Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Offensive “Asian Girlz” by Day Above Ground angers Asians with sexual & racist stereotypes
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Offensive “Asian Girlz” by Day Above Ground angers Asians with sexual & racist stereotypes


Los Angeles-based rock band Day Above Ground made a big deal of its July 27 debut video release of “Asian Girlz,” but it’s backfired and led to intense condemnation from Asian and Asian American groups and individuals. Add me to the list, please.

This song and accompanying video is offensive on so many levels I’m practically speechless. It traffics in lowbrow racial stereotypes and low-bro sexual braggadocio about its subject line, Asian women. The combined IQ of the group must be abut 10, given their pre-teen horniness and neanderthal attitudes. It’s hard to imagine any other intent — social satire commentary, a criticism of sexual objectification of Asian women, clumsy attempt at post-racial parody — than a bunch of dudes who fantasize about Asian women and their “creamy yellow thighs… slanty eyes” and other body parts.

I hate the ching-chong wonton font that’s used for the title credits. I hate the ching-chongy intro melody that evokes Asia Hollywood-style which crops up at various points in the song. It’s an aural code as immediately identifiable as buck teeth and squinty eyes. I hate the smug white privilege that oozes from the singers’ faces as they croak “You’re my Asian girl.”

And I hate the creepy strip tease participation of model Levy Tran as she goes from enjoying these pint-sized pinheads’ attention as they sing to her from a birdcage to letting them jump into the bathtub with her and swim between her legs. Yuck. I mean, really yuck.

I actually don’t hate Tran, but I’m damned disappointed. I do wonder about her role in such a train wreck of offensiveness, though. I can only hope that, like the Asian American extras hired for the famous “Evil Chinese Professor” political TV commercial a few years back, she only acted out her part without knowing how her role would be used in the finished video. I’d love to see an interview with her about it. Maybe she thinks it’s fine and funny. Maybe she’s dating one of the guys in the band and hears this stuff all the time in casual conversation or in the heat of passion (more yuck). But I’m hoping she didn’t know how the video would turn out.

For their part, Day Above Ground has feigned shock and surprise (the “we’re not racists” defense that comes so easily to people caught in this situation) and posted this comment on the video to pacify haters:

We appreciate all the criticism and support. Our song “Asian Girlz” was not written with any malicious, hateful, or hurtful intent. We know it is racy and does push the boundaries further than other songs out there. Understand that we do not promote or support racism or violence. We love everyone no matter what race, religion, or sexual orientation. Please respect our decision to delete any violent, insensitive, or hurtful comment and also one that supports racism. We hope that we can continue with our lives with much love and peace.

Yeah. Right. Sure.

Here’s the video… you decide whether it’s offensive or not (definitely NSFW, so keep the volume down). I’m putting it at the bottom of the post in the event that the band does the right thing and kills the video altogether:

I’m late to the party, because lots of better bloggers than I have been posting about “Asian Girlz:”

Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man was justifiably really angry over this.

Racialicious wrote righteously about the song.

Jeff Yang of the Wall Street Journal and Secret Identities has proposed a Kickstarter campaign to get House of Blues in LA to host a performance of all-Asian American women. The idea was to counter an August 10 show at HoB in which Day Above Ground was scheduled to play (on their website the band made a big deal of playing the new video on a giant screen in front of the stage). But now, hopefully because of the stupidity of the video and the community outcry, HoB seems to have scratched Day Above Ground off that night. Woo hoo. I’ll update this post if there is a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an Asian womens’ music project, or if LA’s AAPI women play a concert to make a statement, I’ll post an update.

Mee Moua, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, has put out an eloquent call for Day Above Ground to remove the “Asian Girlz” video altogether and apologize to the Asian community. I’m guessing the video won’t get yanked because someone — the band’s families, management, label — paid a fair amount of money for the clip.

Here’s the full text of Mee Moua’s letter:

August 1, 2013

Dear Mr. Joe Anselm, Mr. Drew Drumm, Mr. Marcelo Lalopua, Mr. Steve Reese, and Mr. Mike Tourage:

We recently became aware of the release of the music video for “Asian Girlz” and write to express our outrage about the content of the song and your continued promotion of the song. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, based in Washington, DC, works to advance the human and civil rights of Asian Americans, and build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. We are one of the nation’s leading experts on issues of importance to the Asian American community, including anti-Asian violence prevention and race relations.

