If you’ve watched any American shows or movies starring Asian characters, you may be familiar with the stereotypes that have been associated with them. Back in the day, some Asian stereotypes included (or still include to this day) the geeky Asian who is very good at math and the Asian who is very skilled at martial arts or karate. Thank God times are changing. People have spoken out against these stereotypes and conversations have been made to raise awareness and improve on these areas. Let’s look at some Asian-American actors who contributed to defying the typical, not-so-original stereotypes that has got to stop manifesting itself in our media. Specifically, the Korean-Americans. Why? Not because I believe the Korean-American population represents the Asian-Americans but because I watched a series called K-Town on Youtube and I want to mention it.
I read an interview of Sung Kang on Racialicious and it was interesting to see the changing generation from his point of view. Sung Kang, the Korean-American actor who played the role of Han in the Fast and the Furious and its sequels, expressed that in this generation, the public demand can change what we see in the media. The media is evolving and transforming that, in some sense, the media experience has become widely interactive. If the public don’t like it, they won’t buy it. If Americans that happen to have Asian hertiage don’t like what they see, they’ll express it.
I’ve realized that with the younger generation, there is this demand for someone to identify with. So I think there is positive change.
Yul Kwon is another Korean-American who appeared on the reality show Survivor. In this interview with Anderson Cooper, he mentions that going on a reality show allowed him to show the viewers that he was also an individual and be who he actually is, not what the media portrays him to be.
The great thing about reality shows is that, unlike scripted shows, even though you might be cast as the stereotype in which case I think I was, you don’t have to act according to a script, you can be whoever you want and you can show people that you can be smart and athletic, and be articulate all at the same time.
Good for you Yul Kwon. It’s true – in the reality show, you see him running around like a wild man which has some sex appeal as well. No more asexual, socially-awkward Asian math geeks as aforementioned.
Now, unlike the two actors who contributed to defying stereotypes in a relatively proper manner, there are those who haven’t done it in the classiest way possible — regardless, they got the job done. I introduce to you, K-Town, a reality show on Youtube.
In this reality show, a group of Asian-American men and women get together and share a part of their adult life journey together. They drink, fight, then reconcile, party, make dirty jokes and swear pretty much throughout the entire show. Think of it as the Asian-American version of the Jersey Shore. The description of K-Town on their Youtube channel goes as such:
These larger-than-life personalities shock and defy all stereotypes, fight through loads of drama, and challenge their relationships to the brink. In the end, their heritage and love of this incredible, uniquely American subculture will always be the tie that binds them together.
This reality show seems to be set on showing the viewers that Asian-Americans can party and be wild just like the Jersey Shore cast, except the setting is in K-Town (Korea Town), Los Angeles, and the crew drinks Asian alcohol and goes to Asian restaurants, bars and karaokes most of the time. Reading the comments on the videos can give you some ideas on different existing opinions. Some people don’t agree with how the reality stars act in the show; some say they’re too rowdy and not realistic enough or too white-washed and not Asian-American enough. Others agree that this is reality; Asian-Americans are no different to other fellow Americans. To each their own. The bottom line is, whether it was done in a classy manner or not, efforts are being made to defy the stereotypes and blur the borders around races and cultures. Whether the representation floats your boat or not depends on your preferences and taste, but keep in mind that stereotypes are fading.