Aziz Ansari on Acting, Race and Hollywood
November 10, 2015 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Even though I’ve sold out Madison Square Garden as a standup comedian and have appeared in several films and a TV series, when my phone rings, the roles I’m offered are often defined by ethnicity and often require accents. ~ Aziz Ansari on Acting, Race and Hollywood [SLNYT]
posted by melissasaurus (189 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
When we were looking for an Asian actor for “Master of None,” my fellow creator, Alan Yang, asked me: “How many times have you seen an Asian guy kiss someone in TV or film?” After a long hard think, we came up with two (Steven Yeun on “The Walking Dead” and Daniel Dae Kim on “Lost”). It made me realize how important it was not to give up on our search.

Hell yeah. You know this is the first time I've EVER seen an Indian-American guy dating a white girl on TV. First time I've ever seen my lived experience on the screen.
posted by jcruelty at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2015 [33 favorites]


Parks and Rec.
posted by maryr at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Great link. I am really digging this show so far.
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I mean, same actor, but still.)
posted by maryr at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2015


haha i guess i should check out parks and rec
posted by jcruelty at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


things are getting better slowly. mad props to aziz for explicitly pushing this as an issue. cos it IS an issue
posted by jcruelty at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't know why Dileep Rao isn't kissing people in everything he's in. Guy's got cool to burn.
posted by maxsparber at 12:04 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


My boyfriend and I had been trying to make a list as well, once Glenn (maybe) became history. The only other couples vaguely like us we could come up with:

Han and Gisele, Fast and Furious movies. But they're both dead.
Phryne Fisher and Lin Chung. But they wrote him out in favor of a white guy in the TV series because of course they did.
posted by rewil at 12:05 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know this is the first time I've EVER seen an Indian-American guy dating a white girl on TV.

Kal Penn, How I Met your Mother.
posted by sweetkid at 12:05 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ooh, Arnold Schwarzenegger. BURN.
posted by St. Hubbins at 12:06 PM on November 10, 2015


A aaaaaaaaaargj HIS NEW SHOW IS SO GOOD
posted by ominous_paws at 12:06 PM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


(sorry)
posted by ominous_paws at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2015


[obligatory comment about John Cho]

Han and Gisele, Fast and Furious movies. But they're both dead.

No, they're not. They're just hiding.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Selfie was a criminally underwatched show with an asian-American lead. That show should have been so much more popular.
posted by Think_Long at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


I know it's Internet nerddom's favorite punching bag, but the Big Bang Theory also had Indian male-white female couples.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


No, they're not. They're just hiding.

Probably with memory loss.
posted by maxsparber at 12:08 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah! We totally watched Selfie! Stupid almost everyone else in America not joining in.
posted by rewil at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know this is the first time I've EVER seen an Indian-American guy dating a white girl on TV. First time I've ever seen my lived experience on the screen.

The first season of How to Get Away With Murder has Arjun Gupta hooking up with Karla Souza. And if you expand to Asian-Americans and whites of either gender you've got Conrad Ricamora with Jack Falahee.

The fact that either of those two relationships stood out to me is part of the problem, IMHO.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


The more I hear from Aziz, the more I love him.

My husband and I watched Master of None on Netflix over the past two days. We couldn't turn it off! It was sooo good. It was a great mix of comedy, message, and endearment. His views on feminism and racial equality are wonderful and true.

Specifically the episode (7) "Ladies and Gentleman" was particularly wonderful. It tackled the subtle and outright sexism people experience. It shows how there's the creepy guy that follows you home, but also the guy that won't take women seriously.

I really enjoy his honest discussions about race. As a white lady, I do experience sexism and discrimination but it's been so wonderful to hear his viewpoint on race. He talks about it in a clear way that's easy to understand and acknowledge. He doesn't outright bash or hate. He's just honest and strives for change.

And while Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, Master of None really has some amazing take-home's about society and culture.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:12 PM on November 10, 2015 [19 favorites]


I just watched 'Master of None' last night, and discovered that there's a new discussion about it on Fanfare.
Aziz seems "Nice"
posted by growabrain at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2015


The thing that baffles me is that you don't see more Asian-American casting just on the basis of dollars. We all know Hollywood is crazy racist and crazy sexist (disparities in actor pay, that bullshit about characters not being "relatable" unless they're white) but come on, I literally signed up for Netflix streaming just so I could watch Master of None. You'd think producers and the like would at least be motivated by the potential money to be made.

(not to mention that relatability is just nonsense as Aziz points out re Terminator)
posted by jcruelty at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also I'm still waiting for the great Indian-American baller. Sim Bhullar is canadian for christ's sake. And he has no swag. I want Jeremy Lin when he was on fire for the Knicks, hitting game winning 3's and schooling Kobe. But brown. I want to see that on TV and also in a stadium!!
posted by jcruelty at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Master of None is great and I've had to ration the episodes to avoid watching them all in 2 days.

I also had to restrain myself from throwing money directly at my TV so that more shows of this caliber can be made.
posted by mr. manager at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Bit calmer - I'm very, very glad to have AA around, and am totally enchanted by the new show. A few bits he's done before felt a bit awkward or hack, like the Woo Girls or the not-cute-enough-for-child-molestor stuff on that one stand up, but like all of us now - if this doesn't sounds terrifically wanky - his growth process is super public and I'm glad people seem to be cool with that.

Oh! And he'll always have my love for announcing on live UK morning TV that he needed "to take a shit", before explaining to the horrified host that he thought it was OK to swear on TV over here. Brilliant. (Simon Rimmer, for any brits reading)
posted by ominous_paws at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


when Hollywood wants an “everyman,” what it really wants is a straight white guy.

QFMT

Aziz Ansari is awesomesauce and I would rather watch him rather than, say, Matt Damon any day.
posted by Kitteh at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Just started watching Master of None last night. I expected to like it but what I really loved were the immigrant parents' stories in Ep 2. Go Aziz.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


You'd think producers and the like would at least be motivated by the potential money to be made.

You'd think that, but women make up half the population and Hollywood doesn't seem to care all that much about maximizing the capture of their dollars.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


His point about Terminator was actually really inciteful to me. Like, I've never questioned why the Terminator would have an Austrian accent, and if I did, I would be hard-pressed to explain why an Austrian accent makes any more or less sense than East Coast, or midWest American accent.
posted by Think_Long at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


The one-season-only FlashForward had John Cho and Gabrielle Union as a (pretty darn handsome) couple (with kissing on screen), and Cho hooks up (off screen) with Christine Woods.
posted by maxwelton at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2015


The first season of Smash featured the actor Raza Jaffery in a relationship with Katharine McPhee. No kissing or relationship but there was some tension between Raza and Claire Danes in last season on Homeland.

While I didn't watch much of it Sendhil Ramamurthy's character on Covert Affairs was seen as a sexual being albeit a smarmy one.

But on the more important topic, Aziz is fantastic.
posted by mmascolino at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


q was all about Indian Americans today, they had a bit on Master of None and had interviews with a Daily Show correspondent (Hasan Minhaj) and some film makers (Ravi and Geeta Patel). I don't know if that was intentional or if it was just how things ended up but it was a good program.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2015


Even though I’ve sold out Madison Square Garden as a standup comedian and have appeared in several films and a TV series, when my phone rings, the roles I’m offered are often defined by ethnicity and often require accents.

Now I have to vent about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, where they had the Indian kid (Chirag) speak with this awfully thick accent even though a) there was absolutely ZERO indication in the books that Chirag had one and b) the actor himself speaks with an American accent.

The actor is now on a Disney Channel show where his character also speaks with an Indian accent even though IIRC he was adopted as a baby.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


But I don’t want to judge them before knowing the full story...

...but I will passively-aggressively bring it up, anyway.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2015


(I mean, same actor, but still.)

Re Parks & Rec, I've wondered for a long time how much input Ansari had with his character. Tom Haverford is from South Carolina just like Aziz, is into hiphop culture just like Aziz, and has a really similar persona to Aziz himself.

Definitely it seems pretty obvious that either he was interested in the role because it was an Indian character "without an accent" (Tom is not super nuanced in the first few episodes), or that Tom Haverford was written as a white guy, somebody thought of Aziz for the role, and he stuck to his guns of not having the character "Indianized" too much. Or, really, at all, since I'm hard-pressed to think of a single time Tom has to deal with any issue (white) people tend to associate with Indians or Asian-Americans.
posted by Sara C. at 12:36 PM on November 10, 2015


If you relax the gender requirement, Mindy Kaling has had many cross-race relationships on "The Mindy Project"
posted by scolbath at 12:36 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Actually, now that I think about it, FlashForward wasn't too bad with its characters from a diversity, non-token-roles standpoint (from my memory), though it made an uninteresting character the story's center, and of course he's white dude.)
posted by maxwelton at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2015


IS MINDY KALING REAL??? hahah
posted by jcruelty at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


Tom has to deal with any issue (white) people tend to associate with Indians or Asian-Americans.


