspired me as Asian American role models.

That's why I remember being so excited when Margaret Cho's 「All American Girl」 sitcom arrived (coincidentally also on ABC, the network behind 「Fresh Off The Boat」). It was 1994; I was in law school and I was knee-deep in pondering my chances for career succeed once I entered the legal world (a profession which even today still struggles with racial diversity challenges). Margaret Cho's sitcom debuted, and I remember thinking "This is it! This is the moment Asians are finally making it big in America!" Sadly, the series was cancelled after only one season — leaving me and other Asian Americans feeling like our moment arrived and evaporated in an instant.

Since then, we have periodically seen Asian American actors in motion picture and television roles. But except for the occasional 「Joy Luck Club」, Asian faces and storylines have usually been supporting players rather than project leads. Take, for example, The WB network's 「Charmed」 — the supernatural series about a trio of witch sisters. I was a big fan of the 1998-2006 series (and still love the re-runs). But I was always baffled about how a show set in San Francisco of all cities, lasting 8 seasons, had no regular Asian American cast member even in any supporting role. Occasionally, Asian American actors appeared for episodes with some Asian theme to the storyline (the Charmed Ones help the Zen Master protect the Dragon Blade!) — but that was it.

Of course, this is not a problem unique to Asian Americans. For all racial minority groups, entertainment projects can still showcase more diversity of actors and storylines. (And of course Hollywood awards shows can still do a better job of recognizing racial minority talent, as we see with this year's #OscarsSoWhite outcry). But Asian Americans have historically received even shorter shrift when it comes to starring roles.

There are certainly signs of improvement — Lucy Liu portrays the key second character in 「Elementary」, Ming-Na Wen is a main cast member in 「Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.」, and Mindy Kaling delights as star of 「The Mindy Project」. Significantly, John Cho broke barriers in the short-lived comedy series 「Selfie」 because he portrayed the mythical unicorn in Western entertainment: an Asian American man as the romantic lead. Here's a news alert: Asian men can in fact be hip, charming and sexy!

As more Asian faces star in American entertainment projects, they communicate an important message to everyone watching: Asian Americans are capable of playing any role — not just on camera, but also in life.

We are not just the martial artist, the concubine, or the nefarious villain.

We are not just the foreign exchange student, the nail salon worker, or the quiet math genius.

Asian Americans can be funny and dramatic.

We can be charismatic and romantic.

We are inspirers and leaders.

We are athletes and artists.

We work as lawyers, teachers, law enforcement officers, business owners, and in every other profession you can imagine.

While it may be just for entertainment, Asian American stars will inspire young people to believe that any career, any opportunity and any life is possible for them. And their storylines help break down racial stereotypes by teaching people — of all races — that Asian Americans have a full range of human experiences just like everyone else.

That's why I am rooting for 「Fresh Off the Boat」 and 「Allegiance」 to achieve long and profitable runs. Their success can pave the way for more Asian Americans — on screen, on stage and in life — to shine as stars.

Follow Jimmy Nguyen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jimmywinmedia

もっと More

Musk Ming 「Joke」

Posted on February 10, 2015 commentaires

Musk Ming 「Joke」【玩笑】(Chinese string version) - released on February 10, 2015.

Music video with MUSK MING performing "Joke" in Mandarin
© 2015 LightGeist

もっと More

4minute 포미닛 「Crazy」

Posted on February 09, 2015 commentaires

4minute 「Crazy」【미쳐】- from『Crazy』released on February 09, 2015.

Super morceau, super choré et super looks 90 (même le bob !), les 4Minute font fort pour leur retour. En un mot, c’est WOW.

Le clip version danse pour le plaisir :

4minute 「Crazy」【미쳐】(Choreography Ver.) - from『Crazy』released on February 09, 2015.

もっと More

Flash Flood Darlings 플래시 플러드 달링스 「Byeol」

Posted on February 06, 2015 commentaires

Flash Flood Darlings 「Byeol」【별】- from『Vorab and Tesoro』released on February 06, 2015.

