A response from Lela Lee on the #AngryAsian Conflict; and a response from me

Lela Lee of Angry Little Asian Girl. Photo credit, ironically, from Angry Asian Man, who described her in 2008 as "a really cool lady".
Lela Lee of Angry Little Asian Girl. Photo credit, ironically, from Angry Asian Man, who described her in 2008 as “a really cool lady”.

Yesterday, I wrote about what I called the Angry Asian Conflict (if you haven’t read it yet, go at least skim the intro to figure out what’s going on and who the players are because I’m about to jump in without giving more background). I had no idea that this post would so resonate with you all, and I’ve been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the positive reactions I’ve received from readers.

I’m honoured by those who have taken the time to reach out to me and thank me for the writing of the post, and flattered (and humbled) by the several people who, spurred by the post and my work in general, are calling me Asian America’s Wonder Woman.

I don’t even know what to say except that I’m just so honoured, and I will endeavour to never disappoint those of you who decide to stick around and continue reading me after all the dust settles. But, I also want to emphasize that it is you, reader, who deserves all the kudos for staying engaged and involved, and above all for staying angry. So, thank you, everyone, for the outpouring of love I’ve received over the last 24 hours.

That same outpouring of love is emblematic, I think, of the many factors about online Asian America that Lela Lee failed to take into account when she published her first post on Friday evening outlining her ongoing trademark dispute with Phil Yu.

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Isn’t the internet big enough for more than one “Angry Asian”?

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Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man

If you follow AAPI blogs, you are aware of the latest great big ripple in our little pond. If not, here’s what’s going on: two major icons of Asian America have (kind of) declared war. Over the weekend, Lela Lee — creator of the comic strip Angry Little Asian Girl and subsequent merchandising — wrote a post outlining an ongoing trademark dispute between herself and Phil Yu, blogger of Angry Asian Man.

Lee contends in her post that Yu and his online moniker infringes upon the registered ALAG trademark, and that the similarity between the two names will create consumer confusion: basically that the casual reader might mistake Angry Little Asian Girl and Angry Asian Man as related products originating from the same person. Lee goes on to accuse Yu of having plagiarized much of Angry Asian Man from the Angry Little Asian Girl business model — she cites his Angry Reader of the Week feature and a t-shirt design — and of basically taking credit for the phrase and concept of the “Angry Asian”.

Yu responded with his own blog post yesterday, unique in that it is probably 10 times longer than anything Yu has ever written for his site. Yu discloses in his post that not only has this dispute been ongoing for the better part of the last year, but that Lee has sent Cease & Desist letters to both himself and Wendy Xu, creator of the web-comic Angry Girl Comics, threatening both with additional legal action. Xu has since also published her own side of the story, confirming that she has also been targeted by Lee’s lawyers.

So, this is a thing happening right now in Asian America; so, let’s talk about it.

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20 years of Angry Little Asian Girls

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Today, I found out that Angry Little Asian Girls, or ALAG, a character created by Lela Lee (@LelaLee), has turned 20 years old (check the link for a gallery).

That’s right, ALAG (the Asian American version of Aaron McGruder’s Huey Freeman) — the forever eight-year-old, pig-tailed, stubby-legged, perpetually-pissed-off ALAG — is in her junior year of college. She’s just gotten out of her Introduction to Asian American Studies course, where she no doubt ran up to the front of the lecture hall, Edward Said clutched in one hand, to snatch the chalk from her horrified teaching assistant and rattle off a tirade against How I Met Your Mother between double-fisted middle fingers raised to the White Supremacist powers-that-be. Her rage momentarily quelled, our favourite ALAG powers up her iPod for a quick listen to some old-school Yellow Rage as she makes her way to the multi-racial Feminists of Colour meet-up at the campus student union; there she’ll be leading her fellow Angry Little Girls in an organizational meeting for a take-over of the campus president’s office over renewed demands over intersectional feminist and women’s studies courses. Later, some White dude with an Asian fetish will tell her he’d love to invite her over for some take-out sushi and to show her his manga collection, and she will knock him the fuck out.

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