Blog series: Asian Americans on Youtube (Part 1-Intro)
“WongFu, Nigahiga, Kevjumba”
To some, these words may sound like nothing more than some arbitrarily constructed usernames for email/AIM™ accounts. But to a growing community of tech-savvy APIs (Asian Pacific Islanders), these pseudonyms represent a movement that has been building a strong following within the remarkably short span of the past five years — the YouTube generation.
The usernames mentioned above — and the “virtual celebs” behind them — can credit their popularity to the ever-popular YouTube, a video-sharing site created in 2005. They are only three of the numerous artists, comedians, and actors, who use the Internet to propagate their productions and garner a fan base – all without the aid of traditional mainstream media.
Sound familiar? Earlier this semester (around Week 5), our class was introduced to a similar movement that developed in the absence of mainstream support – the early Asian American documentaries that signaled the nascence of Asian American independent films. Acclaimed Asian American filmmaker Renee Tajima makes this interesting observation about these initial stages: “Asian American filmmaking has evolved parallel to a great cultural transformation.” 1960s and 1970s filmmaking mirrored the urgency and idealistic qualities of the Asian American political movement. The 1980s also reflected the political/cultural atmosphere in the Asian American community. The professionalization of activism of the 80s can also be seen in filmmakers’ focus on quality and skills attainment. This makes me wonder about the cultural transformation that is driving/concurring with this rise in Asian American entertainers’ and artists’ presence (such as WongFu, NigaHiga, and KevJumba) on YouTube.
In a series of several blog posts, I hope to explore the impact that YouTube/Internet has had on Asian American media and how it reflects the cultural pulse of today’s API community. Having been an early subscriber to these virtual celebrities who seem to be leading a transformation in they ways Asian Americans consume/participate in media, it will be interesting to form my own analysis of the new Asian American YouTube generation.
Tajima, Renee. “Moving the image: Asian American independent filmmaking 1970-1990.” Moving the Image: Independent Asian Pacific American Media Arts. Ed. Russell Leong. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Visual Communications, 1991. 10-39.
 Tajima 1991, p. 10
 Tajima 1991, p. 14
Posted by: Jasmine Kim
Entry filed under: Uncategorized.