Race, Pop Culture, and Writing.

Published by Fife in the blog Fife's blog. Views: 81

I've said it so many times here, almost apologetically, but I didn't grow up reading books--I mostly watched movies; however, even in the books that I have read (or the mere fact that some types of books far outnumber other types) seemed to cater to Westernized crowd; and I'm almost hesitant to say a "white" crowd, but that's what I'm trying to say. I live in America (which I am quickly learning is something I have to say on the Internet, since there are so many people who are from all over the globe) and America is by far, in my opinion, quite a diverse nation! I mean, there are conservative pockets like in the South. For example, I just moved to a small town in Missouri and, for the first time, I got that awkward look when my wife and I went into a random diner that--let's just say--was very homogeneous.

As a first generation Asian in the United States in my family, I found it disappointing that the leading role in the 70's TV Program, Kung Fu, had David Carridine play as an Asian character which, according to conspiracy theory, was originally considered for Bruce Lee. I'm specifically referring to stories that are told from a Western point of view (which is distinctly different from stories that, for example, are told from an Asian point-of-view, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.). Well, you may argue that Jackie Chan has had his fair share of crossing over to the American market, but many of his roles are that of a goofy, awkward character whose leading role is usually carried by an American actor (such is the case with Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Tuxedo). If you want a modern example, just take a look at Avatar: The Last Airbender, where much of the fantasy lore is borrowed from Asian mythos and folklore, yet, the casting role was given to a Caucasian actor. Speaking of lore, Hollywood tried to bridge the gap by casting the Norse God Heimdall, in the Marvel Comic film, Thor, as an African American, which was subjected to many complaints. According to one blog, Heimdall was the "Whitest of the gods". So why is it not troubling that a "white" person is playing an extremely "yellow" character?

I say all this because, as I try to come up with stories and plots, I come to realize that there is a part of me that is heavily influenced by Asian mythos, traditions, wit, and humor. It seems that Hollywood is not ready to cast Asians with leading roles; and aside from a few Amy Tan books I read growing up, many of the books I've read were very American. And you know, America is supposed to be a meltingpot, but I find that pop culture is still slightly biased. I'm not saying that there is racism involved, but it is a racial topic. And I'm not trying to convince people to like Asians. Maybe I'm just simply frustrated at the moment as I try to come up with story ideas and plots. And it frustrates my thoughts of a potential future selling stories to a public that may not identify with my ideas.

It reminds me of one time when I was younger. I was leaving work and walking to the car with a (white) co-worker. He was telling me some story that I no longer remember, but it was about The Doors. I looked over at him confused. "What's that?" His response? "Oh, nothing. They're only one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands in the entire history of the world. Holy crap, have you been living under a rock your whole life?" Actually, I grew up watching dubbed Jet Li kung-fu movies and listening to Faye Wong and Thai rock songs.
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