a look back

It’s been a little over three months (wow three whole months) since I started this blog and as the school term comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my experience of having this blog.

What have we learned? What has been accomplished? What meaning has been brought to our lives?

We’ve been through a lot together, and *insert strains of nostalgic music*

Sorry I had to get that out of my system.

But really now.

Over these past few months, I’ve learned a little something-something about what it means to have a blog: specifically, what it means to be the author of a blog about Asian Americans.

Remember my second blog post, the one about Techne?

Techne is defined in the dictionary as “the principles or methods employed in making something or attaining an objective.” Teche is also a tool and form of rhetoric, the art of effective writing, with which comes the need to convince readers of my legitimacy through use of Aristotle’s ethos (trust), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).

Well, I’ve now come to realize how very relevant techne is to how I express myself on this blog, not to mention how other Asian Americans express themselves and their opinions concerning the Asian American community. At the very least, those successful in conveying themselves use techne. People like David So, Wongfu Productions, The Fung Brothers, and Timothy DeLaGhetto all use techne in the context of speech. I realize techne references to writing and that I’m talking mostly about Youtube Channels, and this use, too, is an important fact: I’ve learned that there are multiple ways to carry the discourse of Asian Americans (and their stereotyped problems), and that the visual and spoken word are just as effective as the written.

This is because they all have exigence, each person speaking has an audience to speak to and a reason to carry out their message, all by using ethos, pathos, and logos. Who would trust me if I didn’t have the oh-so obvious cred of being Asian American myself? And who would watch a single one of David So’s videos if he wasn’t talking from personal experience (’cause man his narrative is so authentic and his storytelling hilarious and effective)? Who would bother watching DeLaGhetto’s strange interactions with the camera (sorry but it’s true) unless he made a rational point now and then?

In the end, it’s all about being able to relate, because that’s the best way to get the point across. Otherwise, honestly, we wouldn’t even bother.

But what’s the source, the medium, the very thing through which all of this is even achieved?

(‘Youtube,’ you answer blankly, and granted, that is a totally acceptable response because yes I post a lot from that community.)

New Media. Social media. Mass media. Media media media.

Whatever adjective you decide to slap next to it, the bottom line is that everything we do, talk about, discuss, or publicize, it’s all done through a sort of media. It’s undeniable. There is no argument.

Like I detailed so thoroughly in my earlier post about false geniuses, the world today is so dependent on getting the word out through media, be it blogs, videos, podcasts, or an article. It’s the one thing we look to for information the most nowadays, and hopefully wherever we’re looking, it’s a trustworthy source, determined by the user friendly design of the webpage or fancy edits of a video. Angry Asian Man‘s website is a great example of what a user friendly blog might look like, with it’s familiar Home, About, and Contact tabs.

It’s why I’ve chosen to talk to all of you about Asian American stereotypes and the woes begotten from the resulting misconceptions via a blog. For me, there was no other way to go about setting forth the discourse I wished to engage in.

I’m the kind of person who adores the anonymity and lack of (genuine, meaningful) confrontation in blogging, as well as the ability to construct with words.

(Yes, I am that person.)

I’ve chosen blogging because audience matters, and I’m really much more willing to converse with (or at) people who would rather read articulate and thorough (albeit lengthy and rambly) text. This blog is meant to be read, it’s meant to entertain, so when I’m telling my stories or talking about the Asian American community from my perspective, I want the right people reading.

More and more, the words, “there’s a time and a place” reveal the intent of my blog, and others like it. WordPress is just another place where people’s voices can be heard. In reality, how many times has anyone ever made this horrible, verbal blunder that was said with no ill intent whatsoever, but was horribly insensitive at the same time?

What in the world do you say to that?

You’ll find it harder to correct anyone, especially if you’re someone like me, and especially when you don’t know how to go about it in the first place.

Concerning the Asian American community, I know that generally we’re a soft-spoken group, out there– we make up maybe 5% of America’s population, what are we supposed to do? The struggle between White and Black, Caucasian and African American, has lasted for decades (NAY, CENTURIES), and I realize that perhaps in comparison we’re a recent, minuscule addition to the mix, but we’re still here. At the store, in your classroom, on TV, living our lives and being misrepresented in every way.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. To emphasize why I choose to talk about Asian Americans without exhausting the reason too much, with a sorely underrepresented community such as ours, it gets to the point when laughing off non-PC jokes or outwardly ridiculing people for their lack of understanding becomes tiring. It stops working. It’s not effective.

This isn’t a blog where I hold up the “RACIST” flag every time something slightly offensive happens, though goodness knows we have enough people doing that for us already.

