A few days ago I received an email from one of the Hip Hop journalist homies that endearingly read, “Yerp, next Wednesday, Asian joint” in the subject line.
Nothing was written in the body of the email so the only context I could pull was given from the event flier that was attached.
I actually recognized the title of the event, “East of Main Street“. I’ve seen a few of these documentaries casually as I scrolled through my HBO OnDemand. Basically, this annual series of documentaries explores the Asian-American experience and the Asian diaspora through different lenses each year. This year they covered the Asian-American involvement (or lack there of) in Hollywood. This episode of East of Main Street would be titled Taking The Lead.
This topic has been an especially hot button this year because of an obvious push to have more Asian representation on the small and big screen. And even then, they still get it wrong.
The panelists in the documentary ranged from newcomers like Jimmy O. Yang of Silicon Valley fame to small screen legends such as B.D. Wong to A-Lister Lucy Liu. They all have different skill sets and a ranging amount of credibility in Hollywood but they’ve all experienced similar adversity all due to their ethnicity.
The film was new but the story was familiar, especially amongst AsAm peers in entertainment that were in the crowd and amongst the panel that were involved in the film.
Miss Info of Hot97, and all around Hip Hop journalism fame, hosted the panel which included actors featured in the doc as well as the director and producer.
The film and the panel spoke in depth about the misrepresentation of Asians in media. Women are hyper-sexualized and men are emasculated. We are never cool and almost always the villain.
To be completely candid, it all felt somewhat redundant. I’ve heard this story time and time again, and maybe not from these specific lips but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. That’s not to say I’m jaded but I wanted this sermon to preach to more than the choir.
And that’s what Taking The Lead is precisely doing.
HBO is putting this story on a platform that is larger than AsAm forums and college clubs and conferences. This is placing this narrative in America’s living room and that’s a big deal. We can take the conversation from our own circle…
to the silver screen.