Forgot to mention that The Guru, starring Jimi Mistry, also opens today.
Came across this little news bit, which cracked me up:
'Friends' Cast to Diversify
Friends bosses have decided to add a little diversity to their cast - by bringing in a love interest from an ethnic minority. The hit American TV show has long been criticized for the fact its cast lacks diversity - despite being set in the New York, one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, all six lead stars are white. Now the sitcom's bosses are set to include a new paleontologist character for several episodes - and she'll be a potential love interest for David Schwimmer's character Ross and Matt LeBlanc's Joey. The show's bosses are making it clear that they want an ethnic minority actress for the role and are currently looking at "all races and ethnicities" say casting sources, particularly African American, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and/or American Indian women.
It's comical that this is something that has to be newsworthy. Pretty ridiculous how few minorities show up on a sitcom set in New York City. Suddenly they decide that they absolutely have to have a minority actress for this role. Such enlightenment. By the way, does anyone remember Lauren Tom as Julie, waaaay back in the like the second season?
Casting news... Chow Yun Fat is set to star in Walk Like a Dragon, an action-drama from Paramount Pictures. He plays an official menaced by Golden Triangle crime lords who threaten to turn his San Francisco-based daughter into an drug addict. The daughter and her American love interest, who have not yet been cast, flee to Arizona. Yay, Golden Triangle crime lords. Incidentally, Walk Like a Dragon is a remake of a 1960 love-triangle drama set in old west, starring James Shigeta, Nobu McCarthy, and Jack Lord.
This comes special, straight from my sister (I lifted this right off of her blog entry):
DUDE. I'm so mad. SOOO mad. Can I tell you why I'm so mad? Because people are stupid and insensitive. I was at the Etiquette dinner at the Omni Orrington, which is basically a dinner put on by Class Council and the Alumni Association to teach people dinner etiquette for business dinners and stuff like that. It was going well, until the etiquette consultant, Nonni, told us that we shouldn't make any sounds while eating pasta, although in Asia, "sucking" noodles is acceptable. We were like, wha? Vast overgeneralization there, but whatever. Later on, she tells us that in Asian countries, they pick food out of their teeths with toothpicks at the dinner table-- something obviously not acceptable here. She also mentions that, hey, she noticed that there are a lot of Asian students out there tonight. Little later she's explaining the proper etiquette for dress and taking off dress coats. She mentions that for men, it's proper to always keep the bottom button unbuttoned on a dress coat. And how in ASIA, the men button all three buttons, so to all the Asian men, remember to unbutton your bottom button when you go to an interview!
We were by then at about the main course. Me, Christine, Michelle, Emmy, Joy... we're all pretty pissed by now. But we're holding it in, making fun of her behind her back, not trying to make a big deal out of it. Next comes the salad. Etiquette lady is talking about how it's good manners to maintain eye contact with people. In ASIA, people don't look others in the eye, as a form of respect, but that shouldn't be done in this country, because it's bad manners. AAAHHH! Who is this woman! But there's more!! I guess someone told her that her comments were a little disrespectful and offensive, because she brings up that hey, she doesn't mean to offend anyone. She is a certified Asian etiquette specialist, and has even led tours into Asia. She's just trying to offer a comparison to our culture, and that these tips can be very useful. For instance, she once knew a Chinese student who was on a college interview, and during the entire interview looked down and held his head in his hands. He thought he was being respectful by not making eye contact, but in reality, he was being rude. At this point, I was severely pissed by her attempt at justifying her comments, and her comments in general. So me, Ankur, Byun, Joy, David up and left. Just couldn't take it anymore.
Now, I know this lady wasn't trying to be offensive, and that she was trying to give tips in case somehow we're doing business in Asia. But I was SO OFFENDED by her remarks, because I felt like she was singling out the Asian students in the rooom as people who needed extra tips because of their cultural habits. I also felt she was looking at us solely as Asians, and not recognizing that in reality, most of us were actually American as well. I felt that she was deriding Asian culture as being rude and uncouth compared to the etiquette in the US-- "our country." There's also the huge problem of generalizing Asia and Asian culture-- DUDE. Asia encompasses a lot of countries, and honestly, the etiquette in India is very different from the etiquette in Japan. She was basically taking an entire continent of people and culture and generalizing it into a few habits.
Now, I don't think Nonie was trying to be racist. I just think she was really offensive and insensitive. I wanted to ask her, hey, what happens if you're at a nice dinner and someone starts making remarks that and culturally offensive and insensitive? What's the proper etiquette for that??
Come on, Nonie. You think the Asian kids need a little more help in etiquette? And how exactly does one become a "certified Asian etiquette specialist"? I didn't know you needed a certificate for that.
2 Fast 2 Furious. Yes, it's the sequel. No Vin Diesel. Paul Walker's back, along with Tyrese and a bunch of rappers. More fast, furious, car racing action! So where are all the Asians? Well, there's Devon Aoki, and I hear Jin tha MC has a small part too. Yo, why always the supporting roles? That's racist!
That reminds me, Biker Boyz opens in theaters today. Dante and Dion Basco have supporting roles.
Remember that movie Tremors, with Kevin Bacon, about those gigantic earthworm things? The late Victor Wong was in the movie as Walter Chang. Well, they've created a new series on the Sci-Fi Channel based on the movie... And in it, we've got none other than Lela Lee (aka Angry Little Asian Girl), in the cast as the late Walter's niece, Jodi Chang. Nice.
Hannah tells me about a funny comment on The Daily Show the other night... Jon Stewart was talking about the State of the Union address, and their close-ups of people at strategic moments. Stewart noted how when Bush was talking about North Korea, the broadcast had a close-up on the Korean ambassador-- Look! Talking about North Korea! Asian person! Let's talk about Korea, so we need to close up on the Asian person!