もっと More

Shereen Marisol Meraji 「Steven Yeun’s ‘Glenn’: Slaying Zombies And Getting The Girl」

Posted on February 05, 2015 commentaires
Steven Yang & in 「The Walking Dead」

AMC’s 「The Walking Dead」 holds the record for the most-watched cable television drama. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about the zombie apocalypse and follows a group survivors trying to stay alive in Atlanta, Ga. If you’re a fan – and there are millions upon millions of us out there – you know that no character is safe, and you’ve got a favorite character that you don’t want to die.

Mine is Glenn Rhee. He’s the Korean pizza-delivery-guy-turned-zombie-killing ladies’ man who’s managed to stay alive since the beginning.

The show is back this Sunday after a brief hiatus to wrap up its fifth season and I’m very anxious. If my TV boo gets eaten or meets some other terrible fate, I’m honestly not sure I can keep watching. And most of us agree that if you’re going to off a character, that character should be Carl. (Can I get a cosign?)

In the interest of full disclosure: I did a couple of Google searches to find out more about the actor who plays Glenn (just out of curiosity, not stalker-ish). I found out that Steven Yeun happens to have a great personal story of his own.

But before we rewind all the way back to Yeun’s early life, we should talk about how the character he’s playing is bucking stereotypes and preconceived notions about Asian-American men. Glenn Rhee has evolved over the past four and a half seasons on 「Dead」: the formerly smart-mouthed supply runner has become a zombie-slaying leading man. It’s a big departure from the Asian-American guy who rarely gets the girl because he’s the tech-geek sidekick – if he’s on TV at all.

That’s decidedly not Glenn. He not only gets the girl – that romantic interest is, “a hot white chick on the most watched cable drama in the history of TV,” according to Harrison Pak, Yeun’s friend and fellow Stir-Friday Night! alumnus.

That’s not gone unnoticed: Randall Park and Eddie Huang, from the new ABC comedy, 「Fresh Off The Boat」, laughed in an interview on the 「Joe Rogan Experience」 saying Jet Li never even got to shake Aaliyah’s hand in the 2000 film 「Romeo Must Die」 and that it took the end of the world for the Asian dude to finally get some. “Maybe it takes the zombie apocalypse to transcend racial politics,” Pak jokes.

Yeun says that if he was just sitting on his couch watching TV, he’d be thrilled to see a character like Glenn and he loves playing him because there are so many layers to the role. “I get to be the funny guy with the one-liners, I get to be the romantic male in the group, and I’ve been able to be a bad-ass on occasion,” Yeun says. “Actors only dream of an opportunity like this.”

His dream became real not long after he left Chicago’s improv scene, where he performed with Stir-Friday Night! and The Second City troupe. When Yeun moved to Los Angeles, he figured he might land something on a comedy because that’s where his roots lie. 「The Walking Dead」 was only his second audition after relocating, and a handful of years later, he’s not only one of the longest-surviving (and popular) characters on a hit drama, but a sex symbol to teenagers as well as grown women who swoon over him on social media.

The way Yeun tells it, none of this would have happened without his parents’ sacrifices. When he was around 5, they left Seoul, South Korea, (where his father was a successful architect) to come to North America. They settled in Regina, Saskatchewan.

“My cousins told me the first job we all collectively did was putting chopsticks in those paper sleeves,” Yeun says. His parents moved from chopstick sorting to denim jean stocking at his uncle’s store in Michigan. They eventually saved enough to open a couple of beauty supply stores in Detroit, where they still work on their feet for 10 to 12 hours a day.

Yeun says that not too long ago he asked his dad if he ever wanted to give up and go back to Korea. “My dad told me the first year he was in Michigan, he was stocking jeans at my uncle’s store and he assessed what was going on and got super pissed off,” he said. “He kicked a box that he thought was filled with jeans, but it was filled with concrete cinder blocks and he almost broke his foot.”

Yeun comes from a very religious family; his father took the cinder block injury as a sign from God. Stick with the plan. Keep working.

But Yeun says that for years, his father questioned whether coming to the U.S. was the right move for the family. And Yeun’s decision to become an actor didn’t ease his father’s anxieties.

“I didn’t do the prestigious things they expected of me,” he says. “I didn’t go to med school, I didn’t go to law school, I instead asked them if I could be an actor. That was, to them, like, ‘Oh man, should we have come to America?’”

