I’m the last person to judge another actor. I know most work their ass off and the payoff is little to nothing. It’s really a marathoner’s journey. You wanna meet someone with thick skin. Talk to an actor that’s been going at it for a while. My attitude towards taking roles is… “All the power to you, do what you got to do to stay around.” To make it all work out so there is a balance between making a living and living your dream takes part magic, part unrelenting effort, part magic, and part magic.
So with that said, let me get to the point. Over the past few months I’ve read and heard much discontent from Asians and non-Asians over the new network comedy 2 BROKE GIRLS. Here’s a recent Hollywood Reporter article that accuses the show of being racist. I try to ignore soapbox criticism yip yap, soapbox complaining about racist this and that. It’s so easy to complain and judge from afar. You try living the life of a struggling actor. Come to think of it, struggling, before any job title sucks balls.It’s nothing new really. It’s all-cyclical; every so often something shows up in media to piss on the faces of Asians Americans. But little is done, because the reality is that little can be done. What you gonna do? Stand around and protest with picket signs? I doubt enough AAs care to take the time to stand around for that. Sure a few will yield their power to say it’s wrong and bark that it’s so very offensive. But the response is usually a polite “whatever, we didn’t mean it, bla bla bla.” Not exact, but doesn’t matter because nobody that matters really listened anyway. Soon all is forgotten, but it’s good for some panel at some Asian American event where a few articulate folks talk about doing nothing about what nobody that matters listened to anyway. The answer is simple; the answer has always been simple. No talk, just do. Simple. Maybe that’s why NIKE made so much money off the slogan. Yes, just DO IT!
We change things by doing things with our own voice. Only AAs are going to be sensitive to Asian American characters. Only from the subjective experience of being slant eyed can a fictional character be truly 3 dimensional. Only we care enough to listen. Things are getting better because the ones that want change have taken it upon themselves to DO something about it. So know and feel secure there are some good folks with real say watching out for yellow man. Also with the Youtube world solidifying as a true space in media, HOPE is all over the World Wide Web.
The truth of the matter is, not everybody in Hollywood is out to get the Yellow Man. I believe most creative types, yellow or not, have a pretty good sense of the world around them. Most are aware stereotypes are BS and use their influence to change the world for the better. But then you get some fools that say fuck it! Let’s go for the easy laugh.
Easy laugh comes with a price. Come to think of it EASY, anything comes with a price. Nothing is free. Everything has a price. Good or Bad. What you contribute is what you get out of it. Maybe it’s age, but I do feel a level of comfort believing life works simply this way. One’s contribution to the world is how one makes their mark on the world, for good or for bad.
I wonder if the creators of 2 BROKE GIRLS think this way? I wonder if they know their contribution is that some chubby slant eyed kid in the middle of America who will show up to school and be called a bunch of names and made to feel sub-human is okay? I wonder if they know this will pretty much fuck up this kid’s childhood. All for what?…For a laugh…Damn…This sucks! Thanks 2 BROKE GIRLS. I really didn’t feel this show merited a blog or my time for that matter. Until last night.
The show came up in a conversation among a few friends. We all actually dismissed it, until realizing the characters name was HAN. HAN?! WTF?…let me attempt to articulate what this felt like. Ok, imagine meeting a crack head named Martin Luther King! Maybe that’s a bad example, but really, it was a kick in the nuts, man! Han represents so many steps forward…wait! Here’s a better example…It’s like the symbol Obama had to the world, all the change and opening people’s minds and then Herman Cain appears with all his molestation past…never mind…that makes no sense…but I think you get my point.
HAN. So much in a name. I’ve played this character in three FAST & FURIOUS movies. Han for me represents years of progress for the AA male. When a kid says that Han made him feel cool at school because now the other kids accept him as an equal, I realized what my contribution as an actor comes down to. Han allows Asian kids to feel proud, to feel like one of the gang. Simply and often dismissed, just plain- ‘COOL’. Come on, we all wanted to be called cool. Sure, what is cool? Means so little in the scheme of things, but means so much when we’re young. Han gave that to AA guys, Han gave them a spot with the in crowd.
I guess this is why 2 BROKE GIRLS strikes a chord with so many. Instead of making their Han one of the gang, he is forever an outsider. Forever, the different one, with a different way of talking, different way of dressing, forever different looking. Forever, never part of the in crowd.The message is we allow you here to be laughed at. Not laugh with. Who the hell wants to be called that Han? That Han blows. That Han is basically Long Duk Dong. Just doesn’t sound as bad.
Well, I guess at the end of the day, one has a choice to look at this empty or full. I choose FULL. Shit like this reminds me that a lot of work is ahead of me. Shit like this reminds me there is still a lot to fight for. Reminds me how fortunate I am to be able to make a positive contribution as the good Han. The fight goes on!