Tag Archives: Asian-American

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part II)

Last week, I asked what exactly it meant to be White. Today, I’d like to step back and show you what it was that brought up this question in the first place.

It was this image here:

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Now that got posted by a friend of mine. Good guy, but with a habit (in my opinion) of reposting whatever liberal dreck pops into his FB feed without taking the time to question it. Allow me to break down why that image is such festering garbage.

First and foremost, it’s unbelievably racist. Not white-hoods-and-burning-crosses racist (we’ll get to them in a minute) – we’re talking the condescending, insidious racism of White liberal elites.

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“Because I’ll endorse Obama and speak at the Women’s March, but **** Asians and Palestinians.”

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All Asian Americans Are Asian, But Not All Asians Are Asian American

Just to start with, I honestly don’t think anyone expected to see Scarlett Johansson mercilessly gunning down Asians in two separate movies:

Lucy (2014) – “You speak English?” *BLAM*

Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Well, at least they’re armed this time.

That’s a bit of a tangent, but still relevant as this was sparked by the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, which premiered in theatres across the country today. It’s also worth starting things out with a diversion, if only because I didn’t want you to get into a breakdown of the title a split second after reading it.

FACT: All Asian Americans are Asian by definition, but not all Asians are Asian Americans. The truth is that most Asians aren’t. While they may share an ethnic heritage, as well as many cultural similarities, Asian people who were born and raised in and reside in an Asian country have vastly different wants and needs and priorities than those who were born and raised in and reside in North America [and other non-Asian countries].

For the purposes of clarity I will be referring to the former as “Asians”, and the latter as “Asian Americans”.

With all of that being said, it should be obvious that Asians and Asian Americans also have very different views when it comes to their shared representation in Western media. Continue reading

2016’s Cultural Battleground – Evan’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end each year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2016 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.


To directly quote my co-writer, “**** this year” has been an increasingly common sentiment as the days tick by, but even given the relentless, overwhelming flood of bad news that 2016 has embodied what’s particularly depressing to consider is how little some things have changed. It’s also telling that in spite of us collectively writing more blog posts than last year I’m left feeling like I wrote less, and that what was written is generally of a lower quality as well.

With that in mind and given the handful of bright spots I managed to find I decided to address this year and my coverage of it a little differently by using the “sandwich approach”. Instead of being presented in chronological order below are two positive aspects to 2016 that bookend what amounts to one singular, continuous problem, and one that I take very personally.

tf2overwatchThere’s something beautiful about the way a team can run like a well-oiled machine, each of its separate components working in unison to efficiently accomplish a shared goal. While not always my experience with Overwatch those moments, especially when with friends, have been highlights of my year.

With this post I took a closer look at Blizzard’s latest FPS that, since the time of this post being written, has grown the number of playable female characters to roughly 50%, and its place as part of a growing push in video games to expand beyond the male-only titles of the past.

kimmyasianUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a high point of 2015, a Netflix-exclusive sitcom with an unassailably positive young woman at its core. It even took up one of my slots in my last year in review post, where I praised them for including an Asian love interest while scrutinizing how much they truly valued the verisimilitude needed to portray them correctly.

One tragedy of 2016 is that I was never able to make it past the third episode of its second season, the reason being that Tina Fey et al. created twenty-some minutes of television that dragged those who value Asian American representation before running them over with a steamroller, and then putting it in reverse. Friends assure me that it gets better, but how could it not after falling to such great depths? Continue reading

Asian-American Creators in Comic Books As Of July 16th: 2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad

The last time I wrote a post that was titled in a similar format was back in 2013, which followed another the year before. Both were written because at the time events had occurred in the comic book industry that touched on LGBT representation. Given the fact that Western comic books don’t necessarily have a dearth of Asian creators [Gene Luen Yang, Annie Wu, and Jerome Opeña being just a few examples] it’s actually sort of surprising that it wasn’t until this week that I felt justified in putting together a similar post.

What’s unfortunate is, as you can probably tell by the title, that it’s not all good news. With that in mind I’m going to go with the classic “sandwich” delivery, with the positives buttressing a negative. That said, and without further ado-

Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk #15 Brings a Tear to My Eye

I should probably clarify that I have not read the 15th issue of Totally Awesome Hulk. That won’t actually hit stands until this upcoming October. That said, the cover was released in the Marvel NOW’s Previews Magazine this past Wednesday [with leaks hitting the internet a little earlier]. You can see the cover below in all of its glory-

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Cover art by Mukesh Singh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Clockwise from the very top of the cover is: Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel [Pakistani-American], Shang-Chi/Master of Kung Fu [Chinese], Amadeus Cho/Totally Awesome Hulk [Korean-American], presumably SHIELD Agent Jimmy Woo [Chinese-American], Cindy Moon/Silk [Korean-American], and lastly a character I can’t place who Bleeding Cool cites as being Winter Soldier [which I could not confirm through my own research].

What struck me was that this is a comic book cover from one of the the two major publishers [DC and Marvel] on which every one of the many characters depicted is Asian. It’s also not an established team of Asian heroes like Big Hero 6 [the film adaptation of which you know my exact feelings about]. This is especially notable in light of the fact that other comics like Sam Wilson: Captain America #10-

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #10. Written by Nick Spencer, illustrated by Angel Unzueta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage.

-and the cover to Black Panther #7 [as seen on the right] communicate the ideas that a) Black heroes exist within this universe and b) just like in many real life situations, Black people can and do congregate together.

Even before these respective examples came to light most of these heroes were fairly recognizable by the public [Storm and Black Panther, Nick Fury Jr.], but they also shine light on the lesser-knowns [Misty Knight, Doctor Voodoo, Spectrum].

The cover to Totally Awesome Hulk #15 is the first major step in my recent memory to bring a similar awareness to Asian representation in comic books, and it’s very clear that a conscious decision was made by Greg Pak [a Korean-American himself] to do this. It’s no exaggeration that just seeing the cover made me emotional, and I cannot wait until October to get my hands on the issue.

Frank Cho Stirs Continues to Stir Up Controversy Over Wonder Woman Variant Covers

There’s no such thing as the perfect week.

Frank Cho, a Korean-American artist and the initial collaborator with Greg Pak on Totally Awesome Hulk [their similarities to the titular character further discussed here], announced two days ago that he would be walking off Wonder Woman as variant cover artist with Issue #6. Deciding to go to Bleeding Cool, Cho explained that:

“All the problem lies with [author] Greg Rucka.

EVERYONE loves my Wonder Woman covers and wants me to stay. Greg Rucka is the ONLY one who has any problem with covers. Greg Rucka has been trying to alter and censor my artwork since day one.

Greg Rucka thought my Wonder Woman #3 cover was vulgar and showed too much skin, and has been spearheading censorship, which is baffling since my Wonder Woman image is on model and shows the same amount of skin as the interior art, and it’s a VARIANT COVER and he should have no editorial control over it. (But he does. WTF?!!!)

I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible. Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics.

To DC’s credit, especially [Art Director] Mark Chiarello, they have been very accommodating. But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

I just wanted to be left alone and do my Wonder Woman variant covers in peace. But Greg Rucka is in a hostile power trip and causing unnecessary friction over variant covers.”

For those who are not familiar with comic book journalism websites, Bleeding Cool excels in tracking a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in the industry. That said, they’re also known for rumour-mongering, a practice with a so-so success rate. They have also devoted many an article to the artist’s last controversy over covers, noting each time one of the illustrations made its way online.

While Rucka has made no official response to Cho or to anyone else asking for comment save for the following tweet:

As far as an actual example of the “censorship” Cho is decrying, pictured below is the aforementioned cover to Wonder Woman #3, with the final cover on the left and the original art on the right:

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Notably absent is the character’s panty line, shown on the right. Apart from the cropping, the art appears untouched.

It should be restated that Cho was not fired from the gig, but instead chose to leave of his own volition. As a creator doing work-for-hire the people at DC comics had every right to ask for edits to be made to whatever iss submitted to them. It was also his choice to approach the comic book journalism site most likened to a tabloid to announce the reasons behind this. The true irony is that the artist’s sensitivity over what occurred feels out of line with his approach to the outrage others have felt about his own work.

Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man #1: This Man of Steel is a Boy From Shanghai

Particularly worth spotlighting as the first-ever DC book I’ve decided to buy issue-to-issue, New Super-Man comes from the same writer of one of my favourite graphic novels, American Born Chinese. That book proved that Yang understands a lot of the innate conflict in being Asian-American, living your entire life in a country but never quite feeling like you fit in.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

With that in mind, several months ago he wrote a blog post for the DC Comics site in which he admits almost immediately that “I’ve only visited China twice, so my understanding of Chinese culture is through echoes.” That said, he wants to do everything he can to make his portrayal of the character as authentic as possible, and the majority of the post spends time picking apart exactly how and why he landed on the name “Kenan Kong”.

