2016 Highlights for Asians in Australian Media

With 2016 almost coming to an end, let’s have a look back on some good moments where Asian Australians have been recognised for their achievements and brought up the conversation of diversity in the field of media.

Maria Tran for her role in 2016 film, ‘Tracer’

Maria has also been nominated to paricipate in Screen Producers Australia’s ‘Ones to Watch-Next Generation of Producers’ program.

Lee Lin Chin nominated for 2016 Gold Logies

Even though she did not go on to win the award, she is the first asian female to have ever been nominated in the Logies.

Dami Im performing at 2016 Eurovision

Dami completely wowed the crowd and viewers across the world with her performance and came second in the big song contest, making many Australians proud.

Tony Ayres for an International Emmy for ‘Nowhere Boys’

Australian tv drama series, ‘Nowhere Boys’, created by Tony Ayres was awarded an International Emmy, as well as a Logie award and an AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) award.

Jon Prasida in 2016 tv series, ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’ 

Jon plays one of the main leads in the show. He also starred in his first feature film right after the show ended, called ‘Emo the Musical’.

Remy Hii in 2016 Netflix series, ‘Marco Polo’

Remy Hii reprises his role as Prince Jingim in Netflix hit drama Marco Polo 2016 season 2 after Season 1 ended. He has won a Logie and AACTA award for previous roles and is currently gaining success over in the United States.

A big congratulations to these talented individuals! Here’s hoping to seeing their growing success and get the ball rolling on increasing asian representation within Australian media!

M.S.

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6 Infographics to Illustrate the Lack of Asian Representation

If you were wondering just how underrepresented asians are within the media industry, here’s a few infographics that will help illustrate our point. The first 4 examples are statistics to do with America and Hollywood. If America already has such a low percentage even though asians are starting to become more vocal about the issue of diversity over there, you can only imagine how much worse in comparison Australia is.

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Below is a study on diversity for Australian media, as you can see Non-Europeans make up on 7% of TV drama characters and 10% of Actors playing characters. If you were to filter it down to just those of asian descent, this percentage would be even smaller.

Cultural-backgrounds-of-characters.jpg

This last infographic below  highlights the importance we’ve stated in previous posts about the introduction of social media for asian representation. In this charts, you can see the most common users of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all of asian descent.

social-media-diversity-facebook-youtube-twitter.jpg

This draws us back to the fact that mainstream media is still predominantly occupied by white people. Perhaps we should start with sharing our stories and raising awareness through the various social media platforms, till we garner enough attention to make real change in mainstream media.

M.S.

3 Asian-Australian Youtubers You Should Subscribe To

Continuing from our previous post, here’s 3 Aussie Youtubers who have used the platform to share their own ideas and stories which challenge the way asians are portrayed by mainstream Australian media.

Natalie TranCommunitychannel

Natalie started making videos on her channel from 2006 and has since made over 400 videos and amassed a following of over 1.8 million people. Her videos are a mixture of monologue and sketch that aim to show the funny side of everyday life. The popularity of her content has attracted a wide range of media coverage, from interviews and appearances on print, to tv and radio. In response to being thought of as a role model, Natalie says, “I think I’m just relatable. A lot of the hits from America come from California, which has a large Asian population. And a lot of the people who come up to me are young Asians, young Asian-Australians, or young Asian-Americans when I go overseas. And I think it’s just because there’s noone really to relate to who’s Asian in the media. And if there is, we’re very stereotyped. I think it’s nice to be able to see there are people like you, as opposed to all the caricatures that are portrayed in shows or movies.”

John LucMychonny

John is another Aussie Youtuber known for his comedic videos that tend to revolve around everyday life and life as an Asian in Australia. He started on Youtube in 2008, has created over 600 videos and has over 2.6 million subscribers. His popularity helped launch him into tv and film, when he was chosen to play the lead role in Australian film ‘Sucker’. Having an asian lead is such a rarity in Australia, thus this is a huge step forward. John realises the importance of representation, stating, Being Asian on screen, in a lead role, is just amazing, extraordinary. It gives a lot of hope to my fans out there, you know. That they can get into a movie like that.They just give up really easily, because they don’t see any other aspiring Asian entertainers out there making it in Australia — because it’s so hard.

