By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
In this column, there’s a lot of white nonsense. You have been forewarned!
When white-savioring goes wrong: the dark side of being a righteous white hero
Y’all, it is hard when you want to be a role model in the eyes of your 700K followers, but then they get all pissed at you when you return a kid that you capitalized financially on for years.
Back at the end of May, popular YouTubers Myka and James Stauffer admitted on their channel that they had rehomed their 4-year-old son, Huxley, who they had adopted from China. This resulted in an explosion of backlash, international news coverage, and even accusations of human trafficking because the couple had documented the entire adoption process of Huxley on their monetized YouTube channel.
In response to the backlash, Myka cried a lot of white lady tears and wrote on her Instagram, “I want to first off apologize for the uproar and take full responsibility for all of the hurt that I have caused.” She explained that she was unprepared for the adoption and needed more training (Huxley is autistic and has a sensory processing disorder; Myka admitted to having done only a day’s worth of training via online videos, which seems like enough to me, too).
Myka described the process of rehoming Huxley as “the hardest thing I have ever been through,” and also said she was “naive, foolish, and arrogant.”
(While that sounds kinda self-aware, it should be noted that throughout the documented adoption process, a number of professionals cautioned her about the difficulties of this kind of adoption, but she repeatedly didn’t listen because she felt that adopting an autistic child was a “calling from God.” True story.)
In the time since “rehoming” Huxley—which sounds weird to say, right?
Because that’s the same term we use when we adopt dogs and then decide that we actually don’t want a dog after all—Myka has since updated her social media bio to say that she is a mother of four (biological) children, instead of a mother of five. She has also lost a bunch of endorsement deals. Ouch.
TV producer called out for past racist, anti-Semitic, ableist (and more!) tweets; her white friends accept her apology
“Good Place” co-executive producer and writer Megan Amran came under fire on Twitter last month because some super offensive past tweets came to light.
Back in 2011 and 2013, Megan wrote stuff like, “It’s not politically correct to say ‘retarded’ anymore, you have to call them ‘Asian-Americans,’” and “I can never tell the difference between your/you’re/Asians,” and “If I had a time machine, I’d go back in time and kill Hitler and all of the Jews and gypsies and gay people.”
Really weird and aggressive jokes, right? I guess I can kind of see where she was going with the Hitler joke, but the Asian ones feel like she just hates Asians and wish she didn’t have to put up with any Asians. But also, I’m not a comedian so it’s possible I’m just not getting the fine art of white people comedy.
On June 19, Megan wrote a lengthy apology that said, “Also, I specifically would like to apologize to the Asian-American community, who I have hurt the most with my tweets. I very much understand why you are hurt.”
After that, a bunch of her white fans (and a few Asians— I am not impressed with you!) went ahead and accepted her apology and told her she’s still a good person. Famous white man actor Dax Shephard, in particular, said on a podcast, “Inviting judgment in 2020 for things you said in 2006 is just a bad idea, because, again, we do lose sight of how different things were. I was a part of storylines in 2004, ’05, ’06, you just wouldn’t be in those storylines now … It’s so funny because I know her. I know how unequivocally she’s on the side of good. So I read her tweet with the most good faith I possibly can.”
Y’all, you know what? Dax is right. All white people with power should get a free pass for every dehumanizing thing they said and believed about other people from before like … 2015. Because like, that discounts all of the growth that happened in the span of a few years. Like, at one point, people are a lot racist and then seven years later, they are totally less overtly racist! Like, these people deserve credit for putting in the work!
Who dat Asian on Netflix? (Asians that piqued my interest! For no special reason! I just like them!)
I know, you’re like, “Why are you singling out Netflix, Stace? I want to know who dat Asian on Amazon Prime Video, too!”
Sorry. It’s because I watch a lot of Netflix and keep forgetting that Amazon Prime Video is an option I have. I’ll try to do better next column.
Who: Veronica Ngô Thanh Vân, Vietnamese film director, action star, music artist
What she’s in: “The Old Guard” with Charlize Theron and also Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods”
Why she caught my attention: Because this lady is a badass, that’s why! Also, she stars in a lot of Vietnamese-language films that I have seen over the years. It’s extra exciting for me to see her crossover into English-language movies so that y’all can also see her talents.
Who: Momona Tamada, plays Claudia Kishi on “The Baby-Sitter’s Club” reboot; also shoutout to Takayo Fischer, Aya Furukawa, Diana Bang, and Kevan Ohtsji
Why these folks caught my attention: Uh, because Claudia is the coolest Baby-Sitter’s Club member and seeing an entire Asian American family on TV is still kind of novel in 2020. Plus, Momona and her clothes in the show are really, really cute.
