Tag Archives: K Town

K-Town, Episode 3 Recap (Part 2): Soju is the Relationship Killer (Spontaneous Dance-Off Edition)

August 3, 2012

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS2gq6agLvA

Spoiler alert! Which hopefully you would have figured out by the word “recap” in the title.

(If, like Young, you missed all of the drama between Jowe “Prince of K-Town” Lee and Violet, you can check out Part One of this recap here.)

While Jowe “Prince of K-Town” Lee and Violet are having their roller coaster relationship drama in Hookup Hallway, Steve pulls Cammy aside to confess his disappointment that Young has forsaken bachelorhood to propose to an overseas chick that apparently none of the cast were even aware existed until Young’s Episode 1 engagement announcement. Young is his wingman, complains Steve, but now he is alone.

That's right -- because your boy getting married is really all about you.

But, Cammy is quick to point out that Steve should be happy for Young (which he should) and that Steve has other friends. Cammy, in fact, will volunteer to be his new wingman!

Cammy is totally like Young. Except, y'know, cute and with ovaries.

Now, I’m also one of those chicks who will drunkenly volunteer to play wingman for my single guy friends. Let me make a confession to you all now, while I’m good and sober: I am a terrible wingman. I don’t know how to be a wingman. I have no idea what qualities are even useful in a good wingman. My idea of being a good wingman is pointing at girls at the bar or on the dancefloor, and trying to harass my single guy friends into talking to them, getting frustrated, and then launching my drunken self at these same girls in hopes of starting a conversation myself. That, or hurling insults at them from across the bar, in hopes of starting fights with them (did I mention that I’m an angry drunk?). While I’m not going to turn this into some sort of “girls can’t be good wingmen” thing, I hope that Cammy is a better wingman than I am. For Steve’s sake.

On the other hand, I hope Cammy is as terrible a wingman as I am. For the sake of all of us K-Town viewers. Because that shit would be all kinds of hilarious and all kinds of guaranteed failure.

Either way, if Steve’s depression over losing Young as wingman is to be believed, than being a good wingman is nothing like what I thought it was. Specifically, being a good wingman involves doing one thing, and doing it as often and as publicly as possible, preferably whilst standing on a table and pointing at a woman of sexual interest: crotch-grabbing.

That's right. Crotch-grabbing. Or, Accelerated Public Masturbation.

This is clearly why I suck at being a wingman. I had no fuckin’ clue that wingman-ery entailed dry-humping your hand like a miniature poodle that’s just found a wayward stuffed animal on the floor, and has decided to mount its ear with frenzied hip thrusting.

In my mind, there are only a few reasons why anyone should be grabbing their crotch in public:

Readjustment of penis orientation between left and right pant leg.
Bladder incontinence.
Sudden herpes outbreak.
Your ball sack is on fire.

Now, as a straight woman, I really am no expert in pick-up techniques employed by men to signal their interest in a woman. But, as a straight woman, I don’t think that a guy spying me from across a crowded room and immediately trying to jerk it, is — in. any. way. — attractive.

"Girl, you make me so hot I'm going to play with myself through my pants right here while I'm standing six feet away from you and, and -... uhhhhh. Can I get your number... and a moist toilette?"

But, hey, what do I know? Apparently, Young’s frenzied jerking was a turn-on for the members of S2K, a girl dance group that “just happened” to be hanging out at S-bar the night of the K-Town shoot. In a “completely non-scripted manner”, Young approached these chicks with hero worship in his eyes, grabbed his crotch and… spontaneous dance-off! Because, of course, that’s how folks party in K-town.

Sadly, the spontaneity was just too… well, spontaneous… for Joe “Party Nazi” Cha’s tastes, who rushed in to apply much needed rules to the dance-off.

"What's this? Unstructured, unscheduled fun?!? This well never do! You must divide yourselves into two groups and engage in competitive dancing, STAT."

Now, sadly, the wonderful producers of K-Town edited out Joe’s rules, so I have no idea who won the dance-off. But I do know who lost: Steve Kim. Scarlet described Steve’s dancing in — in my mind — the best line of the episode:

"It was like if a fairy raped a crippled girl, and gave birth to Steve's dancing."