So they're down to the final 32 contestants on American Idol... What happened to all the Asian American contestants? Well, there's this guy: Jordan Segundo. So that's his profile on the website, but where was he on the show? They focused a lot on the other contestants, but we didn't get to see Jordan sing, or talk --we barely even saw his face! What's up with that? That's racist!
Over on Angel last night, they required the assistance of a "dark mystic" --who happened to be an Asian guy, Wo-Pang (Roger Yuan). Can't go more dark or mystic than that! I'm told he was very cool, and he didn't die. Well, that's nice.
The text of Governor Gary Locke's response to President Bush's State of the Union address: transcript
Super Bowl recap: No Asian American football on the field that I'm aware of. But we got commercials.... Jackie Chan with Michael Jordan in a comical spot for Tagless Hanes. The articulate Yao Ming in a Visa commercial. ("Can I write a check?" "Yo." "Yao." "Yo." "Yao.") And some movie previews: Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions. Ang Lee's Hulk (does anyone else think the Hulk looks kind of like video game animation? I hope they do something about that...) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, starring Lucy Liu.
Follow up to the Gonzaga incident: College Player Taking Heat for Slur
With the Sundance Film Festival underway, NPR revisits the surprise success of Better Luck Tomorrow
Notice the Phil Jackson comment in the previously mentioned article? Another "joke." In commenting on whether or not Shaq is bothered about losing the starter spot to Yao:
"I don't think it bothers him in the least," Jackson said. "He understands fully the NBA has put out four forms of [ballots in] Mandarin, Cantonese, Pekingese and also Hong Kong-ese to allow the Chinese voters to vote on the All-Star ballot, which probably skews it a little bit."
Of course, the article goes on to clarify that Mandarin and Cantonese are languages, and Pekingese and Hong Kong-ese are not. In fact, Peking is now called Beijing, and most people in Hong Kong speak Mandarin or Cantonese. Phil Jackson, talking smack. That's racist!
Yao, starter: Yao Set to Beat O'Neal Again
By popular demand, here is the exceptional piece of hate mail I posted over the weekend:
DATE: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 07:00:03 -0600
Listen to yourselves complain about Shaq. Your own website makes fun of the Asian community with the toy man on the first page! You people still eat cats and dogs, and itís the 21st century! Youíre dirty, devious and ignorant of American ways. You treat your fellow man like crap and then expect the whole world to fawn over you for a simple joke! The real joke is in your pants and between your ears, nothing in either place. We will watch Shaq kick your sweet and sour ass in the up coming game! Itís you liberal cat eaters that need to get a life and apologize to the American people for the atrocities committed against our soldiers in the war with Japan . Which by the way we kicked your ass there too. Quit eating cats and popping kids out like a change machine. Start treating your own people with a little dignity and you may find that American Caucasians and African Americans will treat you with respect!
Actor/model Roger Wu informs me he is in the February issue of GQ as part of a photo shoot with Sam Rockwell. And props to Roger, he even makes it on the cover, sort of. Unfortunately, the photo shoot's concept involves Asian gangsters who are after Sam Rockwell for having a little sumthin' sumthin' with their girl. Somehow, I don't think this concept would have been allowed if the gangsters had been another ethnicity... Why are Asians comically objectified and exoticized in this way? This situation poses a dilemma. There are obviously many Asian Americans out there with potential and talent, but they are more often than not relegated to things like this. That's racist!
In tonight's second installment of American Idol 2, another Filipino American guy, James Visperas, 23, (from San Jose, CA!) advanced to the second round with flying colors. Just blew away the three judges. Nice. We'll be looking out for him.
Here's a copy of an email I received, from a Chinese American San Francisco man to the President of Gonzaga University, regarding a racial incident involving the Gonzaga Men's Basketball team:
Dear Reverend Spitzer,
My name is Kennith Lee and I am a third-generation Chinese-American born and raised in San Francisco. I currently serve as the head counselor at Presidio Middle School with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). It is with much regret and sadness that I must write and report to you an incident that happened yesterday afternoon involving a member of your menís basketball team while in San Francisco .
At approximately 4:40 PM yesterday on Van Ness Avenue between OíFarrell and Ellis Streets, my wife and I were walking south on Van Ness after attending a movie at the nearby AMC theater complex.
As we were walking to our car, a Caucasian member of your team approached us and uttered a number of derogatory and racist comments, similar to those recently made by Shaquille OíNeal towards Yao Ming. I do not recall the exact comments but they were of a ìching chong yongî nature.
My initial reaction was of surprise, shock, disbelief, ridicule, disrespect, and finally anger. The comments were made purposefully to denigrate our ethnicity as he and a fellow teammate started laughing.
I responded by asking ìDonít you know how to speak English?î There were approximately 10-15 males walking north on Van Ness and they were all wearing the same clothing, matching blue top and bottom windbreaker type warm-ups.
The group continued to walk north towards the end of the block. I stopped one of the trailing members of the group who was of African American descent and expressed my displeasure with what had just occurred. While explaining the incident to him, I noticed the Gonzaga embroidery on his jacket. Needless to say, I was quite agitated, angered, and truly disappointed. I had always held Gonzaga University with high regard.
As a basketball fan, I was quite delighted and impressed that their teams were successful against so many of the major programs around the country. Gonzaga always showed a lot of class, sportsmanship, competitiveness, and strong positive values; qualities that I attempt to instill with my students as well as my own three children. I was additionally dismayed since a friend and fellow colleague of mine in the SFUSD, Patrick Mulligan, is an alumnus of Gonzaga and itís basketball program and has always spoken so highly of the university.
Such comments and irresponsible racist behavior do not belong in our society. I was truly offended and especially disturbed that my wife had to experience such ridicule and disrespect as well. She was extremely frightened by this interaction, especially coming from such a large group of young and physically dominating men. I trust that you will review this matter and I look forward to your findings. Should you require additional information, please feel free to contact me at the phone numbers listed below.