Wendy HuangWengie

Wendy currently holds the spot as the number one Asian-Australian beauty guru on Youtube. She started her channel in 2010 and has since created over 200 videos and gained over 3.9 million subscribers. Her videos range from documenting everyday life to makeup reviews, fashion, beauty and diet tips. Growing up, she felt she didn’t get much help in the beauty department due to the lack of information for makeup tips geared towards enhancing asian features. The lack of diversity in the media encouraged her to take action herself, thus opening up her own channel to share her own tips through Youtube videos.

It’s so great to see fellow Asian Aussies sharing their ideas and gaining so much success in doing so! Feel like you have stories you want to share? Why not consider making your own Youtube channel too! The more we get our voices out there, the harder they will be to ignore!

M.S.

How Youtube is Changing the System

Oh Youtube, what would we do without you?

The lack of asian representation within Australia’s media industry has been a longstanding one, thus trying to change this situation is a terribly difficult challenge. However with the introduction of new digital platforms such as Youtube, an opportunity has been created for asians to create and spread content that reflect their diverse stories and voices.

Karen Hao’s article on how Youtube has made Asian-Americans impossible for Hollywood to ignore is a great read and applies just as well to Australian media.

‘The arc of the Asian-American story shows the power that emerging media technology has in empowering minority voices. Though I’ve focused specifically on Asian-American identity formation, this journey is an archetype for all underrepresented groups. YouTube, blogs, social media, and other self-publishing platforms have dramatically shifted the cultural landscape by bringing storytelling into the hands of everyday people.’

There’s so many obstacles preventing asians from thriving in mainstream media, with racial prejudice in casting and off screen roles as well as the belief that asian actors and actresses aren’t bankable. Yet, with Youtube, the platform has no such restrictions and allows freedom for anyone to create and share their content.

Wongfu is a great example of Youtube success. They have been creating short films that mostly feature Asians, and increasingly became so popular that they were able to produce the film mentioned in our previous post, ‘Everything Before Us’ which was crowdfunded by international fans. Youtube channels like these breaks the idea that asians stories and actors/actresses aren’t bankable.

By continuing to spread our stories through platforms like Youtube, we can help strengthen Asian visibility and start moving from just digital creators to merging into mainstream media.

Stay tuned for our next post on some successful Aussie Asian Youtubers that are making a voice for themselves and challenging the ways asians are represented in Australian media.

M.S.

We are not ‘SAFE’

If you haven’t heard this song and seen the video yet, you better get on it.

Korean-american rapper, Dumbfoundead, otherwise known as Jonathan Park, is joining the conversation for bringing attention to the lack of asian representation in the media through his creative music video. He superimposes his face in the role of famous white film characters to flip the script on the issue of whitewashing. Check out the MV and lyrics below.

Dumbfoundead- Safe Lyrics

You took me as safe

That was your first mistake
Who said I was safe

The other night I watched the Oscars
And the roster of the only yellow men were all statues
We a quarter of the population
There’s a room of fuckin’ 1 percenters laughing at you
Fuck a bamboo ceiling, guess I gotta play the villain
ODB up at the Grammys on the mic
Like “Wu-Tang is for the children!”
Bruce Jenner is woman
OJ was acquitted
Kim K is a hero
The sky is the limit, any minute now
They gonna let an Asian brotha’ get a lead role
Shots fired I’m a reload, never saw this side of Chino
He was always quiet keeping to himself
Never messed with anybody else
That’s the Jonathan that we know

Seems so safe, till one day things go cray
I swear if things don’t change
My actions can’t be blamed, (STAND UP!)
And now you gotta duck!
You know you never gave a fuck!
I came to get my cut! (fuck you, pay me)
You know I never gave a fuck!