Who: Justin H. Min, plays Ben Hargreeves in “The Umbrella Academy”
Why he caught my attention: Because I just binged the entire second season this past weekend! Because Ben is now a series regular, and I’m so happy for Justin because he deserves a starring role! Because I have so much I want to talk to you about but I don’t want to say any spoilers so ugh, maybe we should just meet back here next month after you’ve caught up so we can dish, okay? Yay, Justin!
Speaking of the best reality TV show of all time …
Did y’all watch “Indian Matchmaking” on Netflix yet? Surprisingly, this deliciously melodramatic, highly addictive popcorn-y series was brought to us by Academy Award nominee Smriti Mundhra.
The documentary series follows superstar marriage consultant Sima Taparia as she tries to find matches for a number of her clients. Each episode of this series looks at various ways the practice of arranged marriages exhibit in today’s changing world—not at all in a deep or introspective way, and that’s okay! The way it is presented is cheesy at times, irreverent at times, and endearing at times. There’s also the spectre of caste and colorism hanging over the series’ head sometimes, too. There’s just a lot going on!
The cast of folks on this show are also entertaining as hell. There’s Aparna from Houston who thinks she’s perfect and flawless and not at all high maintenance (love her!), and there’s also Akshay, whose professed perfect woman is one who is exactly like his mother —these people are good TV!
Allison Brie says sorry for voicing Vietnamese American character
Actor Allison Brie, a white woman, apologized in June for voicing the character of Diane Nguyen on the animated show, “BoJack Horseman,” since 2014. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “I now understand that people of color should always voice people of color. We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry.”
Diane Nguyen was created by series creator Raphael Matthew Bob-Waksberg, a white dude. About this situation, he has stated, “Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane’s experience as a woman of colour, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part.”
He added, “We should have hired a Vietnamese writer, and a Vietnamese actress to play Diane – or if not that, changed the character to match who we did hire.”
Man, I just can’t muster up any energy to get mad at these two. Because the way they responded to this was loads better than how “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and actor Hank Azaria repeatedly responded over the years when the character of Apu was called out.
Jackson Wang breaks record on U.S. charts
A summer jam that you might’ve heard is “100 Ways,” a pop hit by Jackson Wang, 26. “100 Ways” hit the top 30 for U.S. pop radio, making Jackson the first Chinese solo artist to be featured this high. This song was released back in the spring, but I am only learning about it now because I was driving to Fred Meyer for some plain yogurt yesterday and listening to the radio like a 50-year-old. The DJ announced that the artist of this song was “Jackson Wang,” and I was like, “WHAT! THAT’S AN ASIAN NAME!”
So then I looked him up via a website browser on my desktop computer. After watching the music video, I am 100% convinced that I have aged out of being the target demographic for this kind of celebrity and this kind of music, but I keep mining for this type of pop culture news because I want the both of us to stay hip for as long as we can, okay?
So here’s what I have learned: While Jackson is ethnically Chinese, he is a South Korea-based artist and part of the boy group Got7.
And for those of you wondering —I already Googled that, too. Jackson’s English is so bizarrely American-sounding because he attended the American International School in Hong Kong, where he grew up. There!
We’re hip and up to date, now!
There’s a viral makeup trend — and it might be racist!
I know many of us haven’t worn makeup in months, but apparently there’s a viral “fox eye” makeup trend on social media. Um, it looks a lot like Katharine Hepburn’s Yellowface from way back in the day. You know, eyebrows that are drawn slanted up, elongated eyeliner that makes eyes look extra almond-y.
I spent an hour combing through photos of white women sporting this look so that I can assess, for you, if this is racist or nah. A lot of the time, the look is kind of subtle on people not-Katharine Hepburn, so for a while, I was kinda doubting its racistness, thinking, “Hey, are Asians just being extra sensitive about this?”
But then I noticed that a huge feature of this trend is white women pulling back the skin at their temple, to stretch out their eyes—and then I was like, oh damn. That’s racist as hell!
RIP, Grant Imahara
On July 13, Grant Imahara died of a sudden brain aneurysm. He was only 49.
Grant was an electrical engineer, roboticist, and general all-around genius.
We watched him on “MythBusters” for years. Behind the scenes, he worked on movie franchises like “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Matrix,” and more.
On Grant’s passing, “MythBusters” co-host Adam Savage wrote, “Grant was a truly brilliant engineer, artist and performer, but also just such a generous, easygoing, and gentle PERSON. Working with Grant was so much fun. I’ll miss my friend.”
I used to binge-watch “MythBusters,” and Grant’s knowledge and creativity was so apparent and so immense. It’s sad that he died so young, but I’m glad that he made such an impact in the time that he was here.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.