By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Hi, guys! This month in pop culture news, we have it all. We have research that flies in the face of decades of racist conventional wisdom. We have an Asian dream team coming together to make what will hopefully be the best romantic comedy there ever has been. We have sex cult stuff. And we also have a Vietnamese American actor who was driven off of social media because — guess why! — people were racist dicks to her.
I know, I want to go back to bed and hibernate there for a while, too.
Asian drivers are actually really good drivers, you racists
I’m a pretty conservative and cautious driver because I have anxiety about driving — which I think is pretty reasonable because car accidents are the leading cause of death in young people, worldwide. Driving a car is like driving a bomb, so yeah, I am totally that person that waits extra nervously for the entire road to clear out before I make a proper left turn.
I have received so much crap over the years from friends and cousins who have been in a car with me. They tell me I’m a “bad driver” for taking the preservation of their lives so freaking seriously.
They roll their eyes and tell me I drive slow even though I am driving five miles over the speed limit, and I am like, “Dude, I am already low-key breaking the law. What else do you want from me!”
And sometimes, someone will intimate to me that I drive the way I do because I’m Asian. To be clear, about 99 percent of people who have insulted me by calling me an Asian driver have been Asian (the other 1 percent is the random bold white person who is def being racist.). Asians are kind of offended that I’m not repping the race properly because I don’t treat my commute down I-5 like I’m racing for my life and busting criminals like I think I’m Dominic Toretto (that’s a “Fast and Furious” reference, for you non-fans.).
I’ve spent years railing against these dumb, misguided jerks, and now I have data to back it up. Last month, Augusta Press ran, “Myth-busting the ‘Bad Asian Driver’ myth: Car insurance rates don’t lie,” which showed that actuarial data — an insane amount of information that analysts pore over — show that “Asians are actually very skillful drivers,” and that our fatality rate is at least three times lower than any other ethnic/racial group.
I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, you’re right. I need to get new friends.
Dreamboats Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim are joining “Always Be My Maybe,” super Asian American movie
“Always Be My Maybe” is also known as the Ali Wong and Randall Park rom-com that is due out on Netflix sometime in the next year or so. The movie is about childhood sweethearts who have a falling out and don’t speak for 15 years. And then they reconnect and probably fall in love.
I am an unashamed and unabashed fan of romantic comedies, so I pretty much want to squeeze a puppy to death waiting for this to come out.
It’s unclear what roles Reeves and Kim will play, but I hope that Reeves repeats what he did in “Something’s Gotta Give” — he was the other man! Gasp! He was the charming boyfriend that the protagonist, Diane Keaton, leaves in order to be with “the one,” Jack Nicholson.
Oh, and just because he’s ambiguous, I should remind you that Reeves is Hapa, of white and also native Hawaiian and Chinese descent.
And I hope Kim either plays a cop, a bad guy character, or Park’s bff. BTW, aren’t we totally glad that Kim quit “Hawaii Five-0” in order to do these types of coolass projects?
This film is directed by Nahnatchka Khan, the creator of “Fresh Off the Boat.” Park, Wong, and Michael Golamco wrote the script.
Queen Daenerys is one-eighth Indian — and I’m supposed to care because …?
In an interview with Vanity Fair last month, Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones” and Qi’ra in “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” told the magazine that her maternal grandmother was half Indian and had to wear light makeup to pass as white. Clarke went on to speculate that because her grandma had to hide her skin color in order to desperately fit in, that must’ve been very difficult for her grandmother. The Vanity Fair piece ended that section with Clarke’s statement of, “So yeah: history of fighters.”
I found this bit to be rather self-important, and I rolled my eyes. Because you know what else results in a hard life? Not being able to pass for white at all.
And I know, I know. Maybe we shouldn’t compare experiences because maybe it’s like comparing apples and oranges — but I find it irritating when white people co-opt the struggles of people of color. I get this subtle PTSD, from all of the times I have heard a white person say that they get immigration — they get immigration because they had ancestors that immigrated to America on the Mayflower. After all, aren’t we all immigrants?
