Hyphen Magazine “Why fresh off the boat matters”

This article was extremely enlightening to read about. At first glance, the reader might think that this is simply an excited writer’s review of a new television show, after reading I realized; it’s much more than that. K-Pop talks about how seeing “ourselves” as Asian Americans is new, but the rest of the nation seeing “us” is newer. This is important because not only are we getting a reflective of view of some of the traditions, attitudes, and mannerisms of Asian culture, but the rest of the nation gets a glimpse of it and are able to make their own judgments and to create their own views of our culture based on what they see on television.

The author is saying that this is the first time the image of an Asian American family will be portrayed on national television, and with this Asian people in the U.S will have a show in which they themselves, feel a part of the narrative and the rest of the nation can gain some insight to the Asian American nuclear family.

K-Pop then argues: “Ultimately though, FOTB is deeper than image. It’s about acceptance.”

He argues that while Asian Americans can now feel included and represented in American T.V, that ultimately it’s about the rest of the nation. This is extremely insightful and important because often, we believe that with shows like FOTB or even events like the 2008 Presidential Election that the target audience is the one who matters most, when it’s usually the opposite. Being a minority group, we need to realize that whether we are talking about a T.V show or the President, that appealing to the rest of the nation is crucial to success. This is not to say we sacrifice our cultural identity, or integrity to appease others, but it does mean that when making culturally significant products, or campaigns, the people who do not look like us need to feel included, represented or somehow related to in order to be successful in America. Furthermore, those people need to be able to connect to the human experience, regardless of the culture being represented by television. It could be The Wire, Blackish, FOTB people need to be able to watch the program and connect to the human experience, even while the show may be focusing on a culture that is completely different than their own.

K-Pop talks about how the continued running of FOTB could be likened to the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, in that America believes enough in a show about an Asian American family to continually support it. I thought it was very interesting on how K-Pop mentions “group self consciousness” in the sense of worrying will the show be funny? Will it last? Will people understand? These same thoughts float through our heads when we want to be accepted. It makes you wonder if the acceptance and support of this particular show by America, is also representative of racial acceptance. If people can support a show about an Asian American family, does it mean that they accept and support the Asian American community as well, or is it just pure entertainment for the nation? According to K-Pop it’s not. It means that the story was just good enough to sell to the nation but is not really representative of true acceptance of America, although it is a start.

“I know it’s only TV. I also understand if Fresh Off the Boat stays on the air it just means our image (and our story as written by others) is good enough to sell detergent and boner medicine. I’ll take it.”

When it comes down to brass tacks, our racial identity is a huge part of our American identity, and the fact that Americans can accept and support an entertaining Asian American show means that there is some sort of progress being made when it comes to cultural acceptance. Fifty to sixty years ago, whose to say such an idea would have made it to programming let alone run a few episodes successfully. The television is a huge part of American life, and to be able to successfully run a show that is about 5.6% of the nations total population speaks volumes about the interests and cultural acceptance of the rest of America. When it comes down to it, FOTB’s recent success is just about the rest of the nation as it is about Asians in this country.



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