Wong Fu Productions Announces Principal Cast for Their First Movie

After crowd-funding over $300,000 and 3 months of intense pre-production planning, Wong Fu has finally announced the start of their principal photography and revealed the principal cast for their first feature film.

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Chin and Shaw Release “Star Wars” Parody with a Disney Twist

For the Star Wars purists out there who are worried about the franchise’s upcoming films becoming “disneyfied”, this fan-made Star Wars musical parody may be the manifestation of your worst nightmares.   For the rest of us, it’s comedy gold.

Originally released on YouTube on June 17th, Star Wars: The Musical retells the story of the first release of the epic saga A New Hope but in the form of a Disney musical.  Shot entirely on green screen with multi-plane, hand-painted backdrops in Disney’s traditional animation fashion, the musical parodies classic Disney songs from films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Peter Pan.

The spoof is a pop-culture overload with many Disney princess cameos (Mulan and Snow White played by Jane Lui and Sarah Ho respectively), Mickey Mouse ears, and inside Star Wars jokes; and it cheekily ends with the entire cast singing  “please buy more toys and DVDs, so Disney can make more movies for you and me.”

Star Wars: The Musical is a collaboration between director Jeffrey Gee Chin (Lil Tokyo Reporter) and executive producer/composer George Shaw (Agents of Secret Stuff, Hang Loose) who is a longtime supporter of Kollaboration and a former Kollaboration LA judge.  According to the film’s website, Star Wars: The Musical was a year and a half long project for Chin and Shaw with the purpose of creating “the ultimate love letter to their favorite fandoms.”

Be sure to watch “Star Wars: The Musical” and also check out the film’s official website for behind-the-scenes and updates on the upcoming musical episodes Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  You can also check out and download the music from the film as well.

And may the Force be with you.

Turn Up the Love and Turn Down the Hate for Psy’s New Music Video

In case you haven’t heard, Psy and Snoop Dogg released the music video for their new song “Hangover” this Monday—a feat which has already amassed close to 40 million views in just two days. Like “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman”, the video is characterized by Psy’s over-the-top antics to mainstream pop music, which, as usual, has inspired an outpour of negative feedback from Internet users.

From a Korean’s perspective, watching Snoop Dogg eat triangular gimbap, do a loveshot with soju, and dance with an ahjumma (an elderly Korean woman) may have been one of the most amusing things I have ever seen. Why do I find this amusing? Because this literally never happens in mainstream media. The juxtaposition is the strangest of strange visuals: a well-known American hip hop figure, not only chilling with a Korean, but also engaging in part of his Asian culture. While others can cringe at the weirdness, I raise a toast to Psy–congrats on raising awareness of Korean culture, even if it is through your own quirky way.

Sure the video may not offer an accurate portrayal of all Koreans. Not all Koreans drink and party insanely. There’s more to our culture than that. But Psy also makes a more conscious effort to incorporate staples of Korean culture unseen in his former music videos. While Americans might see the music video as random compilations, scenes like ramen-eating at local delis, the disco pang pang ride, the appearance of k-pop stars, and gangster fighting scenes are all authentic aspects to Korean society that deviate from the stereotypical representations of Asians that we see in America. Even the focus on drinking is not terribly inappropriate to talk about since Koreans outdrink most countries in the world. While Psy’s quasi-fetishizing of our culture is something to worry about to some, it is also important to acknowledge that he is tapping into a mass proportion of people who can barely differentiate Koreans from other Asians.

So before you post your yappy YouTube comments, Twitter statuses, Facebook links, or whatever, trash-talking the ridiculousness of Psy’s new music video, go watch the millions of other music videos (I suggest Turn Down for What or anything Katy Perry/Lady Gaga), and realize that Psy’s shock tactics come from following successful American mainstream pop. For me, there is real value to Psy’s music, at least to the Asian-American community, and at the end of the day, if a voluntary click of a url and willingness to sit through a 5-minute video, is another step to expanding diversity, then I’m proud to rep Psy as my fellow Korean.

Check out the video here!

