Our good friend and Kollaboration Los Angeles alum Priska joins us for this edition of The Green Room to share a set of her original songs. We’ve been following this amazing artist for a while now and are very excited to show off her powerful voice, and mastery of banter, with all of you! Let us know what you think in the comments as well as who you’d like to see in a future Green Room.
Want to know what’s so important about #OscarsSoWhite? Check out this skit by the peeps at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. “Whitewashing” gives us a cheeky overview of the systematic problem in Hollywood that once again contributed to a lack of actors and actresses of color in the Academy Award nominations.
Whitewashing is a term that can refer to an individual who (intentionally or unintentionally) casts off their cultural practices/background in order to fit into the cultural norms – however, it is used in this video to refer to the act of casting Caucasian actors and actresses as characters that are ethnically non-white. Among the famous examples mentioned in this video, there are a ton of Asian characters including Katharine Hepburn as Jade Tan in “Dragon Seed” (2004), Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) and Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Aloha (2015). They even mention Tom Cruise’s role as Capt. Nathan Algren in “The Last Samurai” (2003) as quite ridiculous, and I have to agree (even though Tom Cruise is great).
The video doesn’t blame the Academy for #OscarsSoWhite, but traces the act of whitewashing roles in Hollywood back to historic roots. It provides an interesting commentary on how the problem is still pervasive today, even in how people react to casting non-white actors and actresses as traditionally white characters (Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in “Fantastic Four” and John Boyega as Finn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”).
While whitewashing isn’t as harmful as some of the most stereotypical portrayals from the 40s-60s, it is still an act of oppression. It drowns out the representation of people of color in mainstream media and, ultimately, leads to a lack of representation at The Oscars.
Check out the video below (contains some NSFW language)
KoreAm Magazine started in 1990 by James Ryu, who printed the photos in his own dark room and hand-delivered the first edition to Los Angeles businesses. Twelve years later, Audrey launched focusing on lifestyle, news, and culture stories for Asian and Asian American women. Printing a physical magazine every quarter, Audrey featured strong and influential women on their covers and inside had interviews, told in-depth stories about topics of the day or women’s lifestyle. Now the LA Times reports that the Audrey and KoreAm team prepare to send out the final issue after British company London Trust Media bought them and laid off all staff members over the summer. Times reporter Victoria Kim said London Trust Company will keep online content and the wife of the Company, Stephanie Lee, will work with Ryu as the publishers in this new direction.
After a number of other ethnic-based publications have gone under in past years, it’s a shame to see Audrey and KoreAm follow suit.
When I began to think more about my own APA identity, I looked for publications about being Asian American, and found KoreAm. But I wanted to know specifically what it meant to be Chinese American, and KoreAm didn’t fit that description. Then I came across their sister magazine, Audrey, the Asian American lifestyle magazine for women. As an upcoming journalist and young Asian American woman, Audrey helped me when I took an active interest in identity, showing me what being Asian American looked like today.
Other than Disney’s Mulan, I couldn’t name too many Asian role models in my life or in the media around me. Once I found Audrey, I read article after article about travel, food, fashion, trends, and interviews with influential Asian Americans. I learned about BB creams, read advice on college life, and of course enjoyed the daily smoking hot Asian guy (SHAG). Audrey’s articles introduced me to new musicians like Run River North, up and coming YouTubers like Anna Akana, and the latest style trends I could never pull off. Finding a magazine aimed at Asian American women helped me find familiar ground when I started working through my identity and place in the APA community.
Audrey showed me how much representation in the media could affect a young kid in the Midwest. Even though I always enjoyed writing, I never thought of looking for a magazine specifically for Asian Americans because I had assumed at first there wouldn’t be one. When I found Audrey and saw stories I cared about that spoke specifically to my concerns, I realized the importance of representation in all forms of media— even print. Audrey Magazine is in part of the reason I ended up blogging for Kollaboration three years later.
“KoreAm and its sister publication, women’s lifestyle magazine Audrey, will continue in some online format, but Ryu has yet to figure out what that is,” LA Times’ Kim reports. “Ryu, who will stay on as publisher, says it will likely be shareable videos and interviews rather than the long-form writing and in-depth profiles KoreAm was known for.”
I’m glad KoreAm and Audrey will continue online, I’d hate to see such an important publication for the APA community disappear completely. Magazines like these give often forgotten or ignored communities and people a chance to tell their stories and inspire people like them. Either by being the cover girl or the editor-in-chief, seeing names and people who share the same background or culture can influence how a person sees and thinks of themselves. Seeing an actor in a movie or on TV does wonders to the broad American mindset, as does hearing an APA artist on the radio. But having the Asian American voice in the written and online media keeps our voices relevant and heard, by the masses and the community who needs to hear it most.
I wish the best for Ryu on KoreAm and Audrey’s future. Looking forward to seeing how both will come back in the digital age.
Entertainment Weekly just reported new Star Wars casting news now that Episode VIII has begun production, and one of the new names caught our attention. Kelly Marie Tran, a San Diego native and UCLA alum who has trained in improv with iO West, Second City, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, was among the newly announced cast included with the production anouncement. You might have seen some of her past work with College Humor, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Funny or Die (check out this EW article for a more in depth look at her body of work). The fact that her announcement came alongside Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern gives us hope that she’ll have a prominent role in the new movie.
For the longest time, the Asian community didn’t have much in terms of representation from the Star Wars franchise. Sure we had the samurai aesthetics of Darth Vader’s armor, and LT. Telsji, the ill-fated Y-Wing pilot who got in 2 lines before being blown away during the Battle of Endor, for whom NPR did a great piece on, but it always felt like we were grasping at straws when it came to feeling represented. The prequels didn’t help much when it gave us a bunch of bad guy aliens with terrible Asian accents, that one Jedi with the weird forehead and Fu Manchu beard, and turning lightsaber combat into space wushu.
