AAPI Civic and Civil Rights Groups Urge Cable News Networks to Improve On-Air Diversity

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Mere weeks after Ann Coulter called Asian Americans the racially charged slur “Mandarins” on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, twenty-three of the nation’s largest, oldest, and most prominent AAPI civic and civil rights organizations have penned a joint open letter (press statement | full letter) to MSNBC, CNN and Fox urging the cable news networks to improve diversity in their primetime and Sunday morning programming.

According to Media Matters, Asian Americans are profoundly underrepresented on most cable news networks, and are less than 3% of guests or hosts that appear on CNN, MSNBC or Fox’s nightly or Sunday morning programming. By comparison, Asian Americans are nearly 7% of the American population.

Our underrepresentation is particularly troubling when considered alongside the seemingly routine mischaracterizations of AAPIs by non-Asian guests or hosts who seem to have no problem appearing on cable news programming. Quite simply, AAPIs and other people of colour are being systematically denied the opportunity to participate in forums wherein our nation’s political discourse is shaped.

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NOC: How “The Avengers” is ruining the superhero movie

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Originally posted at The Nerds of Color

As of April 2013, The Avengers had grossed more than $600 million dollars in the US, a box office performance that has nearly tripled its (already bloated) production budget. It would be fair to say that if you’re a Hollywood movie producer, The Avengers makes you very, very, very happy. In fact, you’re hoping to make as many Avengers franchises as you possibly can.

Against this backdrop of undeniable success, it seems major Hollywood production companies are hoping to do just that. For the last few months, the Internet has been a-buzz with casting rumours for Man of Steel 2: first with news that Ben Affleck was being tapped to play an aging Batman, and last week with the announcement that virtually unknown actress Gal Gadot (of Fast and Furious franchise fame) was assuming the mantle of Wonder Woman. Although fans have long clamoured for a live-action Justice League adaptation, the fact that all three members of the heralded DC Trinity will be making an appearance in Man of Steel 2 — a movie that we all expected would be just another Superman solo vehicle — is clear indication that WB/DC has drawn inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is looking to fast-track the Justice League movie by rapidly introducing other characters to the silver screen. Fans have since speculated that while Gadot might make a minimal cameo in Man of Steel 2, it’s likely that she will subsequently headline her own Wonder Woman movie that would further stoke the fires for a full Justice League film.

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A mixed day for Asian Americans in sitcoms: Fox puts “Dads”, “Mindy Project” on Hiatus

Seth MacFarlane's 'Dads' just went quietly into the good night.
Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Dads’ just went quietly into the good night.

It’s news that cements the broadcast TV philosophy: ratings, not politics, will make or break a show. Mere months after Seth MacFarlane debuted his live-action sitcom, Dads, to overwhelming outcry from critics and Asian Americans for the racism/sexism/poor quality of its series pilot, Dads has been yanked from Fox’s Tuesday comedy line-up. And it wasn’t the backlash that did Dads in; it was poor ratings. Recent numbers show Dads scored a mere 1.3 on the Neilsen rating scale, which is pretty abysmal for a sitcom with its timeslot.

At a time when there are growing questions within the Asian American blogosphere as to whether or not we’ve become too reactionary to the “small stuff”YouTube videos, for example — it’s important to take heed here. While anti-Asian racism in primetime TV shouldn’t go completely unchallenged, it’s worth remembering that our outcry (or indeed, similar outrage from any marginalized minority) matters less to TV executives than market share. Thus, any political effort launched by our community that could produce as a consequence elevated interest in a show (even in the form of morbid curiousity) must be considered in the context of whether it might help, rather than hinder the media in question.

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