Although, I don’t think Scarlet was being entirely fair. I think Steve’s dancing was a perfect, gold-star, homage to this guy:

... and come on -- he's the LORD of the dance.

One spontaneous dance-off later, and Party Nazi moves us on to the “dare” portion of the evening, by reminding Steve that Cammy owes him a dare for having lost an Apollo 13 challenge to Steve earlier in the night. Steve — like most drunken single men — dares Cammy to make out with a random S2K dancer (whose only crime, I think, was being within Steve’s line of sight).

These are the faces of two chicks who 1) clearly don't know each other, and 2) clearly don't want to make out with each other. Steve should've stopped right here; because watching two people disinterestedly and perfunctorily kissing is TOTALLY HOT.

Now, it’s never made entirely clear what problems Cammy has with this dare (she says in her confessional “anything but that”). Is she shy?  Homophobic?  Turned off by the misogynistic implications of having her sexuality co-opted, against her will, for the male gaze of her peers? Does her breath stink? Either way, it doesn’t really matter: the point is that Cammy doesn’t want to, and Steve should’ve known better. Which results in (as Steve puts it):

"Fuck you. Motherfucker. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Motherfucker."

Eventually, after a few long-eyed puppy dog looks from Steve for getting verbally reamed out by Cammy, the two resolve their differences. I sort of hope that later in the season, it will get revealed exactly what Cammy’s problem was here. But we do know that when Cammy gets a) too much soju, and b) asked to kiss another girl, her language skills devolve into profanity-laden Tourette’s.

Whatever Cammy's problem was, at least they were able to hug it out.

By the way, while Cammy was having her f-bomb implosion, did anyone catch the camera pan to this for a split second? I missed it the first eight times I saw this episode (yeah, these recaps take forever to write, guys), but caught it just now. Seriously, Violet? What the hell kind of emotional masochism are you into, girl?

This is the dictionary definition of "mixed signals".

Not surprisingly, as the party winds to a close, the night ends with a Round 5 for the Prince of K-Town.

Giggity.

The moral of episodes 2-3 of K-Town: excessive soju leads to incredibly poor relationship decisions, f-bombs and strained friendships, and catfights with random pantsless smoking girls. I feel like there needs to be some sort of after school special.

Tune in later this week, when I recap Episode 4, in which Jowe calls someone “the Asian Jolly Green Giant”.

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K-Town, Episode 3 Recap (Part One): Soju is the Relationship Killer (Spontaneous Dance-Off Edition)

July 26, 2012

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS2gq6agLvA

Spoiler alert! Which hopefully you would have figured out by the word “recap” in the title.

This post will deal with the first five minutes of episode 3. That’s right — the first five minutes.

There’s a lot that could be said about this episode, but I think this pretty much sums it up:

ka-BOOM.

When last we left our fearless heroes and heroines, Jowe (aka “Prince of K-Town”) and Violet had shared a fleeting, soju-drenched, kiss in the hallway of a local K-town club. Some time later, the Prince was flirting with some random pants-less smoking girl at the bar. This girl, by the way, has a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard. She sounded like a vapid West Coast Valley Girl who’s been doping with cannisters of helium. She sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks on Xanax. I’m really sorry to say it: she sounded like she was looking to get punched in the face.

Anyways, as Jowe (perhaps we should actually call him the Prince of Revisionist History?)  puts it:

"So, Violet just comes up and introduces herself out of nowhere. And then, they just start complimenting each other on each others' outfits. And then next thing you know..."

Yeah, no. That is not what happened.

Look, I don’t know if the Prince was consciously trying to hook up with Random Pants-less Smoking Girl. But, I’m siding with the women on this one: approaching a girl and telling her that she’s pretty is a come-on. It’s pretty much the textbook definition of a come-on. Whether or not you should be picking up a girl while you’re partying with your ex- in the same room is a whole other topic for conversation; but, let’s not pretend that the Prince wasn’t trying to get some play just there.

Anyways: blah blah blah, “Oh, you’re not wearing pants?”, yadda yadda yadda, “Bitch!”, ker-splash. Let’s fast-forward to this week’s episode. One drunken alcohol… water… does-it-really-matter-flinging later, and Random Pants-less Smoking Girl tears after Violet (screaming “Oh, HELL no…!”), who is immediately whisked away by a flabbergasted, and surely cock-blocked, Jowe.

Okay, Jowe. If you’re reading this, let me give you a teeny-tiny piece of advice. Trying to have this conversation:

"Can we please talk about our feelings?"

… just hours after you and your friends did this:

I counted 18 shots of soju over 19 glasses of beer. Yes, I went back and counted. Yes, I'm a dork.

… and just minutes after you and your ex- did this:

This is an ill-advised, drunken hallway hook-up.

… is just plain dumb.

And, it’s especially dumb to try and have this conversation in the middle. of. the. goddammed. dance. floor. Cue, Scarlet, who has decided that this particular conversation needs to be a three-way.

Two's a party, but three's a perfect number for intimate discussions on the state of our romantic relationship.

Honestly, what Scarlet says isn’t really relevant. Hilarious, but not really relevant. What’s relevant is that at this exact moment, Random Pants-less Smoking Girl shows up with her own glass of soju, and flings it wildly over the verbal menage-a-trois.

This is Random Pants-less Smoking Girl. And that's an arc of soju. That's Scarlet's boob on the right side of the image.

Which prompts Violet to throw yet another drink at Random Pants-less Smoking Girl.

That's Violet in the far-right corner throwing water at Random Pants-less Smoking Girl's face. Meanwhile, Scarlet, who got the brunt of Thrown Drink #2, is on the left and is coming in for the kill.

(Yes, it took me something like four or five rewinds to get a grasp of this play-by-play.)

So, let me pause here for a moment. That’s not one -… not two-… but, three drinks thrown into someone’s face in the span of, what, like fifteen minutes. I’ve gone my entire adult life having never flung a beverage at another human being, while these girls manage to set some sort of Bizarre Drink-Flinging World Record in less than 30 minutes. Somehow, I feel like all this time I’ve been doing it wrong.

Anyways, three drinks are thrown, and (of course) all hell breaks loose. Honestly, at this point I kind of felt bad for Random Pants-less Smoking Girl: this wasn’t just an ordinary catfight that she suddenly found herself in the middle of. This was, like, some sort of coordinated catfight. It was like something out of Animal Planet — y’know where the lions circle around the wounded baby zebra and then go in for the kill? There was strategy. There was planning. There was fuckin’ flanking maneuvers. While Scarlet shoves Random Pants-less Smoking Girl to the ground, Violet grabs her by the hair. Scarlet flees for cover, some hand-slapping happens, Random Pants-less Smoking Girl connects with Violet’s left eye, and then the Prince breaks the whole thing up.

This would be all kinds of flashing lights, and handcuffs, and assault and battery charges... if it weren't so darned funny.
It's just complete chaos. Screams of "Let go of my fuckin' hair! Let go of my fuckin' hair!" and "Ow! My fuckin' eye! My faaace!" Complete and utter chaos.

Mike Le, was right; this show totally busts stereotypes. Specifically, the stereotype that all Asians know kung fu.

And, my favourite part?

This guy. Who can be seen in the background of the whole catfight, watching and laughing while nonchalantly smoking a cigarette.

Later, Violet sums up why she was so worried about getting a black eye in a line that’s equal parts sheer awesome and sheer bitch:

"Ugly girls have nothing to lose. Like, they don't care if their face gets fucked up. As for me...?"

Honestly, that’s the kind of line that would ordinarily make me hate a girl. Except, that later on, when the Prince drags Violet off to Hookup Hallway to talk about their feelings, Random Pants-less Smoking Girl confronts them both one more time, tries to start the fight again, and calls Violet fat.

Yeeeaaaah. Fuck you, Random Pants-less Smoking Girl.

Really? Violet? Fat? She’s fat like I’m seven feet tall and playing for the New York Knicks.

Which, unfortunately, neither is Jeremy Lin.

So, really, in the end it’s kind of just one big ‘ol superficiality slug-fest. And, in that context, I can kind of forgive Violet for being supremely bitchy.

After more insults are flung in Hookup Hallway, Random Pants-less Smoking Girl leaves. And that’s when we finally get to see:

Holy shit. She really WASN'T wearing any pants. Are those ass-less chaps?

The girls and the guys break off into separate groups to tell their sides of the story. And really, it’s kind of a brilliant piece of gender role-playing: Violet tells an emotional recounting of how Jowe is playing with her emotions while the girls help her process, while Jowe and the boys really can’t figure out what the big deal is. Jasmine, aka Jazzy (cutest nickname ever), encourages Violet to get the Prince out of her life.

Courage wound up, the Prince drags Violet back to Hookup Hallway for yet another “can we talk about our feelings?” chit-chat. Violet starts cussing and swearing. She’s revved up, infuriated and exasperated (and possibly still a little drenched with soju).

"I'm fuckin' pissed!!! I'm fuckin' pissed!!!" she screams at him.

At this point, I’m rooting for the girl: come on, Violet, you can do it!

"You're the one flirting with all the girls!" she yells at him.

You can tell him off! You can get in his face, give him a piece of your mind, and -… and-…

 

... and-....
........
When the fail is so strong, one facepalm is not enough.

(And, of course, wouldn’t you know that Young missed it all…?)

Tune in to my next recap post when I cover the second half of K-Town Episode 3.

Update: Part Two is here.

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K Town, Episode 2 Recap: Why You Don’t Piss Off Drunk Korean Girls

July 19, 2012

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xCR9kfRvg0

I hadn’t even had time to hit “Publish” on my K Town episode 1 recap when episode 2 was released. Damn you, guys, I have real work to do; but, like some sort of fiend with the shakes, I sat down and surreptitiously watched episode 2 while no one at work was looking, and then I felt compelled to write about it.

Remember when executive producer Mike Le said this:

“The first episode, we spent quite a bit of time just setting up the players, but beginning with the next episode on, you better hold onto your seats, because we’re going from 60 m.p.h. to 250. All the Asian Americans out there who are afraid this show is going to be too wild, well, their fears are justified.”

That man was not joking around.

Spoiler alert! Which hopefully you would’ve figured out by the fact that this episode is titled “recap”.

So, episode 2 picks up after Violet and Jowe have their tête-à-tête and settle some post-breakup differences. The rest of the crew have wandered off to a local restaurant to snack prior to hitting the club later that night. Jowe plays cultural tour guide and informs the audience that K-town has structured partying: il-cha: Happy Hour, ee-cha: Food and Drinks, sam-cha: Pre-party and sa-cha: Party.

... because apparently us Asians can't even party without first formulating a strict schedule... (just kidding, guys, you know I love you!)

At round 2, Jasmine and Steve call out Joe for inviting Jowe (Violet’s ex-boyfriend) to hang with the crew without first letting Violet know. And, also, Steve kind of has an issue with a “stranger” (I dunno how much of a stranger you can be when you’re all castmates on the same reality TV show) joining them for the night. Either way, mad props to these guys for calling Joe out; that shit was shady. You just don’t do that kind of thing to your friends. Joe defends himself by saying that he invited everyone out at once so he could recruit them for his Belasco party that he’s promoting, which, y’know, is kinda putting business before your friends. But, whatever.

Violet and Jowe show up, and all that moral high ground Steve had just completely crumbled beneath his feet. Steve (and Young and Jasmine) just could not let Violet and Jowe’s heart-to-heart go, and practically demanded that they give a full recap for the entire crew.

Way to make it awkward, guys...

Speaking of awkward, Steve suggests that the friends play a drinking game, “Who Here”. Each person takes turn saying something like, “who here looks the most conceited?”, “who here looks like a liar?”, “who here looks like they’ll have sex for money?” or, in the case of Young, “who here looks the best in… looks like they are the best at… is the best in… y’know… sexing?” The person with the most votes cast against them must drink, unless they predict they will get the most votes, which results instead in everyone who voted for them having to drink.

This is a game almost guaranteed to result in tomorrow's headlines reading about a triple homicide by chopstick in the heart of Koreatown.

I propose a better drinking game for the crew: take a shot everytime Scarlet dry-humps something.

If this episode is any indication, you would be plastered by ee-cha.

After snacks, the crew head to a nearby bar. Joe, it seems, is a Party Nazi, and all night, he is cutting the party short and keeping the crew moving. ‘Cuz nothing says fun like rigid scheduling…

"There has been 95% the requisite amount of fun at sam-cha. We will maintain the party here for an additional 15 minutes, but then we will all proceed to sa-cha. Do you all copy?"