Leslie Knope: You're not from here, right?
Tom Haverford: No, I'm from South Carolina.
Leslie Knope: But you moved to South Carolina from where?
Tom Haverford: My mother's uterus.
Leslie Knope: But you were conceived in Libya, right?
Tom Haverford: Wow. No. I was conceived in America. My parents are Indian.
Leslie Knope: Where did the name Haverford come from?
Tom Haverford: My birth name is Darwish Zubair Ismail Gani. Then I changed it to Tom Haverford, because you know, brown guys with funny-sounding Muslim names don't make it far into politics.
Leslie Knope: What about Barack Obama?
Tom Haverford: Okay, yeah, fine, Barack Obama. If I knew a guy named Barack Obama was gonna be elected president, yeah, maybe I wouldn't have changed it.

posted by sweetkid at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2015 [76 favorites]


Re Parks & Rec, I've wondered for a long time how much input Ansari had with his character.

He was the first "cast hire" (that is, after Amy Poehler, who was "attached" to the show from its conception), and the writers have always said that they wanted him before they had any character in mind, so I suspect he had more or less free rein.
posted by Etrigan at 12:44 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


...for an Asian character, there were startlingly fewer options, and with each of them, something was off. Some had the right look but didn’t have comedy chops. Others were too young or old. We even debated changing the character to an Asian woman, but a week before shooting began, Kelvin Yu, an actor from Los Angeles, sent in an audition over YouTube and got the part.

Kelvin Yu is an absolute treasure and I'm so glad this happened.
posted by giraffe at 12:44 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know it's Internet nerddom's favorite punching bag, but the Big Bang Theory also had Indian male-white female couples.

So let's talk about Raj. In my opinion, not an ideal representation. An Indian-American who has selective mutism that is most often portrayed as having feminine behaviours (apparently this is amusing, you know, Raj watching Sex and the City, Raj knowing a lot about cooking, etc.) It's not amusing to me, despite what canned laughter would have you believe. I only watched a few seasons of that show and mostly because it happened to be on television, I'm sure I couldn't find the remote and/or was just in a lazy mood for cheap laughter. And while many other races and types of people are reduced in that sitcom format. This kind of Asian-American stereotype is not anything I haven't seen before.

I'm glad Aziz is pushing boundaries and opening up the discussion about what it means to be an Asian male living in North America. I look forward to digging into this show, haven't yet had time to watch. Cheers.
posted by Fizz at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah Big Bang Theory is not progress of any kind. Corny accent for one.
posted by jcruelty at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've never questioned why the Terminator would have an Austrian accent, and if I did, I would be hard-pressed to explain why an Austrian accent makes any more or less sense than East Coast, or midWest American accent.

Because its Germanic and Americans have had this image of the German Sadist burned into our heads since WWII. Its a classic villian accent. A Germanic superweapon from the future does fit specifically because he's Germanic.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


The 'my mother's uterus' line from Parks and Rec is one of those quotes that seems to transcend from being funny to being really useful as a shorthand for a particular type of racism.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


I read the article after seeing it on Twitter linked by a commenter who said she was dismayed by the jokes about overweight people on Master of None... I have not seen the show yet, can anyone who has seen it comment on this point? I am also surprised that someone with Aziz Ansari's sensitivity to unthinking cruel stereotypes would have engaged in something like that.
posted by Mallenroh at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2015


I've never questioned why the Terminator would have an Austrian accent, and if I did, I would be hard-pressed to explain why an Austrian accent makes any more or less sense than East Coast, or midWest American accent.

Because its Germanic and Americans have had this image of the German Sadist burned into our heads since WWII. Its a classic villian accent.


I'd say that "Because it's Arnold Schwarzenegger" is a much more likely option. I doubt they would have had OJ Simpson speak in a German accent just to convey the robot's villainness.
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sweetkid, that scene is the only example from the whole show I could come up with, and I couldn't decide how relevant to my point it was since it's really more about Tom himself and the kind of person he is and less about The Indian Experience (I mean if anything Indians are less likely to change their names or give their kids Anglo-normative names than other immigrant communities). I was trying to think of a time when (to come up with some stereotypical examples), his parents want him to do an arranged marriage, he has wacky foreign relatives who stick out in Pawnee, he either celebrates a wacky foreign holiday or has to miss out on celebrating a traditional American holiday because Foreign, etc. Tom never has Indian related storylines even to the extent that Kelly Kapoor did on The Office.

But still one of my favorite scenes on the show, and definitely the turning point where Parks & Rec went from "a pretty cool show" to one of my favorites.
posted by Sara C. at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2015


in re. fat jokes - there's a bit that happens twice in one episode where they dig around for the "right term" to call fat people, settling on "curvaceous", I think? It's not awful awful, and it's not meanly intended, but it's a bit hack in that super-overdone "let's get lulz from finding a super-pc name for this group" gag that really really sits at odds with the rest of the show.

(I myself am not fat, and would absolutely sympathise if others are more irked than I was)

((quick edit on terminology, which is probably meta-awkward given the subject here))
posted by ominous_paws at 12:54 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wasn't trying to prove you wrong, Sara C I just love that exchange.
posted by sweetkid at 12:55 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


jcruelty, FYI, Kunal Nayyar's accent is his own.
posted by scolbath at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


perhaps 'corny' is not the precise word then. but it's not progress is my point.
posted by jcruelty at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2015


And not just actors of color are needed, but writers too. I've mentioned this previously, maybe, but I remember as a kid an Asian woman being written out early of the hospital drama St. Elsewhere, because after exhausting the "you bring shame upon the family" storyline, the writers claimed they didn't have any more about her to tell.
posted by xigxag at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]



And not just actors of color are needed, but writers too


Yeah, the reason a 35 year old chubby Indian girl has a show where she plays a pop culture obsessed doctor is because she wrote it.
posted by sweetkid at 1:06 PM on November 10, 2015 [31 favorites]


I don't find Aziz Ansari a very funny or good comedian, but I'm glad that he is using his positionality to push for more representation. I'd like to see more people of color and queers in media who don't have to compromise their identity to get laughs from a white audience. I'd like to be able to choose from more than three Indian American comedians that I know of, who also all happen to be male. Also, more writers and producers.
posted by yueliang at 1:06 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


It is a god damn shame that Selfie got cancelled before there was kissing.

I mean, you have John Cho and Karen Gillan, plus a romcom-style My Fair Lady setup, and somehow there's NO KISSING?! Talk about your fundamental flaws in the universe.
posted by blithers at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


This seems like an opportune moment to point out that you should all be watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is hilarious, in which the male lead/love interest is played by Filipino-American actor Vincent Rodriguez III.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:11 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


That reminds me yueliang, can we just take a moment to appreciate the awesome that is Lena Waithe?

One of my favorite things about Master Of None is that there really aren't any "types". All the characters are just people, and they do a good job of getting a really diverse array of people. (Within the "middle class cosmopolitan Brooklynite" subset of people, of course.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:13 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah I didn't feel like the focus was that Asian men finally get white chicks (? at some stuff in this thread) but that Rachel was just a person.
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The cast to The Martian is just fucking weird, much though I liked that movie. on Ars you have Matt Damon, Matt Damoning, and I guess he's okay at it and he's the star or whatever, but then on Earth there's this great cast of largely POC actors given only a little to do and really acting the shit out of it, so you can't help thinking by the end of it that the movie would have been better if any one of them had been on Mars instead.

They probably wouldn't have got Matt Damon as random scientist guy then though.
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I feel like a lot of other shows would have made Rachel a White Girl Type, especially since it's mentioned that she works in PR. Which is often a shibboleth for a Certain Type Of White Girl. Instead, Rachel gets to be a person. Refreshing AF.
posted by Sara C. at 1:17 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yaaas I'm so down for Lena Waithe. I think one of my favorite parts about comedians, even if I don't personally enjoy their style, are the groups of people they associate themselves with. It's the chemistry that's so important.

(now I have to get off my ass and actually work towards becoming a queer woman of color comedian like all of my friends are telling me to do, damn you representation!!) [obviously tongue in check]
posted by yueliang at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


If Arnold is a bit weird as The Terminator then he's super weird in nearly every other rolls where he's not a robot from the future but a normal whitebread American who happens to be gigantic and have an Austrian accent that NOBODY ELSE COMMENTS ON.
posted by Artw at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


so you can't help thinking by the end of it that the movie would have been better if any one of them had been on Mars instead.

Hey, Hollywood, I would 100% pay opening weekend 3D cinerama dome prices to see Benedict Wong get shot into space and do some Matt Damoning.
posted by Sara C. at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


"finally get white chicks" ? dude wtf. it's about seeing one's lived experience on the screen can you not understand why that matters?
posted by jcruelty at 1:20 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


can you not understand why that matters?

the ironing is delicious.
posted by sweetkid at 1:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


yeah youre going to have to be more explicit cos i dont follow.
posted by jcruelty at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2015


Hey, Hollywood, I would 100% pay opening weekend 3D cinerama dome prices to see Benedict Wong get shot into space and do some Matt Damoning.

