So when comedian Margaret Cho made an appearance during tonight’s Golden Globes ceremony as a North Korean film journalist/Army General, it was bound to elicit some negative response. And sure enough, social media did not disappoint with reactions like these:
Apparently, there’s a new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical The Mikado up in Seattle (produced by the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society) that’s rankled some in the community for its “yellow face” casting—all 40 Japanese characters in the show are played by 38 white actors and 2 Latinos in full-on “Oriental” mode.
In general, it’s almost never OK to do yellow face so if you’re a non-Asian and you’re considering following in the footsteps of the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society,
fuck you just don’t do it. But like all rules, there are a few exceptions and here they are:
1) IF YOU’RE ACTUALLY SATIRIZING OR MAKING FUN OF THE PRACTICE OF YELLOW FACE AND/OR THE IDIOTS BEHIND IT
As a general rule, if you wouldn’t put a white actor in black face in any particular situation, you shouldn’t be OK with putting them in yellow face. However, I can think of at least two recent examples where the use of black face was justified—on a couple of episodes of the NBC series 30 Rock and the Ben Stiller flick Tropic Thunder. In both instances, white actors donned black face but it was to point out the absurdity of the white characters who were doing it in the first place (yes, it’s all very meta). So if you want to do a play or film poking fun at a clueless white theater company in an otherwise diverse city that chooses to put on a production of a play set in Asia with a white cast in yellow face, then this would be OK.
An acquaintance of mine from high school, someone I reconnected with at our reunion this last summer, forwarded me an article from the British newspaper The Guardian entitled
I was riveted.
My friends and I – most of us in the midst of raising families and in the middle of our careers – have been comparing notes on things like “meaningfulness,” “boredom,” “regret,” “legacy,” “enthusiasm,” “peace of mind,” etc.
Y’know, mid-life shit.
The natural buoyancy of youth is gone, the bemused contentment (at least that’s how I picture it) of old age isn’t here yet, but we still have lots of fight left in us. We’re just trying to figure out what’s worth fighting for.
What I Learned on YOMYOMF This Week is a capsule of the week’s blogs with sarcastic commentary from Yours Truly (that’s me!). If you’ve been busy and missed out on a couple of our daily gems, this is a perfect way to catch up.
But seriously – what was more important than reading YOMYOMF?
So this glorious March week brings y’all astounding new insights from the YOMYOMF family, including examinations of interchangeable Asians; 80s masturbation trends; and modern high school cliques.
How’s that for a Sociology lesson?
Oh, that was a lame way to cap the intro, wasn’t it? Geez…
Yes, I’m typing to myself.
“So I guess the message here is–if you’re an inbred hick who can’t tell the difference between a Chinese commie or a North Korean commie and just want to see other inbred hicks kicking some form of Asian commie ass, well then by God, Red Dawn is the movie for you!”
I think the bigger, less funny joke is that judging by those criteria, this movie will find a substantial audience. HOORAY!
In which I spell out the fact that my family reads all of the dick jokes I make for you.
Okay, also the vagina jokes – but those are genuinely hilarious.
NON-SEQUITUR ALERT: Did anyone see Predators this weekend?
Yesterday, I had some appropriately named father-son time with my father – me being his son – watching the latest installment of the franchise. For him, it was either that or UFC matches. For me… well, my life isn’t very exciting.
Oh yeah, it’s just a small detail, but I’m Internet-friendly so I’ll slap a SPOILER WARNING on the following.
Just a few years ago, it seemed as if the more prominent Asian American faces in Hollywood were more likely to be Korean American than not: John Cho (Star Trek), Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), James Kyson Lee (Heroes), Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim (Lost), Rex Lee (Entourage), Leonardo Nam (Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants), Aaron Yoo (Disturbia), Justin Chon (Twilight) and my fellow Offender Sung, among others. But these days, the prominent Asian faces you’re likely to see are Indian American.
While most of the Korean American actors I mentioned above are mainly known for dramatic roles (though there are hilarious exceptions like Ken Jeong, Bobby Lee and Margaret Cho), the young Indian American actors coming up now are mostly making their marks in the world of comedy (more on this below). Following are some of these actors (and one new TV show):
Regular readers of this feature know I focus on movies that I think could have starred Asians, but today want to take a slight detour to write about a television series instead. And not just any television series, but what may very well be the most brilliant and funny 30 minutes of TV on the air at the moment…30 Rock.
30 Rock was created by and stars Tina Fey as Liz Lemon–the quirky, smart and slightly neurotic head writer of the fictional Saturday Night Live-esque sketch comedy show where the series is set. Fey, who started her TV career on SNL, has admitted to bringing a lot of autobiographical elements to 30 Rock and that Liz is like herself “five or six years ago when I first started at my job and had to figure out how to deal with big, strong personalities and get through the day, being sort-of scared of everyone… but acting like you’re not scared of everyone.”
I love Fey and I think she’s perfect in the role, but is it just me or does Liz Lemon possess a lot of characteristics that feel very Asian American? And let me take that even one step further–at her very core and essence, isn’t Liz Lemon really…an Asian American male?
When it comes to women on the screen, my fellow offenders Iris, Elaine and Roger are all fans of name-taking, ass-kicking, long legged characters who can outdo any male badass. They are the cool, lethal silent types – independent, resourceful, surviving and thriving on their quick wits, disarming sexuality and devastating body blows. Fair enough.
But I’d like to make a case for damaged goods.
I like train wrecks. I like characters who are way flawed, way hot, and who all need a nice stable Virgo to attempt to – and fail at – reforming them. But this Virgo also quickly concedes that you don’t really want to tame a tiger, that even if you could, it would kill the life spark in them that attracted you in the first place. Put that tiger in a cage and it will end up depressed, dead, or pissed.
Firing someone is the worst. Hiring them is a close second.
You meet with them, glance at their resume, try to engage them in some informal chit chat. Maybe, if you’re in an impish, dickish mood, you ask them, “If you could invite any 12 people in history to a dinner party, in what order would you seat them at the table and why?” Of course you have no interest in an answer to the question, you just want to see whether they get the joke and laugh at you, freeze up, or begin to fire off kiss-ass staples like Lincoln, Jesus and Gandhi in an attempt to say what they think you want to hear. (for the record: if you’re ever put on the spot like this, ask your interviewer who they would choose, or just be honest: if it’s Kyle from South Park, or Jenna from 30 Rock, or the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, then that’s who it is. Doesn’t have to be Immanuel Kant passing the peas to Rosa Parks.
I think my favorite TV show at the moment has to be 30 Rock and last night’s James Franco-guest starring episode was brilliant (you can watch it here). Franco, playing himself, embarks on a “fake” relationship with Jenna to hide from the public the fact that he is in love with a 2-D body pillow.
So you can imagine my further delight when I came upon a news posting with this headline immediately after watching the episode: “Shanghai Man Lands On Lover, Survives Suicide Jump.” According to the story, a 50-year-old man named Yang jumped from his sixth story apartment with his blow-up sex doll in an effort to end his life. But luckily, he landed on the doll which exploded and cushioned his fall; thus saving his life. As a blogger for a site like YOMYOMF, you live for stories like this and I was all ready to have fun with it. But then I started reading the piece and it’s actually a sad and touching story. Here’s an excerpt: