Contrary to his website name, AngryAsianMan.com blogger Phil Yu laughed with the crowd of nearly 75 people as he blended humor with video clips to discuss the representation of Asian Pacific Americans in media.
The founder and editor of popular Asian-American news and culture blog AngryAsianMan.com, Yu’s commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and the Los Angeles Times.
Yu said within television and film, the Asian community has historically been under-represented. In addition to there only being a handful of Asians in primetime television shows until 2004, Yu said Hollywood tends to replace Asian roles with Caucasian actors.
While Yu said there has been increased Asian representation in television since the premier of the show “Lost,” which featured multiple Asian characters, he said the Internet has seen the largest growth in Asian representation.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t get to see a lot of … faces on mainstream media that represented my experience,” Yu said. “But now, young people, young Asian Americans from their computer screen … can now seek out the content that represent their experiences.”
Still, Yu said the Internet is not the solution to Asian underrepresentation.
“For a lot of young people it’s going to be a lot of content created by Asians, for Asians, and their going to be stuck in this little Asian corner of the Internet,” Yu said. “I really want to see more Asian Americans also break into mainstream movies and television.”
Yu said he realized the power of his blog when it created momentum surrounding an Abercrombie and Fitch clothing line playing on Asian stereotypes that depicted a fake laundry company called the “Wong Brothers.” Some shirts included the slogan “two Wongs can make it white.”
Soon after he posted a blog entry about the issue, protests largely fueled by students erupted, prompting Abercrombie to pull the clothing line.
“It really illustrated to me that this blog is not just me talking about whatever I want to talk about,” Yu said. “People will actually listen to what I’m saying and act on it. I can use this to create some activist change in our community.”