Sadly, for many of us, this is an incident that many Asian Americans can relate to. I've mentioned this plenty of times before, and it's precisely why Shaq's remarks regarding Yao Ming struck such a sensitive nerve with so many.
A rumble between two San Jose State fraternities last night resulting in a dude getting stabbed: San Jose State fraternity members brawl; one dead. Lambda Phi Epsilon and Pi Alpha Phi both happen to be Asian American fraternities. What's up with that?
Remember this article I posted a while back, about another Asian American American Idol hopeful, Chris Vu from MIT? He auditioned in Austin, and advanced to the second round. So where was he on last night's episode?
So did you see the season premiere of American Idol? We had a Filipino American guy representin': Sean Campos, 22, among the Miami contestants, has ambitions to be the first "really successful Asian R&B singer." Well, the guy nailed his audition and advanced to the next round. Even mean Simon said he was good looking and had a great voice. Not only that, Sean specifically gave a shout out to the Asians out in TV land. Of course, there is also a downside: In the midst of Sean's post-audition celebratory chest-bumps with his friend, dork host Ryan Seacrest joined in the fun, then stupidly asked, "Do you guys do kung fu?" Idiot. Why does he have to pull that kind of crap with the Asians? He makes all these stupid post-audition cracks, and that's the best he can come up with when he sees an Asian guy? Idiot. That's racist! Sean just played along and sort of made a kung fu stance. I couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic, but then again, I suppose in the moment he was just ecstatic he did so well. It wouldn't have been very tactful for him to say, "Foo, all Asians don't know kung fu!" and then kick Seacrest in the head. But props to Sean Campos. Good luck.
Oh, and if you'd like to tell Ryan Seacrest what you thought of his little "kung fu" remark, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org (Ryan's radio show in LA)
Our trusted man Ben in Chicago writes in with a little sumthin' sumthin' on last night's episode of Boston Public:
High school sucks, we all know. Especially if you're Asian -- and your high school is Boston Public.
Last night's episode: in Ronnie Cook's (Jeri Ryan) classroom, the camera lingered a bit on an Asian girl I hadn't noticed before. She turned out to be Sri Sumarto (Tania Gunadi).
Boston Public is just like any typical high school -- teens and their timeless trials and tribulations. The white kids get into wacky mischief, like operating a secret sex room right inside the building. The black kids worry about basketball scholarships. The Latino kids fret over drive-by shootings. What about Sri Sumarto, the Asian girl we just noticed now? Sri, that's the third time you've fallen asleep in class in the past couple weeks. What's wrong?
Well of course: she's living and working in a sweatshop, paying off her debt bondage to "Mr. Sam" (Jim Lau), the dastardly smuggler who lured her and her father from Indonesia. (Why Indonesia? Who knows...) Dad died on the harrowing boat journey, so now she's all alone. I don't have access to the school's records, but I'll bet she's pulling a 4.0 despite her hardship. Damn curve-raising Azns.
(in halting accent) "If the INS finds out, I will be deported. I know it's hard for you to understand, Miss Cook. But I have work. I have food. It's better for me here. I don't want to go back." Of course you don't, Sri. Of course it's better for you here. Still, do you think Mr. Sam might consider giving you the night off for the prom? Provided someone asks you to go?
No, it's not Sri's place to worry about being asked to the prom, or running for class president, or sneaking out to a rave. And she probably won't be around for prom anyway. Miss Cook and Danny Hanson (Michael Rapaport) went to the sweatshop to rescue her, and Mr. Hanson put some muscle and a scare into Mr. Sam, as Miss Cook spirited Sri away to safety. Everyday heroes, they are, those Boston Public teachers. Sri and her problem are solved.
Still I wonder -- if Jakarta Public met Boston Public in a HIGH SCHOOL HI-Q showdown, who would win? You know who I'm betting on . . .
Boston Public (Fox)
Episode: "Chapter 55"
Original Airdate: January 20, 2003
Another insightful commentary from Ben. Boston Public is like the worst high school in America. Ah yes, the time-honored tradition of sticking stereotypical Asian folks with stereotypical Asian problems on TV. Asians! Sweatshops! How they go hand in hand. That's racist!
Speaking of Governor Gary Locke, he may have been the target of an alleged assassination plot! This man apparently hates the governor because he is Chinese American: FBI: Wash. Governor May Have Been Target. That's racist!
Washington Governor Gary Locke will deliver the Democratic party's response to President Bush's State of the Union address on January 28: Locke to Deliver Democratic Response
Wow. Big news for singer/songwriter Vienna Teng. Her album, Waking Hour, shot up to #5 at Amazon.com after she was featured on NPR last week. Tonight, she'll be performing on the Late Show with David Letterman! That's pretty freakin' cool.
Song about Yao Ming: Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming
Official website for the Korean American Centennial: www.koreancentennial.org
Michelle Kwan wins her sixth consecutive national skating title: Kwan adds another title to impressive run. Also, some repectable performances by Ann Patrice McDonough (4th), Ye Bin Mok (6th) and Beatrisa Liang (7th). Them Asians are sure good at figure skating.
AsianWeek's films to see in 2003
The Rockets beat the Lakers, 108-104 in overtime: Yao effective in first-ever meeting with Shaq. It was interesting to hear the commentators' take on the past week's controversy. They seemed decidedly split on the matter.
Someone wrote me a fat email, fully written from the perspective of Shaq's Big Toe. I am not making this up.
Houston Rockets vs. LA Lakers tonight. Decent matchup, but we know what the real subtext of this game is. Can you feel it? Shaq's comments that started all this madness: "Tell Yao Ming, 'ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.'" Well, Shaq, now you can tell him yourself.
I got to talk with the producer from CBSNews.com that I mentioned last week. Here is the resulting article: Asian-Americans Demand Shaq Apology. Yes, I am quoted.