A Different Type of Yellow Fever

For several years, a multitude of news outlets including CNN and the Daily Telegraph, have reported on the dominant trend of Asian plastic surgery towards “looking more Caucasian.”  However, one man in Brazil known as Xiahn Nishi — formerly named Max —  has taken steps to seek the reverse.  The Brazilian man, born with originally blonde hair and blue eyes, has undergone multiple surgeries in order to “look more Asian.” 

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Bruce Lee to Become Playable Character in Upcoming UFC Video Game

EA recently revealed that Bruce Lee will be a playable character in the upcoming UFC video game.  How has this news faired?  Controversial to say the least.

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3 Music Videos that Respectfully Depict Asian Culture

We’ve all seen the atrocities of Western appropriation of Asian culture in many music videos, such as Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” and Gwen Stefani’s “Harajuku Girls.”  But what about music videos that exhibit Asian culture without degrading it to Oriental set dressing?

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‘Crush the Skull’ Launches Kickstarter for Feature Film

Love horror films?  Paranoid that one day you’ll be murdered by a serial killer?  Well, good news!  Filmmakers Viet Ngyuen and Christopher Dinh are making a feature-length version of their famed YouTube, comedy-horror short Crush the Skull.

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Kickstarter Campaign Launched for Inaugural Comedy Ninja Film Festival

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles will be playing host to a different kind of film festival when the inaugural Comedy Ninja Film and Screenplay Festival comes to town later this spring!  Originally founded by Quentin Lee (director of “White Frog” and “Shopping for Fangs”) and Chuck Parello, the three-day event is all about showcasing the most hilarious works of comedians, directors and writers from all over the world.  There will be feature and short films screenings, stand-up comedian performances, surprise guests and more.

A Kickstarter campaign has since been started as the film festival is being launched without the help of outside fundings.  While the submission fees and ticket sales will help, it is only to a small portion of the total amount needed.  Even though the event will be happening regardless of the amount raised, the extra funding is to help with not only covering costs for this year, but also to help with continuing the festival for years to come.

So if you are interested in supporting this film festival, then be sure to go on over to the Comedy Ninja Film Festival Kickstarter campaign for more details on how to contribute.  Be sure to also check out the film festival’s official website for more details on the event itself.

Harry Shum Jr. Launches Tenth+Fourth

Actor and dancer extraordinaire, Harry Shum Jr., has a new website in store, which was launched on April 7.  The website, Tenth+Fourth, is a collaborative effort between Shum and Digital Media Management.  Its goal is to showcase and feature content regarding technology, fashion, and culture.

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Discovering Suey Park through Hashtags

Who is Suey Park?  I ask, as a long time member of Kollaboration, and a member of the particular group of Asian/Pacific Americans that I belong to who have been mobilizing and working towards a greater sense of our own productive individual and collective identities, possibilities, and visibility online, in media, within our own communities and to the rest of common viewers that have historically and continuously projected discriminatory, reductionist, and biased racialized and gendered ideologies of ‘who’ and ‘what’ we are supposed to be.

As Suey Park continues to be a trending topic, the object of much criticism, analysis, and praise on my selectively curated world of social media, I simply want to make sense of who she is, for me.  She is the David of a satirical modern-day David and Goliath, given her rise to the upper-echelon of the great Twitter-verse in her battle against long-standing and ongoing racism and sexism regenerated online and in social media.  The Goliath here is not Stephen Colbert, the mighty powerful American comedic satirist, television host and an emblem of a political pundit.  The battlefield was social media, her weapon of attack was “#CancelColbert.”  The fight was against racism, racist rhetoric, and a response to Stephen Colbert’s  failed satire of attacking another racially marginalized group (Asian Americans) when his scripted and performed “joke” on his show The Colbert Report said:

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

as a way to ridicule [Dan Snyder’s] Washington R*dskins Original Americans Foundation’s feeble attempts to “offer genuine opportunities for Tribal communities” by distributing winter coats and shoes that his $1.8 billion franchise have built around the racist slur that evokes and undermines the centuries of systematic genocide and removal of Native/Indigenous Americans and their lands.  The moment that Colbert called the Asian American community Orientals and reduced our existence to a funny-sounding joke- “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong” (I personally don’t make those sounds, ever) he repeats and reappropriated what Snyder’s Washington R*dskin’s mascot, as an offensive racist slur that physically and figuratively attacks the Native American community onto Asian Americans.  

