the art of the troll

I won't re-post Jenny An's terribly misguided and tiresome piece for xoJane, "I'm an Asian Woman and I Refuse to Date an Asian Man," which has predictably drawn the ire of the internet masses over the last few days.

Instead, I'll instead point you to Jeff Yang, who breaks down the art of the internet troll and actually talks to Ms. An about her intentions behind the piece. Yes, it was indeed provocation: Asian Woman Writes That She Refuses to Date Asian Men: Is She an Internet Troll or Agent Provocateur?
There are all sorts of flags to suggest, to a careful observer, that An is quite aware she’s yanking readers’ chains. The goofy, slackjawed photo she submitted as her author portrait, and the other equally odd images that illustrate the story (An holding a spread-eagled red panda; An lounging on a bed with a towel folded into a white elephant). The assertion that this "has nothing to do with skin color” followed, 25 words later, with a celebration of “getting on the white-boy bandwagon.”

Basically, there’s no way that someone could simultaneously be that naive and that cynical. Is there? I reached out to An to find out. She lives in Brooklyn, and we have mutual friends; it wasn’t hard to connect, and An was delighted to talk, on the condition, per xoJane, that I link back to her story (more clicks!).

"Clearly the piece is meant as a provocation,” she says, stating that her literary inspiration was Junot Diaz and how he depicted “racial self-loathing” in his Dominican characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — “especially when it relates to romantic relationships. And that struck me as an approach to understanding racism that's rarely discussed outside of literature. And so, I played with the idea and put it into a piece I hoped people would talk about."
"Clearly the piece is meant as a provocation." No, actually. That's the thing. Not clearly. But clearly lacking the chops to pull it off. Then again, I suppose in the end, Jenny An got what she wanted. People are talking about her piece, and for the moment, she gets some notoriety. Can that book deal be far behind?

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