By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
We’re only a month into the New Year, but things have certainly started off with a bang in pop culture! Read on for the monthly news roundup for all things Asian and entertainment these last few weeks.
From the Golden Globes to TLC: All things Margaret Cho
The 2015 Golden Globes was its usual Caucasian celebrity-studded spectacle this year with the exception of one very obvious person, Korean American comedian Margaret Cho.
Throughout the Golden Globes, Cho participated in a running gag, which saw her as a pop culture-savvy Army General from North Korea complete with a uniform, powdered face, and a broken English accent. Given the recent news surrounding the irreverent comedy film “The Interview” and the subsequent Sony hack that rocked the entertainment industry, Cho was invited onto the awards show to poke fun at the North Korean government.
Reactions to Cho’s impersonation were split. Many critics called her skits minstrelsy, claiming she played into the hands of an extremely Caucasian audience that historically has little to no Asian representation. Cho remains unfazed by her haters and cited free speech as a motivating factor in her decision to participate.
While I wouldn’t call Cho’s Golden Globes stunt racist (or funny for that matter), they were fundamentally racial. Mostly, the gag felt trite and overdone. The North Korean government has long been easy fodder for sitcoms, late night talk shows, and comedy films. Given Cho’s natural charisma and wit, couldn’t the Golden Globes have come up with a provocative skit that was at least more original?
Speaking of Cho, she recently got her first late-night talk show! Cho’s new late night panel-style talk show is titled “All About Sex,” which focuses on observations on the latest and craziest “sex-related news” to ongoing dialogues about relationships from incoming callers. If there is any comedian who is up to the task of addressing potentially outrageous topics and discussions on sex, it’s Cho. “All About Sex” currently airs on Saturday nights at 11:00pm on TLC.
Aziz Ansari fights back at Rupert Murdoch
In light of the recent terrorism attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in Paris, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch posted the following tweet, “Maybe most Moslems [sic] peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer, they must be held responsible.”
Indian American comedian Aziz Ansari, who comes from a Muslim family, saw this tweet and started lampooning the media CEO with a barrage of gleefully vicious responses, mocking Murdoch for his generalization of an entire religion based on a few radical representatives.
Ansari retorted back at Murdoch, asking, “Are you responsible for all the evil [expletive] all Christians do?” He then initiated the hashtag “#RupertsFault” on Twitter to facetiously blame and hold the media mogul and his Christian beliefs responsible for anything evil in the world associated with Christians. The hashtag gained momentum with Ansari’s followers, which quickly saw Twitter users satirizing Murdoch’s original tweet.
What’s the lesson here? Don’t generalize people. A few bad eggs do not represent an entire group.
“Fresh Off the Boat” premiere date nears
The all-Asian cast of “Fresh Off the Boat” recently participated in an ABC Television Critics Association panel to promote the show’s upcoming premiere. “Fresh Off the Boat” is a sitcom based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s experiences growing up in a Taiwanese-Chinese family in Florida during the 1990s.
The panel’s very first question of the day came from an unidentified reporter who said, “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?”
This question was asked without a trace of irony, folks.
Actress Constance Wu, who stars on the show, along with Huang and Executive
Producer Nahnatchka Khan, all quipped that the sitcom indeed would be “all about chopsticks.” Oblivious to their tongue in cheek replies, the gullible reporter continued on with questioning, asking, “Will there be more about the [Asian] culture or is it more about them becoming more American?”
The panel — which included actor Randall Park — continued to answer the reporter’s questions with a series of in-jokes and quips about chopsticks in order to draw attention to the racist and stereotypical implications of the reporter’s questions. Sadly, this attempt at poking fun at racial ignorance still went over the reporter’s head.
Can you believe these asinine questions were actually asked in front of a live audience? Kudos to the cast, executive show staff, and Huang for handling the questions with cheek and quick wit. “Fresh Off the Boat” premieres on Feb. 10 on ABC. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.