By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
In this month’s column, I pretty much rip into stuff that many people really, really love. I’m pre-emptively sorry for trying to taint your childhood memories.
Dear Abby thinks kids should have white people names
Some white guy recently wrote to Abigail Van Buren, better known as the author of the popular “Dear Abby” advice column, to ask Abby to settle this ongoing argument he has with his wife, who is ethnically Indian. They’re arguing over what to name their children, with the guy saying that he thinks white American names are the way to go because life would be easier for the kid. His wife wants a nod to her heritage and wants them to consider an Indian name. They are at an impasse.
First off, we know that this guy is a great husband because the first thing I do when I disagree with my significant other’s desire to pay homage to their cultural heritage is to definitely reach out to an old white woman that I don’t know to ask her to weigh in on this personal discussion, knowing full well she’ll probably choose my side so that I can shove my own rightness into the face of my spouse.
So Dear Abby straight up agreed with the husband to the tune of, “Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully. Sometimes the name can be a problematic word in the English language.
And one that sounds beautiful in a foreign language can be grating in English. I hope your wife will rethink this. Why saddle a kid with a name he or she will have to explain or correct with friends, teachers, and fellow employees, from childhood into adulthood?”
So both of these people are jerks, and I don’t think it’s overstated for me to say that I really hope that guy’s wife divorces him.
I’m also more optimistic than he is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dealt with a customer service rep who asks me for my name, and I’m like, “Stacy Win,” because I simplify my last name for non-Viets. Customer service rep always is spelling it out like, “Oh, so D-A-I-S-Y-N-G-U-Y-E-N?” And I am like, holy crap, I am so impressed with you!
‘Iron Fist’ got cancelled. Ha! HAHAHAHA!
I feel like I’ve been talking about this for years, but I hate this stupid Netflix-Marvel show starring Loras Tyrell, a white man who comes back from being missing for years and is inexplicably better at martial arts than Asians that study it for decades, if not generations.
Well, “Iron Fist” is finally cancelled! I don’t know exactly why because Netflix released a statement that was totally bland and boring, so I know they are lying to us. Netflix also doesn’t release their viewership numbers. But I like to think the show was cancelled because it was hot garbage, and Netflix can’t hold onto glamorized appropriation if it wasn’t netting them enough viewers.
(Side note: “Luke Cage” was also cancelled, which is a bummer.)
There’s a hot Asian guy on “Insecure” now
“Insecure” recently wrapped up its third season. Created from the brain of Issa Rae, who is Senegalese American (dad) and Black (mom) in heritage, HBO’s “Insecure” is an awesome show centered around early 30s Black femalehood.
I’ve been watching “Insecure” from the get-go, and I’m an enthusiastic fan so bear with me. In the first season at a nonprofit fundraiser, an Asian man awkwardly and sweetly flirted with the best friend character of Molly (played by Yvonne Orji), who professed to see herself in relationships with only Black men because of cultural kinship. She shot down the Asian guy and then behind his back, rudely called him Jackie Chan and said he was too thirsty.
Guys, when I watched that scene, it was like a stab to the heart.
Well, Molly has redeemed herself! Fast forward to this third season, Molly met Andrew (Alexander Hodge, who is ethnically Chinese — maybe even full Chinese, but his name just throws me, you know?), and oh my God, they are going to give this relationship a shot!
This is a big deal because “Insecure” is a popular show that gets a lot of critical love.
Insecure is also depicting a relationship between two demographics that respectively get the least amount of romantic play in popular culture and also on dating apps — the Black woman and the Asian man. This is so special, to see the depiction of this kind of interracial relationship, and I’m so happy for the representation!
They are probably going to break up next season though. No, don’t say that, Stacy.
Manny Jacinto cast in “Top Gun: Maverick,” ensuring that I will now watch “Top Gun”
I don’t like to watch Tom Cruise movies because they remind me that Hollywood and the American public will suspend their disbelief and will watch this geriatric cultist jump out of airplanes and off of buildings without breaking a sweat, but the same Hollywood would not let Scarlett Johansson have her own Black Widow movie for years.
So I was gonna boycott “Top Gun: Maverick” because Tom Cruise annoys me. However! It was announced that Manny Jacinto (“The Good Place”) will be joining the film’s wildly white cast as Fritz, another pilot. Yay!
Jacinto is Filipino Canadian and generally plays a beautiful, dumb ditz on TV, which I love because I love it when Asian men are hot and stupid on TV. No, I’m joking. Sort of. You know what I mean!
Guys, are you also worried Constance Wu is going to leave “Fresh Off the Boat” because she’s a star now?
Dude, it happened with Johnny Depp and “21 Jump Street,” George Clooney and “ER,” and Will Smith and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — these actors went off and made a movie while on hiatus from their show, and then their movie was a hit and their star profile just blew UP. And then the star left the show and their lesser-known actor-colleagues behind.
Is this what is happening with Constance Wu?
She recently signed on for a lead role in the upcoming crime drama brought to us by Jennifer Lopez. “Hustlers” is about strippers who band together to turn the tables on their wealthy Wall Street clients. It will be a departure for Wu, who is known for her comedic, more lighthearted roles.
“Fresh Off the Boat” also premiered in October. It’s now in its fifth season. Enjoy it while it lasts, guys. I don’t think it’s long for this world.
Harry Potter snake is actually human now — and played by an Asian woman
For you non-nerds out there, J.K. Rowling is a white English woman gajillionaire who wrote an insanely popular children’s book series starring a white boy wizard and his two white best friends. This super pale trio fight against magic-based bigotry and genocide, which is meant to be allegorical and analogous with like, the normal kind of ethnic bigotry and genocide that you and I are familiar with in real life.
In the “Harry Potter” series — the eponymous hero totally defeats Voldemort, aka a stand-in for Hitler, and saves humanity from further bigotry.
For real, there are very few people of color in “Harry Potter.” There’s Dean Thomas, Cho Chang, Parvati and Padma Patil, but that might be about it? Oh! And Lee Jordan!
So the dearth of characters of color makes it especially notable that Claudia Kim has been cast in the prequel movie, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” She will play Nagini, Voldemort’s snake and a horcrux. (Guys, I can’t tell if that’s a legit spoiler or not. Many of you probably don’t even know what that means, so we good?)
Kim’s casting is controversial because — well, I always thought Nagini was just straight up a snake and not a person? So it feels a bit like revisionist history — but beyond that!
People are also worried about this role exemplifying more Dragon Lady stereotypes.
I’m going to reserve judgement for now. It’s cool that we’re seeing more Asian actors in big roles, and maybe we shouldn’t rush to judge before we see what is actually going on.
Unless Tom Cruise is starring in the movie, then it’s completely okay to pre-judge.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.