I ain’t never heard of none y’all fools
I can do whatever every one of y’all do
If I never get a chance
You might see the homie show up on the 5 o’ clock news
You ain’t never seen a yellow boy wild’n yellow boy shinin’ , Sound the alarm I got news
Go ahead and pro-file em’ I ain’t pro-violence
Shhhhh, silence is how yellow boys move
Its been the same ol’ thang, I swear the game don’t change
What you talking bout there ain’t no space
Guess i gotta go and make more space
You know I’m cool as a motherfucker
Chillin’ in the cut hella quiet with the loud pack
Since I’m a cool motherfucker
You think everything is safe till I ask you where the safe at!

Seems so safe, till one day things go cray
I swear if things don’t change
My actions can’t be blamed, (STAND UP!)
And now you gotta duck!
You know you never gave a fuck!
I came to get my cut! (fuck you, pay me)
You know I never gave a fuck!

You took me as safe
That was your first mistake
Who said I was safe

If you want to know more about Dumbfoundead and a breakdown of the lyrics from himself, you can check out this interview: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-dumbfoundead-safe-20160601-snap-story.html

M.S.

3 movies to watch this weekend

Looking for something to watch while you unwind this weekend? Well here’s an awesome list of 3 movies that features asians as the main leads, in roles that break away from the stereotypes we have so often been portrayed as.

Everything Before Us (2015)

An American romantic drama film that tells the unique story of two couples trying to maintain and strengthen their love as they struggle to stay within the rules of the Department of Emotional Integrity, and organisation that monitors all romantic relationships. The film features a primarily asian cast, and is produced by Wong Fu productions, whose all time standing vision is ‘using Asian faces to tell an everyday story -to show that it exists.”

Maze Runner (2014)

A dystopian science fiction action thriller that will keep you on your toes. Thomas wakes up in a community of boys after having his memory erased. They are all trapped in a maze, and he must join forces with other fellow ‘runners’ in an attempt to escape. The head runner, Minho is played by actor Ki Hong Lee, and his role does not rely on stereotypes or accentuating his race to create his character. Instead he breaks through them by having a complex profile of being an athletic, brave and natural leader.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

 

A comedy movie that follows the adventure of Harold, an Asian American, and his Indian friend, Kumar, as they go on a quest to satisfy their craving of the burgers from White Castle. The two challenge typical racial stereotypes by not fitting into them.

So what are you waiting for, go grab yourself some popcorn and relax!

M.S.

3 Shows You Should Check Out

Bored with nothing to do? In search of a new show to watch? Don’t worry, we got your back! Here’s a list of 3 awesome tv shows that supports asian representation not only onscreen but in offscreen roles as well, allowing for authentic and relatable stories without all the stereotypes!

The Family Law (2016-)

                 

This Aussie tv series is described as an authentic comedy with universal appeal. Laugh along as you follow the dysfunctional world of a Chinese-Australian family through the eyes of 14 yr old Benjamin Law.

Fresh Off the Boat (2015-)

                 

Another comedy based show that looks at the lives of the Huangs, an immigrant family in America, as they try to acclimate to their new, strange surroundings and embrace the “American Dream” after moving from the Chinatown area of Washington D.C. to the suburban Orlando.

Master of None (2015-)

               

This American comedy-drama follows the personal and professional life of 30 yr old Dev, and actor in New York who has trouble making decisions. Critics rave it as exceptionally executed with charm, humour, and heart. Master of None is a refreshingly offbeat take on a familiar premise.

All that’s left is for you to kick back and start the binge watching!

M.S.

Make Mulan Right

Mulan, the story of a strong Chinese girl, who impersonates as a man to fight in her father’s place in the army and ultimately saves the whole of China from the Huns. This was definitely one of my most favourite films growing up as a little girl and I’m sure I’m not the only one who looked up to her as a huge inspiration. Not only did she prove that girls were kick-ass fighters and courageous, but on top of that, she was an important icon of asian representation. She flipped the stereotypes of asian females being submissive and docile, so it’s clear to see how she holds a special place in many of our hearts.