At the bar, the cast meet Cammy, Steve’s “best friend” who apparently works as barkeep. Everyone does a series of shots, including what looks like the awesomest thing ever, the Seoul train. I’ll confess, at this point, I would be fuckin’ plastered, but then I guess that’s why I’m not a reality TV star. Party Nazi then death-marches the crew on to the club for the remainder of the night.

At the club, we come to a shocking and horrific realization: Jowe is kind of a douchebag.

Okay, maybe he’s not actually a douchebag, but he plays a douchebag really well on TV. Jowe and Violet flirt in the corner of the club, and then out in the hallway, Jowe lays on the lamest come-on in come-on history: “So, we look like the best-looking couple in the house. How about we kiss and get it over with?”

Seriously? Seriously?

... although, I'm not sure what kind of pick-up gems we're expecting from a guy who actually introduces himself as "the prince of K-town".

And, of course, it works.

This, right here, is the power of soju.

Meanwhile, Scarlet and Jasmine thoroughly embarass a guy at the bar who tries (badly) to pick them up. Although it was kind of mean-spirited, it was definitely one of the most hilarious and ballsy things I’ve ever seen a girl do to an unwanted pick-up. The camera pans to him after the two girls leave:

This is the face of a man who is contemplating drowning himself in that martini glass.

The group then notices that Jowe is, I shit you not, making the rounds at the club, and is, I shit you not, still introducing himself as “the prince of K-town”.

I shit you not.

Jowe starts flirting with a girl, and Violet (who is really, really hammered — you can tell by how badly she’s slurring her speech) just loses her shit. She confronts Jowe and this chick (whom Violet notes is lacking pants), and one thing leads to another, and, well…

This, too, is the power of soju.

Take-home message from this week’s episode: soju is some crazy shit.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, when Violet potentially gets her eyes clawed out by some random girl who is both without pants and now dripping with vodka.

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K Town, Episode 1 Recap: Welcome to K-Town

July 19, 2012

It’s been two years (almost to the day) since the announcement that Tyrese Gibson’s production company announced its intention to collaborate with the team behind reality television bonanzas Jersey Shore and The Hills to create an Asian American-centered reality TV show set in the night-life of L.A.’s infamous Koreatown. K-town, as its known by some, rivals the Jersey Shore for its wild after-hour party scene and was introduced to the MTV generation as the backdrop against which Far East Movement set its music video for “Like a G6”.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4s6H4ku6ZY

Seems like the perfect setting for a group of twenty-something Asian Americans to prove that they can match the Jersey Shore cast fist pump to fist pump. K Town announced its 8 cast members in July of 2010, along with the release of behind-the-scenes photos of the show’s first week of shooting; this was followed soon afterwards with TMZ “leaking” a compilation of casting videos.

And then… nothing.

Although Asian America waited with bated breath for K Town — which was anticipated to be picked up by MTV — to air, the show instead quietly fell off the radar. Eventually, we chalked it up as just another failed project that woulda shoulda coula headlined Asian Americans. We figured it was probably just another symptom of our community always being the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Or maybe there had been just a little too much of this, and the cast had collectively ended up in a two-year alcohol-induced coma.

And then, this past week, K Town rather unexpectedly revealed its first episode. Jeff Yang gives us the skinny on his latest Tao Jones column:

“Once we started shopping [K Town] around town, we got interest everywhere we went. There was a bidding war between two networks, and we went with one of them,” [says Executive Producer Mike Le, who is also vice president of Tyrese Gibson’s HQ Production company].

And then? “And then things didn’t work out.”

According to Le, a combination of “regime change” and a refusal by the net’s new guard to let the producers make the show they’d had in mind led to the show going on an extended hiatus — one that as of last Wednesday, had lasted almost two and a half years. That’s when the first episode of the new, no-holds-barred online edition of K-Town was unveiled, as the tentpole property of LOUD, a newly launched YouTube channel from equally new startup Electus.

Here’s episode 1 of K Town:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rhDjxDLyjk

For those of you too lazy to watch the full 12 minutes, here’s the skinny. Episode 1 of K Town is almost anti-climatic in its lack of hyper-sexed drunken debauchery. After nearly two full years of anticipation and hype, episode 1 spends most of its time introducing us to the cast and some of the inherent drama. This is pretty much par for the course for any reality TV show, and is akin to that first wasted hour of any Real World season where we follow each cast mate as they get off the plane and are whisked off to staged introductions with one another. Episode 1 is 12 minutes long — we really can’t expect any fireworks this soon.

