It came down to a simple decision that we need more diversity on screen.
You just need someone to tell people that it’s still very harmful for young people to see these stereotypes.
director and actor for Buzz Feed Video, Eugene Lee Yang is one of the most visible and charismatic figures trending on the Internet these days.
With my recent video about women’s ideal body types throughout history, for example, what we could do was create something that added a different perspective to the subject, so that people can respond and discuss the issue in an intelligent manner. I have a lot of videos I haven’t released because I realized with where I am now, as this sort of media figure, what I potentially represent for young Asian Americans is much more important than me creating my own art that could possibly be very divisive. I did a video: Awkward Moments Only Asians Understand. The assumption that it’s just okay to make fun of a community that they think is doing fine is bulls–t. When people say, “I was a slacker in high school, I smoked a lot of pot, so it makes me a cool Asian.” I’m just like, “I don’t care.” Sure, that’s great, you do you, but don’t think yourself as less Asian because of it. You can’t be an Asian American and be proud of your non-Asian-ness. People think that everything comes down to old rich white men. The future is changing every single second, so you’re either going to ride that wave and be on top of the game, or still be scratching some white guy’s door in ten years and be behind the curve. We need more people who push for not only equality but diversification within diversity. It’s as if our stories are not controversial, or staggeringly painful enough for the older white audience to pat themselves on the back to say, “Oh, I learned something; I feel bad for what we did in history.” Even though we were on the railroads and in the internment camps. Now casting directors are using the bulls–t excuse of there not being enough demand, because they’re making less demand for it, so then we don’t see opportunities for ourselves, and we don’t try.
And I realized it did so well because the comedic tropes for the Asian community haven’t changed for over 30 years. Now you get people who have this colorblind perspective, which is equally harmful. People bring up that we have supporting characters on television now, like, “It’s not just the sassy Black receptionist, but there’s like an Asian friend who works there, too.” But no. But we’re not white-looking enough to be the leads. I would never have supplied myself as an actor if I didn’t join Buzz Feed. The great thing about the proliferation of K-pop is that it puts Asian faces out there. If it’s even one small town girl who is now obsessed with supporting Asian culture, then more power to them! We have the right to be angry about our representation in the media.
What are your thoughts on Asian American representation in entertainment today, given the emergence of shows such as Fresh Off the Boat and Dr. What I think makes the Asian American community so particularly passionate about our portrayals in media is that there’s a thin, blurry line when referring to the “model minority” myth.
Intelligence, stoicism, exoticism, emasculation, obedience—we’re all well-aware of the characteristics we’ve been conditioned to use as a reference point for Asian stereotypes.
He’s also helping shine a spotlight on diversity and representation in American pop culture through such videos-gone-viral as Awkward Moments Only Asians Understand and If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say, which pointedly turn the tables on racial microaggressions. It’s a tie between “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by Shania Twain.
If it’s from the ’90s, has a rap breakdown, and doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s in my karaoke repertoire.
To see any Asians he had to go to the Korean church, 45 minutes away by car.