Your song perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Asian American women and our entire community. Although you have issued a statement that “‘Asian Girlz’ was not written with any malicious, hateful, or hurtful intent,” the song, in effect, is malicious, hateful, and hurtful. Similarly, while you may actually “not promote or support racism or violence,” the song, in effect, promotes racism and violence caused by racism. The enthusiasm with which you have defended the song and video as “endearing & submissive,” “a tongue-in-cheek tribute to some of the most gorgeous women on the planet,” disregards the deeply troubling impact of “Asian Girlz.”

The song’s lyrics are primarily composed of references to food, language accents, physical features, jobs, behaviors, and cities that are among the most common generalizations of the ways Asian Americans live and work. The opening verse is just the first of many that demean Asian American women and cast mockery on all Asian Americans. In particular, your association of these intentionally chosen words to an “Asian girl,” which is mentioned over 30 times throughout the song, perpetuates the notion of Asian American women as sexually servile and perpetually foreign. Asian American women have long confronted this stereotype and its consequences, which have
been anything but innocuous or “endearing.” As just one example, the “happy endings” referenced in your song discounts the reality that many massage parlors employing Asian American women—precisely because of the perceptions embodied in your song—are centers of human trafficking and sexual slavery. By now, you are well aware of the outpouring of disappointment, hurt, and anger that your song and video have generated across the country—not just among Asian women.

The fact that your video casts an Asian American woman, that your band has an Asian American member, and that your band is “multicultural,” does not remove or distill the offensive nature of the song’s lyrics. Any benign intentions should not excuse the actual
malignant effects of your work. Abusing your ability to exercise creative freedom as you have here sets back the progress our communities have made towards racial and gender equality.

Considering the harmful effects of “Asian Girlz” and its video, we ask that you publicly apologize for the release of both the song and video, remove both the song and video from your band’s website and affiliated websites immediately, and discontinue further promotion and public performance of the song. We hope you will understand why this song is offensive, and that your understanding from this incident will inform your future creative efforts. We look forward to hearing from you and would like to have a conversation together to further discuss this.


Mee Moua
President and Executive Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Washington, DC

UPDATE: Levy Tran, the model in the video, apologizes on her Tumblr (she earlier had apologized on Twitter in four separate tweets):

To anyone who is willing to listen: I am truly and deeply sorry for my actions pertaining to the video. I meant no disrespect and it was not my intention to offend anyone. And being an adult, I accept full responsibility. And to all those whom I have let down, I am so so sorry

UPDATE (Aug. 5): Day Above Ground has officially pulled their video off YouTube but I’ve replaced the video above with a clone shared on lybio also has posted the full lyrics to the song, so you can enjoy the group’s deep thinking even if the video gets yanked from all sites:


Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
Yes, my Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl

[Verse 1]
I love your sticky rice (love it)
Butt fucking all night
Korean barbecue
Bitch I love you
I love your creamy yellow thighs
Ooh you’re slanted eyes
It’s the Year of the Dragon
Ninja pussy I’m stabbin’

Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
Yes, my Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl

[Verse 2]
Superstitious feng shui shit (what?)
Now lay your hair by the toilet
I’ve got your green tea boba
So put your head on my shoulder
Huh! Your momma’s so pretty
Best nails in the city
Pushing your daddy’s Mercedes
Girl you drive me crazy

Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
Yes, my Asian – You’re my Asian girl

New Year’s in February (February?)
That’s fine with me (I guess)
Yeah, shark soup (What? Fuck it, we’ll eat it)
Oh, tradition, tradition, tradition, yeah yeah
Baby, cause you’re my Asian girl
You’re legally (best kind)
So baby marry me
Come on sit on my lap (right here baby)
Or we’ll send you back
And you age so well
I can barely tell
17 or 23?
Baby doesn’t matter to me

Asian girl, You’re my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
You’re my Asian girl, She’s my Asian girl
Yes, my Asian girl yeah, You’re my Asian girl

Let ‘em know:

Temple City
Don’t forget Chinatown
Get down
Happy endings all over
Bruce Lee
Spicy tuny
Sashimi (yeah)
Tasty Garden
Fried Lice
Sailor Moon
Wonton soup
Spring roll
Foot rub rub a down down down
Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra pa ra ra ra
All over you all over me
Love you wong
All the Asian girls
We love you
Keep smiling