A-POP! column: Another whitewashed cast

A monthly column about all things Asian in popular culture

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

Asians and Lady Gaga go head-to-head over the singer’s latest song

Pop superstar Lady Gaga released her song “Born This Way” as the lead single from her second studio album of the same name.

Though most fans have embraced the song, the Korean all-girl pop group SNSD slammed Lady Gaga for allegedly ripping off  the beat from their single “Be Happy.”

The two songs sound alike, but honestly, they both sample beats from Madonna’s iconic 80s single, “Express Yourself.”

Can we just agree that neither Lady Gaga nor SNSD is innocent, or original, in this situation?

Koreans aren’t the only Asians to have a beef with Lady Gaga. The lyrics in “Born This Way” encourage acceptance of people despite their ethnicity or sexual orientation. However, radio stations in Malaysia have censored a specific line in the song positively highlighting LGBT people, “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, AMP Radio Networks, Malaysia’s top private radio operator, said that Lady Gaga’s lyrics in “Born This Way” were considered “offensive when viewed against Malaysia’s social and religious observances … the issue of being gay, lesbian, or [bisexual] is still considered ‘taboo’ by general Malaysians.”

Radio stations in the Philippines have also censored the song for the same reason.

It is no surprise that these Asian countries are more conservative than their Western counterparts regarding these social issues. But I’m still disappointed that they felt the need to edit a song that promotes love and tolerance for a minority group.

A new trailer emerges for TV reality show on Asian American partygoers

After first making its rounds on the news outlets back in 2010, the much hyped reality show “K-Town” resurfaced recently with a short video promising alcohol-fueled debauchery, girl-on-girl kissing, and drama among young Asian Americans. Set in the Korea Town neighborhood of Los Angeles, the reality show aims to smash the idea that Asians are the model minority by depicting them as hardcore, hedonistic party-goers.

Fans of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore,” modeled after the same premise but with young Italian Americans, will sure enjoy this trainwreck — if a network ever decides to pick up the pilot.

Asians shunned and featured on the big screen

March ushered in new movies featuring several Asians in silver screen roles. The action-fantasy film “Sucker Punch” includes half Filipina American Vanessa Hudgens of “High School Musical”— though she may be better remembered for her naked photos scandal — and Korean American Jamie Chung, best known for her days on MTV’s now defunct reality show, “The Real World: San Diego.”

Despite its stunning special effects and action sequences, reviews have been poor for “Sucker Punch.”

But that won’t stop me from catching it while it’s in theaters! I’ll see it at matinee price, of course.

Freida Pinto, the Indian romantic lead from the Academy Award winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” stars as a Palestinian teen in the biographical political film “Miral.” In an interview with USAToday.com, Pinto praised the film, saying it was an outlet to showcase her acting chops. Congrats, Freida.

Here’s to hoping you find more roles to sink your teeth into in the future.

Film production companies Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures stroked the ire of Asian Americans when they announced that their script for the live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga comic “Akira” was sent to a short list of actors for the film’s lead — all of whom are white.

Although the characters will retain their original Japanese names, the screenplay will take place in a neo-Manhattan setting to accommodate racial differences.

Racebending.com, a website that fights for equality in the entertainment industry, has already launched social media campaigns protesting the studios’ decision to cast a white lead. This situation is history repeating itself. Do studio executives not remember the public fallout after action-adventure movie “The Last Airbender” casted whites to play Asian and Inuit characters?

Some people just never learn. ♦

Vivian Nguyen can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

3 Responses to “A-POP! column: Another whitewashed cast”

  1. MUeXUj3cETF says:

    343057 512911Keep websiteing stuff like this I actually am fond of it 384853

  2. ipoke says:

    This recalls back when some people in asia were accusing Massive Attack of plagiarising the soundtrack of a Wong Kar Wei movie when in actuality Wong Kar Wei USED Massive Attack’s karmacoma! People in asia are so messed up when it comes to musical plagiarism.


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