By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
The leaves are changing colors and so are happenings in the media. All your favorite fall shows are back and some newbies are hitting the scene as well! Read on to see what’s new for Asian Americans in the television and pop culture scene.
Must-watch fall television featuring Asian Americans
Award-winning journalist and writer Lisa Ling has a new show on CNN! Ling, who is known for previously hosting “The View,” is now tackling a new documentary style show, “This Is Life,” on the global news network.
“This Is Life” sees Ling interviewing and connecting with people living in unusual subcultures and communities in America. Each hour-long episode gives viewers an inside look into the lives of marginalized people from these subcultures, who often reveal things about their lives that they cannot share with even their closest friends and family.
In a CNN press release about the show, Ling added, “I have always believed that the more we know about each other, the more evolved we become. I am absolutely thrilled to bring stories of everyday people with extraordinary lives to the premiere global journalism platform, CNN.”
I have yet to catch an episode, but based on the show’s description and Ling’s statement on how she hopes the show will change perspectives of viewers, I’m already on board. Catch “This Is Life” on Sunday evenings on CNN.
The highly anticipated sitcom “Selfie” is now airing on ABC. “Selfie,” which is a modern adaptation of the classic musical “My Fair Lady,” stars Karen Gillan and John Cho as the romantic leads.
Aside from the fact that “My Fair Lady” is one of my favorite musicals, I’m excited for this show because it features Cho as a romantic lead — an opportunity that is often rare for Asian American males on primetime television. But if there’s anyone who can bring the charm (and endearing snark) to this modern day Henry Higgins character, it’s Cho. Watch ABC’s “Selfie” on Tuesday evenings.
NBC’s popular reality television singing competition “The Voice” is underway for its current season. “The Voice” pairs aspiring singers with pop star legends. The pop stars coach up-and-coming talent on how to succeed in the music industry. The winner from each season is determined through viewer voting.
From the get-go, singer and current contestant Clara Hong wowed the judges with her jazzy blind audition and is currently under the wing of Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine. Though it is early in the season, Hong seems to be on a fast track to become a fan favorite. Catch NBC’s “The Voice” on Monday and Tuesday evenings.
Vietnamese fast food logo causes outcry
Yum Brands, the parent company of fast food joints Taco Bell and KFC, recently introduced a new concept: Banh Shop — a fast food eatery that produces Vietnamese street food, such as banh mi, for the masses. The company is currently testing its first Banh Shop location in Dallas.
Perhaps you’re trying to wrap your head around the fact that the same brand peddling Taco Bell also has a banh mi store out. However, what may blow your mind even more is the Banh Shop’s logo. It’s a red five-point star.
That is, a red five-point star that too closely resembles the communist star.
The logo was a point of serious ire for the local Vietnamese community, who were upset by the star’s symbolic link to communism. An online petition to remove the logo was generated by the president of the Vietnamese American Community of Greater Dallas. The petition quickly caught the attention of Yum Brands executives.
Yum Brands Senior Vice President Jonathan Blum took to the restaurant’s official Facebook page to issue a formal apology to the Vietnamese American community.
“It was never our intent to offend anyone, but we see we have made a mistake and in hindsight, we should have recognized this logo could be offensive. Therefore, and effective immediately, we are changing the logo and removing the red star from all materials and signage at the restaurant.”
It is unthinkable how, in this Google day and age, that basic research on a people’s culture and history could not have been done before executing an entire concept around said culture. Really, it’s just lazy work on Yum Brands’ part.
To their credit, Yum Brands was quick to respond to criticism, in addition to immediately removing the logo from their brand. Yum Brands is currently in talks with the local Vietnamese community to redesign a new logo that will also be culturally sensitive. It will be interesting to see how the brand resurrects itself after this snafu — if they manage to survive their tarnished reputation. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.