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Challenging Asian American Misrepresentation in Entertainment

Ten Blogs That Confront the Status Quo for Asian Americans

Working in Hollywood as an Asian American is no cakewalk. We still live in a world where Matt Damon saves the day in a Chinese historical drama, and Scarlett Johansson plays a Motoko Kusanagi in a live action anime that takes place in a futuristic Japan. Even worse, the roles available to Asian actors are usually small and tethered to ‘Asianness’ as the focal point of their identities. What’s more, the pay is usually less than what white actors make for similar roles.

Like most other Asian Americans in Hollywood, I’m underrepresented–or worse, misrepresented–in mainstream entertainment culture. The most frustrating thing about all this is that it’s divisive. Our perspectives are treated as that of ‘the other,’ or are stereotyped.

But as an independent filmmaker and actor who happens to be Asian, I also have reason to hope. There are people working to challenge the norm and to ensure that Asian American voices are heard, not just serviced by mainstream culture. Here are 10 blogs that I’ve found are speaking up for the Asian perspective.

1. AngryAsianMan

Phil Yu is “keepin’ it real with the rice fields” in this unabashedly subjective and only semi-facetious racism rant blog. Yu specializes in observations about Asian misrepresentation in pop culture, but also dabbles in the more overtly political.

See, for example, the time an anonymous racist in the diverse town of Edison, New Jersey put up flyers shaming two Asian American candidates for office… candidates, by the way, who won. Along with co-host Jeff Yang, AAM also produces the podcast They Call Us Bruce, an unfiltered look at what’s going on in Asian America.

2. Nerds of Color

When a community of scifi/fantasy, superhero and video game nerds gets together to talk about race identity, good things ensue. Race here is not limited to the Asian American experience. As the title suggests, it’s inclusive of all nerds of color.

The nerds are proud of their outsider cred, and even prouder that as the mainstream has embraced LOTR, vampires and manga, the once nerdy has become mega lucrative. They’re also keen on calling out entertainment industry blunders, like how CBS’s Supergirl cast an Italian American actress as a Latina character (oops!), and the aforementioned ScarJo appropriation of Ghost in the Shell.

3. Resonate

Resonate provides East Asian writers in the West with a platform for discussing news, entertainment and personal topics of concern. And it’s not just about the content–Resonate serves as a hub for displaying the talents of the East Asian community worldwide.

Through regular columnists, as well as guest contributors, the blog features thoughtful film criticism, as well as Asian-interest news, like the Stateside rise of K-pop stars BTS, and of course, coverage of Trump’s misadventures in Asia.

Cohan Chew, Co-founder and Editor in Chief mentions, “Ethnic minorities will remain minorities unless we band together. Where division weakens us, let compassion be our strength.”

4. Hyphen

Hyphen is a smart, young magazine put together by up-and-coming journalists in the wake of the demise of cultural fixture A. Magazine. Hyphen’s focus is activism, arts and culture, and the many issues facing Asian Americans in the plains states or the Great Lakes region, as much as in L.A. or New York.

This month, they’re featuring a collection of fiction, poetry and essays by Asian American adoptees, and they have some good interviews, like this one with veteran Japanese American actor Sab Shimono. If you’re looking for a cultural perspective that’s higher-brow, LGBTQ- and feminist-inclusive, and stirs the national discussion around Asian identity, Hyphen Mag is your jam.

5. AsAmNews

“AsAmNews puts a spotlight on Asian Americans breaking stereotypes and serving as role models and leaders in our community. We aim to bring visibility to issues and stories that go unreported in the mainstream media,” says Randall Yip, Founder of AsAmNews.

AsAm is a serious community news effort run entirely by volunteers, devoted to highlighting stories of Asian Americans breaking stereotypes, and to gathering headlines of concern for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

They’ve teamed up with New American Media and ProPublica to document America’s rising number of hate crimes, and have a whole section devoted to Bad Ass Asians who are making the world a better place for all of us. If you want to get involved, AsAm invites you to intern with them.

6. NextShark

If you’re looking for updates on what’s happening with Singapore’s CEOs and Hong Kong’s billionaires, or what’s up with China’s business relations with North Korea, NextShark is for you.

It features business and tech updates as they relate to young Asians, and it also has a healthy dose of food, sports, culture, interviews, and other news.

“NextShark.com is important to me because it’s something that I wish I had growing up. As a Chinese-American, I faced many instances of bullying because of my ethnicity. Additionally, there weren’t many Asian-American figures to look up to because of the lack of representation in mainstream media. I see NextShark as an outlet to inform and inspire the current and future generations of the Asian youth,” says Benny Luo, founder of NextShark.

7. 18Million Rising

18MR works toward the lofty ideals of empowering Asian American identity and creating a more just, creative world for us to thrive in. Recognizing that there is no monolithic Asian American experience, they write for an intersectional audience of queer, trans, muslim, poor, disabled, and undocumented people of color.

Join the resistance with this post on why Asians in the south need to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, or this one about the difference between Native American sacred sites, Japanese American concentration camp memorials, and Confederate statues (hint: only two of these are worth preserving).

8. YOMYOMF

You Offended Me You Offended My Family (aka YOMYOMF) brings together blog and video talent from around the internet to focus on Asian diaspora pop culture and news. Content ranges from the funny to the outraged to the weird–sometimes all three at once, as with this post where a Chinese engineer, vlogger, and self-described ‘cyborg’ was accused of being fake by a misogynistic Silicon Valley bro.

YOMYOMF also includes news updates from AsAm (see above), and personal pieces like Asian Australian writer Erin Chew’s perspective on why so-called ‘yellow fever’ is part of rape culture.

9. No, Totally!

Shaun Lau hosts a weekly podcast about movies “and other important things” (like social issues) with Brian Hanson. They self-describe as a “dilettante film nerd” and a “regular guy,” respectively.

With their casual, approachable attitudes, they deftly bridge the space between entertaining movie podcasts and smart movie podcasts, ranging from the relics (here they review Star Wars–yes, the old, original, picked over 1977 movie that was just called Star Wars) to the relevant (their thoughts on Jordan Peele’s race focused horror flick Get Out).

10. Reappropriate

Chinese Canadian blogger and activist Jenn Feng has written for a host of good websites, and uses Reappropriate as a platform to express her thoughts on Asian American feminism, politics and pop culture. Her blog boasts seniority as one of the internet’s oldest blogs on Asian American and Pacific Islander social issues.

Read her measured thoughts on how the Cambodian government has responded to Trump’s ICE roundups, or how she took part in the public backlash that closed down a racist mobile game.

If these blogs are any indication, Asian American under-and mis-representation in mainstream entertainment cannot last. Hollywood may not have heard us yet, but these bloggers, thinkers, activists and editors remind us that we do have a voice, and we can use it.

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