Yeun says his father would answer that question very differently today. “Without a doubt he’s very happy that he came here,” Yeun says. And between work and church, his parents always manage to watch him on 「The Walking Dead」. “They don’t understand it completely, so they get some bootlegged version with subtitles,” he says.

Yeun hopes between acting and the restaurant ventures he has cooking up with his brother, he can entice his parents to retire from the beauty supply business and relax. “But they’ll never retire,” he says. “Korean parents never retire.”

Let’s hope the same is true for Glenn, Yeun’s 「Dead」 character. I, for one, am hoping that when 「The Walking Dead」’s fifth season resumes, Glenn Rhee will keep slaying zombies, lovin’ on Maggie, and never, ever “retire.” Ever.

もっと More

Kat Chow 「A Brief, Weird History Of Squashed Asian-American TV Shows」

ABC’s new family sitcom 「Fresh Off The Boat」 is making big waves in the conversation about how Asian-Americans are depicted on TV in the U.S. – which, for the most part, is sparsely.

“Culturally, we are in an ice age,” celebrity chef Eddie Huang said in a recent『New York Times』profile. Huang’s memoir of the same name inspired the show. “We don’t even have fire. We don’t even have the wheel,” he wrote. “If this can be the first wheel, maybe others can make three more.”

People have tried to get this wheel rolling before. Margaret Cho’s 「All-American Girl」 aired briefly in the 1990s. And before that, there was 「Mr. T And Tina」 in 1976, a family sitcom starring Pat Morita (you may know him as Mr. Miyagi).

We decided to take a look back at shows that featured Asian-American leads (or themes, in the case of 「Kung Fu」). Like 「Fresh Off The Boat」, some of these were called “groundbreaking” in their time, though most have wound up with little more than IMDB pages marking their existence. Maybe 「Fresh Off The Boat」 will be different.

「Kung Fu」

ABC, October 1972-April 1975, 63 episodes
Created by Ed Spielman
Directed/produced by Jerry Thorpe
Co-written and co-produced by Herman Miller
David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine
Keye Luke as Master Po

Set in the mid-19th century, Kwai Chang Caine is a half-Asian, half-white, kung fu-practicing Shaolin monk who wanders the old American West searching for his long-lost half-brother and the mysterious story of his roots.

“As an Oriental,” a『Washington Post』critic wrote in 1972, “[Caine] is regarded by Occidentals with suspicion and contempt. All of which the Shaolin priest responds to with spiritual presence, quiet strength and humility. All of which provides script writers with endless possibilities, enough material to run the series for years, if only enough viewers will respond.”

As it turned out, the show ended after just three years, when Carradine decided to quit. (He later reprised his role in 1986 for 「Kung Fu: The Movie」.) But viewers did respond; the show topped Nielsen ratings in its first season and went on to snag Emmys for best director and best cinematography in 1973.

(And we can’t talk about 「Kung Fu」 without addressing its controversy. After Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, his wife, Linda, said that he had come up with the concept of the show and that Warner Bros. had stolen it from him. The network denied this. In an earlier interview with Pierre Berton – possibly Lee’s only one – the star mentioned a Western-style show called 「The Warrior」 that incorporated kung fu. He said he was struggling to develop the show with Paramount and Warner Bros.)

「Gung Ho」

ABC, 1986-1987
Gedde Watanabe as Kaz Kazuhiro
Scott Bakula as Hunt Stevenson
Patti Yasutake as Umeki Kazuhiro

「Gung Ho」, a TV comedy about an American car company that’s been acquired by a Japanese manufacturer, couldn’t have aired at a worse time. The U.S. auto industry was in free fall, and anti-immigrant sentiment ran high across the Rust Belt. And just a few years earlier in Detroit, a Chinese-American named Vincent Chin had been mistaken for a Japanese auto worker and beaten to death. 「Gung Ho」 lasted nine episodes and was the lowest-rated program in 1987.

Its intro gives you a sense of how tonally off the show (based off of a movie of the same name, starring Michael Keaton) was.

Newspaper critics also blasted the show for its portrayals of Asian-Americans.