But, have no fear, K Town fanatics — Le warns that episode 2 will blow the wheels off of episode 1. Writes Yang:

“The first episode, we spent quite a bit of time just setting up the players, but beginning with the next episode on, you better hold onto your seats, because we’re going from 60 m.p.h. to 250. All the Asian Americans out there who are afraid this show is going to be too wild, well, their fears are justified,” [says Le].

... I can barely contain my excitement.

***

In Episode 1, we are introduced to the cast. Two years ago, I made some wild guesses about the characters they would play on K Town based on some leaked behind-the-scene photos, a little revised after I saw the casting video). Let’s see how close I was:

5 out of 8 dead-on, and 2 partial credits. I either have a future in reality TV casting, or I've watched waaaay too much MTV.

In Episode 1, we meet the cast. Jasmine (who is ridiculously adorable and charming) is an (“award-winning”) hair-stylist who has been friends with Scarlet for awhile, and the latter has just moved to K-Town. Violet is also their friend, and has lived and partied in K-Town since she was a kid. She’s a single mother (Jeff notes that Violet is a former junior beauty queen pageant contestant who married at age 21) who has been on the K-Town club scene since she was a kid.

As for the guys: Joe is a club promoter at the  Belasco, who also spends most of his time at the gym; he clearly looks the part of the personal trainer, but eeek, dude, you’re leaning a little heavy into those rope pull-downs! Joe also seems like a genuinely nice guy, and I did enjoy his “motivation” of the other guys. As for the other boys, there’s Young, a dancer and aspiring “entertainer”, and Steve who, well, in his own words:

“I live by one motto: work hard, and drink harder, and show your loves to women, man.”

The Situation couldn't have put it better himself. Probably because The Situation can barely talk, but, y'know...

We learn through the course of episode 1 that Violet and Jowe, the self-proclaimed “Prince of K-Town” (whom we meet later in the episode), had a short relationship prior to the start of shooting, but that they have since broken up. This is clearly going to serve as a major story arc over the season.

Joe organizes a get-together for the 7 castmates (we haven’t met Cammy yet) to announce that he needs their help to promote a huge party at the Belasco (or he could get fired!), and so that Young can announce that he got engaged to a girl who had to return to Korea after her visa expired.

(Aside, I realize that Young wants to be an “entertainer” but I really hope he’s not planning a career as a comedian. In the confessional, he jokes: “What’s funny is my name is Young and her name is So Young!” *frenzied laughter*… I’m sorry, sweetie, but that’s not really that funny.)

And, in true manufactured reality TV drama fashion, Joe doesn’t tell Violet that he has invited Jowe to show up (which he does, all late like a crackhead). As Jowe greets the other cast-mates, the camera is trained dead on Violet’s reaction.

Violet gives a look that's 50% I-could-kill-you-all and 50% I-want-to-crawl-into-this-corner-and-die.

That was seriously a bitchy ass thing for whomever (Joe? K-Town producers?) to do. But, hey, it makes for good TV, right?

The episode ends with a strained truce called between Violet and Jowe after the rest of the castmates leave, and foreshadowing for next week’s episode, which will cover the party at Belasco  later that night (corrected).

***

In Jeff’s Tao Jones piece, Jeff touches upon the purpose of K Town:

“High-impact” and “buzz-worthy” seem like apt terms to describe K-Town — now dubbed “the reality show no TV network could show you.” The show’s teaser trailer features epileptic flashes of castmembers bootyshaking in their lingerie, licking liquor off one anothers’ bodies, tongue-tangling and pelvis-grinding in various gender combinations and drunkenly punching each other senseless — in short, engaging in activities that are not commonly associated with Asian Americans in mainstream media.

And that, says Mike Le, is the point.

