8 Asians


The Economist article asking, “Do Asian Americans still exist?” is likely to rouse some sentiments. As usual, Asian America, with all its ethnicities, don’t just indicate a diversity of cultural groups under the large label of “Asian” but a striking variety of opinions and attitudes towards just what “Asian America” is exactly. For that very reason, it’s one of the fragile threads that manages to still keep people bound together, but tends to often confuse those outside the community, from other Americans to non-Americans, and even Asian Americans themselves.

I’ve met a number of Asian Americans who like to say “this is Asian, that is not” and say “Indians aren’t Asian, they aren’t a rice-eating culture and they aren’t anything like China” [author’s note 1: yes, people this ignorant actually exist], or “Filipinos aren’t Asian, they aren’t connected to the mainland” [author’s note 2: neither is Japan, Taiwan, or Sri Lanka and a host of other Asian countries]. Technically speaking, Asian American refers to peoples from a broad constituency of people everywhere including South, Southeast and East Asia, and the Pacific Islands. While in Asia, people will say, “I’m Chinese, I’m Korean, I’m Filipino, I’m Indian”. However, again with the divisions in Asian America, I’ve run across people who would still fall under the categorization of “Asian American” but say, “I’m not Asian, I’m Pakistani” not because they want to be more specific to their ethnicity, but because they either don’t recognize as being part of the greater category of Asian American, or they don’t think they are considered Asian at all.

But this divide doesn’t just limit itself to applying labels and having a complete ignorance of the categories that fall under those labels. Asian America is too sharply divided with opinion (when it isn’t complacent), even with the one issue that seems to get everyone talking: racism. In the 1970s, there were protests over the Broadway musical Miss Saigon, about actors wearing yellowface prosthetics, with one group advocating Asians to play Asian roles, and at the same time, there were arguments from another Asian American group protesting that the show should be outright banned because they saw it as promoting the “dragon lady” stereotype and exoticizing Asian women. The legacy of such responses are still present today, when Asian America will have a dozen reactions (including apathy) to issues of race, such as with the two very different situations of the films Red Dawn (its remake specifically) and Cloud Atlas: people can decry racism for Red Dawn, and it definitely has stronger overtones of xenophobia and bigotry, but Cloud Atlas, people automatically think that any use of yellow face is wrong and should have Asian actors (it does) instead, without thinking critically and realizing that that was part of the movie’s themes of reincarnation across multiple cultures, and was advocating for diversity.

So is it any surprise that much of the rest of the world thinks that America is petty?
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Would you copy the dance moves of a Korean boy band for a free soda (or two, three, or more)?

As part of a experiment conducted in South Korea, a Coca-Cola vending machine coaxed people to copy the dance moves of the country’s popular boy band 2 PM, in order to score free soft drinks.

Thanks to Microsoft Kinect technology, the machine registers what the dancers do — and the more moves they copy correctly, the more Cokes the machine doles out.

Watch as everyone from teens to toddlers try to keep up with the rapid-fire movements, including some impressive breakdancing.

In this Sprint commercial, an Asian American dad turns into a clone of 6’9” basketball player Kevin Durant.  His wife isn’t at all displeased.  Watch to the end to see what the mom wants from her huge, newly transformed husband.

400px-Keni_Styles_2011The first time I heard of Keni Styles, one of the first heterosexual Asian male porn stars in America, I felt pride. Because there was someone out there who was breaking the stereotype that Asian males are sexless, effeminate, weird, and/or all of the above. He was proving that Asian American males could be sexy, great lovers, and desired. And he was doing it in the adult film business of all places!

According to Wikipedia, “Styles has been active in pornographic movies since August 2006. He first found steady work in Eastern Europe, relocating to live in both Prague and Budapest. In January 2010 Styles moved to Los Angeles. He is regarded as the first heterosexual Asian male porn star in American pornography as well as the only active European heterosexual male porn star of Asian origin.”

I had a chance to sit down with Keni and ask him a few questions:
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Happy 6th Anniversary, 8Asians!



On December 24, 2006, 8Asians founder Ernie Hsiung made his first humble post about Yul Kwon on this site.

8Asians has grown and evolved greatly over the past six years and I hope you’ll join me in conveying thanks to Ernie for his vision, our many authors for their contributions, and Moye and Bel for their ongoing support toward the success of this site.

Special props to John, Mike, Christine, and Ernie, four of the original 8Asians who still contribute after all these years.


A new study from Nielsen reveals that the influence of ads on social media sites, varies greatly between ethnicities, and it turns out Asian Americans are most likely to respond to ads they see on sites like Facebook.

