Tuesday, April 06, 2004

WILLIAM HUNG JUST WON'T DIE! (and other things worth noting)

  • Angry Asian Man noted two recent pieces dealing with the infamous Mr. William Hung, both by Asian Americans, both describing Hung's current 15 minutes (more like 35 minutes) of fame as fueled by racism.
      Emil Guillermo speaks up in SFGate.com.
      David Ng drops his words in the Village Voice (thereby denying me the opportunity, lucky bastard).

    Frankly, I wish both of them would have gone back and read Sharon's San Jose Metro piece on the phenom and taken a really deep breath.

    Here's the deal: is part of Hung's popularity attributable to racism? Sure. I don't think many would deny that Hung, uncomfortably, registers in our cultural memory alongside folks like Long Duc Dong or Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. But I don't think it's racism alone that explains his popularity ESPECIALLY among Asian Americans. Contrary to Ng's condescending attitude, it's not that APIs are starved for any kind of media representation and it's not that organizations like Guy Aoki's MANAA have stuck their "head up its ass." I think there's so much community love for him because he represents the earnest but awkward person in all of us, a person, I dare say, that APIs are INTIMATELY familiar with especially given the racist society we live in.

    The difference is that Hung is naive, oblivious but seemingly sincere about who he is. He is "real" in other words, which makes him something more than a parody created by soulless executives to make profit off of. No doubt, soulless executives will make profit off of him but the reason Hung has struck a chord with so many is because he is NOT an invention but someone who comes across - in his countless interviews and performances - as entirely sincere about who he is, what he's out to do and the fact that none of this makes any damn sense.

    I understand VERY WELL why many APIs are uncomfortable with Hung (especially Asian men). He's the embodiment of some of the worst stereotypical images we've had to deal with going back well over a century. But he's not a white actor in yellowface nor an API actor FOBbing it up. I think he's just putting himself out there which is exactly why people like him so much. Does racism fill San Diego malls with people shouting out his name? You'd have to be a pretty cynical bastard to really believe that Hung's entire fame is based strictly on racist love.

    I also wonder if certain Asian men aren't uncomfortable with Hung out of their own self-image issues, ironic given the fact that Hung seems so unburdened by his own. I can certainly see how he'd trigger that kind of concern and derision but that's on the critic, not on Hung himself. What I think is most important about Hung's media presence is that what he puts out there is himself in all its rawness and that's part of what makes it painful to watch him at times, but it's also what he contributes. He's not as one-dimensional as his critics would paint but someone who is vulnerable, confused and joyful, all at once. When's the last time any of us have seen that in an Asian American media figure?

  • This is getting embarassing but I just can't stop being in awe of S/FJ. Not only is he up in The New Yorker, by itself already better than ice cream, but this week, he's writing about Madvillain. Please, just take a moment and recognize: The New Yorker is running a feature on MF Doom and Madlib.

    Either hell has frozen over or we've entered a brave new world. Bravo Sasha, bravo.

  • The Melting Blog draws attention to a huge story-in-development that I haven't seen anyone else mention. Up to 15,000 Hmong refugees are coming to America this summer. Be sure to read the Melting Blog's analysis along with New York Times story I just linked.

  • Theresa from Girls Are Weird lays it down straight: violate the 3-day rule and get violated. (See #2)

  • This won't be news to anyone who's ever visited Taipei but traffic fatalities is the third leading cause of death worldwide for people between 5 and 30.

  • "Honey? You don't want me to get cancer do you?" Study says sex helps prevent prostate cancer. Actually, technically, it's ejaculation that's the preventative aid, which means that even if you're alone, you can still keep yourself healthy, *wink wink*.

  • This gem comes from I'm So Sincerr: "I suppose I should be happy that "I'm Rick James Bitch!" has finally replaced "Wassssahhhhp!" as the thing white yuppies say in bars. I've got some Mobb Deep quotes for those suckas too."

  • Proof there is no God: J-Lo's mom hits a 2.4 million dollar lottery jackpot.