A monthly column about all things Asian in popular culture
By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
The holiday season typically compels people to perform acts of goodwill despite conflicts and differences. This season, however, is off to a poor start with all the hate that’s been spewed about Asians lately. What ever happened to the holiday spirit? Read on to see how racists made like the Grinch this past month and stole away all notions of common decency from their fellow man.
“Red Dawn” instills xenophobia among Twitter idiots
One of the big draws of this year’s holiday box office is the action war film “Red Dawn” — a remake of the 1984 film of the same name. It follows an insurgent group of American teens as they defend the United States from North Korean troops who attempt to conquer the nation with their weapons of mass destruction and massive military force.
Yes, that’s right. The North Korean troops — as in ill-equipped, early Cold War-era army of North Korea somehow manages to invade the continental United States.
Clearly, this is an escapist flick, and one that makes it necessary to check your disbelief at the door before viewing.
In the original script of “Red Dawn,” the Asian invaders were supposed to be from China. While this admittedly would have been more believable due to China’s resources, this change was only made because no film distributors would carry the flick lest it jeopardize potential profits in the Chinese market. So, the producers didn’t want to offend Chinese investors and audiences, but apparently it’s still okay to lambast other Asian ethnicities?
Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the film bred a strong anti-Asian sentiment among viewers. A film blog post for wsj.com featured an interview with “Red Dawn” producer Tripp Vinson who claimed, “To me, the movie is about these kids stepping up in an impossible situation — the ultimate underdog story. We make it clear in the very beginning that this is an alternate world, it’s a different America. So it’s not about who the enemy is. The enemy could be anybody.”
Sure, it could be anybody. But you could also rewrite the script to use alien invaders to still get across the idea of an “underdog” and avoid public shaming of any ethnicity altogether. The fact still remains that the villains were written Asian. And, while Vinson espouses this idea that viewers should view the enemy as “anybody,” the sad fact is that many people are unable to make that difference for themselves.
Some “Red Dawn” fans tweeted about how the movie instilled them with American patriotism while also declaring a newfound — and, in some cases, justified — hatred of Asians. The most ridiculous tweets were the ones that told Asians to not take the ensuing racism from “Red Dawn” personally.
When someone tells you that they want to kill your entire race based on a fictional war movie, but hey, don’t take it as a personal attack, how should you respond exactly?
I, for one, think impressionable moviegoers who perpetuate racism are idiots. So, don’t take that personally either.
Twitter idiots also find ways to spread racism through award shows
“Red Dawn” wasn’t the only incident to send the Twitterverse in an uproar against Asians. Korean rap star Psy continued his world domination on all things pop culture, and appeared on the American Music Awards (AMA) to perform his hit single “Gangnam Style” live on the show, as well as its iconic dance alongside American rapper MC Hammer.
Maybe it’s because the music video for “Gangnam Style” is entirely in Korean, or maybe people just be hating because Psy is Asian, but several viewers took to Twitter to spew racial slurs about his appearance on the show, claiming the AMA is an American spectacle, so non-American performers like Psy have no place in it.
Come on, guys. Why all this racism when you can support other favorite non-American artists for actual AMA award nominations and wins?
How about the Canadian-born pop superstar Justin Bieber, who won the award for Artist of the Year? Or Carly Rae Jepsen who, too, is Canadian, and still took home the title of Favorite New Artist? And then there’s Shakira, the Colombian singer best-known for her catchy Latin pop tunes, and who also won the top title in the Artist, Latin category — an award category that doesn’t even have anything to do with American music or culture.
Case in point, Twitter idiots. Try not to let your racism blind you from something that is genuinely fun and awesome like Psy and his sweet dance moves.
Goodbye to a music trio
You know who would be able to write up a fun rap ditty about all this rampant racism? Brooklyn-based alternative hip hop group Das Racist.
Or, they could have had they not recently broken up. The group consisted of three MCs, including Indian American rappers Himanshu “Heems” Suri and Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu, as well as Victor “Kool A.D.” Vaszquez, who is of Cuban and Italian descent. The group was often noted for their use of academia, pop culture, and Internet humor in their funky music, which often highlighted race issues.
Although the group has been around since 2008, it appears as if the members were drifting apart to pursue their respective professional interests. Suffice it to say that this is a big loss for the music world and fans of progressive music everywhere. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.