Hyphen Magazine


Source: Hyphen Magazine, August 1, 2010

Doing Bad All by Ourselves

The Asian American blogosphere has, over the past couple of weeks, been abuzz over publicity stills for K-Town , dubbed "The Asian Jersey Shore." A lot of folks are afraid it'll make Asian Americans (Korean Americans, in particular) look bad, will introduce another stereotype to the mainstream (you never know, this Asian Men Hate Wearing T-Shirts stereotype might really catch on), and will cause lasting damage to the Asian American image, etc. But I think the general consensus seems to be, "I am fearful but also intrigued."

Point blank, this has never been done before. When have we ever seen that many Asian people together on US television? When have we ever seen Asian characters not rehashing the same five stereotypes in the mainstream (nerd, martial arts master, dragon lady, geisha, bad foreign driver)? How often do you see hot, shirtless Asian men on television? It's rare, and while none of us have actually watched the show and the consequences have yet to be seen, do we really believe that this show is capable of introducing an entirely new stereotype to the mainstream?

Now the only TV shows I've seen in the past two years have been Ni Hao Kai Lan and Yo Gabba Gabba, so I may be a little out of the loop, but the issue I saw with Jersey Shore is that it reinforced a stereotype that already existed in the mainstream, a stereotype people have actively been trying to bust. So is this really as terrible or even in the same ballpark as the public fascination with William Hung? He shot to stardom because he was the actual embodiment of every bad Asian stereotype in existence: He was foreign, a nerd, unattractive, and socially awkward. K-Town seems to me the polar opposite.

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