By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
With Seattle’s rainy season underway, there’s no denying that fall is upon us and that much time has passed since our last meeting together. So let’s catch up and see what’s new with Asians and Asian Americans in pop culture!
Fox News takes on Chinatown and the presidential election
In a recent episode of “The O’Reilly Factor,” a news and talk show on Fox News, an incredibly racist segment about Asian Americans was featured. Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters ventured to New York City’s Chinatown to ask Asian American voters about the upcoming presidential election. Although the segment was touted as “informative,” it was anything but. From jokes about massage parlors to excessive use of wonton font, the entire bit was replete with offensive stereotypes.
Although Watters interviewed subjects who could discuss the election, he also went out of his way to interview residents with limited English speaking skills. Notably, Watters posed a question to an elderly Asian lady who was unable to respond because she could not understand English. The video is edited in a way that suggested that the woman’s limited English speaking skills displayed political ignorance.
The segment ends with O’Reilly and Watters chatting about how, even though the segment would garner angry letters, it was all done in “gentle fun.”
How is making fun of hackneyed stereotypes and language limitations considered “gentle fun?”
More importantly, is it still considered “gentle fun” when it’s at the expense of an entire race and culture?
Naturally, the incident did not go without response on social media, with many viewers lambasting Watters, O’Reilly, and Fox News for one of the most insensitive segments to air in recent memory. With all the recent news coverage on Asian Americans and their representation in the media, how is it that this feature got the green light to air?
Despite Watters’ segment, do not think Asian Americans are taking this upcoming election lightly.
As one of the largest Asian American voter registration drives in the nation, the #IAmAsianAmerican organization aims to get Asian American millennials out to vote through community events.
At a recent #IAmAsianAmerican gathering in Los Angeles, multicultural entertainment network Myx TV interviewed several notable Asian American actors for a PSA urging fellow Asian Americans to get registered and vote. The PSA included actors Hudson Yang and Forrest Wheeler from the sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” Albert Tsai from the sitcom “Dr. Ken,” and more. The point is loud and clear. Celebrities are coming out to engage and encourage people to vote!
Newly announced casts for television and film
Major castings for the film “Ocean’s 8,” the upcoming installment in the popular “Ocean’s 11” movie franchise, include Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina. Kaling is an actor, writer, and producer best known for starring in popular sitcoms like “The Office” and “The Mindy Project.” Awkwafina, whose real name is Nora Lum, is a popular rapper and actor who most recently starred in the comedy movie “Neighbors 2.” The addition of these two Asian Americans rounds out a star-studded female cast with heavyweights, including actors Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Anne Hathaway. No word yet on who Kaling and Awkwafina will play, but given that heists are common in the “Ocean’s 11” franchise, there’s a strong chance that we’ll get to see these two exercise specialized skills of sorts to pull off a con.
Disney Channel recently picked up a new pilot for a family sitcom titled “Andi Mack.” Created by Terri Minksy, the creator of the beloved and wildly successful Disney sitcom “Lizzie McGuire,” the series will star pre-teen newcomer Peyton Elizabeth Lee. The show will follow Andi as she’s about to celebrate her 13th birthday. However, when Andi’s older sister returns home, her arrival throws Andi’s life upside down and leaves her questioning everything she’s ever known. Lilan Bowden and Lauren Tom, both of Asian descent, will play Andi’s sister and mom, respectively. When I was a preteen, you’d never see a sitcom on Disney Channel starring an Asian American teen, let alone a whole cast of Asian Americans. I’m so glad that a show like this now exists for the new generation. “Andi Mack” will debut on Disney Channel in 2017.
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.