All Some things API in popular culture!
By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Sometimes I like to be my own worst critic and read my column through the lens of a conservative white YouTube video commenter. I imagine all the ways I can be mocked and derided. And then I feel like I’m in crisis because maybe I shouldn’t ever say any of my feelings out loud. That feels especially true with the content in this month’s column.
So let’s kick it off with how white people suck at travelling internationally!
White people will die in the apocalypse because they are picky eaters
The current bachelor on ABC’s “The Bachelor” is former pro football player Colton Underwood. He is blond, handsome, and really wholesome.
Underwood, 26, is a virgin and has talked about it on the show and in past iterations of the franchise. He said he wants to remove some stigma from what is a personal choice.
He also has never been out of the country and did so for the first time on the show, which took him to Singapore, then Vietnam and Portugal.
In Singapore, Underwood and his bevy of mostly-blond dates sampled Singaporean street food and freaked the hell out in the way that a lot of white, upper-middle class Americans do when they have to eat food that didn’t come from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. A female contestant and believer-of-true-love worried that eating pig feet will kill her.
I wish it did.
No, I’m kidding! That’s too dark, right?
Two female contestants rejected Vietnamese Bachelor to be with each other!
Dude, in the course of Googling video clips on how Underwood’s visit to Singapore and Vietnam went, I stumbled upon this unbelievable clip from Vietnam’s version of “The Bachelor.” In an episode that aired last fall, a woman, Minh Thu, started crying as she told the Bachelor, Nguyen Quoc Trung, that she went on the show to find love — and she did find what she was looking for. It’s not him (LOL, savage).
Minh then turned around and confessed to her fellow contestant, Truc Nhu, that she loved her. Minh implored Truc to go home with her.
Everyone around them was sobbing, and reportedly, the producers of the show were freaking out and going, OMG, what is happening right nowww?
And they kept the cameras rolling.
The two women embraced. Minh goes off-screen, and then Truc, who was massively shook, walked up to Nguyen with her rose and was like, trying to give it back. This dude totally tried to manipulate this woman into staying. I know this because I speak Vietnamese, and he spoke the Vietnamese language of males that I’m deeply familiar with.
No, I’m kidding! Is that too dark?
He said stuff about how she will really regret the crap out of her decision, if she were to leave. He told her that she has to consider carefully, because there are no take-backs. He told her that she was in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and not to squander it.
She went outside to talk to Minh. It was emotional as hell. They talked, and it was decided that they need to give each other more time because the claustrophobic nature of filming a reality show might be messing with their brains. Maybe it’s not really love.
So Truc returned to the show for an additional two episodes — before she told Nguyen that she was basically sure that he was not the one. She loves Minh. It is real.
And then she left the show again!
And according to “Bachelor: Vietnam” executive producer Anh Tran, the two women are currently together.
This is amazing.
First, I cannot believe that this is the first time this has ever happened on camera. You’d think that after so many iterations and so many contestants, this would’ve happened already. I’m kind of proud that it happened in Vietnam for the first time.
Secondly, Vietnam can be super conservative and its media are still censored. I’m surprised this episode aired the way it did. Good job, Vietnam!
OMG, [redacted] has the voice of an angel
American producers yoinked the premise of a wacky South Korean singing reality show — in which c-level celebrities (think Frank Stallone, instead of Sylvester) put on gorgeous, elaborate costumes and sing cover songs live to an audience. At the end of the night, the audience votes on their favorite performance and the celebrity with the least amount of votes gets unmasked.
In “The Masked Singer,” the celebrities may be professional athletes, comedians, models, or singers. (This seems kind of unfair, but I don’t care because I am here all day to watch a professional singer cover a Queen song in a monster costume.) The show is hosted by Nick Cannon, whose cheerfulness is supplemented by a celebrity panel that is like, 50 percent API. Yeah, for real. The judges are:
- R&B crooner Robin Thicke — the best overall judge, knows stuff about singing
- “Pop culture expert” Jenny McCarthy — about as useful as her anti-vaccine stance, clearly knows very little about Black performers
- Comedian Dr. Ken Jeong — the most adorable and funniest judge, mugs for the camera a lot, but also makes this heartbreaking face when he feels empathy
- Pop singer Nicole Scherzinger — classically trained, hilariously mean sometimes because she likes to low-key sneer and accuse people of not being professionally trained
Jeong is Korean and a medical doctor. Fun fact, his first name is actually Kendrick, not Kenneth. He has the same first name as a Pulitzer-winning rapper, and I love it. Scherzinger is of Native Hawaiian and Filipino descent.
My favorite performer-contestant is the Monster. My second fave is the Bee.
