“I grew up in America in the ’70s when there were no Asian Americans on screen. After a career of 18 years in Hong Kong where I didn’t have to think about race at all, coming back to America and thinking about when we’ve seen an Asian American lead on a show, I realized almost never.
AMC was adamant that the lead for Into the Badlands would be Asian American. It’s not our intention to transform Asian-American male masculinity across the country through this one show, but “Into the Badlands” is a great start.
Television and American media need to reflect American society. There is a very large Asian-American population in this country and we need to see that on screen. Times have changed, people have changed, and this is a different era than it was even just 10 years ago. “Into the Badlands” is breaking new ground, and that’s awesome.”
– Daniel Wu
It’s an awesome show if you like martial arts and violence, and Wu’s spot-on about the great step this represents for Asian American men on TV. His role joins Steven Yeun and Daniel Day Kim among butt-kicking AAPI hunks.
The show, which to me evokes both another series on AMC, “The Walking Dead” and the “Mad Max” movie franchise for its depiction of a bleak, violent future, brings the martial arts stereotype of Asians full-circle, starting with “Green Hornet” and “Kung Fu.” Continue reading →
Is it just me, or is it irritating to have some white guy co-opting Asian iconography for a TV commercial and combining two different cultures? Sure, it’s a cool idea, and certainly well-executed production-wise. But this stop-action video made to pimp Google’s new Nexus One “super-phone” (their description, not mine) bugs me. The animated miniature ninjas — of non-specific, though presumably Asian origin — make the long-stereotyped high-pitched screams and yowls that Westerners imitate when they make Bruce Lee moves. To me, that’s like a TV commercial showing someone making French pastries with an Italian accent.
I love kung fu movies, and especially adore Bruce Lee. I’m old enough to have been fascinated by Kato in “Green Hornet” and seen his kung fu movies when they were first released. I also grew up loving the mythology of ninjas. And I know the difference between the two: Kung fu is a Chinese tradition (check out the documentary “The Real Shaolin” for a primer — I’ll be writing more about the film in a bit), and ninjas are Japanese (even if Hollywood had a Korean star in “Ninja Assassin“).
I mean, helloooo, ninjas don’t make any noises when they do their butt-kicking and killing stuff. They’re “silent assassins,” remember? That’s the whole deal with ninjas.
To me, it’s a sign of ignorance and disrespect to blend the two together for no purpose other than to evoke the essence of Orientalism. Maybe Patrick Boivin, the commercial’s creator, was being ironic and culturally astute when he combined the cultures. But I’ll bet dollars that more likely, he simply grew up seeing lots of kung fu and ninja movies and Power Rangers and Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV, and it’s all one undistinguishable blur of Asian-ness to him.
Culturally, that’s the same reason all Asians are taunted by “ching-chong” sounds from childhood to adulthood — non-Asians think we’re all alike and and look alike and we all sound like that. And fight like that.
Phooey on this commercial. I’m sure I’ll lust after a Google phone someday, but not because of this cheesy shill.