Asians Behaving Badly: Jon Gosselin

jon gosselin

Showbiz Tonight, a celebrity tabloid show, has awarded Jon Gosselin, ex-star of TLC’s “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” with the dubious honour of being 2009’s “Most Provocative” celebrity.

Gosselin, who is half-Korean, is notable for the many embarassing news stories that emerged about his personal life following his split with than-wife Kate Gosselin over the summer. Gosselin went from one of the few (perhaps the only?) examples of a nurturing and loving Asian American father on national television, to typecasting himself as an overgrown frat boy, partying heartily into the wee hours at famous clubs around the world. Gosselin also became known as an excessive flirt, and was romantically linked to several women all of whom were nearly ten years his junior.

It was announced in June that Jon and his wife Kate would be separating following rumors of strife in their marriage. The June 22 show, on which the pair announced they were separating, drew 10.6 million viewers — record ratings for its network, TLC.

Jon dominated tabloid news coverage over the summer with his bad boy behavior, dating a string of younger women and being photographed in New York nightclubs.

But what really put Jon Gosselin over the top, according to “Showbiz Tonight,” was not just his ability to remain in the news, but also his willingness to tell all, including a series of eyebrow-raising answers to questions about his separation and impending divorce and his new relationship with girlfriend Hailey Glassman.

Gosselin told ABC’s Chris Cuomo that he “despised” his estranged wife Kate and described in graphic detail how he felt about Glassman, who he had only been dating for a few months.

“Love her,” Gosselin told Cuomo. “Huge word. It’s like when you look at her my heart pounds. I get sweaty. I feel like I love her more.”

It’s not too often we see a person of colour run the gamut from one stereotypical extreme to another. While I saw pre-divorce Jon Gosselin as a well-adjusted, well-meaning father and a good role model for other Asian American men, it was certainly conceivable to criticize early depictions of Gosselin as emasculated by the stronger personality of Kate Gosselin. But, from this one extreme, Jon Gosselin managed to a complete 180 in a matter of months, and spent much of 2009 perpetuating the stereotype of Asian American men as hypersexualized and irresponsible.

In both cases, Gosselin seems to enjoy playing the role of a dehumanized stereotype — and it’s hard to tell how much of the stereotype is due to media bias, and how much is due to Gosselin’s own bad behaviour.

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