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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

K-Town: Jabbing Asian Stereotypes In The Face

Byron Tseng |
October 2, 2012 | 10:00 p.m. PDT

The scene starts with a well-built Korean American, Violet, watching as her ex-boyfriend flirts with another Korean female. With a tank of bottled up anger, Violet tosses her drink in the other female's face. This female, Janie, proceeds to jab Violet in the eye, shouting "Asian bitches are suppose to be skinny you fat fuck."

This is a scene from the third episode of the Youtube reality show K-Town, where physical assault has occurred at least four times in its 10 episode run.

Neon Tommy spoke to Eddie Kim, the show's executive producer, about the changing image of Korean Americans and Asian Americans in the media.

When asked whether the scene with Asian girls attacking each other would harm perceptions of the Asian race, he said he wasn't concerned.

"I don't think that that scene was particularly good or bad," he said. "But it is good to see something different. It is better than portraying Asians studying all the time."

Kim went on to point out that the Asian American issue website Disgrasian even warned other Americans to look out for the new Asian male stereotype of being built and hating shirts. This is important in a culture that stereotypes Asian males as nerdy and prude.

K-Town, the first American show to have a core cast of Asians since Margaret Cho's "All American Girl" flopped in 1994, has completed one groundbreaking season. What still needs to be done?

"Well Asian Americans before this show appeared in a few TV series and a few movies," he said. "Far East Movement are making it big. You have Jeremy Lin and his unique story. But you don't have Asian Americans going from Youtube into television."

Kim will aim to transition K-Town to television after season two. Kim beams with pride as he digresses on how fans have told him that 10 episodes of 20 minutes each were not enough. Fans will only need to wait until November to see the cast members some more, including Violet's life as a single Korean mom.

K-Town features one non-Korean in the form of party girl Scarlet Chan. How is K-Town representing both Koreans and Asians as a whole?

Kim says, "Asians are a huge group with various languages and cultures. It would be hard to have a show that could adequately represent all Asians. This is why we are having casting calls for spin-off shows that will explore the Chinese American, Vietnamese American and Filipino American communities. Audition to represent!"

Many of the Asian American communities most talented jet off overseas to make it big. Tiffany and Jessica of the popular girl's group SNSD decided to launch their careers in Korea as opposed to America, likely due to the lack of exposure Asians would get in America. These pop-stars are inadvertently following in Bruce Lee's footsteps when he left Seattle for Hong Kong in the 60's to start his martial arts film career.

What does Kim think about Korean Americans choosing to go to the motherland to enter entertainment rather than in America.

"Well look at Psy (of "Gangnam Style" fame)," he said. "He has become huge in America, bigger than SNSD. If he can make it big in this continent. Anyone can."

It is unique that an Asian male who is chubby, unattractive, lacking in martial arts can succeed where others like Rain or Jay Chou did not. Perhaps any Asian American can sign up for the K-Town spin-offs and end up the Asian equivalent of Will Smith and Mario Lopez, both of whom are minority actors cherished by the American audience. 

Reach Reporter Byron Tseng here.



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