Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ken Jeong and Accidental Racism

written by: Mr. APA

So Asian American blogs like this tend to lean towards proving to the internet that the media is only portraying us as stereotypes/kung fu masters.  Here at Asian American TV, we also like to focus on Asian portrayals when the media does it right! The TV show Community has been having an awesome season and last week's episode was very very excellent.  It featured the Spanish teacher portrayed by Ken Jeong in a Halloween costume where he asked people, who do you think I am?

So let's play that game here!  Look below and write who (what celebrity) do you think Ken Jeong is for Halloween?

Ken Jeong

If you said Michelle Kwan or Kristi Yamaguchi, you were wrong!  And that was the point of Ken Jeong's costume, he was trying to show that because he was Asian, people would automatically think he was one of the Asian Figure Skaters since being Asian was apparently being part of his costume.  Anybody who guessed Kristi or Michelle would immediately be called a racist.  Turns out, Ken Jeong was actually Peggy Fleming.

Peggy Fleming
I think Ken's body is pretty close to this which scares me
Now I'm not really sure who Peggy Fleming is since I'm not as old as Ken but it's safe to say she's some kind of famous American figure skater but that's not the point here, how many of us watching on TV who are also Asian jumped to answer that Ken was either Michelle or Kristi.  Why I'm bringing this up is because I wanted to show how well Community tackled what I would call today as accidental racism. 

There's stuff built up on our brain that we don't realize.  I don't think anybody who guessed Kristi or Michelle is a racist on purpose, it happened accidentally that nobody's mind jumped to Peggy Fleming.  However, it makes you think, what else jumps to people's mind when they see an Asian Person.  Would a boss not hire an Asian Guy just because he assumes the Asian Guy will be more timid?  Would an Asian Guy/Girl get passed up for a promotion based on subconscious racism that really people can't help.

Next time you tense up when you see two tall African American kids walk towards you, think about the accidental racism you just continued.  I'm going to say a bold statement and say that for most normal people in North America, full on racism is gone.  But it's this subconscious racism that will linger for generations and ultimately, it's not till we have more shows like Community where Asian people play PEOPLE and not ASIAN CHARACTERS that this "accidental racism" will finally stop to dissipate.  If all we see is black people mugging us or being criminals on TV, we will always jump there.  If all we see on TV is Asian guys being nerdy or Asian girls being exotic, our minds will always jump there.  In the end, to get rid of this accidental racism, we will need to stop seeing it on TV.  It's getting a lot better but we're still have a long way to go. 

Community TV
Where's Ken Jeong!!?!?!
Sorry this wasn't super funny as usual but here at Asian American TV, we hope to get you thinking about things you normally wouldn't think about.

DAMMIT, I just realized something, Ken Jeong is dressed up as a freakin WOMAN! Dammit, Community, you gain five points for showing the accidental racism but you also lose ten points for making the poor guy dress up as a female and continuing to show Asian Males as less manly.  There it is folks, accidental racism happened in the Community writer's room when they were trying to MAKE A POINT about Accidental Racism. HAHA!

I'll leave you with an interview of Ken Jeong talking on the set.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'm feeling a big embarrassed myself now. I definitely jumped to conclusions and did not think Peggy Fleming!