Justice Served! Ethnic Press Attacks Men with “Yellow Fever”

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With the World Wide Web expanding to different countries around the globe, the ethnic press is now capable of reaching more potential audiences. Its diverse content provides alternative viewpoints to issues that are often portrayed in a one-sided fashion through mainstream media, and its presence gives minority groups a place to express themselves and voice their concerns. Myx TV serves as one of the alternative media for the Asian American community. Based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the cable television network created a website for all of its visual content, including news and TV shows. Viewers should note that the shows on Myx TV are successful in criticizing social phenomena associated with race and make the portrayal of the dominant racial group less offensive through creative theatrical performances. The first episode of I’m Asian American and… demonstrates the online ethnic press’s endless potential with discourses created around “Yellow Fever.” Not only so, but the episode seems to bring some sort of justice to Asian American women by giving them more power than white men.

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In “Episode 1: I’m Asian American and… I Want Reparations for Yellow Fever,” Cantonese American actress Kristina Wong becomes a confidant of all Asian American women who have been fetishized by white men. It says on Wong’s official website that she was featured in a New York Times series “highlighting artists of color who use humor to make smart social statements about the sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious ways that race plays out in America today.” Her role in the episode accurately reflects the article’s description of her. Unlike the stereotypical Asian women, she comes across as strong, independent and proud — sometimes rude just to surprise her dates. The positive aspects of her personality are more obvious than the men, making her cuter and more likeable for the audience. Also, as she puts it in the beginning of the episode, she invites her Asian sisters to seek payback from those who objectify Asian women, and by making this statement and acting out in the show, she herself becomes the hero of the day. Viewers may find it interesting that in the episode, Asian American and Caucasion actors almost switched roles in terms of dominance.

Not only does Wong the Asian American actress play the main character of the episode, but her personality is much more vivid than the white men acting as her dates. Although there are three white actors in the show, they each only show up for a short period of time and there are no obvious distinctions between their personalities. All three of them appear submissive and intimidated in front of Wong, and in the end, they all show up in the theater with not much interaction. By casting white characters as the Other, the show makes strange the dominant discourse in a not-too-offensive and rather humorous way. It also confronts racial stereotypes and provides the opportunity for Asian Americans gain power and move up in the social hierarchy.

“I’m Asian American and… I Want Reparations for Yellow Fever” is a fine example of the power of the ethnic press. It is important for scholars, social activists, the general audience and the entertainment industry to recognize such influence because so much more can be achieved if people keep exploring the potential of Asian American grassroots TV combined with the prevalence of the Internet.

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