By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
In this column, we will revisit the past a few times in order to understand the context of the present. I know that sounds all deep and stuff, but I assure you, it is not. We’re mostly going to be talking about how people of color, especially Asians, get to be multifaceted, fully fleshed people now.
‘Squid Game’ season 2 still not confirmed, Netflix acting coy, why tho?
Y’all, I can’t get my brother to watch “Squid Game.” He says that he doesn’t like allegorical violence that darkly reflects the cold reality of our capitalistic culture and the connected expendability of human beings. And it’s like, how do you not like that?
Anyway, my brother’s bad taste aside, this South Korean drama happens to be the most watched show on Netflix of all time (of all time!). According to Variety, it pulled in 1.65 billion hours of viewing in its first month (Variety says that’s the equivalent of 182,000 years, and I believe them.).
And yet season 2 is not yet a done deal at Netflix. Reportedly, the possibility of it is still being discussed between Netflix and “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk, which I frankly find to be ridiculous and maybe racist? Like, this is the platform that dug into its deep pockets to renew gems “Lucifer” and “Iron Fist.”
But according to the Guardian, Hwang has not received a windfall from Netflix from his incredible success and his incredible creativity. “I’m not that rich,” he told the publication. “But I do have enough. I have enough to put food on the table. And it’s not like Netflix is paying me a bonus. Netflix paid me according to the original contract.”
Netflix, will you do the right thing and pay this Korean man at least half of what you pay mediocre white dudes to make terrible movies about zombies?
‘Avatar’ live-action is coming … this time with fewer white people, THANK GOD
Okay, I can’t believe it’s been more than a decade since “The Last Airbender” came out in 2010 and we had to put up with M. Night Shymalan being a sellout and a bunch of white people playing characters that were originally written based on East Asian and Inuit people. It’s like, wow, we are getting old and we will all die one day.
Well, there’s a new version of “Avatar” coming! It’s in production right now! I think! Its showrunner is Albert Kim, and its cast includes zero white people, as far as I can tell. Aang will be played by Gordon Cormier (Filipinx), Katara is played by Kiawentiio Tarbell (Indigneous, Mohawk), Sokka is played by Ian Ousley (Indigneous, Cherokee), Prince Zuko is played by Dallas Liu (Chinese and Indonesian), and Firelord Ozai will be played by Daniel Dae Kim (Korean).
Kal Penn releases memoir, announces engagement to partner of 11 years
In his memoir “You Can’t be Serious,” Kal Penn recounts stories of his really interesting life, from his acting career to what it was like growing up South Asian to being an associate director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs during the Obama administration.
He also low-key drops the fact that he’s engaged to his partner of 11 years!
Penn shares how he got with his partner, Josh, in his book. Apparently, Josh showed up to their first date with Coors Light and started watching Nascar on Penn’s TV. Penn was like WTF? And felt it was clear it wasn’t a good match.
But then fast forward a couple months, and the both of them are spending weekends watching cars go around in circles over and over again. And 11 years later, they are negotiating whether or not to have a “bigass Indian wedding” or a small and private affair with just immediate family.
I know I have no say in their relationship at all, but my vote is for bigass Indian wedding!
Nicole Kang is Poison Ivy in “Batwoman” series
The last time we saw a live-action Poison Ivy was when Uma Thurman played her in 1997’s critically panned “Batman and Robin.” And I don’t remember much about that movie, other than it being awful. So I just Googled Poison Ivy the character and this is what I learned:
She’s a villain. She’s a villain because she loves plants more than people and wants to protect the environment. She is very smart and grew up with emotionally distant parents. She was ‘seduced’ by her professor, who injects her with poisons and toxins that turned her into Poison Ivy and drove her ‘insane.’
Yeah, clearly this lady sucks and is not a victim of predatory men at all.
A 2.0 version of this character will be featured in the CW’s “Batwoman” series, and will be played by Nicole Kang, who is already on the show. Promo photos of this character have been released, and she looks awesome. Here’s hoping Kang’s version of this character isn’t randomly villainized for believing in climate change. We get enough of that IRL.
Miyazaki comes out of retirement to dazzle and break our hearts again, hopefully
Hayao Miyazaki’s last feature was 2013’s “The Wind Rises,” after which he announced that he was retiring due to age. In case you’re only familiar with Miyazaki as the creator of the best animated films ever, ever, ever, ever—you should also know about all the f*cks he doesn’t give. He’s been a vocal critic of the animation industry, of Japan’s Prime Minister and military aggression, the U.S. involvement in the Iraq War—and he wants Japan to apologize to Korea and China for all the imperialist crap Japan has done to the people of those countries. Like, this guy is such a BAMF, you cannot even understand.
And when asked why he was coming out of retirement at age 80 to direct a new film with Studio Ghibli, he told the New York Times: “Because I wanted to.”
Because he wanted to!
His new film is based on a 1937 Japanese novel by Genzaburo Yoshino, “How Do You Live?” It’s about a 15-year-old boy coping with his father’s recent death.
Oh my God, just take my heartbreak already, man. Ugh. It’s gonna hurt so good. Can’t wait. But I will have to. There’s no release date. It will come out when he’s ready for it to, duh.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at