Literally, Khaaaaaannnnn
posted by Apocryphon at 1:36 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Other Parks and Rec moment:
JUSTIN: God, India is so amazing. Let me tell you something, that is my absolute favorite place to travel. Where did you say your parents were from?
TOM: Um… the South part.
LESLIE: The Southern part’s always the best part of anything.
JUSTIN: You ever been to Kanmian Mosque? Up in Tamil Nadu?
TOM: Are you kidding? My uncle practically runs the place. I’ve prayed there. It’s sick.
JUSTIN: Tell me everything. Right now.
TOM: One sec. I’ve just gotta hit the “loo,” as those bastard British imperialists would say.
———————————-
TOM: Last time I was in India, I was eight years old and I stayed inside the whole time playing video games. I’ve gotta bone up. Fourth largest coal reserves in the world

Right after watching that scene I had to step away and seriously question whether my life was my own, as I had never before wondered if there were other first generation kids who spent childhood trips to India eating Spaghettios and playing GameBoy.
posted by memento maury at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2015 [44 favorites]


And they even showed Raj kissing his girlfriend on Big Bang. (Not to discount any other problems with his portrayal on the show.)
posted by sardonyx at 1:44 PM on November 10, 2015


I don't find Aziz Ansari a very funny or good comedian...

Respectfully, you are wrong on both counts.
posted by el io at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


"finally get white chicks" ? dude wtf. it's about seeing one's lived experience on the screen can you not understand why that matters?

I think it's one thing to say that Asian Americans should be seen as leads etc but there's a weird cast to the concept of "they finally show an Asian with a white girl" that rubs me the wrong way.

With Mindy Kaling, there was a bunch of criticism that she wasn't dating Indian guys on her show, but it was a sense of "we're not there yet" plus "she was casting her friends" which makes sense to me.

But with Kimmy Schmidt and some of the comments here there's a tinge of "Asian guy gets white girl" that I see played out IRL and it's uncomfortably like some status thing.
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rahul Kohli plays an Indian character on iZombie who has had a coupla of (white) girlfriends and is generally allowed to be cool and attractive. He is a Hindu from London whose parents are Thai and Kenyan, so how you score that one is up to you.

Criminy, are there really so few examples of Indian male characters being allowed to be romantic/sexual interests that we can frigging name them all? That's depressing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


there's a weird cast to the concept of "they finally show an Asian with a white girl" that rubs me the wrong way.

There are two icky stereotypes at play here I think. The first is that Asian men have been considered (in media portrayals) to not be conventionally attractive, and to be somewhat emasculated/subservient in a way that is not attractive to good, clean, american (read:white) women. The second is the trope of the men of colour always wanting to know "where the white women at?!" and constantly trying to hook up with good, clean, american women.

Celebrating the ways in which the first stereotype is being defied can sound a little bit like bolstering the second, but I think it's important to examine where the speaker is coming from. jcruelty isn't looking at it as man of colour gets white girl prize, so much as, man of colour is seen as a man to actually be desired.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


That's what I'm saying, the language around it should be carefully considered.
posted by sweetkid at 2:08 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


a normal whitebread American who happens to be gigantic and have an Austrian accent that NOBODY ELSE COMMENTS ON.

The best part in any Jean Claude van Damme film was how they always gave a reason why he had a funny accent. I do mean that literally.
posted by biffa at 2:09 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a viewer, I appreciate shows whose concept of love/romance/sex/marriage/dating/whatever is more sophisticated than "Well, obviously the two [specific ethnicity] characters should end up together" or "We'd better write on another [specific ethnicity] for [character of that ethnicity] to pair with."

I went to a Doctor Who convention that had Freema Agyeman as a guest and she joked that she wasn't sure if Russell T Davies really thought Mickey and Martha belonged together or if he was just marrying off the only two black people on the show because he figured he should. Her vibe on that, btw, was totally kidding (not kidding).
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:12 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that felt super forced. Especially as they'd really not done that with either character before.
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's what I'm saying, the language around it should be carefully considered.

And given that this line of discussion started with a celebration of seeing one user's lived experience reflected on screen, I'd say that it's clear that we are on the right side of the line.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth my comment wasn't referring to jcruelty specifically and I didn't say anything about that user until he started calling me dude and saying I didn't understand lived experience on screen.
posted by sweetkid at 2:21 PM on November 10, 2015


I went into Master of None knowing nothing about it. I and my visiting 20-year-old daughter have been laughing our asses off through episode 6. (We watch 2 a night.) There are parts of the main character that fall flat for me (he says fuck around everyone, including a network CEO. I mean, wtf? That seems tone deaf to me). Still, I don't have to love the character to love the show, which I do. I'm a cis white woman so it doesn't speak to my life experience but neither do any of the other shows I watch. And it's so great to have characters on screen actually talk about race in a small scale way I can relate to. Unlike all those big-budget films about heroic white people who save saintly black people. Or Ben Kingsley made up as Ghandi. Yuck.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:33 PM on November 10, 2015


Ben Kingsley made up as Ghandi. Yuck.

Ben Kingsley's birth name is Krishna Bhanji. He is of Gujarati descent on his father's side. Mahatma Gandhi was also Gujarati.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:17 PM on November 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


The first is that Asian men have been considered (in media portrayals) to not be conventionally attractive, and to be somewhat emasculated/subservient in a way that is not attractive to good, clean, american (read:white) women.

I think this also ties into the "Where are you from? " topic on the Blue previously where Asians are constantly questioned about where they are from, implying that they aren't American. From that perspective, popular media showing an Asian guy dating a white woman can be seen as a step in which Asian guys are seen less as foreigners and more as typical Americans.
posted by FJT at 5:21 PM on November 10, 2015


(Yeah, my south asian family is a-ok with Kingsley as Gandhi. Now Keanu as Siddharta? That was questionable, although the man rocks a kohl-rimmed eye like a pro.)
posted by synapse at 5:28 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's the kind of thing which the construction of "Asian American" tends to overlook, but the scene where Aziz dates a woman of *East* Asian ethnicity is also noteworthy and unusual as a moment of representation in TV fiction
posted by Bwithh at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


he says fuck around everyone, including a network CEO. I mean, wtf?

I think there are a few reasons for this.

1. It's Netflix, and they really lean on the fact that they don't have network Standards & Practices divisions to get snooty about things or advertisers to please or anything like that. Most of the other Netflix Originals shows depict either explicit sexuality or graphic violence. The profanity may be Netflix wanting to justify why this show belongs with them and not on the NBC primetime lineup (where, in a just world, this show would be).

2. Netflix is notoriously hands-off, and there are a few ways in which Master Of None is rough around the edges and might have needed some grownups in suits input. The constant swearing is one of them: do characters have distinctive voices? Does each character's speaking style reflect their goal in the scene? Stuff like that is a little shaky on this show, which is really my only criticism.

3. In that particular instance, Dev works really hard to show the network exec that he doesn't give a fuck about his opinion. He's being the opposite of deferential. Also, the exec in question is depicted as a casual guy who doesn't want Dev to think he's racist; they go to a basketball game together, hang out with one of the exec's rapper friends, etc. So he doesn't really seem like a stuffed-shirt type who would even expect Dev to treat him as an authority figure. It would be unusual for anyone to self-censor in this situation.
posted by Sara C. at 5:41 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ben Kingsley made up as Ghandi. Yuck.

Ben Kingsley's birth name is Krishna Bhanji. He is of Gujarati descent on his father's side. Mahatma Gandhi was also Gujarati.


I was going to mention this as many Desis knows this by heart

that's why he wasn't in the brownface montage
posted by sweetkid at 5:54 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


srsly most Indian Americans or at least those in their 30s who love media have that exact montage. He just recorded from a collective Desi hivebrain outrage.
posted by sweetkid at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Tom has to deal with any issue (white) people tend to associate with Indians or Asian-Americans.

Sometimes I feel like I grew up in one of the best places a first-generation kid could grow up in: Toronto. In Toronto, when you're an adult the people asking you where you're from are usually people who share the same ethnicity as you and are just looking to connect; I knew what they meant and would immediately respond with "my parents are from India" and we'd have a nice, brief chat.

It was as soon as I left Toronto that (white) people started this other line of questioning, and I responded exactly like Tom Haverford.

One time, during a trip home, a random desi asked me where I was from and I accidentally responded Tom Haverford style. That was a confusing 5 minutes.
posted by mayurasana at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you relax the gender requirement, Mindy Kaling has had many cross-race relationships on "The Mindy Project"
Sure, you can find all sorts of examples of Asian women paired with White men on-screen. It's practically the default interracial relationship in the media. Considering Desi women alone there are a number of films with interracial/intercultural romances as central themes, like Bride & Prejudice, Bend it Like Beckham, The Mistress of Spices (all by the outstanding Gurinder Chadha), and Outsourced. There are also Hollywood movies prominently pairing white men with other women of Asian descent, like Tia Carrera in Wayne's World or Vanessa Hudgens in the High School Musical franchise.

