By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Man, I can’t wait for 2020 to be over, too! Writing this roundup was kind of hard because the high points were hard to come by, the low points were plentiful, and everything—when it comes to Asian popular culture, constantly revolved around the pandemic and how every white person thinks that Asians are the problem. (Instead of white people’s pervasive racism being the problem.)
Let’s start with the good. Here are the folx that brought joy. And remember, Black Lives Matter.
Man, this Bong Joon-ho is a legend! This year, his film “Parasite” was the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—earning Bong a good amount of congratulations, but also a lot of racism scorn from internet trolls. And President Donald Trump!
(Trump said he wanted to know why a foreign film won the Oscar. Similarly, I want to know how he feels about losing the presidency.)
Also, my fave part of Bong’s Oscar campaigning was how he rolled his eyes the entire time because he knew he was already a big deal internationally and Americans hate to read. Never forget that, about the awards, he said, “It’s a little strange, but it’s not a big deal. The Oscars are not an international film festival. They’re very local.” I’m telling you! A legend!
I feel like I include Sandra Oh on this list every year? I’m too self-conscious to check, but yes.
I’m a hardcore Oh-head.
In 2020, Oh’s star power just kept growing. She was nominated for an Emmy again for her role in the critical hit, “Killing Eve.” And she has so many new, interesting, and exciting projects in the works, such as a sister comedy with Awkwafina and a Sam Raimi horror called “Umma.”
Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” just need to accept the fact that their Cristina Yang is not coming back to guest star. She’s too busy to mess with y’all!
2020 was a weird year for movies and actors. Due to the pandemic, production on many projects were put on pause and many did not have new work come out in the last year.
That didn’t stop Taika Waititi from being top of my mind. His Oscar-nominated “Jojo Rabbit,” about a Nazi youth’s imaginary friendship with Hitler (played by Waititi himself) made its way to Netflix and opened a lot of people’s eyes to his body of work. He does more than make killer MCU superhero films! He also took part in Jason Reitnam’s star-studded home video remake of “The Princess Bride.”
Taika has been tapped to do the “Akira” live-action remake. I am so excited!
Decider called Chrissy Teigen 2020’s woman of the year (not a real award, guys, don’t get confused)—and I can’t help but totally agree. Not only did she progress forward professionally—her Cravings brand, her cookbook, her TV hosting duties, her political activism—she also bravely let us into her personal life by documenting and sharing the devastation she and her husband, John Legend, felt after the stillbirth of their baby, Jack.
Her openness and vulnerability continues to put light on what is often silent pain that people suffer. She is such a treasure. (Fun fact that we keep forgetting: Chrissy is a local girl! She grew up in Snohomish!)
BTS and Blackpink
BTS is a hugeass deal. They are Time magazine’s Entertainer of the Year. Their song “Dynamite” broke bananas YouTube records and they keep landing at the #1 spot on U.S. charts—three consecutive ones in three months—achieving this more quickly than any band since the Beatles.
Similarly, Blackpink is the world’s biggest girl band—and that’s with only a debut album under their belt. Blackpink is the first-ever million-selling K-pop girl group.
Trump, specifically how he kept calling COVID-19 kung flu
There’s lots of things to hate on when it comes to Trump, but for the purpose of this pop column, let’s focus on how he insistently wanted his legion of white supporters to never forget to be racist.
That’s it. I have nothing else to say about this scumbag.
Bryan Adams made it hard for me to continue enjoying his music because he talks all mega-racistly, and it’s hard to get over that.
Back in May, near the dawn of the persistent U.S. apocalypse, Adams said on his Instagram: “Tonight was supposed to be the beginning of a tenancy of gigs at the @royalalberthall, but thanks to some fucking bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards, the whole world is now on hold.”
I never enjoyed Paul McCartney’s music, so he didn’t ruin himself for me, when, near the dawn of the U.S. apocalypse, he told Howard Stern: “I really hope that this will mean the Chinese government says, ‘OK guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.’ Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats.”
He also went on to say: “I understand that part of it is going to be: people have done it for ever, this is the way we do things. But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”
Alison Roman, a super duper white woman and a cookbook author, got really ticked off this year because she hates sellouts. She hates it when people get a whiff of success, let it go to their heads, and then start monetizing everything and making lots of money.
As a white lady, Roman is not about that.
She also happened to publicly call out two really beloved Asian women as examples of sellouts: Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo.
Teigen, I can sort of understand (though I don’t agree with Roman), because Teigen’s brash and opinionated.
But Marie Kondo has literally done nothing to nobody! It’s like insulting a teddy-bear-child!
Myka and James Stauffer
These are the two horrible people who adopted a Chinese special needs child and documented it every step of the way so that they could gain popularity and monetize their brand—but then when said child proved to be too difficult to love, they decided to rehome him like a dog.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.