“「Gung Ho」... is one of the more overtly racist television series to hit the airwaves since 「Amos and Andy」,” TV critic Ruth Daniel wrote in the『Chicago Sun-Times』. “But since the jokes are directed toward the Japanese, who represent something of a minority’s minority in the United States, ABC may be gambling that 「Gung Ho」 will generate a minimum of protest.”

The series was also compared to 「Mr. T And Tina」 (ABC, 1976), which co-starred Pat Morita, best-known as 「Karate Kid」’s Mr. Miyagi, and was one of the very first American sitcoms to feature an Asian-American lead – and was also panned as racist.

“「Gung Ho」... is so blithely crude in its portrayal of Asian characters that it should be called ‘Model T And Tina,’” wrote Noel Holston, a writer at the『Minneapolis Star Tribune』.

And, fun fact: Watanabe, one of 「Gung Ho」’s leads, also played the cringeworthy Long Duk Dong in 「Sixteen Candles」.


ABC, 1987-1988
Pat Morita as Lt. Ohara
Robert Clohessy as Lt. George Shaver

After Pat Morita’s string of roles in 「Mr. T And Tina」 and 「Karate Kid」, he went on to play a Japanese-American police lieutenant named Lt. Ohara. Ohara used the power of meditation to solve crimes in Los Angeles and often said things like, “The winter is cold, but the robin has a song to sing” or “The ox without a cart is only good for slaughter.”

This clip is a good example:

「Brandon Lee - O'Hara Part 1」 - posted on September 08, 2008.

Morita insisted these odd nuggets of wisdom weren’t his idea. “Hey, I wouldn’t pass these kinds of sayings down from one generation to another,” Morita said in one interview. “This stuff comes from the writers.”

The hourlong dramedy lasted just two seasons.

「Vanishing Son」

Universal Television, 1994-1995 (13 episodes)
Created by Rob Cohen
Russell Wong as Jian-Wa Chang
Chi Muoi Lo as Wago Chang
Jason LeLand Adams as Agent Dan Sandler

One of the first American dramas to portray Asian-American men as attractive and desirable, this hourlong martial arts drama featured an often shirtless Russell Wong, whose multitudinous lady admirers were both Asian and not. (You could say he was the 「Walking Dead」’s Steven Yeun of the 1990s.) Wong’s Jian-Wa escapes to the U.S., with his brother, after a student crackdown in Beijing. The brother gets killed, Wong gets framed, and he spends the rest of the 13-episode series “using his wisdom, music, and martial arts skills to solve problems along the way.”

But for many viewers, the plot was not the show’s main attraction. 「Vanishing Son」 “relies on a rather large dose of hunk factor,” Jeff Yip wrote in the『Los Angeles Times』in 1995.

A part of Universal TV’s “Action Pack” block in the mid-1990s – alongside 「Hercules」, 「Bandit」 and 「TekWar」 – the show first appeared as set of six made-for-TV movies. It got replaced by 「Xena」.

「The Chang Family Saves The World」
Pilot for ABC in 2002. Never aired.
Produced and written by John Ridley (「Twelve Years a Slave」, 「Three Kings」)
With Nia Peeples, Lauren Tom (「Joy Luck Club」), Dante Basco (「Hook」), Byron Mann

There’s not much information about it, but the IMDB description speaks for itself: “「Fame」 phenomenon Nia Peeples is the star of 「Meet The Changs」, a TV pilot about the mystical story of a Chinese family.” (Around this same time, Ridley also produced another sitcom pilot that never made it to air: 「I Got You」, which starred Ming-Na Wen, Duane Martin, Eric Kan and Suzy Nakamura.)

Guy Aoki, creator of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, chatted with me and said he saw the pilot in 2002 and described it as “horrendous.”

Interestingly, this isn’t the only John Ridley-helmed project starring an Asian-American lead that never made it past a pilot. 「I Got You」 was supposed to be about an Asian woman in a relationship with a black man and would have starred Ming-Na Wen (「Joy Luck Club」’s June), Burt Bulos (「Beverly Hills Ninja」), and Duane Martin (「Real Husbands Of Hollywood」).

Before you go hollerin’ in the comments, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list. We wanted to highlight lesser-known network shows with Asian-American ensemble casts or ones that dealt more explicitly with race. Let us know below what we missed.

もっと More