B.D. Wong has played Dr. George Huang, a recurring character on Law and Order: SVU for a couple of seasons. Now, he joins the regular cast. Also, you can regularly see him on HBO's Oz as Father Ray.
Received this email tonight:
DATE: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 22:22:57 -0800
SUBJECT: Shaq comments
Get a life. He's a minority, too. Lighten up. Save a life in China, you fool.
Save a life in China? I don't even know what that means, you fool!
Petition to the National Basketball Association (this is different from the original "Shaq should apologize" petition): We Deserve a Real Apology for Shaq's "ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh" taunt
If you send an email to NBA, you might get a response like this, as other have:
We are responding to your recent e-mail to the National Basketball
Shaquille O'Neal's remarks toward Yao Ming were in poor taste and
insensitive, though not mean-spirited. Upon learning of the comments, we
contacted the Lakers and O'Neal, and he has issued an apology to Yao, which
was accepted. We believe that O'Neal and all NBA players have learned
important lessons, emerging from this experience with heightened
sensitivity. We have decided that no further action needs to be taken by
As we continue to attract the best players (and fans) from around the
world, the NBA will continue to educate and enlighten our players, coaches
and staff about all the different cultures and races represented in the
Thank you for your interest in the NBA.
Bill Walton on ESPN.com: Shaq should've thought before he spoke. Nothing new.
Okay, the Lakers play the Rockets on Friday. Shaq and Yao Ming face off! Someone has told me that according to the Dallas Morning News, Shaq has apparently agreed to "apologize" to Yao at the game. AND HE'S PRACTICING HOW TO SAY "I'M SORRY" IN MANDARIN. This should be damn funny.
I haven't yet seen Eric Byler's Charlotte Sometimes, but it's gotten a great write-up from Roger Ebert, plus it's earned itself two IFP Independent Spirit Award nominations... However, something foul is going down on IMDb's User Ratings for the film, and is hurting its chances with the Spirit Awards voting. It seems that someone is trying to sabotage Charlotte Sometimes! While it has quite a few positive votes, somehow it has garnered a "1" with 39.5% of the voting pool. What's up with that? Like I said, I haven't seen it, but it cannot be THAT bad. This is sabotage, I say.
Someone gave me a link to a newer, different Shaq/NBA petition, but I've lost it.
I'm a fan of Suchin Pak: MTV correspondent battles stereotypes, bad music
I'm told that tonight on Angel, frequently recurring character Gavin Park, played by Daniel Dae Kim (yo, this guy gets around!), gets killed off. Another bites the dust.
On the tube: Daniel Dae Kim is in tonight's episode of 24. And according to the readers of Jade Magazine, he is one of the sexiest Asian American men. He is.
Also, Tamilyn Tomita guest stars on JAG tonight.
Ben tells me about an Asian American cast member on CBS' midseason replacement series, Queens Supreme. Marcy Harriell plays "Carmen Hui," a legal assistant. The character's certainly got the name, however, to be honest, she doesn't look quite hapa. But looks can be deceiving... Anybody know the deal on this lady? Premieres Friday, January 17.
The daily Shaq crap:
Emil Guillermo weighs in: Shaq's Apology Not Good Enough
Someone has started a petition telling Shaq to apologize... As I write this there are 70 total signatures. I have the feeling it's going to take a lot more than the signatures of 70 of us "Ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-sohî Asian kids to get Shaq to say he's sorry. He's already attempted his feeble, sorry-ass excuse for an apology... I'm not sure how much more good this will do.
But don't get mad. Get Yao. Got Yao?
More coverage of that book, 1421: Did the Chinese discover America?
There's an Asian American contestant in the latest edition of Survivor. Daniel Lue, a tax accountant from Houston, is stranded in the Amazon with fifteen other contestants. Well, all right. I'm not much of a fan of the show, but let's see how he does, eh? Survivor: Amazon premieres Thursday, February 13.
It's going down in Park City, UT. Yes, the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Slamdance Film Festival, both begin in Park City this week. There are a number of works by Asian American filmmakers playing at the two festivals.
Gurinder Chadha - "Bend It Like Beckham" (World Cinema)
Mark Decena - "Dopamine" (Dramatic)
Robert Saitzyk - "White of Winter" (American Spectrum)
Mina Shum - "Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity" (World Cinema)
Jason DaSilva - "Olivia's Puzzle"
Mari Inukai - "Blue and Orange"
Peter Ko - "Jon's Day"
Abraham Lim - "Toy"
Jinoh Park - "Request"
Shirin Neshat - "Tooba"
Steven K. Tsuchida - "A Ninja Pays Half My Rent"
Sundance On Line
Rob Mikuriya - "Face to Face"
Euna Seol and Jungwon Lee - "Anonymously"
Eun-Ha Pek, Erin Bradley, and James Bewley - "Strindberg and Helium"
Amit Pitaru and James Paterson - "Delight"
Greg Pak - "Robot Stories"
Stephen T. Maing - "Little Hearts"
Sun Koh - "The Secret Heaven"
Nan Wu - "Go Wherever You Wanna Go"
Kyoshi Kohatsu - "The Doll"
Michael Sandoval - "The Good Son"
Ham Tran - "The Anniversary"
I kid you not: a guy actually wrote in with a poem he composed about Shaquille O'Neal. If that helps you work things out, man...
Hey, here's something to celebrate! We've been here for a pretty long time: Koreans Celebrate 100 Years in America
So last week we saw the premiere of The Surreal Life on the WB, a reality TV series in which former famous folks live in a house together. Surreality ensues. Well, I'm told there was a moment in the episode where the stars eat sushi OFF THE BODY OF A NAKED ASIAN WOMAN. Yes, the Asian woman was used as a table, sparingly covered with sushi. This is simply the exotification of Asian women. We've seen this time and time again, although rarely so blatantly. I don't care if it's Corey Feldman, former teen heartthrob. Or the kid who played Webster. Or MC Hammer. They may be heroes in my book, but it's unacceptable and disgusting. And that's racist! (And sexist.)
