Asian Americans on YouTube

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

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.

Videos

Michelle Phan: Get Ready for the Big Event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXU_ylBSpbw

Kevin Wu: Asians just aren’t cool enough?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAbJgXUM4o4

Questions:

  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

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