On American TV the following Asian-American actresses have had White male romantic partners or love interests:
  • Keiko Agena in Gilmore Girls
  • Reiko Aylesworth in 24
  • Christina Chang in both Nashville and CSI: Miami
  • Joan Chen in Twin Peaks
  • Margaret Cho in All-American Girl
  • Kelsey Chow in Pair of Kings
  • Janina Gavankar in Arrow and True Blood
  • Mindy Kaling in The Office (in addition to her own show)
  • Yunjin Kim in Mistresses
  • Malese Jow and Kelly Hu in The Vampire Diaries
  • Liza Lapira in NCIS and Super Fun Night
  • Bai Ling in Entourage
  • Julia Ling in Chuck
  • Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal
  • Linda Park in Crash
  • Grace Park in Battlestar Galactica
  • Janel Parrish in Pretty Little Liars
  • Lindsay Price in 90210
  • Maggie Q. in Nikita
  • Navi Rawat in The O.C.
  • Dilshad Vadsaria in Revenge and Greek
  • Ming-Na Wen in ER
Asian-American men and Asian-American women face different stereotypes. To oversimplify, women of Asian descent are hypersexualized by the media while men of Asian descent are desexualized. That's why it's notable when Asian men, specifically, can appear as romantic interests for anyone, not just people of their own ethnicity, or, more frequently, with no romantic interest at all. And I agree that for Asian men with non-Asian partners (like me), it would be nice to see more often.

(Shout out to Abed and Rachel on Community!)
posted by mbrubeck at 6:13 PM on November 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


I recognized everything in that montage except the scene from Short Circuit 2, which I've never even heard of until this show. Why didn't they just get Vik Sahay? I had a crush on him when I was younger (Radio Active was too young for me, but occasionally I'd flip past it and linger for his scenes), and his hair is sexy as hell.
posted by mayurasana at 6:14 PM on November 10, 2015


I recognized everything in that montage except the scene from Short Circuit 2

There are too many Aziz/Desi threads right now for me to know where I said this before (which is cray??) but I saw Short Circuit 2 in summer camp and was like "this feels wrong, I don't know, is this wrong?" and it's taken all this time for society to catch up with what a little kid felt viscerally in the late 80s.
posted by sweetkid at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are too many Aziz/Desi threads right now for me to know where I said this before (which is cray??) but I saw Short Circuit 2 in summer camp and was like "this feels wrong, I don't know, is this wrong?" and it's taken all this time for society to catch up with what a little kid felt viscerally in the late 80s.

I think I was just just too happy to see a brown character on TV to see how wrong the brownface was. But also I was six and there was a robot, so that was pretty much it for me - I was sold.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Abed, Dan Harmon says that they filmed a kiss between Abed and Rachel but edited it out because “it didn’t feel right” (which I think was the right decision, character-wise).
posted by mbrubeck at 6:21 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that mbrubeck's list of Asian women love interests isn't nearly exhaustive. There are many many more examples. I can count examples of Asian male love interests on one hand.
posted by danny the boy at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2015


I don't really feel like "Asian" and "South Asian" women are really comparable in the hypersexualized stereotype way. And that's not why Mindy is paired with white men on the Office or her show.
posted by sweetkid at 6:25 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's true. And Mindy Kaling's work is groundbreaking, no doubt about that.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:31 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also Margaret Cho in All -Amercan Girl, who I feel like is the template for all this modern Asian American stuff.
posted by sweetkid at 6:34 PM on November 10, 2015


I think maybe the key to Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari is that they aren't exoticized. They're very much both... regular American people their ages? It's a little contradictory because when you meet the parents in Master of None they're clearly immigrants and so I know that Dev's upbringing and experiences were a lot different than mine, but at the same time he doesn't stand out as "foreign" compared to the other characters on the show. The same goes with his role on Parks and Rec - he fills a particular role on the show but it's more like "person who is really into hip-hop but is not black" (It strikes me as a role that is ripe for people to complain, like they do, that "there is no reason for this character to be indian". Well, good. I am all for roles that go to people without a reason for them to be a specific gender, race, religion, whatever)

Mindy Kaling is similar. On The Office she's the source of little indian tidbits here and there (like the Diwali episode) but basically she's not othered for her race (but more for the particular kind of woman she plays, a sort of game playing/neurotic/clingy young woman, who, again, has no reason to be Indian)
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, I do think Asian women, whether South Asian or East Asian, are an easier sell in mainstream media (especially where studios/networks are concerned, see for instance the "Indians On TV" episode) because of the way that Asian men are so desexualized. I can definitely see the "but then who do we cast as the Girlfriend/'too many'" canard being floated, as well as "not enough stories to tell" because there would be a tendency to avoid romantic storylines. Mindy is "safer" because network execs are already comfortable seeing an Asian woman dating white men.

Going back to The Martian, it was hard not to notice that one of the Asian characters who was whitewashed for the movie was turned into a hot white girl. Because, A) the "too many" issue of a black man trading technobabble with an Asian woman, and B) that way you can distract the dumber moviegoers with a hot blonde. Which is the Hollywood action movie version of "nothing about her to tell". The purpose of a girl is always to be an ornamental distraction, and it's less of a sure bet if that girl isn't a Sexy Blonde.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


there is no reason for this character to be indian

Yeah we had a whole thread about that when that Pete and Pete guy wrote about Nickelodeon making TV shows about characters who were "Indian for no reason" (Sanjay and Craig).

Also as said above, the writers really matter. Mindy Kaling was a writer on the Office and her own show.
posted by sweetkid at 6:44 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


No-one wants to remember Sayid and Shannon. OK sure, technically he's playing an Arab, but the actor is Indian. I don't know where that puts him...
posted by fiercekitten at 6:45 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


So is "Indian for no reason" a tumblr or band yet? Asking for a friend.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does Fresh off the Boat not count because they're both Asian? Because I think that's an extremely progressive show.
posted by sweetkid at 6:48 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've ever heard of Fresh Off The Boat. Was it good/worth watching?

The IMDB page links to Margaret Cho's show, which, holy shit, was that really 1994? I am so old.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:51 PM on November 10, 2015


Rusty Brooks, here's a funny comment on Indian for no reason (self link to MeFi thread, but I was quoting someone from Jezebel.
posted by sweetkid at 6:52 PM on November 10, 2015


The guy who sits next to me at work is so Indian for no reason. He posts memes on slack and wears converse shoes and has a relaxed attitude towards work. They really could have filled his role with a white dude.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:56 PM on November 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah we had a whole thread about that when that Pete and Pete guy wrote about Nickelodeon making TV shows about characters who were "Indian for no reason" (Sanjay and Craig).

man we just had a thread about considering a new james bond who wasn't a straight white male and for some reason the thread really leaned towards "no don't." it was disappointing to see on metafilter so many people who thought his straight white maleness was inherent and couldn't imagine the usefulness of playing with this archetype. because my mind is screaming YES LADY BOND. KEEP THE SUIT. DON'T SKIP THE TUX SCENE. i mean indian bond/colonialism hello?

it's still really hard to get fresh new characters on the screen but even that is easier than a new take on a classic. which is a damn shame because that makes all the superhero franchises and reboots basically a no go. off the top of my head remember the reaction to donald glover spiderman?
posted by twist my arm at 6:58 PM on November 10, 2015


No FOTB on Netflix :(

BTW when I was in high school my friend circle was partly some chinese kids, mostly the daughters/sons of immigrants. FOTB (as an acronym, I never really ever heard it as the words) was one of the worst things you could say about an immigrant family, like calling them ignorant hayseeds basically. I don't know if that's universal or not but I had a visceral reaction to it being a TV show name.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:59 PM on November 10, 2015


It's on Hulu, Rusty Brooks. It's based on a book. It's kind of "reclaiming" the phrase, in my opinion.
posted by sweetkid at 7:00 PM on November 10, 2015


One thing that's interesting about the Short Circuit 2 story is the fact that “Originally, the role of Benjamin was a white grad student, and then the director and co-writer of ‘Short Circuit’ changed the character to Indian,” and they just went with the actor who had already been cast for the part.

I get Ansari's point that it was a slight not to find an Asian actor for the role, but given that they didn't, is there something positive in Fisher Steven's portrayal, even if if was brownface? Ansari pointed out that the character was inspiring to him.:Seeing an Indian character in a lead role had a powerful effect on me, but it was only as I got older that I realized what an anomaly it was. I rarely saw any Indians on TV or film, except for brief appearances as a cabdriver or a convenience store worker literally servicing white characters who were off to more interesting adventures. This made “Short Circuit 2” special. An Indian lead character? With a Caucasian love interest?

If the movie had been filmed as originally conceived, there would be one less positive portrayal of an Asian character in American popular culture. And Fisher seems to have taken the role seriously, as a character rather than a stereotype.

Does the damage of an actor portraying another race outweigh the value of a non-stereotyped depiction of an Asian in the movies?
posted by layceepee at 7:00 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


One thing that's interesting about the Short Circuit 2 story is the fact that “Originally, the role of Benjamin was a white grad student, and then the director and co-writer of ‘Short Circuit’ changed the character to Indian,” and they just went with the actor who had already been cast for the part.