“I think we as Asians have a tendency to embrace our own ‘model minority’ hype,” he says. “To me, that one-dimensional, positive stereotype is as bad as the images in the mass media that depict us only as ninjas or dragon ladies or asexual IT guys. Yes, the interest in the show is Asians going wild — you better believe that when we took it around to the networks, the old white execs we showed it to were popping their eyes out. But in reality, K-Town’s about the fact that all the stereotypes, good or bad, don’t fit when you’re talking about real people. Our cast doesn’t represent all Asians. They simply represent themselves.”

The desire to present a more three-dimensional image of Asian Americans on TV, as a direct challenge to the stereotypes that are traditionally embodied by Hollywood’s Asian faces, appeals to the Asian American community. Indeed, when K Town was slated to air on a major TV network such as MTV, I could rationalize the need for a show like K Town; less than 3% of primetime TV’s main characters are played by Asian American actors, and most embody a classic Asian American stereotype. A show like K Town being aired on MTV alongside images of Asian Americans as doctors, scientists, and IT specialists could help to provide a more complex, humanized image of Asian Americana.

However, the argument  becomes less compelling given K Town‘s new iteration as an online TV show. Unlike cable TV, the Internet is not only well-trafficked (and thus well-represented by) Asian American users — but is also a place where one can readily find examples of Asians and Asian Americans as spoken word artists, musicians, rap battlersdancers, and yes, even liquored-up fist-pumpers. The Internet is a place where Asians and Asian Americans displayed art, screened movies, created comic books, got angry, built a political voice, and even lip synced to the Backstreet Boys.

One wonders how K Town can really help to diversify the Asian American image in this medium? Or should we just be straight with ourselves? Maybe we should just stop trying to put K Town into some larger sociopolitical context where it’s something special because it “challenges stereotypes”.

Maybe K Town is best being treated for exactly what it is: yet another trashy reality TV show that we’ll indulge in because, goddammit, we just can’t get enough of our guilty pleasures.

And, seriously. Before today, I didn't know who the fuck these people were. Now I can't explain why I need to know how Violet and Jowe end up hooking up in the corner of Belasco of some club later that night (corrected).

 

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A Potential New Stereotype: “Asian Men Hate Shirts”

July 29, 2010

With all the buzz surrounding K-Town on the blogosphere, Jen over at Disagrasian warns us to tone down the joking. And she’s right — this is serious, folks. Jen warns that K-Town could invoke a new, very harmful, stereotype against Asian Men…

that Asian Men hate shirts.

I applaud Jen for being vigilant in this matter. As she describes in her post, the consequences of this stereotype to hard-working, honest Asian American men is profound. We could be talking about scores of Asian men turned away by employers who require shirts be worn every day of the week — even Casual Friday! Thousands of Asian men might find themselves applying for jobs in fields where they won’t be unfairly penalized due to the anti-shirt stereotype. Do we really want our Asian brothers forced to work as strippers, cabana boys, and life guards?

Think about the self-hate and shame that will be invoked amongst decent, well-meaning Asian men when they hear phrases like, “Hey, dude, chill out! Keep your shirt on!” or “What are you, a nudist who lacks commitment?” Think of the pain Asian men will have to endure when they become targeted by new racial slurs, like “shirt-hater”, “Chippendale”, or “nipple-flasher”. And will Asian men who take their shirts off — even while performing reasonably no-shirt activities like swimming or taking a shower — be accused of being sellouts for perpetuating the shirt-hating stereotype?

But, I do disagree with Jen on one thing: let’s put the blame where it belongs. The “shirt allergy” stereotype against Asian men did not begin with Peter Le, Young Lee or Joe Cha. No, these boys are mere symptoms of an institutional stereotype that just hasn’t received sufficient media attention until now, when K-Town finally exposed the stereotype’s full impact on our Asian brothers. These poor souls are only acting as they think they’re supposed to, because the “Asian men hate shirts” stereotype has been so deeply internalized into their self-identity. In a way, these men are heroes, for bravely shedding light on a silent oppression.

Consider how many other innocent Asian men have fallen victim to this syndrome:

So, you ask — whom should we really be blaming?

Well, I think the answer is clear — the blame lies squarely on the man who first brought this dastardly stereotype to American audiences.

That’s right: Bruce. Effin’. Lee. That frickin’ nipple-flasher.

Act Now! I’m declaring August 1st to be National Asian Male Shirt Solidarity Day. Wear a shirt and show your support. Spread the word.

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