Thursday, April 08, 2004


This is getting ridiculous. The latest hysterical essay (forwarded to me by Sharon), decrying William Hung's success, comes from Jimi Izrael at in a piece entitled (and this is breath-taking) "What It Iz: William Hung, American Sambo".

Izrael's criticism is not unlike that of Daniel Ng's, whose Village Voice essay I link in an earlier post. Here's one typical quote: "Hung fits into a stereotype, and his audition seemingly gave some permission to revive it. The goofy, buck-toothed dancing Chinaman hasn't persevered like some other Sambos, but Hung's rise to popularity proves that it ages well." In this respect, Izrael is just repeating the party line of most of Hung's critics, and I've already taken them to task below (and will also do so in an upcoming essay for the SF Bay Guardian.

But Izrael trips up badly with this comment: " I'd feel better if Hung was a plant a professional. But he's not. Hung is just a foreigner in this country trying to get an education, who can't know how being a talent show buffoon will affect his livelihood or the dignity of his countrymen."

First of all, Hung isn't a "foreigner" - he's an immigrant and there's a pretty big fucking difference between the two. He's been here since 1993, long enough to be naturalized as an American citizen. As for the "dignity of his countrymen" - who are you talking about? The Chinese? Chinese Americans? Other engineering majors?

People should pause and read this from The Onion back in 2000. What is amazing is that, word-for-word, some of these fake quotes are practically identical to what has been written about Hung so far.


    San Franscisco -- Second-generation Chinese-American laundry owner Raymond Chen is under heavy fire this week from Bay area activists who call him "an insulting caraciture that perpetrates long-outdated, grossly prejudiced images of Asian Americans.

    "It's frightening to think that in the year 2000, some of us still haven't moved beyond the century-old stereotype of Chinese people as laundry men," said Abagail Huber-Henson, a Universityof California at Berkeley cultural-studies professor and director of the Race-Action Project, the campus group spearheading the crusade against Chen. "This man is a degrading anachronism that has no place in a supposedly enlightened society like ours. To meet him is to be directly confronted with America's shameful history of racism."

    Added Huber-Henson, "We should no more tolerate this man than we should a Pakastani convenience store owner or a Jewish lawyer."

    The controversy is expected to heat up Friday when hearings begin at San Fransisco City Hall. The hearings, which are expected to last several weeks due to the long list of acedemics and activists who wish to speak out against Chen, will determine if his presence in the community can be prosecuted under local "hate crime" statutes. If convicted, Chen could face fines of up to $20,000 and up to 15 months in prison, as well as mandatory attendence at anti-racism workshops.

    Though the potential penalties facing Chen are harsh, some believe they do not go far enough.

    "With prejudice and intolerence still rampant in our society, anti-hate legislation is an important first step," said Beverly White, director of the San Mateo-based Stop Racism Now. "However, putting Chen injail for 15 months is not going to ease the pain he has caused the countless Asian Americans he
    has mocked and insulted. The real issue here is so much larger than just one man. No enlightened society should allow stereotypes like Chen to exist at all."

    White then outloned her group's long-range goal to get laws passed that would authorize the forced relocation of all ethnic stereotypes to internment camps in the California desert."

Kind of puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? The Onion's parody becomes prescient and should be a reminder to folks out there: chill the hell out and let the Hung fad burn itself out like we all know it will.

By the way, according to Amoeba Music (Berkeley) and their sales numbers from yesterday (more than two days after Hung's Inspiration CD came out, they had only sold ONE copy in that time.

  • The LA Weekly features a good article this week on the era of session musicians. Ah, where have the days of Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine?

  • File under: "Only on the Internet". (Hint: offer dance moves). Sharon points out that this is actually a promotion for Burger King, which makes me less excited about it but credit the BK marketing staff with an innovative campaign.
    (both spotted on soulstrut forums)