Your daily dose of Shaq and Yao Ming (have you had enough?)...
Here Yao Ming's take on the past week's controversy: Yao takes high road on Shaq's comments
Props to Paramecium Parachute, who actually covered Shaq's stab at the Chinese language back in SEPTEMBER. He has some pretty good coverage, including the above graphic. I can relate to his plight with the many insipid emails he's received...
The official Better Luck Tomorrow website is back up and running. Check it out.
And it don't stop. More on Shaq, courtesy of the Seattle Times: O'Neal's act groups him with Lott, Rocker
So there I was last night, brushing my teeth, thinking I'd catch Saturday Night Live. It occurred to me that they might do some kind of joke or skit on North Korea, considering all the news this week. Lo and behold, when I turned on the tube, the opening skit had Horatio Sanz in a crazy Kim Jong-Il getup. As usual, I found having a non-Asian play an Asian person somewhat objectionable (perhaps SNL should consider adding a few Asians to its cast?), but I actually found the skit to be pretty funny. It didn't make many jokes at the expense of Asians, but rather, played up the fact that Kim Jong-Il is absolutely insane. It's true, and I wholeheartedly agree. The guy is wacko frighteningly crazy.
NPR spotlight on singer/songwriter Vienna Teng: Vienna Teng's 'Waking Hour'
WEIRDEST testimonial I have ever received about this website: "Your site helped me get from 180 pounds to 160 with around 20% muscle gain. I feel like punching someone in the face and stomping on their neck. Instead of doing that, I work out and it's gotten me much stronger."
I was just watching ESPN, checking highlights from the Houston-Atlanta game. Yao Ming earned himself his first NBA technical foul, when he dunked on Theo Ratliff and apparently talked some trash. (It looks to me like he just screamed when he dunked.) According to SportsCenter, Yao Ming speaks "Chinese, English and Smack." Ha hahahah.
It's been a long week. This Shaq-Yao Ming thing has officially blown up, getting national news coverage on outlets like CNN and Fox News. These quotes pretty much sum up the week:
"Tell Yao Ming, 'ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.'" - Shaquille O'Neal
"Let's not beat around the bush. If a white player had, for instance, made monkey sounds to taunt a black player, it would have been a national controversy. But Yao is Chinese and Asians are fair game." - Irwin Tang
"I said it jokingly, so this guy was just trying to stir something up that's not there. He's just somebody who doesn't have a sense of humor, like I do. I don't have to have a response to that (the charges of racism) because the people who know me know I'm not... I mean, if I was the first one to do it, and the only one to do it, I could see what they're talking about. But if I offended anybody, I apologize." - Shaq
Ah yes. We get a response from Shaq. A half-hearted, pandering effort to save face without admitting guilt. My take: In his heart, Shaq is not a racist, and did not make the comment out of malice. He's just not very bright and made stupid joke in racial ignorance. It stems from an environment in which racism against Asians is tolerated. But as Irwin Tang originally pointed out, we all know if the situation was reversed, and someone made an equivalent joke about an African American player, there would be hell to pay. Who cares if Yao wasn't offended by the comments? That mock Chinese crap stands on its own as insensitive racist behavior. And it cannot be tolerated.
Here's Jim Rome's take on the whole deal: Shaq Didn't Use Good Judgment
The saga of Shaq's big offensive mouth continues. Here's an extensive article from ESPN Insider covering the controversy thus far:
Nothing we haven't heard before, but it's nice to have it acknowledged by a sports authority like ESPN. (Thanks Brian)
Shaq under fire for Yao-bashing
by Chad Ford
Shaquille O'Neal may be one of the most beloved figures in the NBA, but his recent verbal attacks on Chinese big man Yao Ming is starting to raise a troubling question -- is Shaq a racist?
Some feel Shaq's recent comments in his escalating war of words with Yao have crossed the line from trash talk to racial slurs.
AsianWeek columnist Irwin Tang recently called out O'Neal for several derogatory comments thrown in Yao's direction.
"Tell Yao Ming, 'ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.' " O'Neal said to a reporter recently in a mock Chinese accent.
When asked this summer how he would greet Yao, Shaq said his elbows would do the talking.
"Street," O'Neal said of what is awaiting Yao in the NBA. "Playing in a gym, shooting jumpers and all that ... that's fine. But I'm street. I'm how to take a 'bow to your nose and (make you) think about what I'm going to do next time down."
Those aren't the only times Shaq has threatened Yao or mocked him for being Chinese. And Shaq isn't the only one. Charles Barkley has had his fun with Yao. Even the league itself has perpetuated stereotypes, including a recent Miami Heat promotional giveaway of 8,000 fortune cookies.
Yao, ever the diplomat, has stayed above the fray. He has joked alongside Barkley, sparred a bit verbally with O'Neal and said he found the fortune cookie promotion amusing, even if the Chinese in China don't actually eat fortune cookies.
Insider talked to several people close to O'Neal on Thursday. All of them were emphatic that O'Neal is not a racist. He was trying to be funny, they explained, and would never intentionally degrade someone because of their race. In fact, they were quick to point out, the NAACP recently honored O'Neal with its Young Leaders Award.
But even if Shaq was simply trying to be funny, Tang thinks the NBA, and the media, are employing a double standard when it comes to Asians.
"Let's not beat around the bush," Tang writes. "If a white player had, for instance, made monkey sounds to taunt a black player, it would have been a national controversy. But Yao is Chinese and Asians are fair game ...
"Forgive my bitterness. I grew up in Texas, facing those 'ching-chong' taunts daily while teachers averted their ears. I love basketball, and when Yao was drafted by Houston, I had to suppress my excitement, lest he turn out a complete flop. I went to see the Rockets play the L.A. Clippers on Dec. 12. Yao is a huge young man with huge skills. But he's also a kid in a
foreign land. You can tell by the way he carries himself when the ball is not in play. My heart goes out to Yao Ming. Yao Ming is our Asian Jackie Robinson, though he does not face the intensity of animosity Robinson faced. Unfortunately Shaquille O'Neal is the modern-day Ty Cobb, the rough-playing baseball superstar who used the n-word about Robinson."
Tang is not the only one ruffled by Shaq's comments. I've received several reader e-mails over the last week about the issue. One long-time Insider reader wrote me Thursday to express his sadness over Shaq's comments:
"If this is accurate, it is pretty reprehensible," he wrote. "Too bad Shaq did not attend the World Basketball Championships. He might have found it as culturally enlightening as the rest of us. I will never forget the vigor of the Argentinian crowd after Emanuel Ginobili dunked all over Russia, or the Chinese flag-waving, 4-foot-10 Yao fan at the US-China game. ... At least Allen Iverson has seen the light. Yao is truly, 'A gift from god.' "
In a league that has been the model for integration for all ethnic groups, the issue shouldn't just be swept under the rug. Only Shaq knows what his true intentions are. But the thing about racial remarks is that the pain felt by those on the receiving end is very real, even when the intentions are benign. The NBA knows China, and its billion-plus potential fans,
Ironically, the NBA announced the results of the latest All-Star voting numbers Wednesday, and Yao had widened his lead over Shaq for the starting center position on the Western Conference team. While some look on in dismay -- Brent Musburger reportedly lamented on ABC's Christmas Day broadcast that "the hordes of China" (another veiled slur?) might stuff the All-Star ballot box -- others will see it as a sign of hope. Hope that the borders that still demarcate the game will one day dissolve. Hope that the league will include the fans who follow the NBA faithfully throughout the world. Hope that there will come a day when we embrace players based on their level of skill and the content of their character, and not on the color of their skin.††
And here's something people might find interesting/helpful/inciting: The NBA (anti-)Yao Ming Timeline
I saw About Schmidt. Cheryl Hamada appears in the movie as Saundra. Kind of odd. Before the film, there was a trailer for Bend It Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha's smash hit movie. It looks great.
Okay, this Shaq thing has truly blown up. I got an email from a producer at CBS News on the matter. Haven't talked with her, but if she ends up calling, I'll tell her what's up. Dang.
Some more clarification on the forwarded email that's going around. I got an email from Neela Banerjee, Editor-in-chief at AsianWeek. The article in the email was originally published in AsianWeek ("APA Community Should Tell
Shaquille O'Neal to 'Come down to Chinatown"), but without the added headlines ("Call Shaq a big racist"). Just wanted to cover that. Libel issues, you know? Expect this matter to get some more coverage in AsianWeek.
Jin tha MC has been named in Rolling Stone's Next Wave --one of 10 new artists to watch in 2003. Found it interesting to learn that Jin has a part in the upcoming Fast and the Furious 2.
Heard about this a while back, about the theory that the Chinese possibly discovered American before Columbus. Here's a New York Times article on scholar Gavin Menzies' book 1421: Goodbye, Columbus!. And here's Salon's more critical take on the book: The Chinese discovered America
I've said this before, but it's just the sad truth that when you have high-profile Asian sports figures like Yao Ming playing, you're bound to get some ignorant suckas mouthing off. Like Shaq. However, there are reasonable people out there too. I should note an incident involving sports radio broadcaster Jim Rome from a while back. Apparently, a caller began talking about Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim and then launched into the typical "ching chong" mock Chinese crap. In response, Jim Rome cut this guy down and berated him for being a racist. He also stressed that referring to Asians as Orientals was inappropriate, and then threatened to fire his call screener for letting this guy on the air. A pretty strong and suprising response, given the usual track record for media personalities regarding Asians. It usually falls somewhere around ignorance or general apathy. So props to Jim Rome.
In totally unrelated sports news, here is an article about USC offensive football coach Norm Chow: Chow brings new ideas to home of Student Body Right
Seems like I can't open my In box without some email or another regarding Yao Ming... Here's a follow-up to Irwin Tang's article on Shaq and Yao Ming. I received this forwarded email, by "junwhang" to radio host Tony Bruno, and Bruno's response. It offers some clarification on the incident.
If what this article says is true, then you owe an apology to the Asian American community. Racism is not more benign because it is directed at one community as compared to another. And for you to condone and promote racial stereotyping of Asian Americans and Chinese Americans is despicable.
Tony Bruno wrote back:
I am glad someone finally forwarded me the comments I allegedly made about Chinese people or ANY Asian-Americans. I have received many nasty e-mails and wondered why. Mr. Tang's column is utterly innacurate! He points out how he called all of these different news agencies in Los Angeles and no one wanted to write about it.
That's because the LA media worships Shaq and is afraid to say anything about him..even when he's wrong! Mr. Tang didn't have to call me and ask me to do something. I heard the comments and played them ON MY OWN. I did play the Shaq comments and said.."how come no one thinks Shaq is a racist for doing something he thought was funny?" Is is racist to me? I don't know because I am not Asian..just like I don't know how to feel when someone makes insensitive comments about blacks or others groups of which I am not a member." My intent was not to ridicule Asians. I purposely wanted to illustrate how African-Americans(in particular) demand people be fired or punished severly for making any type of insentive comment about black people, yet I saw or heard no outcry from the Asians about something I felt was insensitive. I went on to point out how the Miami Heat held a "Fortune Cookie" night when Yao Ming was playing in Miami and echoed further..isn't that insentive? This same Shaquille O'Neal sound bite was played all over LA by radio stations who thought it was funny. I was the ONLY person in Los Angeles with the guts to play it and point-out it's insensitivity. I NEVER invited callers to make insentive comments about Chinese people. I read a couple of stupid e-mails which contained typical comments about people eating chinese food and coming back an hour later for more. My intent was to point out how we accept certain stereotypes about the different people who make America what it is as funny..yet some more vocal groups won't tolerate ANY comments - even if they are meant as humorous and not malicious.
