By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
This column, I feel like, is largely about how Asian people fall prey to things out of their control.
This column is about how Asian people fall prey to their inability to metabolize alcohol for instance. It’s also about how SNL fell prey to their over-reliance on hiring white dudes who are probably great at impressions and casual racism. And it’s about how John Cho fell prey to —maybe—a stunt move his body wasn’t ready for.
Taiwanese people most susceptible to Asian flush! Science!
According to a study by Stanford-Taiwan ALDH2 Deficiency Research, the Asian Flush affects more than 560 million East Asians. Also? A whopping 45 to 47 percent of the Taiwanese population suffer from it. As a point of comparison, China has the second highest rate, at about 35 percent. Japan and Korea follow with 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively. About 5 percent of Europeans suffer from this.
The Asian Flush is actually a mostly chill genetic disease where a person cannot break down alcohol in the body because they are deficient in the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase. While it’s just kind of an embarrassing nuisance when Asians want to get lit, the Asian Flush can increase the likelihood of more serious conditions like pancreatic and esophageal cancer if people with this disease continue drinking alcohol.
The study also gives a shoutout to Asian teetotalers who don’t succumb to alcoholism due to the Asian Flush, which kind of makes me look at all the Asian alcoholics I know with new eyes.
SNL makes history! Should we be impressed?
Back in September, “Saturday Night Live” made history in 2019 by hiring its very first Asian cast member, Bowen Yang. Yang had previously been an SNL writer and has various acting credits that includes “Broad City” and “High Maintenance.”
Yang finally becoming an SNL cast member reminds me of the time I got into an argument with my friend from New Zealand. She was like, “Y’all (women) got the right to vote really late in the United States!”
And I was like, “How dare you! American is a bastion of freedom of speech and the right to vote!”
She was like, “No really, look it up.”
And then I looked it up and saw that a million other countries, like even a place called the Isle of Man, gave women the right to vote in the 19th century. And I felt ashamed.
Anyway, better late than never, right!
To celebrate this momentous and historical glass-ceiling-breaking occasion, old clips from waaay back in 2018 of another SNL new hire, Shane Gillis (white dude), were unearthed.
Yes, the clips were totally of Gillis being racist—sorry, I mean being hilarious—by referring to Chinese people as Chinks and mocking the way Chinese people speak.
So after that, SNL got a lot of flak for hiring Gillis and so, instead of being honest and starting a dialogue and owning up to the show’s historical lack of racial diversity through the decades, SNL just washed its hands of the whole thing and fired Gillis. No talk needed!
OH MY GOD, JOHN CHO IS HURT
Production on the live adaption of “Cowboy Bebop,” a Japanese animated show that premiered in 1998 and was a huge success, was halted because my boo (though he does not know it) John Cho got hurt. He injured his knee on set and needed surgery and healing time, which will probably total seven to nine months!
Cho plays the lead character of Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter. This live adaptation and remake is supposed to be 10 episodes. We now have to wait extra for it. But you know what? John Cho can do no wrong so I suspect the wait will be well worth it!
I think sometimes we forget that John Cho is kind of older (he’s 47) because his looks are forever-youthful and perfect.
Okay, I didn’t mean to imply that he got hurt ‘cause he’s old. That would be ageist! I was just looking at his photo and was like, how is this guy almost 50 years old?
Vietnamese people, we have made it! We’re on a reality show!
HBO, the network that brought us a really crappy final season of “Game of Thrones,” is also bringing us new bingeable reality TV.
A series that is billed as inspired by “Crazy Rich Asians” will grace our screens soon via HBO MAX. (Note to self: Figure out what HBO MAX is.)
The working title of this program is called “The Ho’s,” and actually, the thing that bothers me most about that title is the apostrophe. It’s not supposed to be there, but I guess the white people at HBO MAX are afraid their white viewers are going to pronounce this show, “The HAWSSS!”
“The Ho’s” is an eight-episode reality series that will follow Vietnamese Americans Bhin Ho and Hue Ho, multimillionaires who have two kids, Washington, 38, and Judy, 39. It will undoubtedly follow the antics of these rich rabble rousers and hopefully do some good PR for durian and maybe the Vietnam War at some point.
“The Ho’s” should premiere on HBO MAX spring 2020.
Oscar winner Ang Lee probably dragged down by fellow Oscar-nominated Will Smith
When was the last time Will Smith made a movie people wanted to watch? Serious question. I’m still salty over “After Earth,” man.
Anyway, Ang Lee directed Smith in “Gemini Man,” a movie about a hitman who is targeted by a younger clone of himself.
I know! You’re like, “I’ve totally seen a better version of this movie before! It was called ‘Looper,’ starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt!’” Yup.
“Gemini Man” went through development hell for more than 20 years.
Well, all that work was evidently worth it, because it bombed at the box office and earned an approval rating of 25 percent from Rotten Tomatoes.
This is Lee’s second consecutive bomb, after “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” in 2016. Before that, he was flying pretty high with “Life of Pi” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
I believe in him. I know the next one will be awesome.
I hope Adele Lim Daniel-Dae-Kims this joint
Adele Lim is one of the writers of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and she left the sequel due to pay disparity. Reportedly, Lim, who co-wrote the script with Peter Chiarelli, was given a starting salary of $110,000 while Chiarelli was given $800,000 to $1,000,000.
Reportedly, the studio’s logic over this pay disparity was because Chiarelli was more experienced and penned rom-com “The Proposal” a million years ago while Lim has never written a hit movie before “Crazy Rich Asians,” though she was a TV writer with extensive credits there.
Lim and the studio helming the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel negotiated for five months before it all fell apart and she walked away.
These were her parting words:
“If I couldn’t get pay equity after CRA, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]. There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”
Xi’an Famous Food CEO Jason Wang is a hero
American hero, Jason Wang, CEO of Xi’an Famous Food, a restaurant chain of fast casual Western Chinese food based in New York City, is freaking sick of people ordering “no spice” at his restaurant and then going on Yelp to write scathing reviews about how his food lacks flavor.
And he won’t stand for it anymore.
Wang posted up this awesome laminated letter with his face on it at all 14 of his restaurant locations. On top of the letter, in red, is the proclamation: “Not Spicy = Not As Good, A Personal Message from CEO Jason Wang.”
He starts off his letter pretty normally, going, “Look, I get it. Not everyone can enjoy spicy foods, and that’s totally fine!” before he goes up a couple font sizes and goes super bold:
“But, allow me to be very honest with you for a second. I would never order my noodles completely ‘not spicy,’ because it will just taste too bland for me.”
Then in normal voice/font, he goes on to write:
“So you may ask, ‘Well, Jason, why would you offer the option for ‘not spicy’ if you don’t think it’s as good?’ It’s because I know that if I were to totally eliminate ‘not spicy’ as an option for all dishes, guests who prefer it would flip sh*t [sic] and send me hate mail, and my mental health is not ready for that yet. :)”
Freaking American hero.
Suzanne Whang, host of “House Hunters,” passes away
Suzanne Whang was the former host of “House Hunters,” and she passed away on Sept. 17. She was 56 years old. Whang was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, and it was in remission until October of last year.
Whang was born in Virginia to Korean American immigrants. She was a graduate of Yale and Brown universities. She hosted and narrated “House Hunters,” a reality show where prospective home buyers pick their dream home from three options, from 1999 to 2007.
Stacy can be reached at email@example.com.