Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | comcast
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Comcast and NBCU will promote AAPIs in programming JACL sent out an announcement this morning about an agreement that's been reached between NBC Universal, Comcast (which is trying to get regulators' blessings to buy NBCU) and a handful of Asian American Pacific Islander organizations: the Asian American Justice Center, East West Players, Japanese American Citizens League, OCA and Media Action Network for Asian Americans. Although the past couple of years have led to a marked increase in the number of Asian faces on TV and in movies, it's nice to see some high-level muscle put on both Comcast and NBCU to be more inclusive within their programming. The agreement's been in the works for a while; Comcast last month announced its new on-demand channel, "Cinema Asian America," which is great. I hope to see progress from other media companies and Hollywood giants too, until AAPIs are no longer invisible and are represented accurately as just another part of the quilt that makes up American society. This probably seems like a trivial deal to some people, but as an Asian American who grew seeing very few people like me on TV and in movie, it's a big deal. It's slowly getting better, but I've written about this issue as early as 1998 in a column titled "Why Can't I Be on TV?" and I've I've given speeches about the topic over the years. When I no longer do a double-take or other take notice of an "Asian sighting" on a reality show, or in a commercial, or as a lead character on a TV series or Hollywood film, I'll know we've finally arrived. Here's the full text of the JACL press release:

Here's why I like this new Comcast commercial: It's part of the new trend of showing Asian Americans in ads who are just, well, American, and not so much Asian. They don't speak with accents and they're not doing stereotypical stuff like martial arts and tech geekery. Instead, this kid and his dad are watching TV. The Target commercial I included in a post back in October has a mom who's hip-hop dancing and playing tether ball with her kid. And of course, there's Kylie, the adorable Asian American girl who's pushing Windows 7 like nobody's business (see her latest commercial below). Also, I like this commercial because Shaquille O'Neal is in it. He's been a spokesman for Comcast this year along with mopey-faced actor (and Republican speechwriter/commentator) Ben Stein in a series of silly commercials. But this one has Shaq alone. To me, this is significant for two reasons: First, it's all too rare to see Asians and African Americans together in a light-hearted repartee, in a warm relationship, in mainstream American culture. I'm really glad to see this, even though it's in an artificial environment of a TV commercial. Second, Shaq made racist comments towards Yao Ming, then a rising rookie in the NBA, in a radio interview back in 2002, and I wrote about it in a column: