Archive for December 7, 2019

Third Blog Post – Gossip Girl’s Lack of AA Representation

Gossip Girl is a television show that aired on the CW Network from 2007 to 2012. The show centers around five teenage characters living in Upper East Side Manhattan as they navigate the end of high school and college decisions. Gossip Girl, a website that posts anonymous tips about these high schoolers and their friends, remain a mystery, and the show works to uncover who Gossip Girl is. The main characters include Serena Van der woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), and Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford).

The only Asian American character on Gossip Girl is a minor character named Katia “Kati” Farkas played by Chinese American actress Nan Zhang. Kati is often shown in a group with Blair, Penelope, Isabel, Hazel, and Nelly, known to the audience as Blair and her minions. Kati’s role in the show is minor and mainly includes her doing mundane tasks for the main character Blair Waldorf. One of the more notable scenes is when Kati allows Blair to host a Japanese themed party at her house, complete with sushi chefs and Japanese themed decor. According to the Gossip Girl wikipedia, Kati is never portrayed on screen without some connection to Blair Waldorf. Kati is thought of to be the token Asian American character (as the main cast has a lack thereof) but is often portrayed as a ‘servant’ for Blair Waldorf, a white main character. This reinforces the stereotype that Asians are subordinate to their white counterparts, a topic that was heavily explored in Wong SinSaang. Kati is also extremely whitewashed and can be considered a ‘colour neutral’ character, meaning that her race and background is irrelevant to her character.

Furthermore, the lack of any person of colour character in Gossip Girl is problematic in itself. As aforementioned, the five main teenagers are white Americans and all the parents show (also somewhat major characters) are all white. Although this represents the very real situation in the Upper East Side, the show reinforces the idea that Asians or any person of colour isn’t rich enough to exist in the same world as all of these characters. Although the show has stopped airing as of 2012, it provides a case study for the types of television and media we present to the younger audiences of society. The lack of diversified representation in television shows mean that younger Asian Americans won’t be able to find someone that looks like them and/or can’t relate to any of the experiences shown. Television shows such as Stranger Things and The Office have portrayed a diverse array of races, but popular media still has a long way to go for equal and fair representation of all races and ethnicities.

Katie Eu

December 7, 2019 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

Film Festival Response~ Alissa Elk

I learned a lot through the process of putting together a hypothetical film festival group project. Although there were aspects of the group process that were tough at times (such as finding a time for everyone to meet, divvying tasks, a having little time to prepare), overall I am incredibly pleased with the content that my group produced as well as the collaborative work that we did together. The only thing I would have preferred was more time to work on this film festival as I was not aware of how much thought and time went into the planning behind each decision we wanted to make for this film festival. All the films and shorts that we were planning on showcasing had to have a specific reason behind it and connecting factors to the rest of the program and films for that day. Additionally, we also had to think very critically of the order that the films and shorts that were being shown in order to best represent our ideas,  keep the flow of the film, allow the audience to stay engaged, and seem comprehensive. I also realized the importance of media, advertising, and having distinct audiences that the film festival was geared towards (and thinking of ways to draw in these audiences).

Throughout doing this film festival project I watched many films and shorts that I, unfortunately, don’t think I would have ever watched unless being assigned to. That being said, each film and short depicted such important themes and opened up valuable discourse opportunities for the viewers. I really value every piece that I saw. Additionally, after contributing to the planning for the festival in general and seeing how much work and thought went behind each decision, I see these films and shorts as pure forms of art. It was pretty incredible to see myself being able to relate to animations that were only a couple minutes long. This definitely makes me interested in more work that is produced by lesser-known filmmakers as well as desiring the opportunity to go to more film festivals now.

December 7, 2019 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Asian Americans in Social Media: Aimee Song – Maddie Kwun

I have been following Aimee Song for a couple of months now. I first started watching her fashion blog on YouTube after I first saw her company featured in something on Instagram. I have visited her website and Instagram page frequently because she is Korean American (like me), and she has a significant following and stylish tips for her broad audience. She relates to the influencer material provided by Professor Ma because she is a part of the creative class defined by Minh-Ha T Pham. Aimee Song has been able to make a living out of her blog and YouTube channel, that started at first, and then her very own fashionable company “Song of Style” that is sold at REVOLVE online and in stores around the US and quite possibly worldwide.

