Saturday, August 03, 2013

Why I'm Not Mad about the "Asian Girlz" Video

A screenshot from the "Asian Girlz" video...which needs no introduction.

Before you go and hate me, hear me out first.

As an Asian American woman, I was first alerted to this video because it got a big rise out of the Asian American Greek system. People were legitimately p*ssed. To be honest the only time I remember being legitimately offended was post creamy-yellow thighs, the "slanted eyes" part, I distinctly remember thinking "HEY!". But soon after, I didn't really think they we're being serious. It was so over the top and unrealistic, it was more satirical than anything.  On top of that, if you catch the part at the end about Arcadia, Tasty Garden etc. these aren't things that someone who didn't have ties within the Asian community would be familiar with. This makes even more sense now learning they have a tattoo studio set up in Arcadia. If you're not familiar with Arcadia, Alhambra etc they're a part of 626. When you go there its like going back in time, and the stores with Asian signs far outnumber the Starbucks and Targets. I didn't, and still don't think anyone that savvy was being really serious. Do I understand people being offended? Is it sexist and racist? Sure. But I'm not really offended. Because I honestly took it as a joke. Maybe a poorly thought out one (I could have seen this coming), but not even a ill-intent one.

Personally, I felt like a lot of the men were even more upset than the women. Which is ironic because a good amount of Youtube videos Asian guys make have sexy Asian girls in them. Here's a truth 90% (made up statistic) of Asian guys I know are legitimately bothered when other races marry or date Asian girls- especially the ones who are a "catch". I have friends that have said they'd never date an Asian girl if she ever dated outside of Asians. Hell, we even have socioeconomic hierarchies within the Asian community itself.  It was interesting to me to see the uproar of anger stirred in my own male acquaintances and that they felt compelled to come to the plight of us poor, hapless Asian women.

These are the same men, btw, who all "like" sexy Asian girl fan pages on Facebook and share Melanie Iglesias flip books the second a new one gets released. How ironic that they're upset at a video, with these Caucasian guys "objectifying" their women and "sisters" when they do the same thing all the time- albeit maybe not like this. As a culture we like to shame our women in to being compliant, which a lot of times means marrying a "good" Asian boy (btw, some of the sweetest and most loving guys I know are Caucasion men married to my Asian friends).  This reminds me of the "small penis" phobia. Timothy de la ghetto once commented on this, the Asian man's fear of the "small penis" stereotype. You can watch that video here, to this day it still makes me laugh. In it he says, "this idea of a small penis joke is like our kryptonite", and I think the same goes to other races objectifying and dating "their" women.

Levy Tran- probably most well known for her import model career and of course, tattoos.

That being said, I'm not disappointed in Levy Tran either. If anything I'm bemused by how many messages I have seen from Asian men saying they've "lost all respect" for her for "taking Asian women back 50 years".

I think it was a business move for her. Why would you be in this video unless you're 1. Getting paid well and/or 2. It'd be good publicity. She's also a part of Guy Code, and pretty big in the import scene so she's no stranger to being popular for being sexy. I'm pretty sure she dances regularly as a go go dancer in similar style outfits, and now that she's done so in a video being the sexual object for *gasp* Caucasion men suddenly this is a problem. She's capitalized for years on her body and being sexy, this isn't anything new. And I think that's fine, because you know what? I think we also need more sexy Asian girls that own their bodies and sexuality. And I appreciate that she doesn't feel the need to conform to today's limiting ideas of Asian beauty. But if you want to find a girl who "lifts Asian women" from the catapults of "being objectified", you probably shouldn't be looking towards an import model. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the import model scene, but it normally consists of girls (overwhelmingly Asian) scantily clad spread eagled over a car. I never understood that part personally.

Don't believe me? Here's a screen shot of what you'd get if you searched, "import models".

But its not just a problem with Asian women.

Now to me, this isn't an Asian problem either, it's a female problem. Men are rewarded for being successful, women are rewarded for being beautiful. Don't believe me? How many "sexy" girls can you think of? How many can you think of that became famous for actually bringing something to the table? Not so many. Here's an example: as many of you know, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg married a Chinese-American (Cantonese woop woop!) woman. This girl is a brilliant, a ivy league grad and UCSF educated doctor. You know what made headlines when they got married? How small her ring was, and how cheap it was. Like a Harvard-educated UCSF med school grad really needs a man to buy her something nice. And when you Google her name, "ugly" pops up as a prompted query because its so frequently searched. Despicable. It's sad to me that such an accomplished woman was brought down to that level by the media, of needing to be validated by a big ring and a pompous wedding.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't follow some sexy girls myself (I used to be a big Steph Ly fan), and I will be the first one to admit this is especially ironic coming from someone who makes videos on Youtube talking about things like skin care and makeup. If you want a really inspiring woman to follow, I highly recommend Clara Shih.

But here is the real issue at hand-

If we can't celebrate female success within our own community, how can we expect other races to do the same?