(Though the way I could condition people if I were such a person…)

Like my soon-to-be-published blog will thus illustrate, I’m here to educate. Or, here to say that education is the answer. Not necessarily the be all and end all to racism, but the tentative solution to unintentionally hurtful or awkward statements. The people who matter aren’t going to make the same mistake twice when they’re told explicitly what that mistake was (and its consequences).

And it’s not just information and knowledge that needs to be put out there, like a free candy bowl on Halloween (a clear ‘take what you want and don’t talk to me I’m scared of people’ sign). It’s the delivery that counts, the place, the people, the accessibility.

In blogging, knowing your stuff and then being able to back it up is extremely crucial in any discussion. Ever since my little wiki project, I appreciate so much more the importance of sourcing. You can’t understand or trust everything you learn from just experience, even if it’s what draws people in the first place. What if I were to bring up, say, the culture barrier between different Asian Americans and you have no idea what I’m talking about? Questions will be raised and BS will be called.

Most importantly, if I’ve learned anything this semester, it’s that people have got to care about whatever you’re talking about. Start simple, so that there’s something worth sticking around for, and then build up to the stuff that really matters.

And people will care, because

Thank goodness I’m moving over to Tumblr, where text will be less overwhelming and more spread out. Being in the zone can really tire someone out.

This will probably be one of my last… meaningful posts in a long while, so, as farewell…

Here, have a diving giraffe.

It’s been fun, but seriously… I need to get that Tumblr project done.

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say it ain’t (david) so!

Yup. Again.

Here’s a bit of old news: this year’s Miss America was the first to be of Indian descent! And just to reiterate David So from his video, she was Indian-American, as in Asian-American. (Yes, India is a part of Asia please do your homework.)

Here’s another bit of old news: racism still exists! Maybe we’re all tired of seeing it, hearing it, and shaking our heads at it, but it’s still as prevalent as it’s always been– prejudice will always exist in some way or form especially concerning skin pigmentation or outward appearance and yada yada… we get it.

Nevertheless, I appreciate that David So brings the event up in not only a celebratory gesture, but an exposing one, albeit in a slightly crude and condescending way. His delivery is succinct, quirky, and fun to watch: it’s what keeps many Asian-and-non Americans alike subscribed to his Youtube channel.

As you know, I’m quite the fan of David So’s videos and their messages, mostly because of the way he conveys them, and that’s what I’m here to talk about today: why does it what the man does work so well?

Let’s break it down the way Porter wants us to.

Who here has ever watched a Youtube video?

That had better be the reaction I get, you with your ability to access this website in the first place. And based off the fact that of the top fifteen or so most subscribed Youtube channels, half of them are vlogging Youtubers, I’m going to freely assume that vlogs are well known by now.

Vlogs are visual, and the way David So represents himself on camera in each of his vlogs paints a quick picture even in the first couple of seconds, which in turn determines whether we’d like to stay and watch the video, to give him some time out of our day and listen to what he has to say. Online identity: it’s the most important thing out there nowadays, especially when you put your self out on camera, personality, face, all out for the world to judge, scripted or not. He’s not afraid to use all he’s got to put himself out there.

Right off the bat David So, without even having to explicitly say so, makes sure to position the camera so that he can talk to us at eye-level– he knows what we see, and the video automatically feels like a conversation, a rant, a heart-to-heart from one friend to another– only he’s a loud, fast-talking Asian-American with a big personality, humility (he reveals in many of his videos a self-consciousness regarding his slightly chubby nature), and he talks with a loose, slang-filled language straight from the ghettos where he grew up. And all he wants to do is make us laugh, and maybe have something to think about at the end of the day.

Like his speech, his cuts are quick, because he wants his videos to be as content-filled as possible. And, sometimes he’ll cut himself off and use silence or the nuances of his expressions to imply what he feels he doesn’t need to infer.

I use David’s videos because they speak to the audience I’d like to have on this blog: educated with a sense of humor. I discuss and bring up anecdotes about Asian stereotypes and racism etc. for awareness, but I’m not looking for a fight while I do it. I think it’s safe to say that my posts so far have been fairly light-hearted, if not a little indignant in the face of the ignorant, on behalf of those subject to unfair judgment.

His messages are short, sweet, and to the point– it’s what I’m working on, but his tone matches very much how I wish to portray the “exigence” of Asian stereotypes in an Asian-American world. He talks freely and uses his opinion, knowledge, and history to back up every single one of his points, and it’s the type of voice I currently am attempting to cultivate.

(Although, he is much looser in his language than I am, and he’s not afraid to point fingers or straight-out ostracize someone for their opinion– as much as he wishes for all to be educated, there are some people who cannot change until they want to.)

David uses Youtube, and right now as the internet’s most popular video-sharing website, it’s the right place to be if you want your voice, face, and opinion known: as a subscriber to his channel, when he posts, I’ll see it on my subscriptions page within the hour. The mere fact that I was able to embed the Miss America is Indian rant onto this blog makes for 90% of the reason I’m talking about it now– it’s easily accessible and universal in its function.