Are you watching this show? Do you know who are under the masks? Should we discuss later?
I’m completely obsessed. We go to press at Northwest Asian Weekly on Wednesday. That’s the same day that “The Masked Singer” airs. For the last month, I have a grueling work day, and then I go home and get emotional as I watch a man in a plushy costume just break my heart with his vocal inflections. It’s been great.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the previously ousted contestants was none other than Korean American Margaret Cho, who has a lovely karaoke voice, but is sadly no match against professional singers.
Speaking of Dr. Kendrick Jeong …
I actually shouldn’t write his name like that. It’s not good SEO.
Yo, Dr. Ken Jeong has a new Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho.” Ho is actually a reference to his wife, who is Vietnamese, whose last name is Ho.
Warning: He is a potty-mouth. He refers to Kaiser Permanente as “Kaiser-*******-Permanente.”
Def watch! It is directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu.
Who dat Asian?
When I was growing up in the 1990s, you barely saw any Asians on TV. You saw Black people, Latinos, and then an entire ocean of whiteness. The landscape is so different now. I mean, we’ve still got a ways to go before the people in front of and behind the camera matches the actual demographics of our country, but the number of Asian faces on my TV is shocking sometimes.
So here’s a rundown of random Asians that I have spotted on my TV in the last month:
Greta Lee on Netflix’s “Russian Doll”
Lee is Korean American and is one of those “funny actors.” Like, not really a comedian, but always plays parts that are a little bizarre and hilarious.
Bobby Lee and Lindsay Price on ABC’s “Splitting up Together”
You must know Lee from those nights you used to stay up late, watching “MADtv.” You might know Price from the millions of supporting roles she has played over the years. I know her best as Eric’s Japanese girlfriend, Linda, for one episode of “Boys Meets World.” In the episode, some tool at the mall says a racist slur to Linda, which makes her cry. The sight of her trauma teaches a very valuable lesson to the protagonist Corey, who up until then, had never heard of racism before because he is a privileged little white boy. Then, having fulfilled her duty, Linda is never heard from again.
Grace Park on “A Million Little Things”
You might know Park from “Battlestar Galactica” or “Hawaii Five-0,” but I know her for her silence in response to news breaking about her association with a terrible sex slavery cult.
Will Yun Lee and Christina Chang on “The Good Doctor”
“The Good Doctor” was brought to us from South Korea by Daniel Dae Kim. Lee plays an ex-cop-turned-doctor. Chang is Taiwanese American and plays Dr. Lim. She’s a hometown lady! She graduated from the University of Washington. I’m currently really interested in her character’s relationship with Dr. Neil Melendez (played by Nicholas Gonzalez) because they competed for the same job and also because they are both good-looking.
Anthony Wong, Katie Leung, Tom Wu, and others in “White Dragon”
This show is called “Strangers” in Britain, and I guess it underwent a name change when it moved across the pond because Americans like for things to sound a touch racist always. “White Dragon” is a British TV crime drama on Amazon Prime about a white British professor who goes to Hong Kong to investigate the death of his wife there.
You might know Leung as Cho Chang, Harry Potter’s Asian girlfriend in the “Harry Potter” movies.
Justin H. Min, Ben/Number Six in “Umbrella Academy”
“Umbrella Academy” is an ensemble drama about a dysfunctional superhero family that premiered on Netflix on Feb. 15. The source material from Dark Horse Comics portray the Hargreaves family as all racially white, but the Netflix adaptation features a pretty diverse cast, including Min.
Min is young and doesn’t have much acting credits (yet). He guest-starred in the first season, but from the way it ended, I suspect he’ll feature prominently in the second season, if the series gets renewed.
So, what’s Dwayne Johnson up to?
Guys, our fave is really busy. This month:
- Dwayne Johnson brought “The Titan Games,” a sports reality competition inspired by Johnson’s workouts, to NBC.
- He teamed up with English comedian Stephen Merchant (the coupling seems a little odd, but that makes it endearing, right?) for “Fighting with my Family,” an indie film about the career of a female professional wrestler.
- The trailer for “Hobbs and Shaw,” a “Fast and Furious” spin-off starring Johnson and Jason Statham, was released. This movie will make gazillions.
Also, reportedly, Johnson is good friends with Jon M. Chu, and was hurt he wasn’t in “Crazy Rich Asians.” The way Chu tells it to Access Hollywood, “The Rock did call me — he was mad that I didn’t call him for it. He was like, ‘We’re so proud, blah blah blah, why didn’t you call me for this?’”
You know what I got from that? The Rock apparently self-identifies as Asian-y enough to be in “Crazy Rich Asians.”
I told you! #AsianAdjacent.
Stacy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.