Thursday, February 24, 2011

Asian Pity Party? Did you mean Raunchy Naughty Empowerment Party?

In a recent KeepOrJot video I wanted to support a friend's show called 'Wrinkles' which is about an 73-year old porn star. To promote it I did a mock-interview with one the actress of the show who portrays a 19-year old porn star. I thought it came out pretty well. This is the video:

One of the comments left on the video recently was a bit unexpected. The person dived into ideas of stereotype and frankly called my friend Elizabeth Ho a whore...well not directly but I took offense for her. This person's comment is below:

"I pity this woman, she has done everything to support derorgatory stereotypes for her race. Sure you can say it's all a bit of fun and is a dig at other races for being so ignorant, but ultimately they will play on the stereotype and use her as an example as a willing asian whore. Most unfortunate, the asian peoples have a lot more to offer than just blowjobs, takeways and servitude."

Now generally I try to ignore or I'll leave a witty response when someone doesn't like a video, but this person kind of struck a nerve. I think I get the most passionate/defensive when certain issues come up, specifically race and sexuality.

This was my response to the person:

"Hi there. I'm rather thrown off by your comment for several reasons. First, I don’t get where you see she has done “everything” to support Asian derogatory stereotypes. Are you talking about the part where she boldly states she’s a legitimate actress who has been on several TV shows or is being featured in a professional theatrical show that this video is a promotion for? Or maybe the part where she is being objectified by the interviewer (me) and independently takes a stand and walks away from the situation? Frankly I don’t see her perpetuating any derogatory stereotypes in this video like excelling at math, driving poorly, speaking with an accent, using kung-fu or eating a dog (I use them as examples not because I believe they’re true, but because I agree, those are derogatory stereotypes).

What I do see is a legit actress who is proud to be in a professional show called ‘Wrinkles,’ which is based off of a true story about a 73-year old male porn star. And that I believe breaks several stereotypes, one being that elder people can’t still be sexually active or seen as sexually attractive, and another that Asians are demure and model citizens, when we can actually be just as rambunctious as any other race. The theatrical play itself is quite tame and has no obscenities or foul language, and is created to be quite accessible for family friendly fun. In fact the company producing the play has fought to raise the visibility of Asian Americans across the nation by breaking the model minority stereotype.

Being that you write so passionately against perpetuating stereotypes, I imagine you must be aware enough to realize that in general people get turned off by change or are afraid of something different. The purpose of this video and the other promo videos is to appeal to certain pre-conceptions people have of Asians. If you actually watch the show ‘Wrinkles,’ there are strong themes and lessons that audience walk away from, including an understanding that elders are like everyone else and should be treated such, and respecting people instead of objectifying them. Sure, she is portraying a porn star in the show, but there are Asian porn stars. And in the end of the show you’re taught to respect her and not objectify her.

Maybe it’s a stereotype but do they exist. Should we hide them or try to deny their existence? While we’re at it why don’t we erase the shameful use of the ‘n’ word in ‘The Adventures of Huck Finn’ and try to remove racism from history? Finally I’d like close by saying that you’re use of the words ‘whore’ and ‘blowjobs’ can be taken as a bit excessive and unnecessary. Hope this puts this video into a better context for you. P.S. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need your pity. I think it might be a derogatory stereotype that Asians want to be pitied.


I like to believe in these situations I make fair and sound arguments, but I'd like to know what you think. Was I too harsh? By utilizing a stereotype in hopes to eventually break it, is that still just perpetuating it? Let me know.

Oh and if you're in Downtown Los Angeles and want to check out Wrinkles at East West Players you can find info about the show and tickets here:

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