Tag Archives: New York City

Michael Patrick King, Definitely Not Being Racist

About two weeks ago I started watching another show, as I am wont to do, mostly because my schoolwork was piling up and I needed a reason not to do it. The show was CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and after catching up on the first eight episodes I was linked to this article via a review on the A.V. Club’s TV Club.

The article discusses 1/2 of the show’s creative duo Michael Patrick King, who was an executive producer on Sex in the City, and his reasons for disregarding critics who are calling him out on perpetuating racial stereotypes. I’m going to present his quote first, then the alleged racist portrayals.

“I’m not going to change. No, absolutely not.”

“I believe that anybody, when you see them for the first time, you judge them based on the surface.”

First (and foremost) on the docket is Asian-American actor Matthew Moy, who plays Han (Bryce) Lee, the owner of the diner where the two leading ladies work. To be fair to King and CBS, a lot of the racial idiosyncrasies described here in the casting sides were toned down a lot in the actual airing of the show. Yes, Han still speaks terrible English, has a very poor understanding of holidays and anything else American (“And the Very Christmas Thanksgiving”), and makes an obvious reference to William Hung (“And the Rich People Problems), but it’s all in good fun.

The following are two clips. The first from Moy’s appearance on Criminal Minds, and the second of his character on 2 Broke Girls.

, you may be asking, has the show deepened Moy’s character? Maybe all we’re seeing is this surface King was describing. To answer your question, not really. Moy continues to speak hilariously broken English, but has since become more of a nerdy stereotype than anything. His accent has become distracting at best, and continues to baffle me since Koreans are good at English. It’s like Han was raised in a remote village or much further North.

I’m going to list off the other racial stereotypes in a huge list, because going through them one at a time would be exhausting: the in-your-face Puerto Rican (“And Strokes of Goodwill”), the obnoxious Italian women (“And the Pretty Problem), the Mexican men who help with manual labour (“And the Disappearing Bed”),  the wealthy, Middle Eastern women speaking very heavily accented English (“And the Pop-Up Sale”). All of these appear only once, and don’t include principal cast members Oleg, the salacious Russian fry cook, and Earl, the aging African-American hepcat.With the exceptions of Han, Oleg, and Earl, none of these other characters have a chance to redeem themselves, to give you a chance to do anything but “judge them based on the surface.” The three aforementioned characters, however, have been resigned to the sidelines, not really moving forward at all.Michael Patrick King also said in the article that “Anyone who’s ever lived in New York has walked through an enormous melting pot of people. So for me, to do a show where you’re not exploring race would be absurd in Brooklyn, N.Y.” I can agree with the statement, but believe that only half applies to King. This is a man who has “walked through an enormous melting pot of people,” and gleaned what little he could from short glimpses as he passed them by.

Hurricane Occurs, Media Freaks Out About Itself

As Hurricane Irene swept up the east coast, the President issued a warning for 10 states (plus DC and Puerto Rico), people stocked up on fresh water and condoms, and, importantly, vaguely famous country singers tweeted about it.

Another name ruined for at least another year.

But as the storm moved north and decreased in intensity, eventually being downgraded to a tropical storm, grumbling started among people who had spent two hours looking for bread, and New Yorkers especially began saying that the hurricane was gratuitously over-hyped. A New York Times article noted that, unlike the forewarnings, “Windows in skyscrapers did not shatter. Subway tunnels did not flood. Power was not shut off pre-emptively. The water grid did not burst. There were no reported fatalities in the five boroughs. And the rivers flanking Manhattan did not overrun their banks.”

People are generally accepting a better-safe-than-sorry-but-I’m-still-kind-of-annoyed attitude, like the building superintendent who said of NYC’s mayor, “Bloomberg, he did O.K., but he made people crazy and spend a lot of money.”

And there was quite a bit of hype about Irene, mostly in the northern states, where hurricanes are less common and therefore more exciting for meteorologists, like this poor weatherguy who pretends to be buffeted around as people hang out on the boardwalk:

(The worse part is when the anchor says “There are, like, people sightseeing behind you. We can see them.” and he says “That’s because they are hardcore weather-watchers!“)

George Will even had nuggets of wisdom to dispense on the topic, saying “[Journalism] shouldn’t subtract from the nation’s understanding and it certainly shouldn’t contribute to the manufacture of synthetic hysteria that is so much a part of modern life. And I think we may have done so with regard to this tropical storm as it now seems to be.”

New Yorker Editorialist Adam Gopnik called ‘startling’ “the relentless note of incipient hysteria, the invitation to panic, the ungrounded scenarios—the overwhelming and underlying desire for something truly terrible to happen so that you could have something really hot to talk about.”

Many commentators, like editorialist Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast called out news stations for rabidly covering anything to do with the hurricane while failing to adequately cover the political events in Libya.

And of course, there have been deaths and significant losses in states all along the coast. Just because New York City didn’t collapse doesn’t mean that Irene wasn’t a significant disaster, and every time a columnist starts to talk about “sensationalism”, they are quickly reminded of this fact. But this just adds to the media’s kind of embarrassingly transparent public introspection that seems to be common now after significant unplanned events.

And just for fun, here’s that video of that reporter reporting while getting covered in sea gunk: