Thursday, August 01, 2013

Day Above Ground - "Asian Girlz" / The Issue Of Asian American Representation

I was at home last night on surfing around Facebook when I saw a link to a video called "Asian Girlz" by some bad Day Above Ground. The poster of the link indicated it was one of the most racist things he had ever seen.

After watching,  I had to agree that the video was definitely tasteless and borderline racist.   I don't want to bore people with details of the video.  If you choose to watch it, you will know what I mean.

To me, the issue is how and why this video got made.  Firstly, I'll comment on the band Day Above Ground.  Seems like a bunch of white dudes with one Asian (Indonesian) member.  According to some of their comments, the video was meant to be a satire and not be racist in nature.  If we are to give the band a little credit that they weren't "intentionally" racist, that tells us something about how Asian-American women are viewed by some.  After all, the video is quite SEXIST in nature.  

Indeed, that is the battle Asian-American women have battled for years.  There is a perception that Asian-American women are dragon ladies / geishas who just like to please men.  In fact, an old documentary from the 1980's addresses this:

Slaying The Dragon

So that leads to the second issue.  Why did the Asian woman video participate in something so offensive?  The lady in question is Levy Tran who is apparently a well known import model.  I did not know this though!

For some who is Asian-American, I am surprised she participated in the video.  She issued some comments on the band and indicated "they were sweet and not at all racist".  Unfortunately, the video says otherwise.

Levy is an attractive lady and it's a shame she participated.  Her Instagram and Facebook fan pages have been deleted and she sent some apologies via Twitter.  Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Asian-Americans have very diverse opinions and experiences and not every agrees on things that might be consider racist.

The recent incident with the Asiana pilot names on KTVU illustrates this.  Some Asian-Americans thought the names were funny.  Some were offended and some took a neutral stance.

However, I've seen a good number of Asian-American women (and even NOT Asian-American women) comment on the video and it's been largely negative due to the sexist nature of the video.  Thanks to the power of the Internet, Asian-Americans (men and women) are commenting via videos, blogs and other Social Media sites.

Why is this important to the Asian-American community?  Actually, it's important to all minorities when it comes to representation.  While some people will disagree, it's pretty well known that the media (news, TV, movies, music) have a great influence on people's thoughts and opinions.

If there are people who had NEVER seen or met an Asian-American woman and they saw the video, this might form some unflattering perceptions of Asian-American women.   Forget the commentary if the band was racist or not.  The video itself is quite bad in that it PRESENTS someone / something in a negative light.

Why do Asian Americans and other minorities fight for more positive representation in many industries?  This is the reason why.   Asian-Americans are simply NOT represented in great numbers in movies, music and TV.  When they are, they have (in the past) been gangsters or bad guys in general.  If they are good guy, they are the martial artist (Jackie Chan) or wise sage (Mr. Miyagi).

Asian-American women have gotten some positive roles but they are off balanced by old perceptions as  I stated above.

To conclude, if this video had not come out, I would not have heard about the band.  They seem pretty small time.  If this is all the band is going to be known for, their career is not going to go very far.  However, the band did ignite some passion within the Asian-American community.  Maybe Asian-Americans will use this a starting point to ignite some activism and fight for more positive representation.

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