Diversity in Fashion: “Asian chicks only, no Asian dudes”

Although there is still a pretty significant white/black divide in real America — as recent headlines in New York and Ferguson have attested to — there is a movement afoot among the new generation of Americans, aka the social media savvy millennial crowd: a need for diversity. That need has resulted in an overwhelming support for minorities, be it women in tech, latino students in college, portrayal of gays in film and television, people of color in fashion, etc. The latter has been a longstanding problem — fashion catwalks have always been whiter than high tea at the Four Seasons.

So, in an effort to appear diverse (solely for the sake of good PR), fashion companies have begun putting out ads that are meant to represent the cool, diverse, post-racial America. And these ads almost always follow the same formula: white people, usually three to five, along with a lightskin black dude and an Asian girl.

Some bullshit like this, basically.

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or this one (I saw in Taipei)

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The former is in because, let’s face it, hip hop/street culture has become so ubiquitous  and synonymous with cool that black dudes give any brand trying to appear trendy instead “street cred”. They are, sadly, the token black guy. But the latter is in because, well, Asian women have made it in America.

The desirability of Asian woman in mainstream white culture is nothing new. There was that article last year about how, according to online data, Asian women are the most desired in online dating, followed by white men, with black women and Asian men at the bottom. Hell, anyone who’s walked around Manhattan or downtown SF can see that white man/Asian woman couple far outnumber any other type of interracial couples.

So anyway, I’ve been noticing the past few years that all trendy fashion companies follow that same “white dude, white dude, white dude, white chick, white chick, Asian chick, black dude” blueprint. These ads are supposed to make us think, “aw, look, they’re all diverse and progressive and shit. let’s go buy their stuff.”

Do take notice, however, that black/brown women are rarely in these ads, and more than a few publications have written about the lack of women of color in fashion ads.

But wait, what about Asian men? Whereas black and brown women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in these fashion ads, they are in there somewhere. But when’s the last time you saw an Asian dude in these ads? I can honestly only think of one or two, like, ever. And I’ve had to edit my fair share of fashion advertorials the past few years at my job (plus I’m a media/pop culture geek so I read, like, 120 articles a day on pop culture and trends).

This is nothing new, the invisibility of Asian men in American/western culture. And this is something you and I never hear about in protests and Gawker think pieces on social injustice. We hear all the time about how black and brown men are heavily discriminated and scrutinized against in America — and that’s true. I’ll even concede that Asian men probably don’t have it as bad as black and brown men in America, but I resent the notion that we have it “far better”, or that we “don’t know what it’s like,” both of which I’ve been told lately.

Sure, black and brown men — especially the former — are stereotyped by white America as overly sexual, overly dangerous thugs on whom everyone has to keep an eye. Asian men are thrown to the other end of the spectrum. We are asexual, timid, physically weak geeks on whom nobody has to worry about. We may not have a target on our backs like black men, but we are damn near invisible in America, and that is almost as damning. It’s dehumanizing.

And these fashion ads reinforces the point, because even in these “diverse” ads, Asian men ain’t nowhere to be found.

What’s most bothersome is that when I do a google search for articles calling for more diversity in fashion, these articles group Asian men (and black women and latino men) together with Asian women, as if we all have the exact same problem. Nah, Asian women don’t have that problem. They’re in every ad these days. We’re gonna have the Gawker and the new media blogs fighting for black dudes and black women, but Asian men? We stay invisible, because no one gives a damn.

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BTW, this last Asian girl needs to do some squats and eat a cheeseburger or two.

UPDATE:

Here are a few more pics spotted in Hong Kong. The same formula everywhere.

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EVEN LITTLE KIDS.

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Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Ending

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I am aware that, whether from the viewpoint of a film critic, filmmaker, storyteller, or sophisticated movie fan, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bad movie. It exists solely as a nucleus/anchor off which Sony, in an attempt to ape Marvel Studios, can develop a “cinematic universe”. As a result, this film is jampacked with subplots and peripheral characters, all of whom are introduced just so they can appear in separate movies later. From a storytelling standpoint, these characters add nothing — they are but products being teased.