To be fair, a handful of my female friends are sincerely offended, and I think they have the right to be and I respect how they feel. But I thought this was a good opportunity to bring the hypocrisy of the whole thing to light. How many of us, within the Asian community celebrate women for their achievements? How many of these angry and upset people have a lengthy list of successful Asian women in their head? Who didn't become popular as a result of their appearance? Watching all the anger surrounding this video reminds me of Alexandra Wallace 2.0.

Asians (especially in social media) like to start these cyber witch hunts of people who offend us, but it fails to 1) actually bring any of us closer together 2) actually change or alter any negative stereotypes people may legitimately have. Instead everyone wastes their time and effort on people who legitimately DGAF (Alexandra Wallace) or people who (to me) were clearly not being serious. Personally I think these online witch hunts are more akin to cyber bullying than they are a championship of the Asian race. Respect is earned, not given. Being mean, angry and sometimes even violent doesn't make anyone take you any more seriously.

Break the mold with your actions and love, not with anger and malice.

Just my 2 cents.

Feel free to (respectfully) disagree below, I know I can't speak for everyone. 

Disclaimer: I've seen some psychiatrists saying this kind of stuff encourages things like violence towards Asian women, and as someone who has been repeatedly grabbed and groped at a lot of her life, I humbly disagree. They say the same thing about video game consumption, and if you look at the stats, countries with the highest video game consumption are actually, the safest. I don't think this video had ill intent and its not like they're pretending to hurt / are actually being violent with her, but again, that's only my opinion.

So were you guys upset? Or did you take it as a joke? I'd love to know.


♥ Veyroniqa said...

I personally don't find the lyrics offensive because they pretty much just drew upon all the stereotypical material which already exists. And there are many examples of music videos which objectify women and yet because it isn't 'racist', they tend to get away with it.

I believe that racism isn't the things you say but the things you do. I think it's ok to acknowledge things that are tied to a race/nationality. There have been countless times where I have mentioned my observations of my non-Chinese Malaysian friends to them but I don't see it as being racist because I do not treat them any differently from 'one of my own'. It's fascinating how we have different perspectives, depending on our upbringing.

Anyway back to the video, I think it says more about those involved in the video rather than targeted 'Asian girl' because as the Chinese saying goes, 来说是非者,便是是非人. It is done tastelessly and I wondered who in their right mind would star in it willingly but then again, it is their prerogative to do whatever the hell they want and if people take it badly... Meh.

♥ Veyroniqa said...

And this:

"Men are rewarded for being successful, women are rewarded for being beautiful."

Is. Golden.


Izzy said...

To me (and I mean I'm not asian so I can't say whether it was offensive or not blah blah blah) but it seemed like a half arsed attempt to make something edgy and something that would get a lot of publicity, bad publicity.

I could only watch half of it mainly because it was cringey as hell, like I don't even see any other reason these guys made it.Even if I do find Levy Tran extremely attractive, her part in it all seemed really cringey too...
Though I don't have a problem with her being in it because hey, she obviously wasn't offended by it and it's work and she can do what she wants.

Obviously I can see why you could be offended by it but like Veyroniqa said above it is all the stuff that's already out there. If that makes sense? I mean look at lyrics from people like Steel Panther (Asian Hooker as an example) and people aren't up in arms about that when all their lyrics are derogatory and quite disgusting.

Though I do agree with the last part very much. Women are not valued as they should be intellectually, in any community and that's a mold we do have to break because once women are valued for more than just their looks then their opinions etc. will be valued too.

Cute to the Fashion

Renee Frechette said...

I pretty much whole heartedly agree with everything you said. I just now watched the video for the first time and found it more satirical than personally offensive. Like you said, it's so over the top that it's hared to take seriously. I also agree with you that the deeper issue is more of a FEMALE vs male problem than a racial problem. I especially like how you said: "break the mold with love, not anger and malice" which I interpret as basically to lead by example. I think it's totally hypocritical what you said about Asian guys being upset because white guys are taking "their" women and refusing to date Asian women who have dated non-Asian guys. First of all, that's being possessive and sexist. And it also seems like reverse racism! My mom is Asian, but my dad is white, so I think it's a load of bull crap when people are all against mixing races. There are so many people today in mixed race relationships and people (like me) who are mixed race themselves that I think it's & outdated that people still get both so defensive and offensive when it comes to issues of race. When will we all realize that we're all human and race doesn't really matter? So I guess I view the deeper issue as one of equality more than anything. Anyway...I really like what you said and, like you, I took the video as a
distasteful joke. I'm pretty sure we've all made and have laughed at distasteful jokes before and will certainly continue to do so in our lives. Peace <3 :)

Holly Chen said...

agree with some of the things you mentioned. most import models are Asian. But just in general not just Asians this applies to all races there is a difference between "sexy" vs "sleazy". The video just made her seem sleazy. Not the part when she was dancing the part when she was in the tub and they're just climbing up into her vagina.