(You just press play. Seriously.)

For the most part, David aims toward an audience that: tolerates crude language (and sometimes crude humor), has an interest in what he is trying to say, and will laugh. (His channel is even called David So Comedy. You can’t get much more straightforward than that.) He even enables likes, embeds, and shares, as well as comments to continue the video’s dialogue (or something of the like) below the video.

He even engages with his own comment section, showing that he’s paying attention and that he does care about his viewers, though some of the time it’s an opportunity for him to textually tell someone of.

Generally, if the topic of his rant is controversial enough, or it emotionally affects viewers the same way it did David, there tends to be a decent engagement in the comment section. In the comments section of the Miss America is Indian rant I embedded, there were comments like:

Look here’s how I see it from two perspectives. The U.S. is a nation formed by immigrants of all nations around the world. Why is it so weird a beautiful woman with a foreign heritage (like everyone else in the U.S) be nominated Ms. America. And my second point if you want to get REALLY technical, why aren’t any actual Native Americans becoming Ms. America. If your going with that point of view anyone who is not at least half native american needs to gtfo of the competition.

The comment had 18 thumbs up. Usually when I see engagement, a ‘hierarchy’ of comments apart from the video about the video, it’s a sign that the video is either a) popular and/or b) very relevant.

Like many popular vloggers on Youtube, David makes videos for a living. He makes them because he wanted to make a living out of making videos, skits, rants, etc. In his most recent video, David So takes the time at the end to promote some of the work he’s been doing outside of Youtube, as well as to personally thank his viewers. And it’s not the first time he’s done it– many other vloggers make similar thank-you videos in gratitude when they’ve reached a certain milestone in their career if not for Youtube and their fans and supporters.

He’s motivated by the pure creative need to create videos, and so long as his videos continue to be engaging and of the quality we subscribed to him for, we, his viewers, will continue to watch, and support in any way we can, even if that means simply pressing the like button or favoriting a video. For now, I’m a fan.

David’s relatable and relevant, especially his thoughts, views, and attitude on Asian stereotypes. He gets it, and he knows how to work his audience– so for now, he’s got my view.

“ching chong” means I love you

Who remembers Alexandra Wallace? Back in 2011, that girl from UCLA? Fun memories, right?

Though as a topic a bit outdated, Alexandra Wallace’s “not the most politically correct” (I’m quoting you verbatim, girl) vlog, made viral, managed to infuriate a good many members of the Asian American community to the point of vlogging, in the forms of singing, skits, ranting, and discussion. Videos, vlogs, and blogs dug into the topic at different lengths from the perspective of many different races, but in the Asian American community, these responses managed to instigate and make public a discussion long due: the matter of education and ignorance.

Now, around the time Wallace was relevant, I watched her and these response videos with my brother, cousin, and friends, Asian and white, and I realize now the topic is a bit worn out, and that the consensus of reactions summed up to:

And the reaction wasn’t even so much “oh, this just goes to show that white people are so racist” (even though sadly that is what some people took from the situation). No, what happened after the flurry of videos that said “girl, oh no you didn’t” came videos, people, a community that became suddenly aware of the root of all Asian-American problems and stereotypes: we realized that people just don’t know.

The problem with stereotypes is that they are sometimes true. Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t automatically make it true or false. In most cases, however, as soon as one, just one stereotype is proven true (in, say, one person), then, as a human defense mechanism, we use that stereotype whenever applicable, to protect us, to make it easier to put people into tiny boxes.

Of course, we all know life doesn’t work that way.

As much as I and others complain about Asian stereotypes, it’s hard to completely deny them because, guess what: there’s a group out there that actually fits those stereotypes. That group, ladies and gentlemen, consists of our parents. 

But it’s true. Bad driver? A+ student? Good at math and science? We’re loud, cheap, and we know kung fu? To some extent, all these stereotypes are represented by our parents, the generation before us: most of us Asian-Americans are second-generation. We can’t help that our parents’ actions define Asians; that’s just who people see. Also, the media… oh boy does the media play a role in representing the Asians. (That is to say not at freaking all.)

People are not going to notice an Asian kid, born and raised in San Jose, with a Californian accent, hoodie, and meatball sub in hand, and I’ll tell you that if people do notice that kid, they’re certainly not going to think “well all Asians must be like this.” Nope! They won’t give it a second thought.

But more on this second-generation business. Our generation of Asian-Americans, today, we have a voice, and we finally have a chance to be heard, and Youtube has been probably the most responsible for this. Youtube gives us the chance to say what we know everyone is thinking, and Youtube gives us the chance to clear it all up.

