Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | apas in pop culture
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Note: The blog I just posted got me to thinking about a column I wrote way back in the day, before blogs were a twinkle in some developer's eye, about Asians on TV. It's posted in the archives of my Nikkeiview site, but I thought I'd re-post it here. I wrote this after seeing the final "Seinfeld" episode. Like a zillion other people across the country, I tuned in to the final episode of "Seinfeld," and I gotta say, I was only mildly impressed. Oh, I liked the show whenever I caught it, but I was a casual viewer, so the nasty humor that the characters reveled in didn't connect with me the way they may have for diehard fans. What the show did, especially with its segments making fun of foreigners, was get me thinking about Asian faces on TV. As a Japanese-American kid enchanted by American popular culture of the 1960s, it never occurred to me growing up that there were very few people like me on the shows I watched for hours on end.

When “Survivor” announced its just-ended season, I was one of the many critics who thought splitting up the tribes along racial factors was a stupid and potentially harmful idea. After just two episodes, the series mixed the groups. On the season finale that just aired, an Asian American man, Yul Kwon, won. He is the Survivor. How cool is that? In the end, it wasn’t race at all, but his smarts and his determination that helped him outlast the others. It probably didn’t hurt that he’s remarkably hunky, but isn’t everyone on the show? He was quoted eloquently in the Contra Costa Times (and cited by Hyphen Blog): "’I wanted America to see Asian-American men as they truly are,’ he said while speaking about the under-representation of minorities on television. ...’I want to be a very visible spokesman for talking about how we can get more minorities on TV.’"