Behind the scenes — The good, the bad, and the ugly in Asian pop culture

By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

Alison Gold, center, in her music video, “Chinese Food.”

Chinese food going viral

One of the biggest YouTube viral hits this past month was the profoundly offensive and ridiculous music video for “Chinese Food,” a pop song crooned by (previously) unknown teenager Alison Gold.

Produced by ARK Music Factory — the same production team behind Rebecca Black’s insanely viral “Friday” music video — “Chinese Food” sees Gold craving Chinese food, which is depicted through a series of culturally inappropriate images and lyrics, including teens dressed as geishas, cliché Oriental music, fortune cookies, and an adult man dancing in a panda suit.

For reference, the song includes these profound lyrics:

“I love Chinese food
You know that it’s true
I love fried rice
I love noodles
I love chow mein
Chow mo-mo-mo-mo-mein!”

Yes, the video is as ridiculous as it sounds. What kills me, though, is that it uses teenagers to depict such overt Oriental imagery. And they probably don’t even realize it! The song received so much online buzz that it even debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But perhaps the song’s popularity only reinforces the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Still, I refuse to believe that this song is popular due to any kind of legitimate and popular attention.

Three men in Asiana Airline Halloween costumes.

October’s barrage of offensive costumes continues with a series of messed up Halloween get-ups from people who are old enough to know better. Apparently, three men thought it would be clever to pose in torn and bloodied Asiana Airlines flight attendant costumes. The costumes are a nod to Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed earlier this year in San Francisco. The flight killed three passengers and injured dozens.

However, what made the costumes cross over from offensive to racially offensive was the use of the name badges on the flight attendant costumes — “Ho Lee Fuk,” “Sum Ting Wong,” and “Wi Tu Lo” — which were the infamous names used in the prank segment that was broadcasted by the news station KTVU. The photos of these costumed, beaming men have made the rounds on social media. Could they be any more insensitive?

And crazily enough, the three costumed men (all white, by the way) involved are actual flight  attendants for Continental/United Airlines, adding even more insult to injury. You would think that people working in the industry would know better than to mock a major airline disaster.

This won’t be the last time we see racially offensive Halloween costumes gracing our news pages, but it’s still important to document such ignorance to maintain awareness of racial and cultural insensitivity. Stupidity and insensitivity of this caliber cannot just slip by without some critical commentary.

Actor/comedian Ken Jeong

Behind-the-scenes: Asian Americans make their move

Comedian and actor Ken Jeong will star and produce a medical sitcom for NBC based on his own life. Jeong, who is Korean American, was a licensed physician before actively pursuing his entertainment career and found success with the raunchy “The Hangover” films, as well as appearing as a series regular on the cult sitcom “Community.” Jeong’s new show, “Dr. Ken,” should be an amusing way for him to showcase and fuse his comedic and medical chops. I’m looking forward to Jeong’s show — I imagine this will be far from your typical medical sitcom!

Jeong isn’t the only Asian in the biz to make the jump to producing. Fellow Korean American actor Daniel Dae Kim recently launched his own production company, 3AD, which will allow Kim to develop and produce new network and cable projects. Kim is previously known for starring in the ensemble science fiction/mystery show “Lost,” and he currently stars in the police procedural series “Hawaii Five-O.” This is an exciting opportunity for Kim! It’ll be interesting to see what he ends up producing, since it’s not often one hears of Asian American actors landing a sweet deal like this.

Lastly, after a long bidding war between movie studios, Screen Gems got their hands on the super coveted movie script “Patient Zero” from screenwriter Mike Le. Le, who is Vietnamese American, is best known for creating and producing the reality web series “K-TOWN” and “Roll Models.” Described as a “character-driven” action thriller, “Patient Zero” shows much promise to reinvent the zombie genre, according to the official release on the bid. There is incredible buzz about “Patient Zero” at the moment, and I cannot be more thrilled for Le! Can’t wait to see it on the big screen. (end)

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

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Photos on flickr