All that was why it was refreshing to see a whole bunch of Asians in the cast of Episode VII, especially Ken Leung as Admiral Statura and Jessica Henwick as X-Wing pilot Jess Pava (this generation’s Wedge Antilles), two characters who weren’t caricatures, had vital roles, and didn’t die after 2 lines.
While we don’t have any details about whether Tran will be playing an actual person, droid, or CG alien a la Lupita Nyong’o, episode VIII just became way more interesting than it already was (which was already pretty dang interesting). We’ll definitely be following this story as it develops over the next two years until the movie’s 2017 release.
Are you excited about the casting news? What kind of character do you think she’ll play? Let us know in the comments!
This past Sunday marked 15 years since the establishment of the blog, Angry Asian Man. From calling out acts of racism to promoting Kickstarter campaigns by up-and-coming creators, in the words of founder Phil Yu, “Angry Asian Man is a website covering news, current events, politics, pop culture, and other subjects from Asian America.”
The blog originally started back in 2001, as a way for Yu, then a recent graduate from Northwestern University, to vent and jot down his thoughts about anything that caught his attention in the Asian American community, whether good or bad. It was very self-serving, especially because at the time he didn’t think anyone else would read it.
“In 2001, if something like Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr existed, that’s probably where I would have directed those energies,” he speculates. “At least those first couple years, the way I was writing and sharing, I mean… That’s pretty much what you do on Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook now. If social media had existed in those days, there might not be an Angry Asian Man, or not as we know it.”
It’s because there was no social media then that Yu was drawn to other content creators at the time, who created on their own terms. He found this creative freedom really inspiring; something that today may be taken for granted.
Though Angry Asian Man was steadily building a following, it wasn’t until a year after Yu started the blog that he realized it was becoming something bigger than he had expected. In 2002, Abercrombie and Fitch came under fire when they released a number of T-shirts with racist depictions of Asian caricatures printed on them. Yu and a network of other online writers covered it, and their links were shared prolifically, garnering the attention of the mainstream media outlets in a just a week’s time. There was enough of an uproar to discontinue the T-shirts altogether.
In the years since, Angry Asian Man has become a popular site for all the latest in Asian America; and with all the traffic pouring on a daily basis, it’s even garnered attention from mainstream media outlets as well. Not only has it become a beacon for the latest news, but readers also have reverence for Yu, for having no filter in expressing exactly how he feels on each subject he addresses.
When asked about his thoughts on all the attention, he said he still finds it weird to this day. As much as he is proud of the work he’s done to get the blog to where it is now, he feels that there should be more voices out there.
“I should not be the first and/or only person people think of when it comes to Asian American news or reporting and have a voice,” he said.
Angry Asian Man has gotten such a vast readership, that Yu has even started expanding the content within the last several years.
Angry Reader of the Week is a weekly feature that highlights people who Yu has met over the years from connecting with his readers. For him, it’s a way of shedding light on the unique individuals in the community and, as a result, has made it a more inclusive experience for his audience. The one rule he has for it: You cannot ask to be Angry Reader of the Week.
Beyond the blog, Yu has extended out to the podcast world with Sound and Fury: The Angry Asian Podcast. His interview-style episodes allow for him to have conversations with people he’s met over the years. The podcast project is ultimately a labor of love that Yu tends to, despite the demand of the blog.
“It’s a project of wanting to say what I want to say,” he commented. “This is on my time, this is creating something extra, and it’s very much dictated by what I want to do, under this Angry Asian Man banner.”
Two years ago, Yu extended the Angry Asian Man brand to YouTube when he collaborated with the staff of ISAtv to create the web series, “Angry Asian America.” With his co-host comedian Jenny Yang, and two featured guests, they would create a conversation about current events and pop culture in Asian America.
In regards to the 15th anniversary of Angry Asian Man, Yu is wowed by it, sometimes thinking he’s done the math wrong. He’s impressed that the readership has been around for as long as it has and happy to be around for so many people’s Asian American journeys.
“It’s crazy!” he said. “[Time] has gone by so fast! 15 is a staggering number to do any one thing for that long, especially running a website.”
As Yu looks to the future, he plans to keep doing what he’s been doing by connecting with interesting people, creating engaging content, and keeping the podcast and web series going strong.
Asked what he thinks the state of Angry Asian Man will be in another 15 years, he predicts it will be at a time when we’ve already celebrated the first Asian American actors and actresses to have been nominated and win Academy Awards and that the #1 hit TV show is an Asian American sitcom.
“Hopefully people will be plugging into [Angry Asian Man] from their brain computers and holograph projections and things like that,” he joked. “Hopefully there will be [fewer] things to be angry about in terms of racism and inequality in this country.”
But even Yu knows that there will always be some things worth getting angry over, and that we can all keep counting on him to call it out, for as his motto goes, “Stay angry.”
The last video in Kollaboration SF‘s Valentine’s Day cover series has CryWolffs Violin’s rendition of Jason Derulo’s Marry Me. This beautiful instrumental cover will make even the most hardened cynic believe in love (I’m of course talking about me… I’m the cynic)!
The team at Kollab SF cooked up a couple of great cover videos just in time for Valentines Day! Check out &Blue’s Patrick Wong as he covers Christina Aguilera’s Come On Over (All I Want is You), a classic tune that’ll take you right back to your middle school days (just me?)!