With the news of a Mulan live action movie to be released in 2018, there has been lots of speculation and controversy over casting choices. Isn’t it strange how we have to actually bring this up as an issue, you would think a story set in China, with all chinese characters would naturally translate to an all asian cast, right?

Quite recently, a report had surfaced saying that the film would have a white male love interest, which understandably caused a huge backlash amongst Mulan fans. Luckily this report was confirmed to be false and the the movie will feature an all-asian cast.

With so many instances of whitewashing in previous films, fans are adamant that this time the casting is given to the right people.

Show your support by signing this petition to let Disney know how important it is to #makemulanright !!! Only a few more needed to reach the 110,000 goal! LET’S DO THIS!!!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/505/768/292/tell-disney-you-dont-want-a-whitewashed-mulan/

Also, who would you like to see cast in the live action film? Comment your suggestions below!

M.S.

Yellow face done right

On our last post, we touched on the issue of yellow face in the media.

Well, here’s an asian woman not afraid to show her thoughts on the matter.

Michelle Villemaire, who also goes by ‘mimi’, is a maker of sorts and describes herself as a DIY mom, having shown her self created projects through her Youtube channel and blog, as well as having appeared on various tv shows and being a lifestyle contributor to media sites like Huffington Post.

After getting frustrated over the issue of whitewashing, Michelle decided that she would take action, and came up with project Correcting Yellowface.

The project involved taking pictures of herself posed as the Asian characters that had been whitewashed and played by white women in film. Take a look at her amazing recreations below:

Luise Rainer in The Good Earth

Katherine Hepburn in Dragon Seed

Myrna Loy in The Mask of Fu Manchu

Rita Moreno in The King and I

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

Emma Stone in Aloha

Michelle mentions that she felt motivated to do this as she never saw many asian faces in the media growing up She explains, “This photographic journey is a love letter to all my Asian brothers and sisters out there trying to break into a tough business. I feel your struggle. But please keep fighting the fight. You are talented. You re beautiful. And goddammit, we belong in the picture.”

Not only is her project visually stunning but its message is an inspirational one and highlights the importance of asian representation in the media.

Let’s keep supporting each other and fighting on till we see some real change in the media!!!

For more details on mimi’s project, check out http://www.homemademimi.com/get-picture-adventures-correcting-yellowface/ 

M.S.

No More Yellow Face

Long throughout film history, there has been instances of ‘yellow face’ with white people acting as asians by transforming themselves with makeup and speaking in questionable accents.

Take for example The Good Earth, a 1937 film that told the story of a Chinese farming couple, yet the main cast was made up of white people made to look more ‘asian’ with makeup.  Luise Rainer’s portrayal of O-Lan in the film even won her the Best Actress Award.

Image result for o lan

Or how about Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the 1961 film is a classic, yet it is hard to ignore the distasteful and blatantly racist portrayal of the Japanese character, Mr. Yunioshi. Played by a white man, Mickey Rooney, makeup was used to change his face to a caricatured version of a Japanese person, complete with buckteeth and a terrible accent.

Image result for mr yunioshi

You could argue that these films are fairly old, that things were different back then, but how about I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, this 2007 film bears striking similarity to Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Robert Schneider playing an Asian minister. Although Schneider is part Filipino himself, this doesn’t excuse the fact that the portrayal is racist and mimics the stereotypical perception of a Japanese during the WWII. If he was already part asian, why the need to use makeup to turn him into an exaggerated stereotypical version of an asian man?

Image result for i now pronounce you chuck and larry asian

 

Here’s a suggestion for all the producers, directors and casting people out there, how about next time you want someone to play an asian role, you actually cast an asian person and stop using asian stereotypes as the butt of your jokes, that way you can save yourself the backlash because trust me, there will be backlash. Asians are not invisible and we will make our voices heard.

Stay tuned for the next post to see some cool campaigns that are fighting back against whitewashing!

M.S.