When Suey Park took to Twitter with her #CancelCobert, it quickly mobilized a large following of Twitter-activists that problematized Colbert’s failed satire and racism. The hashtag and hashtagger also forgot to contextualize the whole incident and the origin of the “joke”.  It produced and generated a lot of lurkers and racist and misogynistic trolls that began to attack Park for her Asian American/female-ness and against Asians, Asian Americans, and Asian American women in particular.  (I choose not to link any of these virtual trolls and their disgusting language and descriptions of rape, misogyny, and racist attacks, because why would I give them additional social capital? No effing way.)  All this catastrophic viral and virtual confusion sparked a Week of #Solidarity between Asian/Pacific American and Native American online activists around a collective social and racial justice oriented campaign #NotYourMascot.  

The Asian American social media community also did not know what to make of Suey Park’s campaign or of her.  As an Asian American female that studies racial production and discourse in pop-culture and new media, it took me a while to simmer in what others in my community had to say about Suey Park.  A list of Asian American men of social media influence reacted with immediate resistance to her hashtag on Twitter, from Steven Yeun (who is probably the most famous and popular Asian American actor of our generation) to Kollaboration alum Alex Hwang of the band Run River North’s, Hollywood Writer/Producer Daniel Chun, and Phil Yu (aka Angry Asian Man).  These reactions came out before Suey Park herself got the opportunity to represent herself, her activism, and virtual campaign.  Novelist/Sports-writer Jay Caspian Park somewhat questions Suey Park’s identity as an activist, while Arthur Chu calls her the Asian American villain we need (but love to hate).  

All this makes me question where the women and female voices and representation is in Asian America.  Besides Margaret Cho who rightfully claimed the role of the controversial Asian American female in media and entertainment, there has yet to be a successor.  I cringe, as the only other “commercialized” Asian American female to stir up any controversy in mainstream media outlets had been Tila Tequila. Besides every Tiger Mom (or the Anti-Tiger Mom), who else exists to represent a nuanced and deliberate representation of Asian Americans and more specifically, Asian American women?  In a recent Vanity Fair article, Why It Matters When Asian Women Leave TV Shows it points out how Asian characters are still disappointing stereotypes of ourselves, while the bamboo ceiling persists with simultaneous opportunities and limitations for Asian Americans in media and entertainment.  

Jeff Yang said in what I consider to be a more nuanced coverage of #CancelColbert that: “That’s because social media is, in many ways, our mainstream media.”  His phrasing of social media as OUR mainstream media struck multiple chords for me.  Whether his claim is based on the bamboo ceiling, or because of the college-educated (or college-bound youth) Asian American demographic he self-identifies with is widely and heavily active online, it makes me reflect on how I fall under his particularity as well.  That is why #CancelColbert and how a twitter-based activism of an Asian American is so meaningful, because I am part of this specific upwardly-mobile (educated/literate/with consumer-power) young Asian Americans whose life is virtually connected and social media-driven.  It is a new and partial group of Asian Americans coming-of-age that exists in relation to what was and is Asian America.  

As Asian Americans in social media have yet to cultivate an individual and collective identity of and for ourselves, what Suey Park means to me is another type of our possibility.  She is not perfect, and I do not know all of her politics, or her hobbies.  I don’t know if she likes the type of music I like or if we spend our dollars at the same stores. But she represents an Asian American (and female) figure who speaks to what I believe Kollaboration is working towards as well.  To break ground, to create interventions, to provide platforms for the Asian Pacific American community to discover and connect with each other to locate and produce our own diverse representations.  Whether it is through music, dance, acting, comedy, or hashtags, she has built herself up to be a force to be reckoned with in our ongoing efforts for inclusion and creation on stage, in print, on camera, in albums, and in social media.