Archive for December 8, 2015

Asian Americans on YouTube

YouTube has always been a platform to share user-generated videos while simultaneously also being a platform for large companies to share professionally produced videos. The former, however, has become a popular type of media that can give voice to marginalized groups that are not otherwise fully represented. YouTube and the rest of the Internet is an alternative space where information can be shared and also be cheaply circulated that also gives the producer of the content complete freedom of expression (Harlow 284). Asian Americans have often been represented in American media as “a group of people who succeed silently, without protesting anything,” also as known as the “model minority” (Lee 391). They are also stereotyped as hardworking, family-oriented, well educated and who tend to be “nerdy, or lack creativity or any social life” (Harlow 287). These stereotypes represent the 5% of Asian Americans that make up the Asian American community in media (Harlow 286).

Successful Asian American’s on YouTube create videos that are video blogs, humorous skits or monologues and discuss daily life from personal experiences or lifestyle and beauty. For example, Michelle Phan is an Asian American lifestyle and beauty YouTube blogger who has gained a following of over 8 million YouTube subscribers. She has become very influential and gained such a following because of her D.I.Y. videos. The D.I.Y. video format allows the audience to feel that they can access the creator, in this case, Michelle Phan (Lee 398). She focuses on beauty “how-to’s” and lifestyle D.I.Y.’s. Another successful YouTube genre in the Asian American YouTube community is comedic videos. However, what can be problematic about these videos is that they can potentially perpetuate Asian American stereotypes and “dominant hegemonic ideologies,” which is known as “reverse racism” (Harlow 285, 287). Kevin Wu is also a popular YouTube vlogger. He created a video called “Asians just aren’t cool enough?” uses discourse that includes the viewer in the video, using pronouns such as “us” and “you and I,” which take the perspective of the viewer and use common instances that they may have both experienced or felt.


Michelle Phan: Get Ready for the Big Event

Kevin Wu: Asians just aren’t cool enough?


  1. Do you think that YouTube is beneficial to help shape Asian American ideologies or does it hurt marginalized communities? How so?
  2. How do you think these YouTubers borrow the language of mainstream media while identifying with their racial identity?
  3. As users of YouTube and other social media platforms, are these Asian American vloggers people you’ve heard of? If so, has this changed your perspective on Asian American culture?
  4. Do you think that Kevin Wu is perpetuating dominant ideologies that alreay exist or is he breaking those stereotypes?

Works Cited

Guo, Lei, and Harlow, Summer. “User-Generated Racism: An Analysis Of Stereotypes Of African Americans, Latinos, And Asians In Youtube Videos.” Howard Journal Of Communications 25.3 (2014): 281-302. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

Guo, Lei, and Lee, Lorin. “The Critique Of Youtube-Based Vernacular Discourse: A Case Study Of Youtube’s Asian Community.” Critical Studies In Media Communication5 (2013): 391-406. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

-Nicole & Sydney

December 8, 2015 at 5:18 am Leave a comment

The Fall of the I Hotel – Ariana & Noah


The Fall of the I-Hotel (1977-83) directed by Curtis Choy is the story of increasing gentrification in San Francisco and the unsuccessful revolt against it. It is another example of an independent documentary focused on the lives of Asian Americans told by other Asian Americans. It focusses on a group of Manong men struggling to stay in their home as more expensive offices move into the neighborhood. A huge part of the film is the protest surrounding the men and their hotel. Although these men lead the movement to keep the building, many help in protesting that are not a part of the hotel. Young adults, especially from UC Berkeley’s Asian American program were active in helping the men over the years as well Jim Jones and many of the members of his church, the People’s Temple. In fact during the night of the police attack Jones had brought 300 people from his church to help.


The protest is for the most part very peaceful. It is only until the police arrive that the protest becomes violent. As seen in the clip that was shown in class, there is a huge fight that breaks out with many of the protestors getting hurt trying to create a human barricade. In fact many of them are wearing masks, presumably to help combat any tear gas that could have been used by the police. Also interesting to note is that the protesters on the streets are not the men in the hotel. This group is mixed raced, young, and comprising of both men and women. The older men stayed in the hotel throughout the protest, until they were forced to leave; although, there were a few nurses there to help them.


When the protest finished and the men were forced out of their homes, they had no place to go. No one helped the men find places to live, meaning that they could either live on the streets or move out of the city. While so many helped them to try and stay in their homes by protecting and protesting for them, when the building was seized and the men kicked out, no one helped the men after.

We wanted to highlight:

  • The multinational protestors who joined the cause including 300 of Jim Jones’ peoples temple cult members.
  • The large group of young adults in the protests from c0lleges
  • The process of the protest and reasons behind it:
      • Investors wanted to make it a parking lot
      • A fire breaks out and killed three of the tenants
      • The plan to update the hotel
      • The Tenants refusal to move out

Discussion Questions:

  • How does the treatment of the Manong compare to that of other Asian American immigrants?
  • Model Minority: Do the Asian American men in this film follow the idea of model minority or not?
  • How is this representation of Chinatown, and San Francisco as a whole, changed (or not changed) from previous films that we have watched?
  • How is this independent film different and similar from the four previous Asian American independent films that we have seen?
  • Are these films similar in protesting against the system or not?


-Ariana Callan & Noah Chang

December 8, 2015 at 12:49 am Leave a comment


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