But still, I enjoyed the film overall, and the ending especially resonated with me. It’s because I’m a sap and a diehard Spidey-fan at heart.

The ending begins with New York City in chaos. Spidey had gone missing ever since the battle with the Goblin that resulted in the death of Gwen Stacy, and crime has gone up as a result. New Yorkers, especially the NYPD and children, wonder what happened to their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. We the audience know, of course, that it’s because Peter Parker has been grieving over the death of his love. He’s lost hope in life.

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The Dark Knight Returns

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I happened to be up and on Twitter when it happened: Warner Brothers officially announced the long rumored, long anticipated Batman/Superman teamup movie at Comic Con. Twitter exploded around 7am Hong Kong time (7pm San Diego time). As I lied in bed scrolling through my Twitter feed, I noticed that some outlets are reporting this as a “Superman and Batman movie,” like, you know, a brand new project.

However, I and other more sophisticated publications are considering this a Man of Steel sequel, meaning it’s a Superman movie, in which Batman will have a co-leading role. I believe this to be true because the entire cast and crew from Man of Steel will be back, and Batman will be a new, rebooted character — not the one in Christopher Nolan’s transcendent trilogy. I am surmising that Warner Brothers will forego the origin or even background development of the Batman character — since everyone knows the story by now — and, essentially, have the Batman just show up in the movie and do his thing, not unlike the Joker in The Dark Knight. That means Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent should still be the rock around which the movie’s cast and plot points revolve. Continue reading

Paul Pierce’s Boston Career

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this but I’ve been busy/lazy. Still, this post needs to be done. I’ll do this quick, in one seating. Let’s see how long it’ll take.

When news broke that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had been traded to the Brooklyn Nets about two weeks ago, my initial reaction was excitement. I have, after all, been blogging about the Brooklyn Nets on my Xanga since 2007 (when I thought LeBron was going there to join Jay), and I just recently blogged about how sad that the Nets are such a vanilla team because Brooklyn has become this worldwide brand/symbol of all things that’s cool and “street” (no joke, in Tokyo, 60% of all clothing stores that sold graphic T-shirts had some variation of Brooklyn shirts. also, brag time: I uploaded a pic of me in Brooklyn Nets tee in April of 2012 saying “this shirt will be everywhere in about a year”).

So yeah, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn is a story, because Brooklyn’s basketball team badly needed players with some attitude, charisma, and game.

But once the initial “oh shit!!!” excitement took its course, I began to hate that Paul Pierce won’t be finishing his career with the Celtics.
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Kanye’s 2010 SNL Performance

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For nearly four decades, music performances on Saturday Night Live followed a set template: Grand Central station backdrop, with one or two spotlights. All that changed in 2010 when Kanye West took the rules and threw it out the door.

Stark white background. Lone spotlight on Ye, clad in bright red body suit, with silhouettes of a large group in the back. Then, the beat comes on, the darkness in the back fades, and a group of ballerinas dance to the harrowing tunes in Runaway.

West himself had bombed on the show just two years prior — his 2008 performance of the autotuned-reliant Love Lockdown, off 808s and Heartbreak, had sounded terrible — but he redeemed himself this night.

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Black Skinhead

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When Kanye West unveiled on Saturday Night Live the first single of his recently released album, Yeezus, my first reaction was: “What is this Marilyn Manson shit?”

The song has since grown on me.

Black Skinhead is a primal, raw, and visceral tune that is a far departure from West’s grandiose pop sensibilities (seriously, how sing-along worthy is the entire Graduation album?). For that alone, West deserve praise because, really, how many megastars, once they’ve made it to the top, have simply played it safe (looking at you, Hova¹)?

But then you factor in Black Skinhead’s lyrical content, and the usual damning portraits of American racism, and classism, and, to quote Lou Reed, “no one is doing what Kanye is doing.” At least not on a mainstream level.

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