He did WHAT?! — A monthly column about all things Asian in popular culture

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

Comedy is supposed to be funny, right?

Several comedians came under fire for making homophobic jokes during their standup routines. Among these ostracized funnymen is Filipino American actor and comedian Jo Koy. Koy is best known for being a regular on the weekly late night comedy talk show “Chelsea Lately.”

According to Chicago-based LGBT newspaper Windy City Times, Koy danced in a feminine way and yelled, “I made this dance extra gay since I am not gay” during his comedy routine. He then followed up the bit by unzipping his jeans and pointing his exposed self to the audience until a male attendee yelled, “I saw it,” referring to Koy’s visible private part. Koy then replied, “What are you looking at, [expletive]?” The expletive consisted of a curse word and a gay slur.

Koy has since apologized for the incident. “It was a moment that I regret … I realize that words can be hurtful, which is never my intent. I’m truly saddened if I offended anyone with my poor choice of words, particularly the gay community. Homophobia is not funny,” said Koy, in a statement.

There has been a natural backlash against Koy, but interestingly enough, a surprising number of fans, including people in the LGBT community, have defended Koy’s performance claiming that the jokes and slurs in question did not create offense because of the context of how they were used in the show.

Though anyone is fair game in comedy, it’s hard for me to see these slurs being acceptable in any context. Maybe it was one of those situations where you had to “be there” to get it.

Yet another political scandal…

You could not tune into a news outlet without hearing some mention of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner and his sexting scandal. He sent provocative photos of himself on the microblogging website Twitter (via photo hosting site Yfrog) to women online. Although Weiner claimed his Twitter account had been hacked, he eventually owned up to his nearly nude photos. He then stated that he had for many years engaged in inappropriate relationships with some of the women he had met online.

One person who remained quiet in the scandal, however, was his wife, Huma Abedin.

Abedin, who is of Pakistani and Indian descent, is the deputy chief of staff and aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Despite the scandal, Abedin chose to stand next to her husband. It was also revealed that the couple is expecting their first child.

Good luck to you, Abedin.

Here’s hoping that your man shapes up for the rest of your marriage and impending parenthood.

Political scandals go international!

Sex scandals must be trending around the world because China got its own taste of Anthony Weiner in the form of Liu Ning, a district official in Guangzhou, China. Nude photos of Ning are currently circulating on Chinese social networks since he posted them on the microblogging website Sina Weibo – China’s equivalent of Twitter. Local authorities are investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, Xie Zhiqiang, the health bureau director in the city of Liyang, China, used Sina Weibo to publicly carry out his affair with a married woman.

According to huffingtonpost.com via the Xinhua news service, Xie used Sina Weibo to flirt with his mistress, arrange hotel liaisons, and even declare illegal redemption of personal expenses.

The most amusing part, however, is that even though the affair was tracked by thousands of online followers, Xie had no idea that Sina Weibo was a public forum where all messages are visible to everyone. When asked by a local newspaper to confirm his Weibo account, Xie said, “How can you view our messages on Weibo? It is impossible, isn’t it?” Xie had thought the site was a private instant messaging service.

Poor Xie. You almost can’t help but pity him.

Or laugh.

Other happenings with Asians in the biz

With all that bad buzz on Asians this past month, let’s turn our attention to some positive news!

The computer-animated film “Kung Fu Panda 2” opened in China this past month with the highest-grossing opening weekend box office of 125 million yuan ($17 million USD). The movie focuses on a panda with kung fu skills, who takes on old adversaries and showcases the voice talents of Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, and James Hong. Because China has a quota system that allows only 20 foreign films to be screened there each year, it was already a feat for the film to get screened in the country. Congrats to everyone behind “Kung Fu Panda 2”!

Debut photos came out from actress Hailee Steinfeld’s Miu Miu campaign. Steinfeld, who is of Filipino descent, shot to fame after starring in the Western drama “True Grit” and earning an Oscar nomination for her work. The 14-year-old actress was named the new face of fashion house Miu Miu’s Autumn/Winter 2011 campaign shortly after her Academy award nomination.

Though people may have qualms about Steinfeld posing for a fashion campaign at such a young age, I think the Miu Miu stylists did a good job of making her look sophisticated but appropriate for her age.

Steinfeld was recently cast as Juliet Capulet in a film remake of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” No word yet on when the movie will come out. ♦

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

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