Model Minority or Vocal Minority
So last week, I subjected myself to the horror that was the pilot of "Dads." Besides the usual lack of humor from a multi-cam show (my pet peeve, sorry), one of the biggest controversies about the show is the claim of racism. You can find such articles on the internet regarding this issue such as here. You can find similar critiques of "Two Broke Girls" and their treatment of their Chinese and Russian characters many places.
Good for Media Action Network for Asian Americans to at least send a letter to Fox executives and the show runners of "Dads" to point out the issues, but they were promptly dismissed under the freedom of expression or whatever else excuse they could find. So in my viewing of the pilot of "Dads," yes, the usual Asian stereotypes are on full display. The Asian actress has to dress up like a provocative Sailor Moon to doing the stereotypical schoolgirl giggle among other things. The close of the show even gave us a two minute long running joke about small Asian guy genitalia.
So before anyone starts accusing me of being a prude (well, I might be kinda, but not really), the biggest issue I have with "Dads" and their attempt of using Asian things for humor is that the gags aren't even funny. It's straight up lazy stereotyping without any effort to go to the next level as if it's funny that "hahahah" Asian guys have small packages or "hahahaha" Chinese guys are so pervy. It's really old and unoriginal. There are plenty of examples of people using jokes about race in a funny but slightly more responsible way, but it's apparently easy to just go for the low hanging fruit.
So here's the question I have. Why is it so easy to pick on the Asians when it's basically politically incorrect to go after other minorities. I think we know the answer. It's because Asians are the model minority. Now, that word can be super-charged politically, but let me note the way I want to use it as being very apolitical. Despite the efforts of such groups as Good for Media Action Network for Asian Americans, it's been my experience and the experience of others I've talked to that we are more likely to brush off racism and keep our heads down. Don't rock the boat and keep being the best you can be. That's a good thing, right?
In some ways, yes, but clearly there are disadvantages to that strategy if we are going to keep getting picked on by such unoriginal story tellers like the creators of "Dads," "Two Broke Girls," or any other TV show that finds it easier to work only on the stereotypes. Some food for thought -- who are the most well known Asian-American actors working in Hollywood besides Jon Cho? Character actors like Ken Jeong and James Hong don't count.
Whereas we take a beating and keep going, the more vocal minorities have definitely made some inroads in politics and entertainment. No one would dare use blackface anymore and the F-word is not a four letter word anymore. It's a three letter word.
In the end, I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is. In some sense, there is some dignity in suffer affronts lightly, but when is enough enough? As well, sometimes when I see the things other minority groups complain about, I don't feel sympathy towards the things they are railing about. There has to be a middle ground somewhere, but I wish I knew where it was. What we do know is that racism is still alive and well in America in 2013. And it probably will be around forever in some form. There isn't a Star Trek happy utopia ending, because as humans, we don't like different things usually. However, there has to be a way where we ignore our first instincts and let logic override our intuition. This is what has made America great in the past -- our diversity. We have to find a way to respect each other, even if the alarm bells go off in our head. As for the humor, for the love of Pete, work harder, people. I understand humor is about finding the difference in people, but don't be lazy.