Hollywood is not only weirder than we imagine, but weirder than we CAN imagine
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:03 PM on November 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think a female Bond would work. Aisha Tyler was so great on Archer as "the only adult spy in the room"

I will track down FOTB on Hulu and try it out
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does the damage of an actor portraying another race outweigh the value of a non-stereotyped depiction of an Asian in the movies?

Yeah, because you get the message that you're unacceptable for television, and media in general, and that you're sort of a joke. That's a hard weird lesson for a child, and I feel like the fact that there are all these Desis on TV right now, especially in children's shows (at least compared to when Mindy and Aziz and I were children) means that current Desi and part Desi kids won't have that experience.
posted by sweetkid at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The cover image for FOTB is brilliant (it appears to be a recreation of the painting "Nighthawks")
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:12 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Almost the only scene I remember from Short Circuit is this exchange (at 0:48 in the video):
Ben: As very fond of saying in my country: “Marketplace makes dull home for rodents!”
Newton: Where are you from, anyway?
Ben: Bakersfield, originally.
Newton: No, I mean your ancestors.
Ben: Oh, them... Pittsburgh.
It’s played for laughs in a way that’s kind of uncomfortable, which is why I didn’t bring it up in the recent Where are you from? thread, but on the other hand it sure does capture a common hyphen-American experience.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:19 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fresh Off The Boat is an interesting case because, by being a Family Sitcom, the idea is that these characters are all related, therefore there's a "reason" for everyone to be Asian. And note that, with the exception of one of Eddie's school friends, there are no other people of color on the show. It's very much the Chinese-American Huang family and Everyone Else, everyone else being white people.

So I think it didn't feel as scary to network execs as a Friends-esque show potentially starring multiple non-white cast members.
posted by Sara C. at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2015


Slight derail and maybe belongs in another thread. But as an (East) Asian-American, I've always wondered why in US discourse, South Asians and East Asians are lumped together as "Asians." Now of course the generic answer is "because they're both in Asia", but come on, Asia is a gigantic arbitrarily defined geographic area with huge ethnic and cultural diversity, and more importantly, I don't think anybody in Asia was consulted when they were naming the continents. Asia is basically "everybody else who lives on this gigantic landmass who isn't European."

Asian-American circles usually argue for including both East Asians and South Asians as "Asians"; the argument is usually something like "the more the merrier" or "we face broadly similar prejudices/stereotypes in the US." The latter is true, but it's a bit odd to define an ethnic group in terms of how it is stereotyped, and you can argue that each group gets to suffer its own stereotypes/prejudice in the US too. For example Middle Easterners suffer from the "foreigner" treatment in the US too, but we usually talk about them as Middle Easterners and not generic "Asians."

The fact is East and South Asians are culturally and genetically very distinct from one another; I mean sure you can point to Buddhism but for most of human history they were separated by the tallest mountain ranges on earth and developed independently.
posted by pravit at 7:28 PM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


And note that, with the exception of one of Eddie's school friends, there are no other people of color on the show.

This rings really true for me as an Asian American middle class+upper middle class growing up experience from the 90s. That and all the music and sneaker references.
posted by sweetkid at 7:35 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


But as an (East) Asian-American, I've always wondered why in US discourse, South Asians and East Asians are lumped together as "Asians."

I feel (and this is just my opinion) that South Asian Americans are really just getting an identity. In the UK South Asians are what everyone thinks of as "Asian" but in the US that's East Asian.

I don't totally feel comfortable considering myself "Asian," but it's sort of the default grouping. When I was very young I felt like I wasn't considered American at all, but literally from my parents' country, but that changed rapidly as I've grown up, and I think that's because I'm among the first large ish wave of second generation Desi kids born in the US (from something I read, this is 1975ish to 1990ish, due to immigration quotas).
posted by sweetkid at 7:40 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


1976 represent

My kids are gonna be like "where's the Hin-jews on screen?"

In SF pretty much everyone I know is an interracial couple. It's nice to see a show where this is presented without comment as a normal thing. I know SF is an island (probably NY and some other places too) but truly the future is beige
posted by jcruelty at 7:51 PM on November 10, 2015


FOTB (as an acronym, I never really ever heard it as the words) was one of the worst things you could say about an immigrant family, like calling them ignorant hayseeds basically. I don't know if that's universal or not but I had a visceral reaction to it being a TV show name.

I remember "fob" being used as a term of endearment toward our parents - you can probably find the archived results of mymomisafob.com and mydadisafob.com somewhere - but it was one of those things where you could only use it towards your own family, like a reclaimed insult. Otherwise, yeah, it was pejorative. Not sure if I ever thought it was the worst thing, though.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 7:56 PM on November 10, 2015


where's the Hin-jews on screen

If you look at the Mindy Kaling BJ Novak tumblr you'll fall into this hole of wishing they were together which they both claim will never happen

but it seems so right
posted by sweetkid at 7:57 PM on November 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


One thing I'll say about FOTB the TV show is that they pretty much never mess with the "fob" thing. In most storylines, the parents are either well-versed in American culture or whatever they're doing doesn't even feature an "immigrant experience" element.

My favorite recent episode was the one where the dad was SUPER STOKED that his firstborn was finally old enough to go to a school dance, something he only knew about from watching John Hughes movies. So he schools Eddie and all his friends on how to be super smooth and put the moves on their crushes at the dance.
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 PM on November 10, 2015


FOTB is funny & good. I get why Eddie Huang distanced himself from it and I respect that but it's a surprisingly decent show. And I have love for Randall Park dating back to Baby Mentalist.

SHOUT OUT TO BABY MENTALIST!!
posted by jcruelty at 8:08 PM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


what's supposed to be wrong with Fresh Off the Boat? I've only seen Season 2.
posted by sweetkid at 8:11 PM on November 10, 2015


Eddie Huang, author of the book it's based on, isn't happy with the fact that the dad on the show is a sitcom dad and not a facsimile of his real life complicated kind of messed up human being father. It's like he didn't know what "adapting my book into a family sitcom" was going to entail?
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bamboo-Ceiling TV

(He has some points, but FOTB just went in a different direction and I think it's good on its own terms, and is 'progress' of a sort. And it's funny without being totally lazy)
posted by jcruelty at 8:18 PM on November 10, 2015


Also, from reading his memoir, his real life dad was.... kind of fucked up and abusive? In a fairly unpleasant way? So, uh, was not surprised to see his character lightened up in the (as Sara says) family sitcom.

It's possible that Huang doesn't see his dad's behavior as abusive--I haven't gone looking beyond hearing that he's not thrilled about the portrayal of his family--but from the textual incidents he describes in his memoir, I for one would really, really not be laughing much. Like, I'm not talking "strict parents," I'm talking hitting small children and sudden rage explosions, IIRC.
posted by sciatrix at 8:19 PM on November 10, 2015




If you want to get a better sense of who Huang really is, his Vice food show is entertaining-- esp the Taiwan episodes
posted by jcruelty at 8:20 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also apropos to nothing and everything... R.I.P. Das Racist

Heems the first Indian-American rapper w/ flow

I'm sure I'm wrong and someone will correct me :D

But they were funny and interesting and I miss them
posted by jcruelty at 8:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Das Racist's Aziz Ansari song
posted by jcruelty at 8:26 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


You made me think something happened to Heems!

Also good to get the topic back to Desis...though I brought up FOB.
posted by sweetkid at 8:27 PM on November 10, 2015


Heems went solo and now does a lot of other random/non-music "ummmm now what" type stuff like writing about Desi issues for the Village Voice and sitting on the board of a South Asian nonprofit.
posted by Sara C. at 8:29 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"What's Gonna Happen to This White Guy?" is so perfect and spot on that I will think that forever now and will refer to many movies as such.

I liked Master of None -- parts of it didn't work for me, but it had a kind heart and I liked that it was trying to say something and how it was trying to say it. I was sad when I realized I was at the last episode (I know I can watch it again).

I've liked some Aziz Ansari's standup specials although others have felt like they were trying too hard (went too far into vulgar territory that just felt out of character for him).

I watch a lot of movies from all over the world so I don't find it strange or weird to find people from all places attractive leads. I find it strange other people have this problem. I've also noticed how when you watch movies from the '70s or '80s, even if the leads are white, there are people of color in background roles because well, that's the way the world is. You don't really see that much now and it's weird.

This stuff shouldn't be hard. I don't know why it is. We need to do better.
posted by darksong at 8:32 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Slight derail and maybe belongs in another thread. But as an (East) Asian-American, I've always wondered why in US discourse, South Asians and East Asians are lumped together as "Asians.

But we're... not?

I'm ethnically Indian, and as far as I can tell, practically *no* American thinks of Indian people when they hear the word "Asian". When it comes to race/ethnicity in America, you'd be hard pressed to claim that "Asian" as meaning anything but East or Southeast Asian. Census forms are an exception, but that's hardly colloquial usage (And there's also pedants that insist that because India is on the continent, Indians are definitionally "Asian", but they're annoying.). Ethnically Indian people generally are either lumped in with Middle Eastern (which... yeeesh), or split out as their own thing, usually as a function of the number of us around.

