So I made this thing and I’m pretty proud of it, haha.
Showing posts tagged with “media representation”
“People ask, ‘So, how are the roles now? You must be getting so many.’ And it’s like, I don’t know if you know, but I’m Asian still,” Yeun told TheWrap earlier in July, laughing. “It’s not a complaint, that’s just how it is now, and I have to forge my own path through it and see that through. I think that if I had not been Asian, I probably would have a whole plethora of roles, at least to audition for, but it’s just not what has been written.”
How to be the white guy on the diversity panel:
So, thanks to the types of stories I’m interested in telling and the types of conversations I’m interested in being a part of, I often find myself either part of or hosting diversity or representation panels. For instance, at this year’s Awesome Con I suggested a panel on representation in comics which I titled “Representation is Important”.
To my pleasure, I arrived a minute late to the panel and almost didn’t get in because the panel was overflowing. On the panel with me were Alex Simmons (long time black comic book writer/actor/editor/amazing guy who has worked on everything), Amy Chu (Asian American female comic book writer and all around great person), Alitha Martinez (long time black female comics pro who has worked for both of the big two), and Laura Lee Gulledge (white female indie cartoonist and writer).
Now, I’ve seen panels with similar make ups where the white guy takes it on himself to explain how the comic book industry “really works” to the others on the panel. That’s not really my style. Also, both Alitha and Alex have substantially more history and cred in the industry than I do and Amy and Laura Lee are on pretty well equal footing. So, what do you do? When this is the topic in play, being the white guy on the panel makes you stand out. Also, it can lead to awkward transitions where somebody has just finished talking about the tough time they’ve had dealing with white editors/writers/artists/executives.
Here’s my answer: the first thing everyone did was introduce themselves and how they got into comics. Everybody’s story is pretty different and complex, as they are in any panel where you discuss how you got in. So, I’m at the end of the line and it rolls around to my turn. I take the microphone, smile at the full audience of interested and attentive people and say:
"My name is Jeremy Whitley and I got into comics the old fashioned way: by being a white man."
I have never seen a room full of people melt so easily. I had to stop talking for a solid minute to let everyone finish laughing. It was amazing. Just throw that elephant up on the stage and let everyone have a good look. Then I explained what I was doing there and why I had an interest in this subject. And for my encore, I decided to take it on my shoulders to be the person who complained about some of the really awful stuff that’s going on in the comics community right now. Not only do I not feel the need to explain the actions of other men (white and otherwise), but I’m not going to make the people who have to face that junk bring it up and make them feel like they’re whining.
Also, and I see this far too often, don’t talk over women/girls. Whether they are on the panel or in the audience, you can generally tell when someone wants to talk and here’s the thing: as a white man there are no shortage or places or resources through which you can express your opinion and while it’s perfectly within reason to take your turn, when the subject is hot and somebody has something they want to say, don’t step on them. It’s the first rule of being an ally and no matter how strongly you FEEL about representation, diversity, or rape threats - these are still issues that only concern you indirectly and you should ALWAYS defer to those for whom it is a day to day issue.
TL:DR - Recognize your privilage. Expose it. Facilitate the conversation. Step back and be an ally rather than attempting to run the panel.
In March, my 10-year-old son Hudson found out that he’d been cast as the lead in the ABC television pilot based on Eddie Huang’s memoir, “Fresh Off the Boat.” This week, the producers delivered the pilot into the waiting hands of network execs, who’ll decide over the next week whether it will live on and go to series, or fade away, never to be seen again.
I spent a month and a half watching as it was shot, assembled and put through post-production — not as an on-set journalist, but as a dad standing by to dispense bottled water, words of encouragement and the occasional between-takes hug. Which means there’s only so much I’m allowed to say about the show right now.
I think I can safely share this much, however: The show is like nothing you will have ever seen before on television. If it makes it to air, it will blow minds, raise eyebrows and, to quote a line that my son says as Little Eddie, “change the game.” I would honestly say the same if I weren’t the lead actor’s father. It’s that different. And provocative. And, yes, gut-bustingly funny.
It was exactly 20 years ago that that series was greenlit for primetime — coincidentally, also by ABC! — and I still remember the wild anticipation across the community when the announcement was made. A TV series centered on an Asian American family airing on network television! Who could have imagined it was even possible?
For decades, Asians had been all but invisible on this most mass of mass media, flickering on and offscreen again in bit parts or as background scenery; when primetime deigned to include us, it was nearly always in roles that presented us as buffoons, monsters or victims (and sometimes all of the above). The idea that millions of people across the nation might be gathering to watch a show in which they’d be invited into an immigrant Asian household, experiencing our unique issues and aspirations through the humanizing lens of comedy — this was incredible. It was groundbreaking. It seemed like the culmination of decades of struggle for cultural relevance and social inclusion. And from May to September, it was all that my friends and family members could talk about.
But when the show finally arrived, all those expectations came crashing to the ground. The show’s writing was frustratingly generic, full of drumroll/high-hat gag lines (“Go out with garbage, expect to be dumped”) that could have been photocopied from any other mediocre family comedy. The humor that was actually rooted in the show’s situation came at the expense of the family itself, generally depicting Asian customs, traditions and cultural predilections as weird and alien, something to be gawked at by visiting outsiders. And Cho herself was all too often pushed into the awkward role of couch pundit, commenting on and explaining the antics of her family from the vantage point of their living room. Her standup persona — edgy, subversive, gleefully scatological — had been completely suppressed; more than anything else, she resembled a P.O.W. who’d been tranquilized and forced to recite propaganda by her captors.