If my mission to help make a point was offensive, I do apologize, but if Mr.Tang had called in to help me by confirming Shaq's was indeed wrong, he would have done more good than by totally mis-representing what I was trying to do on the national radio airwaves. thanks for taking the time to write in and not resort to threats or name calling as many others who never heard my show have done as the result of Mr. Tang's column.
Bruno sounds like a reasonable guy. I don't know how any of this went down, but it seems to me that Tony Bruno's comments were misinterpreted and taken out of context... However, Shaq's comments are still another story. Here's a few people you can contact to voice your opinion on the matter and to perhaps get to the bottom of it:
LA Times sports columnist T.J. Simers - email@example.com
Houston Chronicle sports writer Jonathan Feigen - firstname.lastname@example.org
In other Yao news, here's the man's first US TV commercial, for the Apple Powerbook (co-starring Mini-Me): Big and Small. Amusing commercial. But note that Mini-Me happens to be watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on his computer. (WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?)
Heard about this incident a little while ago actually. At least a few weeks back. Looks like it's finally picked up some steam, much in part because of this email forward I've been getting like crazy. I've received this one like 15 times, regarding Shaq's racist comments about Yao Ming. I'm not sure who originally wrote this (I think it's commentary from AsianWeek), but here is the email in its entirety:
Call Shaquille O'Neal the Big Racist
In his most recent racial taunt of Yao Ming, Shaquille O Neal told a reporter, "Tell Yao Ming, ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.'" No, the superstar center of the LA Lakers was not trying to speak Chinese. Shaq was, in a most derisive tone, aiming a racist barb at the rookie center for the Houston Rockets.
Ironically, just days before this racial taunt was aired nationally, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had honored O Neal with their Young Leaders Award. We can only hope that the NAACP had no knowledge of Shaq s previous racial taunt of Yao Ming and LA Clippers center Wang Zhi Zhi, broadcast on June 28 on Fox Televisions Best Damn Sports Show Period. When Yao Ming was brought up, Shaquille O Neal spoke with a mock Chinese accent and made mock kung fu moves.
Also in June, Shaq announced that he would test Yao s toughness by taking an elbow to Yao s face. This comment, combined with Shaq s racist taunts are particularly disturbing, as Asian Americans often suffer racial taunts while being assaulted or physically intimidated.
But Shaquille O Neal is not a stupid brute. That is, he may be a brute, but he s not a stupid one. He knows the media is on his side. National and local news organizations have consciously ignored Shaq s racist comment. I know, because I called the LA Times, Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, and other news organizations and offered them information about this
story. They did not want to write about it.
The only reason anyone knows about Shaq s latest taunt is because Fox Sports Radio's Tony Bruno Morning Extravaganza played a recording of the taunt several times to its nationwide audience on December 16 and 17. On the latter day, Bruno commented that Shaq s comment was "not racist," and then invited listeners and radio commentators to call in jokes making racist fun of Chinese. For hours, people cracked jokes, such as offering free bike parking to increase Chinese attendance at basketball games.
On Christmas Day, while calling the Celtics-Nets game for ABC, veteran sportscaster Brent Musburger s lamented that "the hordes of China" might stuff the All-Star ballot box and vote Yao Ming in as the Western Conferences starting center, rather than Shaquille O Neal.
How Kafkaesque, and how familiar, it is that the interests of the American media and those of Asian America are diametrically opposed. The media has betrayed their own dedication to controversy by making nothing out of something that deserves much ado. Rather than slam celebrity racism, as it has in the past, some media organizations obviously wish to reserve the right to revel in their own racism.
Will the NBA punish racist speech, as it has in the past? The Association is too busy passing out fortune cookies. In "honor" of Yao s first game in Miami, the Miami Heat on December 16 passed out 8000 fortune cookies to spectators. Yao found the promotion amusing but pointed out that fortune cookies have nothing to do with him. He said that he was not angry because
he was not familiar with American stereotypes of Chinese.
Let s not beat around the bush. If a white player had, for instance, made monkey sounds to taunt a black player, it would have been a national controversy. But Yao is Chinese. And Asians are fair game. For evidence, watch TV for a couple of hours.
Asian America cannot, or will not, demand as much respect as other minority groups. What do sports commentator Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, NBA Head Coach Dan Issell, and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Trent Lott have in common? They all lost their jobs due to comments offensive to blacks or Hispanics. Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, baseball pitcher John
Rocker, and basketball star Isaiah Thomas were all forced to apologize for racially insensitive comments.
Spit on me once, shame on you. Spit on me twice, shame on me. What will our Asian American leaders do about this potentially explosive issue? In the past, our national leaders have tended to shy away from the harsh lights of TV cameras, nicely fitting our stereotype as quiet, obedient people.
As media-hound lawyer Johnny Cochran single-handedly forces the NFL to consider more black head coaches, what will our Asian American leaders do about Shaq s offensive taunt? Write a letter?
Forgive my bitterness. I grew up in Texas, facing those "ching-chong" taunts daily while teachers averted their ears. I love basketball, and when Yao was drafted by Houston, I had to suppress my excitement, lest he turn out a complete flop. I went to see the Rockets play the LA Clippers on December 12. Yao is a huge young man with huge skills. But he s also a kid in a foreign land. You can tell by the way he carries himself when the ball is not in play. My heart goes out to Yao Ming.
Yao Ming is our Asian Jackie Robinson, though he does not face the intensity of animosity Robinson faced. Unfortunately Shaquille O Neal is the modern-day Ty Cobb, the rough-playing baseball superstar who used the n-word on Robinson.
"I look forward to breaking down that mother------- s body," Shaq said of Yao Ming. "He said my name three times, two in Chinese and one in American. You don't ever call me out. I'm from LSU." Yao has never "called" Shaq out.