Like, no, bro. We are not.
Also, I am still not down with how Daenerys white-savior’ed up and down Essos. I might be holding what a fictional character did against this actor. Which isn’t really fair, but you know what? Life isn’t fair. That’s kind of what Clarke was trying to teach us in her Vanity Fair interview.
Grace Park and Kristin Kreuk are linked to sex cult
A few months ago, alleged cult leader Keith Raniere was arrested in Mexico because he ran an alleged cult, Nxivm (pronounced nexium, I believe), that trafficked women, branded them, starved them, and used them as personal sex slaves.
What is also bewildering are the actors that are linked to this alleged cult. Among those linked are Allison Mack (“Smallville”), who is really high up on the chain of command. She was taken into custody by law enforcement last month.
Others associated with this group include Nicki Clyne (“Battlestar Galactica”), Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville,” and Hapa, of Chinese descent), and Grace Park (“Hawaii Five-0” and “Battlestar Galactica,” of Korean descent). Basically, all of these actors have worked together. Most of them are from Canada. And two of them are Asian.
Kristin Kreuk has disavowed the alleged cult. She said it was an inspirational women’s empowerment group when she joined. News outlets are claiming that she supposedly fled the group as Mack deepened her own involvement.
Grace Park has said nothing publicly about her association with this alleged cult. She probably also joined it back when it apparently was just a women’s group. However, there are videos of her from a few years ago, talking with Raniere on the internet, extolling the virtues of the organization.
Mack and Raniere will stand trial on Oct. 1.
Kelly Marie Tran leaves Instagram because of cyberbullying
This week, Star Wars actor Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in “The Last Jedi,” deleted all of her posts on Instagram. While a reason wasn’t given for the deletions by Tran, there’s a lot of speculation that she left the social media platform because she has been cyberbullied for months. A lot of the abuse was based around her Vietnamese ethnicity, her appearance, and her weight.
Earlier this year in January, an anonymous fan uploaded a “de-feminized fan edit” of “The Last Jedi” that was only 46 minutes. This unauthorized edit of the film cut out all of the women and/or killed them.
This is actually why I generally don’t like blockbuster sci-fi or fantasy movies. The heroes tend to be epicly white and epicly male — when a movie dares to deviate from this — a bunch of terrible adults speak out against it in really racist and misogynistic ways, melodramatically whining about how seeing a Black man as the lead or seeing a woman as the lead has ruined their childhood.
Say what you will about rom-coms — but you do not see Nancy Meyers fans threatening to burn down buildings because Ali Wong is playing a woman who falls in love with a dude in super cute but slightly contrived circumstances.
- “Ocean’s 8” opens this week. It stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter. Besides Kaling and Awkwafina, other Asian-y aspects of this movie involve cameos by Zayn Malik (from One Direction, but come on, he’s more than that now), designer Alexander Wang, and Olivia Munn.
- There’s a Hapa man of Asian descent, John Graham, on “The Bachelorette.” He works in the Silicon Valley. He got a rose from the Bachelorette, Becca Kufrin, which means he’s still in the running for being her main squeeze. Maybe if he is charismatic enough and gets his heart brutally broken on national TV, we can see him next season as the Bachelor. But I will not hold my breath.
- Drew Scott married Linda Phan recently. Scott is the twin brother of Jonathan Scott, and they star in HGTV’s “Property Brothers.” Phan is creative director of Scott Brothers Entertainment.
- My favorite, Sandra Oh, currently stars in BBC America’s “Killing Eve.” The first season consists of eight episodes and is about Eve Polastri (Oh) who is an MI5 officer who tracks down a psychopath killer. This series has universal critical acclaim, proving to us that Oh has been an underrated treasure and was the best part of “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Killing Eve” has been renewed for a second season.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.