In my hometown at least, which was ~10% Asians, 5% Indians/Pakistanis, the ethnic descriptor of choice was simply "brown" (which was not used to refer to Hispanics) or, if you were hip-and-with-it, "Desi". "Asian" was never used, and no one would bat an eye at phrasing using the terms disjunctively (eg, "The brown kids and the Asian kids" or "There aren't any Asian kids, only brown kids").

This is also pretty well supported by college groups centered around ethnicity. Check out any college's Asian American Students Association (or analogous) for pretty clear proof.
posted by dogphysic at 9:33 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


he says fuck around everyone, including a network CEO. I mean, wtf?

I'm a 45 year old married kid-unencumbered guy and while I don't swear around C-level execs things slip out from my wife and I around my sister's kids all the time. For which we get the stink eye. But the kids find those little transgressions hilarious. I guess we have just been adults around only adults for too long. You should hear my office when somebody can't get something to compile.

I found it one of the more realistic aspects in the writing of the show. We just forget sometimes.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 9:36 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


FOTB is a solid sitcom. Think Everybody Hates Chris, but replace Terry Crews (Terry loves 24 cents worth of yogurt) with Baby Mentalist's partner, Randall Park.

Eddie Huang was pissed that the adaptation was just that--an adaptation. It sandblasted all the rough parts out of his life to make a palatable pablum, not pungent chou doufu; it pumped up the humor and toned down the horror. He wanted an HBO miniseries with gritty violence and hot sex, and what he got instead was an ABC family comedy with early 90s hip-hop callbacks and cute crushes.

I think he even brought up the fact (as did Randall Park) that his dad was going to be played by a Korean-American, not an ethnic Taiwanese, and that the main producers weren't Taiwanese-American, but led by an Iranian-American.

He has feelings. As well he should, it's his life. But I mean, it's a family sitcom, too. Chris Rock's life in Bed-Stuy was made super G-rated for Everybody Hates Chris, too.

That said, both shows are worth watching. Unlike Dr. Ken, which is terrible, but at least doesn't have god-awful Asian-American male characters, unlike Two Broke Girls and Big Bang Theory oh my god fuck CBS comedy.
posted by qcubed at 9:39 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Slight derail and maybe belongs in another thread. But as an (East) Asian-American, I've always wondered why in US discourse, South Asians and East Asians are lumped together as "Asians.

Depends on who you're talking to. In general conversation, no, we're not lumped together. Asian-American activists often want to be inclusive, but...

In day to day parlance when people say "Asian" in the US, they mean "Some kinda Chinese person, like from China, or like, Korea or Japan or Thaiwan or whatever," and you speak "Chinese" or "Asian", if they don't know better. If they do, it's often because they have a friend who served in Korea or Okinawa or went to Hong Kong once and they would love to say "anyunghasso" which is their shitty attempt to get close to "Hello".

If you're a Desi, you're "Indian", whether your family is from Bangladesh or Maldives, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, Nepal or actually some place in India. Oh, and you speak "Indian", whatever that is. And then when you throw in Native Americans who are often called "Indians" who speak "Indian"...
posted by qcubed at 9:45 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm interested in the notion of these specific Asian male characters being so hard to cast. I think someone upthread cited Master Of None and how hard it was to find the right actor to play (Taiwanese-American) Brian, and, yeah, while I love Randal Park, why didn't they go with a Chinese-American actor?
posted by Sara C. at 9:49 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


while I love Randal Park, why didn't they go with a Chinese-American actor

I mean, that's the story of easily most Asian characters, right?

TOS: Hikaru Sulu - George Takei (Japanese/Japanese - correct!)
TNG/DS9: Keiko Ishikawa O'Brien - Rosalind Chao (Japanese/Chinese - wrong)
VOY: Harry Kim - Garret Wang (Korean/Chinese - wrong)
ENT: Hoshi Sato - Linda Park (Japanese/Korean - wrong)
Lost: Sayid Jarrah - Naveen Andrews (Iraqi/Indian - wrong)
Abrams Abominations: Hikaru Sulu - John Cho (Japanese/Korean - wrong)
Memoirs of a Geisha: Chiyo Sakamoto (Sayuri Nitta) - Zhang Ziyi (Japanese/Chinese - wrong)
Hawaii Five-0: Chin Ho Kelly - Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaiian Chinese -or- Samoan/Korean - wrong)
Hawaii Five-0: Kono Kalakaua - Grace Park (Hawaiian/Korean - wrong)
Joy Luck Club: Waverly Jong - Tamlyn Tomita (Chinese/Japanese - wrong)
The Martian: Venkat Kapoor - Chiwetel Ejiofor (Indian/Nigerian - whoa, bruh... very wrong)
The Martian: Mindy Park - some white woman I mean come on guys
Battlestar Galactica: Boomer/Athena (Aerilon-or-Cylon/Korean - wrong)

In the case of Randall Park, they do claim it was because he was the best actor who went for the part.

I mean, fwiw, sometimes you do get some limitations in Hollywood, even in specifically Asian-American movies: Red Doors, for example, has Samantha Wong, the eldest daughter of a Chinese family, played by Jacqueline Kim, a Korean.

In FOTB's case, it's a small quibble. Could be better, but in the interest of greater Asian-American (as a political bloc and overarching ethnic group) representation, I'm willing to bend a little. Especially because the actor himself had many reservations too.
posted by qcubed at 10:03 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's a touchy subject to conflate the two. if you're going to say a korean actor shouldn't play taiwanese characters then i'd rather it not be ok for a chinese actor to play a taiwanese character because it's deemed "close enough". i don't personally have a problem with east asian looking people playing east asian characters but that's just me and how many of them are there to choose from really.

i am however one of those people who would never under any circumstances identify as chinese and that's a big deal to me. either we're being accurate or we're not.
posted by twist my arm at 10:15 PM on November 10, 2015


Plus no one complains that the Polish-American characters in The Wire weren’t all played by ethnically Polish actors, or brings up Sir Ben Kingsley’s ancestry when he plays a Jewish Austrian in Schindler’s List. If White actors can get hired to play any vaguely plausible “white” ethnicity, then I don’t think we need a different standard for East Asian actors.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


That's the thing--if this were a Chinese movie in China, or a Korean movie in Korea, yeah, I'd rather they sorta kept things accurate that way. But these are Asian-American characters in America, so as long as the characters aren't Long Duk Dong or Mindy Park, close enough is still something.
posted by qcubed at 10:25 PM on November 10, 2015


(apologies, i'm lazy, please add -american to everything i said, because that's what i intended to convey.)
posted by twist my arm at 10:27 PM on November 10, 2015


I mean, that's the story of easily most Asian characters, right?

Sure, but I feel like this is something that America has been getting better at, of late.

Certainly I'd guess that most Americans know the difference between China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. I'd forgive a Laotian actor playing a Cambodian character, but most Americans know the broad strokes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:34 PM on November 10, 2015


If you think about it, there's a pretty long list of Indian guys dating non-Indian women on this list. That's pretty hopeful.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 PM on November 10, 2015


The Kapoor example is an interesting one -- watching the movie without having read the book, I figured he was biracial Indian/African-American, which Ejiofor is not, but hey, cool that they're even trying to represent that level of multiculturalism. And I like that they kept the character's name and reference to him growing up Hindu. But also yes it would have been great if they'd just cast an Indian actor.
posted by Sara C. at 10:38 PM on November 10, 2015


Yeah, that's actually what bugged me a bit about Vincent Kapoor. Chiwetel Ejiofor is amazing, yes. And they did have that throwaway line about how he's half. Way to lampshade it, guys.

But the book. Venkat Kapoor. I wish Hollywood didn't feel like they had some quota for this sort of thing.

I mean, the book also strongly hints that Mindy Park is Korean. But they reached the limit. Can't have too many non-white characters.
posted by qcubed at 10:40 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


how many of them are there to choose from really.

Thousands and thousands? It's kind of insane how many actors there are, and they come in every nationality. The idea that there isn't a Chinese-American actor who would have been appropriate to play Louis Huang is kind of nuts.

Of course, Randall Park is hilarious and makes the show, IMO, so I get why the producers went with him. I mean, just his facial expressions alone are often the funniest thing in a scene.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I mean, to continue the Star Trek theme, James Doohan wasn’t Scottish, and Sir Patrick Stewart isn’t French.)
posted by mbrubeck at 10:42 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The idea that there isn't a Chinese-American actor who would have been appropriate to play Louis Huang is kind of nuts.

i'm saying why are you assuming that a chinese-american actor for a taiwanese-american character is better than a korean-american actor for a taiwanese-american character. by the east asian actor for east asian role rubric ok. by the "let's be really specific" rubric, no. not for me. and i chafe at the suggestion that this is the case. it's a fraught political/cultural identity issue and i'm not sure what you're meaning to say here.
posted by twist my arm at 10:47 PM on November 10, 2015


Is it really specific that Korea and Taiwan aren't the same?
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 PM on November 10, 2015


Neither are Taiwan and China.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:51 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


...that china and taiwan aren't the same.
posted by twist my arm at 10:51 PM on November 10, 2015


I'd frankly be surprised if even a single cast member of Fresh Off The Boat is Taiwanese-American specifically. While that would be awesome, I think that *isn't* a level of awareness we can assume people have.