But I am calling Shaq out. Come on down to Chinatown, Shaq. You disrespect Asian America, and we will break you down. Perhaps when you and the Lakers come to Houston on January 17 to play Yao Ming and the Rockets, the Asian American community will have a press conference waiting for you. Perhaps there, before a national audience, you can apologize to Yao Ming, forfeit your NAACP award, and implore young people not to follow your example.
Or perhaps nothing will happen. Another racial slur will be left to sink slowly into the Asian American collective unconscious and ferment as self-loathing. And then we ll only have ourselves to call out.
I hate to bring this up yet again, but the heart of this incident stems one sadly undeniable fact: racism towards Asians is still tacitly accepted. Asians are fair game for jokes and comments like that. From Sarah Silverman to Jay Leno to Mr. Shaq. The fact the matter is, equivalent jokes about African Americans wouldn't be touched. They wouldn't even come close. And that's racist!
The trailer for Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated Kill Bill is now available for viewing... Looks like crazy ass Asian cinema exploitation at its blatant finest. You've got everything from Bruce Lee Game of Death jumpsuits, to Kato masks, to crazy Japanese schoolgirl assassins. Heck, David Carradine! Goodness. It's about time, Quentin. Being an Asian cinephile myself, I am looking forward to seeing this movie, though on an Angry Asian Man level, I already sense I will have a deep love/hate relationship with it. But what can you do?
I responded to Gale's emails, tit-for-tat. And she writes back with MORE! I've added them to the original set: More Letters From Gale
Regular followers of this site are aware that I receive the occasional disparaging email regarding one thing or another (and sometimes just all-around general hate). Well, this weekend I received not one, but three emails from the same person in the same hour. Not just short blasts, but sizeable efforts with big vocabulary words and excellent grammar. So astounding, I have to share these emails in true appreciation. I don't just do this for anyone. I have reprinted them for your enjoyment: Letters From Gale
Been out of town for a few days. Here are various bits of info:
Yet another Yao Ming article: Yao laps Shaq in All-Star race
I'm informed of a recent article in Newsweek (January 6) all about the upcoming Matrix sequels... The writer describes a character named the "Keymaker" as a "tiny Asian man who has access to all the doors into the Machine world." This would not be problematic if the writer also described, say, Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) as a "huge bald black man who is the leader of the resistance." What's up with that? And the "Keymaker" ain't no midget.
I'm eagerly anticipating the release of Better Luck Tomorrow in spring 2003. In the meantime, here are a few BLT cast members sightings... Sung Kang is in Antwone Fisher as Denzel Washington's "receptionist." Jason Tobin briefly appears in The Hot Chick. And John Cho plays a government messenger to George Clooney on Solaris.
Another example of the exotification and commodification of Asian culture: Shiva the Showerer. Visit hindunet.org for more info.
Flattering article on Yao Ming: Get your Ming Ming
Interesting article on Zhang Yimou's Hero: Film on Ruthless Dynasty Delights China's Leaders
Another "Asian" joke on Conan O'Brien. In a joke about Conan's supposed crazy New Year's party, he said, "Joel promised to give up Asian men." Followed by "Joel's Asian [male] hooker arrived." (Photo included) What the hell? That's two nights in a row! What is up with Late Night's obsession with Asian jokes? That's racist!
A few days ago I visited the Better Luck Tomorrow website and noticed it had been ravamped all flashy and spankin' new... Lots of neat little profiles and info and photos and release news and mock websites created by the characters. But I checked it out just now, and it says it's under construction. Aw man. SPRING 2003!
The Broadway cast of Flower Drum Song performed live on the Today show today. And the original cast recording will be in stores next week. Oh, and the 1961 movie version of Flower Drum Song will on air on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow (01/02). Nancy Kwan. Yessss.
Don't quite know what to make of this email:
SUBJECT: luv the site
I just want to say that asians are violent people too. They have continuously caused my place to smell like a sewer with their horrendous food odors. That stuff lingers for hours and nothing can stop it.
So if you want to use this as an example of 'gettin back at whitie', go ahead. I refuse to be a racist anyhow, although it is tempting. Nice web-site. I love Bruce too.
Dude, what the hell are you talking about?
A few notable things to mention that came up during the holiday hiatus:
here will apparently be an Asian character on an upcoming episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Supposedly, the character in question will be a Vietnamese "slayer-in-training" named Chao-Ahn, who speaks no English (of course!). This info comes from Miranda, who got it off a Buffy spoiler fansite. I eagerly anticipate the culture clash hilarity.
Fans of the Harry Potter books know of course about Harry's crush at Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry, Cho Chang. If you're like me, when you read Book 3 you thought, what kind of name is that? Ain't nothing that explicitly says that's she's Asian, but you just sort of assume she is, right? Because yo, with a name like that, she's just got to be Asian. Anyway, sooner or later they have to cast someone for this role in the movie adaptation, and apparently Korean pop star BoA is under consideration for the role...
Rep. Bob Matsui of California has been named chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, heading up the House Democrats' efforts to regain control of the chamber in the 2004 elections: Rep. Matsui to head House Democrat campaign team
I caught a bit of Conan O'Brien on New Years Eve... They had this bizarre bit where they rang in the New Year, not by dropping the famous Times Square ball, but by lowering an "Asian male prostitute" suspended during the ceiling (I'm NOT KIDDING) during the countdown. I found it bizarre and disturbing.
Happy New Year! We roll into a new year, with new challenges. Thanks to everyone who visits and supports this site. When I first created angry asian man, I never anticipated it would grow to its current readership. Somehow along the way, I've gained a following. I don't know what the heck happened, but it's all good. 2002 was a good of year of ups and downsfull of Abercrombies, Yao Mings, Ming Tans, Kung Fools, BLTs, Scorpion Kings, and furious (and World Cup crazy) Koreans. Don't know about you, but I'm looking for forward to more of the same in '03. Stay Angry.