Aimee_Song_of_Style_MetoWe_Jacquemus_Polka_Dot_Blouse_Outfit_OOTDAccording to Pham, especially “today, English-speaking Asian superbloggers are also well positioned to provide important contributions to Western fashion’s expansion into and capture of emerging and dynamic Asian markets… The bloggers are racially matched with the Asian consumers whom Western fashion companies have set their sights on. At the same time, because the bloggers are English speakers, they are familiarly and knowably Western. They are just racially exotic enough to have a wide market appeal—to Asian as well as to non-Asian English-speaking consumers and retailers—yet not so foreign that their racial difference disrupts the postracial fantasy of late capitalism” (16). Aimee Song’s company is a high priced and well-known brand that has an excellent reputation for the quality, and many celebrities have been photographed sporting her pieces. Her advantage of being Asian American also demonstrates that she has multiple types of consumers that want to buy her products. She has a significant Asian American following, a big influence on many people because many celebrities also sport her brand.

Aimee is considered to have joined the blogging and “influencer” era quite early, as she really started to focus on it in 2008. Her hobby turned into a blossomed career, she is considered to be one of the most famous and successful Asian American influencers. She has given other Asian American girls a role model to look up to; she fights the model minority stereotype in doing so, also supporting the representation of Asian American women in mass media. 

December 7, 2019 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Asian Americans in Social Media: Ur Mom Ashley – Katie Eu

Ashley, also known as Ur Mom Ashley, is an American Youtuber of Korean descent. Her mother is full Korean and her father is from mixed white decent. Ashley mainly focuses on makeup and lifestyle (vlog) videos with some funny content like “I turned my face into a topographic map.” She began her Youtube channel in April of 2013 and has since amassed almost 500,000 subscribers on the platform.

Her Youtube channel exploded in popularity due to videos like “BiG aSs VANS COLLECTION + HONEST REVIEW” and her most popular videos to date are fashion haul videos. One of her most successful videos is titled “trying to adhere to KOREAN beauty standards” where she tries Korean makeup for the first time and explains each product and its uses to her audience. She also consistently posts videos such as “MAKING KOREAN DONUTS!!” and “baby jungkook reacts to KPOP for the first time” which explore Korean culture in a digestible way for her American audience.

She has since capitalised on her fame and has created merchandise with the company Bonfire. She currently sells t-shirts and sweatshirts with her catchphrase ‘dynamic’ printed on the front.

Ashley parallels the case study of SuperBadFilm brought up by Lopez in the reading. Memetic videos, described as “the style and content of their videos are derived from and based upon other popular internet memes,” is a style of video Ashley capitalizes on (160). Even her most popular video, the aforementioned “trying to adhere to KOREAN beauty standards,” pokes fun of the Korean beauty standard of pale skin and rosy lips. She touches on her ‘Americanization’ process and how her Korean ethnicity fits into her daily life and perception of self throughout the video, yet the main genre of the video is comedy. As Lopez mentioned in the reading, the use of memetic content appeals to a broader audience, and Ashley does just that.

December 7, 2019 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Influencers Presentation: Maddie Kwun and Katie Eu

Asian American influencers is a fairly new topic and encompasses individuals on social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and fashion bloggers. The existence of current influencers/superbloggers break the Asian American stereotype set by Hollywood of Oriental and asexual individuals; rather, they reclaim their Asian American identity by breaking the mold. 

One way that influencers are known to have an impact on their broad audience is through their dual identity that appeals to both the Western and the Asian markets. Minh-Ha T Pham explores this idea in her book “Asian Personal Style Superbloggers and the Material Conditions and Contexts of Asian Fashion Work” through case studies of Michelle Phan, Susanna Lau, and Aimee Song. Pham describes these fashion bloggers as the new Asian creative class and concludes that Asian super bloggers contribute to Western fashion by influencing both Western and Asian Markets. Because of their dual identity, Phan, Lau, and Song can present themselves as either Western or ‘Asian.’ This calls into question the conversation of Asian representation, as the Western ‘side’ of these influencers attract more attention than their ‘Asian’ side. A question we posed to the class during our presentation was, “is the idea of dual identity subtly hinting that popularity is tied to Western appearances, or are these influencers disrupting and/or rebelling against the current societal view of Asians as ABGs, dragon ladies, and oriental?”

The second way influencers are known to have an impact on their broad audience also relates to the use of stereotypes in their content. Lori Kido Lopez examines this idea in her book “Asian America Gone Viral: A Geneology of Asian American Youtubers and Memes,” specifically focusing on the Hmong Youtubers SuperBadFilms. Lopez points out that the use of ‘Hmong’ in the title of their Youtube videos expands Asian American representation because it includes lesser known Asian groups. However, SuperBadFilms also creates memetic content that continuously pokes fun at their cultural stereotypes, which could potentially change the representation of the Hmong people. A question we posed to the class during our presentation discussion asked how the use of stereotypes of comedic effect changes the representation of certain groups. Specifically, is it beneficial to have representation even if it isn’t positive? 

Overall, the two avenues we explored during the discussion touched mainly on stereotypes and identity of the Asian American people and how this changes the conversation of representation. 

December 7, 2019 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment


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