Whereas, again, most Americans know the difference between Korea and China.
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 PM on November 10, 2015


Certainly I'd guess that most Americans know the difference between China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

Yeeeaahhhh but... I mean, kinda?

They know of them as different countries. Ask them tell you the difference between them, and they'll get worse than an Asian F. They'll ask if the languages are related (not really), they won't be able to tell the scripts apart, they won't be able to tell them apart by sound. They'll assume the r/l joke works across all of them, they'll fail at figuring out the difference between a qipao, cheongsam, hanbok, yukata, and kimono. They'll be able to pick out a few of the foods, mostly the gimmes like General Tso's and sushi, but ask them to taste the difference between teriyaki and bulgogi, and you'll get a polite shrug.

They'll struggle real hard at telling the faces apart.

Also, for FOTB:

Constance Wu (Jessica) - Taiwanese American (born in America).
Hudson Yang (Eddie) - Taiwanese American (born in America).
Forrest Wheeler (Emery) - I think Chinese American (?).
Ian Chen (Evan) - Taiwanese American (born in America).
Lucille Soong (Grandma) - Chinese American (born in China).

So, of the Taiwanese family, they've got 50%, which is pretty good.
posted by qcubed at 11:04 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


i'm not the one who said i need taiwanese-american actors to play taiwanese-american characters. you, however, are the one saying a chinese-american actor is a better choice than a korean-american actor for a taiwanese-american character.

when you say it's better, it's not about what most americans know, it's about what actually matters to asian-american representation. since americans don't know shit, and asian-americans are basically treated the same here, that's good enough for a lot of asian-americans. but if you're going to pretend like you know what "accurate" is, then don't conflate taiwan and china. BECAUSE THAT'S NOT THE SAME TO ME AND I'D RATHER YOU JUST CALL ME KOREAN. don't decide for me what's close enough.

at this point i don't think it's a level of awareness that you can claim to have.

sorry for taking over the indian american thread guys.
posted by twist my arm at 11:04 PM on November 10, 2015


OK, the thing with Eddie Huang being all shitty about Fresh Off the Boat is really interesting to me because in his article just before the show came out, he said something that really stuck with me: he said that in the show, Constance Wu was exoticized and Randall Park was neutered. Now look here. First of all, the possibility of Randall Park being neutered has been scientifically disproven. He put on a fat suit to play Kim Jong-Un, the least sexy role possible, and I would still do him all night long. sorry TMI sorry not-sorry But I mean, seriously, he's an attractive man, and OK, his character is kind of a sitcom dad type and not EVERYONE gets all weak in the knees to see a hot guy playing basketball with his sons (anyone? just me?), but Eddie Huang's take on it just made it crystal clear to me that there's a certain kind of Asian American man who has a chip on his shoulder about being desexualized, and who won't be satisfied until every single Asian male character is some kind of womanizing Rambo caricature - anything less, and their own internalized racism causes them to cry "neutered." They are like the PUAs of Asian America, made even more frustrating because actually, if you take out the misogyny and "alpha male" rhetoric, they do have a point.

I watched the premiere of Dr. Ken, and setting aside any concerns about Ken Jeong and his schtick (I actually think he's great and I'm glad there are TWO Asian families on TV now so that he can do his slightly effeminate thang without carrying the burden of being the sole representative), what was really interesting to me was the commercials. Two of the commercials that aired during the show showed an Asian woman/white man couple (one was a married couple, I think, and one was like a schoolkid crush kind of situation). The only Asian man to appear in any of the commercials? Ken Jeong himself, dressed as a cookie. I probably notice this kind of thing more than the average person, but it was NOT subtle.

So yeah, I'm really caught between discomfort with the "zomg a WHITE girl" and the status implied therein on the one hand, and the awful reality of the situation on the other. But every Asian person who appears on TV means we're one step closer to having all this bullshit not matter so damn much. At least I hope so.
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:11 PM on November 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


That's one odd thing after watching the FOTB series where Eddie Huang's criticism didn't quite hold up? Randall Park's character is explicitly, in multiple episodes, shown to be attractive and sexual. He explains in great detail to Eddie about women (which, thankfully, is covered over by narration), he finds himself the object of attraction between both a gay man and his wife...

Which is why so far in Master of None, I like the fact that Dev (Aziz's character) is shown to be sexual and (reasonably) attractive. The show cold opens to him in bed with a woman, though the comedy then comes from just how awkward hookups can be.
posted by qcubed at 11:16 PM on November 10, 2015


Eddie Huang's take on it just made it crystal clear to me that there's a certain kind of Asian American man who has a chip on his shoulder about being desexualized... They are like the PUAs of Asian America

unfortunately he's said some things
posted by twist my arm at 11:24 PM on November 10, 2015


TBH, and I could be entirely wrong here, and maybe just completely off my rocker, but.

Outside of the normal stuff about how RedPill is self-destructive, terrible, and counterproductive, it also feels to me to be especially at cross-purposes to one problem between AA men and AA women. I've gotten the sense from some AA women that AA men are sometimes viewed to have the hangups from the old country--that is to say, chauvinistic, patriarchal, and anti-feminist mindset.

So the whole alpha/beta RedPill stuff seems to me to only serve to amplify that problem by a thousand fold. It's not just shooting yourself in the foot, it's taking 15kt uranium gun-type assembly and blowing off a little bit more than the leg.
posted by qcubed at 11:48 PM on November 10, 2015


Well... that feels like an untrue stereotype to me. It's certainly not true of the men in the second-third-fourth-generation mixed-ethnicity crowd I run with.

But also, Asian or not, if you've gone that far down the road of redpill crazy, you're not really serving your own best interests in any logical way, so I doubt that little fact would matter much. They'd probably take that view of Asian men as more evidence that the world is against them. And this is why I hate the intersection of toxic masculinity and racism, because it's true! It's a terrible stereotype! But what they do with that truth is just... ugh.
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:00 AM on November 11, 2015


But we're... not?

...

This is also pretty well supported by college groups centered around ethnicity. Check out any college's Asian American Students Association (or analogous) for pretty clear proof.


That's the opposite of my experience - imho, in the US, there seems to be frequent and widespread pressure found on college campuses, amongst political groups (both activists and mainstream pollster/politico types), and in the news media generally to affirm that the "Asian American" category includes all Asians, very broadly defined - East, South, South East, plus Pacific Islanders... I've even seen Turkey and Siberia thrown in for good measure. It's a very problematic construct in the way it effaces cultural specificity and difference though and doesn't make much sense from non-American Asians looking at the US or even many Asian-Americans outside of AAPI identity politics movement/studies groups.
posted by Bwithh at 12:22 AM on November 11, 2015


[One comment deleted. Maybe we can go ahead and steer past the Taiwan/China embranglement at this point; it's okay for a culturally affected member to express frustration and preference regarding this, but let's not get into a big derail over notoriously difficult and sensitive sovereignty (and other) issues. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 1:31 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


So a desi-American friend pointed out that Master of None itself has cultural details wrong: the lead character, Dev Shah, is apparently of Tamil extraction (dad's from Tirunalveli, but we'll ignore the spelling mistakes), when the name itself is Gujarati. That's a bit like giving an Italian character a Spanish name like José Gómez Iglesias, instead of, I don't know, Guiseppe Gotti or something. Likewise, the wife tells me the Taiwanese place Dev's friend's dad is supposedly from is fictitious.

It's a small quibble in a series I've enjoyed quite a bit so far; in fact, wouldn't have noticed either detail if it wasn't pointed out to me. Still, just making the point that cultural authenticity is sadly on a scale; as progressive as Master of None is, it still isn't perfect when it comes to getting it right.
posted by the cydonian at 1:33 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honestly I've been enjoying Master of None so far, but the second episode was actually my least favorite (the one with his parents) precisely because they get cultural details wrong. Not only is Dev Shah not a Tamil name (I'm from Tamil Nadu myself), Dev is a Hindu name and he's supposed to be Muslim (Aziz Ansari - now there's a good name for a Tamil Muslim). Also the scenes in the Tirunelveli market look like no place in South India, resembling much more a North Indian marketplace (the caps, the large number of Muslims around, the salwar kameez rather than saris). I also have issues with the standard immigrant-parents-moved-to-America-to-give-their-children-a-better-life trope so the episode also grated for other reasons.
posted by peacheater at 5:35 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not having known the things/quibbles cydonian and peacheater pointed out... I wonder how intentional that was on the part, or if maybe Tom Haverford's comment of not knowing much about India wasn't so much an invention as part of Aziz Ansari?
posted by qcubed at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2015


I wonder how intentional that was on the part, or if maybe Tom Haverford's comment of not knowing much about India wasn't so much an invention as part of Aziz Ansari?

