Parminder Bhachu’s article “It’s Hip to be Asian” says it all: it’s now kind of cool to be Asian. Bhachu discusses how Indian culture is making a mark in Britain’s pop culture, and it’s not just limited to fashion. Indian food is also a popular fad in the UK. For the Indian individuals in Britain, Bhachu feels that the popularization of Indian culture is “a positive reaffirmation of ethnic identities.” If kids want to be hip and cool, why not kill two birds with one stone and have them reconnect with their heritage in the process?
This may be the case for Indians in Britain, but does this same phenomenon occur in the United States as well? Personally, I think there’s a limit to the “coolness factor” of Asians in America. Yes, Asian restaurants are extremely popular, and eating sushi still seems to be the epitome of cool. In the fashion industry, Asian models are often regarded as being exotically beautiful. This is, however, as far as the “coolness” goes. If being Asian were so cool, Hollywood would be saturated with Asian actors, which is, very blatantly, not the case. One of the latest scandals in regards to Asians in Hollywood is the movie “The Last Airbender” by M. Night Shyamalan. This movie based off of a cartoon was considered by many to be a slap in the face to Asian Americans. The cartoon, although produced and directed by Americans and aired by Nickelodeon, was about Asian characters in an Asian setting. You would assume that Shyamalan would cast Asians to be in his movie adaptation. He didn’t, and it was a glaring mistake. The movie bombed at the box office and with the critics. Some people have stated that casting white actors as Asian characters may have contributed to the movie’s failure and have even accused the movie of “racebending”, playing off of the movie’s title (“Super Bowl Kicks Off ‘The Last Racebender’”). What’s even more upsetting, to me at least, is that Shyamalan is an Asian (Indian) director. Why didn’t he want to cast Asians in his movie? (The one Asian who is in the movie was cast in the role of the bad guy.) Could it possibly be because he didn’t think Asians would be good enough (read: cool enough) in the role? We may not ever know why Shyamalan made his casting choices, but if “coolness” should be my birthright, why don’t I feel cooler?
Compact challenge update: I’ll admit it: I’m jonesing for a good shopping trip. And no, I haven’t cracked yet, but I will soon. I’m afraid that all of the anti-consumerism culture that I absorbed during the last four weeks will go flying out the window when I step into the mall and spy my first sale. Here’s to hoping that this compact challenge sticks with me after this class is over.
Inside source: Parminder Bhachu. “It’s Hip to be Asian.” Reader.
Outside source: [http://open.salon.com/blog/martha_nichols/2010/02/09/super_bowl_kicks_off_the_last_racebender]
Image source: http://www.racebending.com/v3/community/meeting-report-apa-coalition-meets-with-paramount/