A-pop is a monthly column of all things Asian in popular culture
By Ninette Cheng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Last month was exciting in terms of entertainment news. Musicians made Asian American history, San Diego hosted its annual Asian Film Festival, Jon M. Chu’s career took off, Yao Ming returned to the basketball court, and Brenda Song received an award. Let’s get started!
Making beautiful music — for the mainstream!
For the week of Oct. 30, members of Far East Movement became the first Asian Americans to hit the top of the Billboard charts. Even more exciting was the fact that the number two spot was held by singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, who is of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent.
Far East Movement is made up of Kevin Nishimura “Kev Nish,” James Roh “Prohgress,” Jae Choung “J-Splif,” and Virman Coquia “DJ Virman.”
In a New York Daily News story, Oliver Wang, an assistant professor of sociology at California State University-Long Beach, said, “Far East Movement and Bruno Mars didn’t come just out of nowhere. There’s been a slow push to make it happen through social media. It’s finally hit that tipping point.”
San Diego’s Asian Film Festival: action-packed!
San Diego kicked off its 11th Annual Asian Film Festival on Oct. 21 with martial arts film “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen,” a Hong Kong film directed by Andrew Lau.
At the festival, Korean American Daniel Dae Kim was awarded the Influential Asian American Artist award for his television work in “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-O,” the latter of which has great ratings.
Kim also joined Harry Shum, Jr. (from “Glee”), Ellen Wong (from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”), C.S. Lee (from “Dexter”), and Aaron Yoo (from the remake of “Friday the 13th”) for a panel discussion on casting, graduate school, and stereotypes of Asian Americans in Hollywood.
The Wall Street Journal reported that all four actors emphasized the time and patience required for them to find success. Kim also said that race is still very much a hot issue for his role on “ Hawaii Five-O.” For example, the issue of race with his character’s love interest has become much more complicated than he ever imagined — would she be Asian like him? White? Another ethnicity? Kim states that whatever the decision is, it would have significant cultural ramifications. The film festival ended on Oct. 28.
However, for those looking for more Asian film festivals, the Toronto International Asian Reel Film Festival runs Nov. 9–15.
Jon M. Chu ‘Steps it Up’
Director Jon M. Chu is best known for his films “Step Up 2” and “Step Up 3D.” Both movies are about street dancing, and soon, he may be a household name.
The director’s Internet dance show “The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers,” premiered its second season on Hulu.com, an online video streaming site, on Oct. 26. Additionally, Chu’s work will also be seen on the big screen when his music documentary about Justin Beiber premiers early next year.
With a hit show and a film about one of music’s hottest properties, Chu just might be the next big thing.
Yao Ming returns
Yao Ming returned to the basketball court on Oct. 26, for the first time since the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
Unfortunately, he fouled out in less than 24 minutes. Yao scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Rockets lost to the Lakers in Los Angeles, 112–110. The Rockets lost their first three games: to the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Denver Nuggets. I hope they pick things up!
Brenda Song honored
On Oct. 25, Hmong and Thai American Brenda Song joined the cast of “The Social Network” to receive the Hollywood Ensemble Acting Award. In addition, star Andrew Garfield received the Breakthrough Award.
Aaron Sorkin received the screenwriter award.
“The Social Network” catapulted to number one at the box office during its first weekend, earning $23 million. As of Nov. 1, the drama has earned almost $80 million. It has received A’s from critics across the board. Congratulations to Song and her co-stars! ♦
Ninette Cheng can be reached at email@example.com.