More of the latter than the former, according to Aziz's Twitter.
posted by memento maury at 7:56 AM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fun thing I learned today: Colin Salmon is from Luton, just down the road from where I grew up.
posted by Artw at 8:09 AM on November 11, 2015


he's supposed to be Muslim

Huh, I thought he went with Dev Shah as a character name because he wanted the character to come off as Hindu and not deal with the Muslim thing in addition to the Indian-American thing. Or for whatever quite deliberate and well-considered reason, not because it's "incorrect". I think it's important to remember that Aziz Ansari isn't playing himself in this show, but a character, and it's fine for the character not to have the exact same background as the actor. Similarly, he presents his parents as having emigrated to New York City rather than South Carolina, despite the huge differences that would create between Dev's life and Aziz's life.

(The inaccuracies in what Tamil Nadu looks like are interesting, and that is something where I'm curious about whether they just decided it wasn't that important for specific tone/style reasons or whether there were problems sourcing stuff, doubling NYC-area locations, or other basic production reasons an error was made.)

Re names, clearance issues can make choosing an Asian name for a character really difficult. If there is one guy in the US with the real specific Tamil name you picked, you basically can't use the name. Whereas there are so many Dev Shahs in the US that it shouldn't pose a problem.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are parts of the main character that fall flat for me (he says fuck around everyone, including a network CEO. I mean, wtf? That seems tone deaf to me).

Showing 1 - 20 of 107 matches for fuck across comments by Errant.

Hi, I don't think we've met. Believe me, assholes like me fully exist, sometimes much to the chagrin of other Indian/Desi/Asian people.
posted by Errant at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've met him, he's terrible.

Another meetup soon?
posted by Artw at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Huh, I thought he went with Dev Shah as a character name because he wanted the character to come off as Hindu and not deal with the Muslim thing in addition to the Indian-American thing.
Am I misremembering? I could have sworn that it was mentioned that Dev is a Muslim (or at least that his parents are) in the program? Or maybe I'm just conflating the two.
posted by peacheater at 12:23 PM on November 11, 2015


Similarly, he presents his parents as having emigrated to New York City rather than South Carolina, despite the huge differences that would create between Dev's life and Aziz's life.

This is slightly off-topic, but: in the episode where he goes to Nashville with Rachel, it comes up that Dev is from South Carolina. Yet, Dev's parents obviously live in or near New York, and the flashbacks in episode 2 show them emigrating to New York, and having Dev there. I suppose the implication is that they first emigrated to New York, moved to South Carolina sometime during Dev's childhood (so he grew up there), and then moved back to New York more recently. This isn't totally unbelievable, but it's still an odd inconsistency - it almost makes you wonder if the line about South Carolina was left in there by accident.

It's kind of like the stuff about the inconsistency between Dev's name and his origins. I feel like the show lacked a certain degree of editing, or fact-checking, or something like that (I don't know what you call this in the film/TV business). It was still a great show - I'm sad it's over, and eagerly await the next season.

(I assume there will be a next season, per Aziz Ansari's tweet linked above? I really hope there will be.)
posted by breakin' the law at 1:11 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like the show lacked a certain degree of editing, or fact-checking, or something like that (I don't know what you call this in the film/TV business).

continuity.
posted by sweetkid at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, breakin' the law, there's a lot that is rough around the edges about the show, and things like character backstories are a HUGE part of it. (Also, as I said upthread, things like making sure different characters have unique voices/perspectives, making sure a character's behavior in a given scene is consistent with their persona over the course of the series, etc.)

This isn't really continuity, which is more stuff like "did you have the top button of your collar done up in the scene right before this which we actually shot two days ago?" It's more of a writerly thing, and as I said somewhere upthread I think that Netflix's hands-off approach might be partially to blame. (Orange Is The New Black, as much as I love it, has some problems with this, too, notably when a supporting character who's been established over the course of several seasons gets a backstory subplot that ends up contradicting the character as depicted thus far in the show.)

FWIW, a lot of shows are sloppy with this sort of thing, and more procedural or sitcom type shows dispense with it entirely. But some of the more heartfelt moments in Master Of None would feel more cohesive if there had been a bit more honing and attention to detail.
posted by Sara C. at 6:11 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


But some of the more heartfelt moments in Master Of None would feel more cohesive if there had been a bit more honing and attention to detail.

I don't know, I don't think this is universally true for everyone. I had so many heartfeels at that parents montage I don't know when I'll be able to watch it again.

I thought more people would be yelling about how it would be impossible for Indians to eat steak, so I'm glad that didn't happen.
posted by sweetkid at 6:30 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


So it really isn't hard to come up with a generic Tamil-sounding name that can be shortened to "Dev"; I'm sure there are quite a few Devanathan Kumar's out there in the US, just as there are Dev Shah's.
I thought more people would be yelling about how it would be impossible for Indians to eat steak, so I'm glad that didn't happen.
The steakhouse moment was another point which reinforced Dev's non-Hindu/Jain-Gujarati lineage for me in a pan-Indian way. That is, it's a kind of a quiet assertion of a minority-in-a-minority identity which can be progressive. A lot of folk down south love beef, of course; there's beef biryani, beef korma etc.
posted by the cydonian at 11:51 PM on November 11, 2015


I've gotten the sense from some AA women that AA men are sometimes viewed to have the hangups from the old country--that is to say, chauvinistic, patriarchal, and anti-feminist mindset.

There are some weird things going on when OKTrends points out that: "White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. "

But, my guess is that this is one of those things in how you frame the question. If you let someone choose who they want to date, they'll choose white men (and of course, there's definitely some positive race based assumptions about that). But if you ask, "Why don't you want to date an Asian man?" then it gets more complicated. It's possible they just prefer white men, but they now have to think of reasons specifically not to date a certain kind of person, so they fall back on stereotypes and assumptions.
posted by FJT at 9:44 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that there's no shortage of second-generation or third-generation Asian Americans, or even recent immigrants with more Western-compatible social outlooks, it doesn't make a lot of sense to claim that AA men are any more chauvinistic, patriarchal, and anti-feminist than non-AA men already are.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:19 AM on November 12, 2015


Given that there's no shortage of second-generation or third-generation Asian Americans, or even recent immigrants with more Western-compatible social outlooks, it doesn't make a lot of sense to claim that AA men are any more chauvinistic, patriarchal, and anti-feminist than non-AA men already are.

Well, yeah. I get that. I'm one of those AAs with a fairly Western social outlook. I'm just conveying some shit I've heard from some of the AA women I've spoken to, so take it up with them, if you'd like to explain to them just why their viewpoints are wrong...
posted by qcubed at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


With respect to qcubed and not questioning their experience, I don't know that it's really worth trying to deconstruct the stereotypes that "some AA women" who aren't in this conversation supposedly have, according to someone else's recollection. Especially since it's pretty easy to reinforce some dumb stereotypes about AA men and women in the process.

On preview: or what qcubed said.
posted by Errant at 12:01 PM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]




Watching Law and Order SVU, I feel like Italians are still having a "c'mon, do an accent, this guy's ITALIAN" experience as actors , though to a lesser degree. "Pacino didn't win an Oscar for doing an accent..."
posted by sweetkid at 6:08 PM on November 12, 2015




Oh, that's an awesome interview, Artw. I really liked this bit:

I was really surprised in a pleasant way to see how there was no competitiveness between Dev and Ravi Patel. It made me wonder if you sort of feel competitive with other Asian-American writers or actors when you see them in a cattle call or something or if you feel a sense of camaraderie instead?
Well, the easy thing is they're all terrible. Just kidding. I think that was very intuitive of Alan and Aziz to not necessarily have a competitive dynamic between Ravi and Dev, but it's funny, from a third-person perspective, people are like, "Oh that's an interesting take on it” because I do have that relationship with other Asian-American writers and actors. I do not have any competitiveness. When you have empathy for what it feels like and the numbers are so stark, it does feel like a rising tide raises all boats. When I see a person like Alan Yang just killing it or a person like Randall Park on Fresh Off the Boat, who I went to UCLA with and have known for a long, long time, there's not an atom of competitiveness or envy in me, because it feels like we're all tugging on this parachute and hoping that it sort of lifts the whole thing up. I can't speak for them. Maybe they all hate me. I can't speak for other minority subcultures, but it sure seems like you have this shared experience that's meaningful to you, and if there's any competitiveness it's only a positive competitiveness that makes you get up in the morning — light a little bit of a fire under your ass.


Because yes! It's nice to see people talking about other minority people in their fields and taking pleasure in other people doing well and just, completely sidestepping all that weird expectation that pits marginalized person vs. marginalized person. And of course that comes through beautifully in that particular episode of the show itself, which has more nuance than I've ever seen from that particular plot line. At least, not coming directly from an Asian-American point of view in my case, but from analogy to other marginalized groups I am a part of.

On another note, Kelvin Yang is freaking gorgeous and I am delighted to see him, as he puts it, finally getting told "Hey dude, just be you. We're going to put you in great boots. You're going to walk down Elizabeth [Street] and say some funny things." Because yes! Yes good.
posted by sciatrix at 8:40 AM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aziz Ansari Takes Up Space
posted by tonycpsu at 6:27 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]




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