It’s but one example of how committed he is to the authentic portrayals of Asians, and it can be strongly felt throughout that first issue, which was sold in comic stores everywhere this past Wednesday.


It’s my hope that this isn’t the last such blog post that I piece together, and that part of the reason for that will be even more Asian creators working in both mainstream and indie comics. While the news won’t always be positive, the dream is that with even more talent we’ll be able to see the best that they have to offer, especially in regards to pushing representation in my favourite medium.

“Kimmy Goes to a Play” as a Conversation Between Tina Fey and Asian American Activists

The culture war is a conversation.

While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.

Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.


In 2014 the eponymous host of The Colbert Report featured a segment on his show about “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Given his popularity it reached far and wide, and was eventually viewed by a Twitter activist who created the hashtag #CancelColbert in response.

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As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.

Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.


The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.

Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.

While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading

Asian Iron Fist: Point, Counterpoint, and My Two Cents

hi-yahhYesterday Entertainment Weekly revealed that Marvel had finally found their next star in Game of Thrones actor Finn Jones. The character he’ll be playing is Daniel Rand, AKA Iron Fist, the face of their fourth Netflix-exclusive series [following DaredevilJessica Jones, and the upcoming Luke Cage]. I could sum up who he is, but EW did a pretty good job with that in their coverage already:

“…Iron Fist is Daniel Rand, who at age of 9 travels with his family from New York to a lost mystical city called K’un-L’un. After some tragic twists of fate, Rand is adopted by the city’s ruler and taught advanced martial arts and the mystical power of the Iron Fist. As an adult, Rand returns to his native New York and begins a career as a superhero.”

In the comic books Danny is, much like his silver screen compatriots Captain America and Thor, White, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed. Ever since it was announced that he would be headlining his own show there has been a discussion over what race he should be, with Keith Chow over at Nerds of Color making his stance clear with his article “Marvel, Please Cast An Asian American Iron Fist“. As soon as the news hit my tumblr feed was flooded with like-minded individuals, with one post in particular that caught my eye, presenting the following two tweets-

-labeled “Point” and “Counterpoint”, respectively.

Now I have no intention of dedicating a large portion of this post to Liefeld, known in many comic book circles as being a man incapable of drawing feet [though now probably vastly more famous for co-creating Deadpool]. He also had just the two words to share, as opposed to a full article that Wheeler penned on the subject, so instead I’ve chosen to have Albert Ching of Comic Book Resources take his stead. Continue reading

Aaron Sorkin and Flash Boys: The Difficulty with Bringing Asian Heroes to the Big Screen

Asian Superheroes. The perfect intersection of two of my passions: racial diversity, in particular the representation of those who look like me, and the stars of my favourite medium, ie. comic books. It was just earlier today that I picked up the second issue of Silk, which [as briefly mentioned in another post] features Marvel’s newest hero, a Korean-American who received her powers from the same spider that bit Peter Parker.

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Similar to Spider-Man she has enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, and a danger detection system [aka. her self-coined “Silk-Sense”] as well as her very own ability to shangchicreate biological webs from her fingertips. Other favourites from the same publisher include Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu, an Avenger at the time of this writing. He primarily relies on his master of martial arts, an ability which didn’t keep him from participating in an intergalatic war to save the universe. Another is Amadeus Cho, a teenager who attained the title of “7th Smartest Man in the World” and frequently took down superhuman assailants with only his intelligence and whatever else was available. Yes, at one point one of those superhuman assailants was the Hulk. The Hulk.

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Each of these heroes is wildly different from the next, but share a few key similarities [besides their belonging to Marvel and being of East Asian descent]. The first is the quality that makes them heroes, the self-sacrificial desire to protect the innocent and defeat those who would do them harm. The second is that I would love to see any and all of them make it to the big screen one day, to fight alongside the White, square-jawed Chrises of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The third is that every one of them is a work of fiction.

Bradley Katsuyama is a real-life currently existing person. He is an Asian-Canadian and has been a doer of objectively heroic actions surrounding the investigation and consequent combating of algorithms that preyed on unwitting investors. While not the intellectual property of a company creating and producing recent years’ largest blockbusters he is the focus of the novel Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, a film adaptation of which Aaron Sorkin is set to write the screenplay for. Yet at this point Katsuyama is no closer to having his story told than Shang-Chi or any of the rest of them.

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