Metrodad's latest post reminded me of how often I've heard people call my daughter "exotic". She was only a few months old the first time someone said it, and I can't count how many times I've heard it since then. I know it's meant as a compliment, but it rubs me the wrong way. It reduces her to race. It implies foreignness, when my daughter is no more foreign than the average tow-headed kid from Ohio. It makes me think of Bai Ling, and all the other hyper-sexualized Asian characters in bad Hollywood movies. It puts her in a box. Yes, she is pretty (don't all parents think their kids are beautiful?) but she is so much more than that.
For those of you who are Asian or have Asian kids, when you hear the "e" word, do you take it as a compliment or does it piss you off?
This past weekend I had dinner with my high school girlfriends, all but one who are Korean American (yes, I know, what a diverse group!) Anyway, as oftentimes happens since I up and got married so early, we chatted about how they alternately did and did not want to get married soon.
One of my friends, part of the 1.5 generation, is dating another 1.5 generation KA who is working in Korea now.
Since he's a little older and his younger sister is already engaged, he's feeling the subtle (or not-so-subtle) pressure to get married soon. His family lives in Korea, and my friend floated the idea that if she got married soon, which she emphatically repeated several times that she is not going to, then would we fly to Korea for her wedding? Financial considerations aside, of course, we would.
But after learning about the way weddings are done now in Korea, I really hope she gets married here.
Remember when Marcia swooned over cute little Brit mophead Davy Jones in "The Brady Bunch"? Look at her eerie New Millenium twin Ashley. But Ashley's not crying her eyes out over a white teenybopper star like Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.
Who woulda thunk that a shy, gangly South Asian boy could reduce Ashley and a million other American girls to tears? She again was a blubbering mess on tonight's finale of American Idol when Sanjaya belted out "You Really Got Me" (Joe Perry was on guitar!). I know that lots of people think he's talentless and only got as far as he did because of Howard Stern's campaign to "Vote for the Worst." Fair enough. But he is a true idol in the most classic of rock-n-roll definitions. Girls just find him so darn cute. They scream and cry when they see him. It's just all so uncontrollable and visceral for a teen girl. When adults talk about him, mostly as the butt of jokes, they'll make fun of his lack of vocal talent or his crazy hairstyles or his guilelessness. Yeah, he's a true teen idol.
Sanjaya to me represents a huge cultural shift in America. There's something different in the way Asian boys are viewed in this country: sensitive and hunky, goofy but foxy. When I was a girl, I only saw Asian guys on TV or in the movies depicted as just being nerdy and dorky like Long Duck Dong in "Sixteen Candles." Bruce Lee was cool and ripped, but I always resented Bruce because people would always ask me if I knew kung fu or karate followed by that obnoxious wail and swirl of choppy hands in front of my face. God, and what a dork the Karate Kid was. Ralph Macchio wasn't even Asian! He was like the teenage version of David Carradine. As Margaret Cho said, "Kung Fu (Bruce Lee's idea!) should have been called "Hey, that guy's not Chinese."
But my ten-year-old daughter gets to grow up with cool, popular images of Asian boys. Now we get to see cuties like Korean American actors Justin Chon (Nicklelodeon's "Just Jordan"), Charles S. Kim ("The O.C."), and Aaron Yoo ("Disturbia") play nonstereotypical roles. And look at the cult hit "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" - two Asian American actors (John Cho and Kal Penn) play the loveable slacker title characters. People are now laughing with us, not at us.
Korean pop stars and soap actors like Rain are huge because of the Korean Wave (hallyu), and I'm glad to see there's some homegrown adoration going on now in America. Are Korean guys hot? (Eliaday, I think you posed this question in a comment in the Rain post.) If preteen and teenage girls in this country have any say, "Mmm, yeah!" Check out this cafepress shop and myspace group
Behold, the glorious rise of the Asian American Hunk. My daughter's loving it, and frankly so am I.
My family lives in a neighborhood in the city that is very diverse; many of our neighbors are Hispanic Latino, Somali and African American. Our kids go to a public school that has a Montessori core curriculum and because of that there is less diversity in the school as there is represented in my neighborhood; the school has become a magnet for liberal, white hippie parents who want to enroll their kids in a Montessori school.
Two weeks ago, I found out that one of my co-workers also has kids at this school, and her son is the same age and grade as my son. She asked me if I knew about the “Mom’s Night Out.”
This past year, it seems that several women decided it would be fun to host a “Mom’s Night Out” for mothers whose kids attend our school. It is an appetizer and cocktail potluck hosted at different mother’s homes. The next “Mom’s Night Out” was scheduled for the same evening as the school’s spring choir concert. Since I hadn’t heard of the event, my co-worker said she’d send me the on-line invitation and put me on the e-mail list.
So the morning of choir concert, my husband and I show up 15 minutes early. Greeting us is Mary, a parent volunteer and, I find out, the host of the “Mom’s Night Out.” I know this factoid because after giving every parent a program for the concert, she asks the women if they are a mom and if the answer is yes, hands her a printed invitation for the “Mom’s Night Out” and explains that it’s being hosted at her home that night.
Every woman except me, that is. With me, she hands me the program and tells me where I can sit. No invitation to the “Mom’s Night Out,” even though it’s right there in her hand and I just saw her give it to the couple in front of me, and as I watch while sitting down, she gives it to the woman behind me. Then, with some time to spare, she goes around and gives them out to women she might have missed coming in. Still, she never approaches me.
Rain. Bi. Jung Ji Hoon. Hottie Boombalottie. However you refer to him, Rain is sweeping Asia and is poised to take on the world. He just might be the most famous person that the average American doesn't know about.
Shoot, I didn't know who he was until a few months ago. My mom and all her girlfriends are apparently in love with him and get giddy like school girls whenever his name is mentioned. (My mother doesn't understand how I can possibly survive without AZN.)
I admit it. I’m a die-hard fan of the fast-talking dramedy “Gilmore Girls.” “Saturday Night Live” parody skits aside, Lorelei and Rory’s mom-and-daughter/best-friend relationship epitomized all the best things about my own friendship with my mom, while conveniently allowing the warts of close mother-daughter relationships to fade into neatly resolved made-for-TV scenarios.
I just finished watching the series finale, and I’ve made my sad goodbyes to Stars Hallow and all its quirky characters. In particular, though, I can’t help but remember the oft-forgotten other best friend of “Gilmore Girls” – the drum-rocking, Bible-shunning, hide-her-records-under-the-floorboards Lane Kim, played by Keiko Agena.
Although Lane’s own tumultuous relationship with her mother often served as the negative parallel for Rory and Lorelei’s idealistic relationship, Lane and her mother Mrs. Kim, portrayed by Emily Koruda, remain one of the few examples of fleshed-out Korean American characters on television.
I will admit upfront that I am involved with Boston Progress Radio. But I still think it's a worthwhile endeavor. In my unbiased opinion.
The goal of Boston Progress Radio is to provide a space for community to develop around Asian American independent musicians. Ever feel like you're at a loss for finding Asian American artists? Too quiet at work and need something to pick you up? Looking for some music that speaks to your experience?
Boston Progress Radio is now both a blog and an online radio station. To tune in, please use the following link. You will need a player capable of playing MP3 streams (e.g., iTunes or Winamp).
There's not a ton of artists up there yet (I'm only starting to learn about the craziness of getting rights to music etc.) - but there's already some good stuff up there. Yes, there's definitely the politicized hip-hop that i enjoy blasting at work, but there're also some great singer-songwriters, and a little bit of everything in between.
Stop by, drop a comment, and let us know what you think.