This brings me back to the matter of education and ignorance. Once we figured out the problem, some of us started speaking up, started answering the questions no one wants to ask out loud. David So, a (favorite) Korean Youtube vlogger, goes out of his way to explain Asian Stereotypes in three separate videos.

(But seriously. He cracks me up like no other. Go check him out. Shameless plug.)

All people really need is a little bit of clarification. So, if you find yourself a little bit out of the loop concerning these things, watch any of the videos I’ve linked to so far.

But seriously. Don’t guess, don’t assume, especially out loud… just ask. And for the Asian-Americans, just patiently, patiently explain which is fact and which is fiction.

Also, you’d better remember that conversation because

it must be an asian thing

But it turns out it’s an internet thing.

(So I’m trying this thing where hopefully my posts will be less text-based, so as an apology for having a visually boring first post:

Ah, yes, and as mentioned in my first post I like TV shows so the majority of the gifs I use will reflect as such)

At this point, after hopefully having watched the video skit, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, funny video and all, humorously displaying the double standard still shown in interactions between Asian-Americans and non-Asians, yes, good” (or at the very least I hope you found the video funny) and now you’re wondering, “now what? Is she going to go on some rant about how people are rudely presumptuous when it comes to Asians, and they need to correct their behavior?” Well, no, actually; the same can be said for every other race or ethnicity out there, which the videos so-called “regular Americans” still have trouble grasping.

Today, though, I’m not here to talk about racism (*shocked gasp*), but for the sake of getting it out of the way:

 

So, moving on the from redundancy of the topic…

Today, I’m here to talk about what things are required (i.e. the tools at my disposal) for me to be able to talk about my experiences as an Asian-American.

Before I get into listing and describing what these required “things” are specifically, I’m going to get into what people normally avoid: semantics. The things I use (wordpress, gifs, youtube videos) to be able to expound on being Asian-American are umbrella’d by the old, Greek term techne. 

Sound familiar? Of course it does, because it’s the root word for TECHNOLOGY.

Why am I even talking about this? As fun as it is, thinking up fun little anecdotes about what it is to be stereotyped as a FOB (Fresh Off the Boat), it’s always good to get to the root and reason of why I am able to talk so freely about it as I do.

Techne is defined in the dictionary as “the principles or methods employed in making something or attaining an objective.” Teche is also a tool and form of rhetoric, the art of effective writing, with which comes the need to convince readers of my legitimacy through use of Aristotle’s ethos (trust), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).

Let’s break this down, shall we? (STOP… Hammer time.)

In terms of my blog, my objective is simply to share stories and have discussions about what it’s like to be an Asian-American today, what with races all over the world still being so misrepresented. How do I attain this objective? Well, the “surface”, or the medium, through which I choose to represent myself (as one more member of the Asian-American community) is WordPress.com. (duh) I now have a way to express myself, but then how do I go about  convincing people to listen to me and read my blog in the first place? This part is really done by two ways: who I am and what I can do.

Who I am does a lot to legitimize my online presence: I am Asian-American, so automatically I am generally able to relate to those in the same community, where despite our backgrounds, we tend to be judged the same. Right there are my abilities to provide credibility (simply by being), empathy (experience; I’ve been in your shoes!), and logic (I guess my education gives me the ability to be somewhat articulate and comprehensive, so I hope).

These are all great things to be equipped with in my daily life and encounters; I am found genuine in any conversation. BUT: online, here, on WordPress, it doesn’t just stop there. Online, you need a world of other things to be regarded as legitimate, worth reading, worth even glancing over, and here is where we find my techne.

Here’s where life gets easier for me, and (warning) here’s where I date myself: I’m a 90’s kid. This here gives me the advantage that others have to learn, the advantage being that I was born during the time of the “dot-com boom,” and so I grew up just knowing and learning all the world’s new technology like it were a second language (which it technically now is considered as such). Just from being on the internet at all times of a day, week, or year, I can glean from websites upon blogs upon cultures (and their sub-cultures) what is in. Like any fad, fashion or market, the internet has trends, things that, in certain spots of the internet, are universally accepted, known, or preferred above others.

Personally, as you have experienced thus far, I prefer and have knowledge that there are others who prefer the simple, blog format of blocks of text, gifs, and videos (such as the skit way above). Knowing this simple preference already puts me above those inexperienced in certain internet cultures with blogs aimed towards my generation / people of my community or culture.

Naturally, knowing these preferences and being on this website will change the way I express myself. Even the theme of my blog is admittedly marketed towards those Asian-Americans who find (Asian-looking) flowers and talking apples cute.

And really, that’s all you need to be able to communicate online nowadays, to a specified audience. I look forward to using my techne skills to luring you in further into my world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow I typed a lot of stuff.