For those not in the know, I am an Asian/Chinese man who grew up with the internet in the west. Growing up, I loved YouTubers like NigaHiga, KevJumba, and Wong Fu Productions. I remember growing up and literally Googling for “Asian actors in America” or “Asian NFL football players” because I was keen on seeing if someone like me can end up becoming famous and successful. Could you just imagine, twelve year old Baron, Googling “hot Asian celebrities” on the internet. I was a repressed boy, leave me alone OK. Why did I just admit that? But nowadays, we push for diversity and with the internet, the diversity gets pushed at an unprecedented pace. I think that it’s crazy that it took like what? Master of None in 2015 to come out before mainstream media was like “ohhhhh Asians can make good stuff in America.” Granted, I know that there have been others but let’s be honest, a lot of those other programs were like Asian shows for white people (I’m looking at you Mindy Project). However, there is a drawback to this increase in Asian (American) content. There’s a lot of good, but that means that the frequency of bad shit seeps through too.
For every charismatic kpop group, there’s someone looking to appropriate their own culture just to be different. Of course, I’m talking about Uncle Roger. Uncle Roger, the Malay-Chinese YouTube personality who stole PyroBooby’s act from 2008. The guy who’s whole act is to put on an accent and a character while making reaction videos. You guys know that the guy is doing yellow face right? Like he’s not doing anything really that funny. You ask 9/10 Asian dudes who grew up in America to do that character and they can do it as good, if not better than him. And I am so tired of seeing him collaborating with all my favourite Asian content creators. This is a case of too much representation. Just like I hated King Bach and all those other racebaiting comedians who would appropriate their own race/culture with 0 depth, this guy is doing the same thing. Is this really that funny? I have Chinese uncles and more often than not, they’re assholes who I don’t get along with – now I’m expected to laugh at this scrub? Perhaps I’m bitter, maybe if I had realized that the bar for success in comedy is so low – I would have done it too.
But it’s not just him that is bad. Jackson Wang – the man who abandoned his status as a Hong Konger to achieve clout with the CCP, he’s one of them too. The guy has 0 integrity but he’s handsome and talented, so we give him a pass for those things. I see him working with a lot of Asian-American content creators. There’s Simu Liu, who I initially thought of when I wrote this article. I fucking hate that guy. I used to like him during Kim’s Convenience but the guy is literally everywhere now. Movies, TV, social media, my YouTube ads – I’m so tired of seeing his face. And I swear all he ever talks about is “I’m Chinese, I like kpop, I like bubble tea. Did I mention that I have strict Chinese parents?” Good lord, these guys suck and I feel like I see them too much. Maybe it’s not an over representation, rather a misrepresentation that I’m worried about.
But like I said, there are bright spots. I genuinely think that Henry Golding is a really cool guy, Daniel Kwan is having his much deserved time in the limelight, and Michelle Yeo has been a legend for decades but is only getting the international acclaim that she deserves today. These are prominent Asian figures that can dominate in the west – folks who are able to be Asian as they are but not have it define their entire existence, even when people want to claim them as the first Asian to do whatever. These people are successful in the west due to a combination of their talent, as well as their unique experiences of living in the adjacent to the mainstream. And it’s acts like this that I will continue supporting when it comes to representation being done correctly in the mainstream.