Beset by terrible reviews and flagging ratings, the show was quickly canceled. What no one expected was that it would be two full decades before another chance came along for an Asian American family sitcom to make it to primetime.
Well, if you look at the numbers, it’s clear that the time for Asian Americans to get another shot at the spotlight has come. During the 20 years since “All American Girl,” the Asian population of the United States has exploded from just under 7 million in 1990, to over 18 million today — while seeing its buying power grow 523%, to almost $800 billion as of 2012 (with $1 trillion in sight by 2017). And surveys show that 60% of Asian Americans “believe there should be more television programs directed specifically to us.” That percentage rises to 73%, the highest of any race or ethnicity, when looking at the lucrative viewing audience aged 16 to 24.
“It’s taken diversity a long period of time to break through in Hollywood, and it’s still not there yet — but you’re seeing more and more successful programs where diversity is celebrated, and whose appeal is broad and very marketable,” says Ed Chang, Group Director of the Asian American advertising agency A Partnership and president of theAsian American Advertising Federation. “If a television series feels authentic to us, if we can relate — if it’s our story — the potential response and support from Asian Americans audiences will be huge.”
Dan Mayeda, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, wholeheartedly agrees. As leader of Asian America’s largest media watchdog organization, he had the opportunity to meet with producers and see an early version of the script, and calls the show “potentially groundbreaking.”
“What’s special about this show is its uniquely Asian American sensibility,” he says. “These are characters that are fully American while still reflecting the particular quirks and experiences of Americans of Asian descent. Finally, we get the chance to laugh with the characters, not at them. And I think this show is hip enough that it will attract non-Asians.”
That’s what makes “Fresh Off the Boat” such a signal opportunity: If it gets to the air, it’s going to be the first show to authentically depict a vision of family that most of us who grew up Asian American will recognize — and that will nevertheless relate to those who didn’t.
Margaret Cho pointedly blurts on the commentary track of the “All American Girl” DVD set release “This is not based on my stand-up!” every time the tag “Based on the stand-up of Margaret Cho” appears at the end of an episode. This show, on the other hand, draws from actual, sometimes uncomfortably real stories from Eddie Huang’s childhood memories growing up as the eldest son of immigrant parents who’ve chosen to move the family from Metro DC to a lily-white suburb of Orlando. And while it’s hardly a documentary, the show’s humor is anchored in the kind of stranger-than-fiction truth that makes the universal personal and the intimate accessible.
The bottom line, says Mayeda, is that after a 20-year absence of Asian American families from primetime TV, the time has come for network television to give them another chance. After all, he notes, “shows featuring all-white casts routinely fail and no one seems reluctant to put on another all-white show.”
Tweet @ABCNetwork to show your support for the show and to keep it alive!
Your tweets matter!
“There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to! And why can’t you expand yourself so you can relate to the humanity of a character as opposed to the color of what they are?”
this really is an excellent article, y’all should read it.
Lupita Nyong’o Delivers Moving ‘Black Women in Hollywood’ Acceptance Speech
"I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
There is no shame in Black beauty.”
I think I’ve posted about this before, but I can never get over how amazing “Out of the Box” actually was. If you’re looking for a truly feminist children’s show, this is my #1 recommendation.
For starters, the two main characters (who are seen in the gif) are both from marginalised groups but are not stereotypes even a little bit. And as I recall, there was even an episode where they both shared their culture with the children is a positive light.
Secondly, the show is very anti-classist. The premise of the show is that the two main characters are taking care of the children after school until their parents get home from work. They do things such as arts and crafts, and rely heavily on cheap products that can usually be found around the home.
Thirdly, the show was pretty progressive when it came to gender roles and gender expression. As I recall, there was one episode in which the children wanted to do a play about a princess and a dragon. They decided to make puppets by drawing on lunch bags with markers. One of the children, who appeared to be a cis girl, declared that she wanted to be a strong and scary dragon. Another one of the children, who appeared to be a cis boy, declared that he wanted to be a beautiful princess. There was no shaming for this, and no talk about “proper gender roles”. Instead, the two main characters simply applauded the children for the creativity and helped them create their puppets.
I actually might watch all of the episode again one day (if I can find them) and create a full list of reasons why people should watch Out of the Box. But for now, I’ll just leave you with the episodes that I remember.
You could argue comic books have little importance in the grander scheme of things. But comic books make a big statement in a small way. We won’t have blockbuster movies about a Muslim superhero until we can all be excited about a comic book portraying one. When Marvel created Khan, it took a shot at breaking the typical paradigm of superheroes. While it’s a small gesture when measured up to the entire comic book world, it’s another step in the movement for equality in entertainment.
For the larger part of the decade, there was a potent cloud of racism and hatred towards Muslim people. Today, the fact we can portray young Muslim girls as superheroes is a beacon of hope for what is to come. Sure, a lot of people will say “it’s just a comic book.” But I’d like to think somewhere out there, it’s making a difference in a young Muslim girl’s life. And even if the message gets lost and Khan’s character doesn’t sell well, at least a young girl could have her own superhero to look up to.
Global Thinking: Kamala Khan Marvel launches female Muslim Superhero by Kavahn Mansouri.
my 3 year old sister of indian heritage already hates the way she looks because she doesn’t look like 99% of the white girls in disney/tv/toys and it breaks my fucking heart. she’s 3 fucking years old and shedding genuine tears because she has dark skin and hair and eyes, so dont dare pull a fucking hissy fit when people actually try to be fucking POC inclusive with something as important as children’s media
"but it’s an old EUROPEAN fairy tale" yeah suck my dick