Writer | Actor | Voice-Over Artist

Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Frustrating Fate of Ken Jeong

It’s a bit of a letdown for ABC’s Dr. Ken to announce itself as the third Asian American family sitcom in history, especially when there’s only a one-year gap between the most recent two. But all the air in the room was taken up by Fresh Off the Boat, which premiered in February and brought Asian protagonists back to the small screen after 20 years—and the Asian American community’s hope it would work where Margaret Cho’s ill-fated All-American Girl went wrong. Even withMargaret Cho herself in a guest-starring role on Dr. Ken, the sitcom feels a bit anticlimactic.

If anything, Dr. Ken illustrates what Eddie Huang, the celebrity chef whose memoir served as the inspiration for Fresh Off the Boat, was talking about when he slammed the show for watering down his life story to make for sanitized broadcast TV—while at the same time showing how unreasonably high his expectations were to begin with. And Fresh Off the Boat, written by Nahnatchka Khan, may be unmistakably a prime-time ABC family sitcom, but it’s nowhere near as watered-down as Dr. Ken.

Khan’s writing might be toothless in the network-TV mold, but it still has a kind of edge to it—an underlying sense that the Huang family’s hijinks take place against a backdrop of their otherness in an unfriendly world. But Huang’s complaint about “reverse yellowface”—the reason why he ultimately quit doing narration for Fresh Off the Boat—fully applies to Dr. Ken: The show, alas, is a formulaic sitcom that uses all the same tropes as white-centric sitcoms but scores “diversity points” by casting an Asian family.

This in and of itself isn’t necessarily the worst thing. Dr. Ken takes place in 2015, whereas Fresh Off the Boat takes place in 1995 in a fictionalized version of Eddie Huang’s childhood. Diversity on TV, especially when it comes to portraying Asian American families, has come a long way since Huang’s childhood, or Ken Jeong’s, or mine. Part of what we want when we ask for representation is to acknowledge that we have struggles that are different from white people’s—but we also want the freedom to just exist as people without having everything be about our race.

Read the full article at Slate

“You think the f*cking Tea Party determines public policy?”: Dick Gregory on racism, the 1 percent and why black Americans are angry at the wrong people

Dick Gregory’s had a long, rich and strange life as an entertainer and activist. I hadn’t heard of him before I started talking with Andre Gaines, a film producer and lifelong Dick Gregory fan who wanted to do a Black Lives Matter-themed documentary focusing on Gregory’s idiosyncratic philosophy and beliefs about the “secret history” of the… Continue Reading

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Liability Shield

Online trolls have launched another barrage of attacks in the strange, petty little war over “ethics in journalism” we call GamerGate. Perennial troll targets Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn caused the latest escalation by testifying to the UN about the toxic effects of online harassment and the need for something to be done about it. As a result,… Continue Reading

The Big Business of Internet Bigotry

The question on everyone’s minds recently is, “Why won’t George Zimmerman go away?” You’d think of all the people who’d want to keep their heads down and avoid the spotlight, people who’ve been acquitted for murder after a media circus where much of the country decided they were guilty would be at the top of… Continue Reading

The despicable backlash against Ahmed Mohamed: It’s nothing new for white America to see the gifted “other” as its greatest threat

For a period of about 24 hours Ahmed Mohamed was a genuine feel-good story, the story of the Internet coming together to help a 14-year-old black Muslim kid who’d been wrongfully arrested for a homemade clock that supposedly looked like a bomb. But it’s the Internet and the news cycle moves fast–I predicted at the… Continue Reading

The Internet And Its Discontents

Joshua Goldberg is a piece of work. He’s been a lot of people online, done a lot of things, said a lot of things. He’s been a feminist anti-porn campaigner, a militant Zionist, a white supremacist neo-Nazi and, most recently, an ISIL-aligned Islamic fundamentalist, whose plot to bomb a 9/11 memorial eventgot him exposed, arrested… Continue Reading

White guys’ yellowface envy: Underneath bizarre acts of racial subterfuge lurks a twisted desire to stand out

So all my Asian-American friends have been a-twitter (and a-Tumblr) about Yi-Fen Chou, neé Michael Derrick Hudson, the dude who got himself published in “The Best American Poetry 2015“ by submitting it under a pseudonym that presented himself as a Chinese-American woman (though whether he even knew he was using a feminine name is questionable).… Continue Reading

The Passion of Asian Hulk: A Generation of Keyboard Warriors Assumes Power and Responsibility

Welp, I called it. I said that of all the demographic types in American society that best suited the alter ego of the Incredible Hulk—the emotionally repressed brainiac with a whole lot of rage ready to suddenly unleash at an unexpected moment—a young Asian-American dude would be the best choice. And they listened. Details aren’t… Continue Reading