Nielsen rated each ethnicity (Hispanic, White, African American, Asian American) and the actions they took after seeing a social ad (Shared Ads, Liked Ads, Purchased Products). In every case, Asian Americans took more action in response to social ads than any other ethnicity. In the case of sharing ads 26%, versus 15% for the total group, 41% liking ads versus 26% for the total group, and 31% purchasing products versus 14% for the total group.

Hispanics ranked second for being influenced by social media ads, followed by African Americans, and Whites were least influenced. It’s possible ethnic groups are more responsive, since social media ads tend to be targeted to specific categories and groups, and even ethnicities.

As an Asian American I can’t say that social media ads have worked on me, as I certainly haven’t taken action to either like, share or purchase something from a social media ad. But I have gone to the extreme of hiding some ads that show up on the right hand side of my Facebook page when I find them inappropriate or not suited for the work place. So if you’re Asian American, do you find that social media advertising works on you?

Infographic credit: Nielsen


Hey Sandy, you’re looking happily deranged (have you picked your target yet?) Watch out, because we’ve got an ensemble of artists, including Jason Chen, Clara C, David Choi, Inch Chua, Abraham Lim, Heart Hays, Haviland Stillwell, and Deborah S. Craig, all led by George Shaw and the Irvine Young Concert Artists, who have joined together to record a Christmas album to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Select members of IYCA will also do a benefit concert in New York for victims of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut while donating CDs to families of the victims.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have had either Sandy, because George and the gang would have used their superpowers to make a difference. How would that scenario have turned out? In the words of several of the artists:
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Gangnam Style invades Christmas Lighting


If Gangnam Style isn’t everywhere already, this video shows that it has invaded Christmas.  This display, created by John Storms, was an entry in the Old Navy Griswold Lightacular Challenge.  Sorry Gangnam Style fans, voting has already closed for this contest.

A Happy “Gangnam Style” Holiday to all this season!

Last February at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, I had the privilege to watch the documentary Mr. Cao Goes to Washington on Congressman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese American ever elected to the United States Congress (in 2010) and meet Mr. Cao as well, as I had noted in my blog post and review on the film last year. Now, the documentary will be airing on PBS this coming January. If you’re interested in politics or civic engagement, I’d highly encourage you to watch this documentary, especially since the film is not available on DVD yet and has only been making the film festival circuit (as far as I know). As they say though – check your local listings.


Chris Phan, a newly elected Councilman for the city of Garden Grove, had a unique way to celebrate being sworn in – making a very public wedding proposal to his girlfriend Cindy Pham!  According to this interview, he checked first with the City Clerk and the City Attorney to make sure that there were no rules and laws that would prohibit him from proposing.   Pham and Phan first met three years ago.

Phan has a long history of public service.  He served in Iraq, was a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Navy, and still serves in the Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant Commander.  Cindy Pham is the sister of one of his military friends.  Phan was recently named a Deputy District Attorney in Orange County.

Asian Americans & Gun Ownership


8A-2012-12-20-guns-origin_3410705154As a political junkie, I am a big fan of number cruncher and prognosticator Nate Silver of the New York Times and his Five Thirty Eight blog. With the tragic massacre in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there has been a raging debate nationally and online about the issue of gun ownership and gun control.

In Silver’s latest blog post, he analyzes gun ownership based on political affiliation and references a 2008 national exit poll and concludes: “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.” For some reason, the 2012 national exit poll did not include the question of gun ownership, but from the 2008 data, gun ownership by race and political affiliation breaks down as this:


Personally, I am not surprised. To be honest, I do not know any Asian Americans who own a gun. From what I recall, I’ve personally fired rifles at summer camp as a kid for target shooting and did enjoy it a little bit – especially the small brass casings afterwards and seeing some of the deformed lead bullets after target shooting. In retrospect, I’m kind of surprised they let kids in the middle school age range in Massachusetts this kind of activity. The one gun owner I know in the San Francisco Bay Area is a white friend of mine who happens to be a Libertarian.

And here is why I am not surprised – most Asian Americans or their roots are from the post-1965 immigration reform era, and most Asian Americans in absolute numbers immigrated in the U.S. in the past twenty years.  Civilian gun ownership in countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc. is essentially illegal. Generally, gun laws or ownership in most of the world outside of the United States are very restrictive.

Many have noted that the given America’s frontier culture and strong emphasis on individualism, that it’s no surprise that the United States has always had a strong gun culture, from the very roots of establishing the Second Amendment in our Constitution. Asian immigrants who naturalized as Americans and consequently their kids, never grew up with or were instilled with the concept of gun ownership nor practiced the tradition of hunting (and since most Asian Americans live in urban areas, are not necessarily exposed and then adopt hunting as a sport or hobby).

Photo credit: mr.smashy via photopin cc
Chart image derived from FiveThirtyEight

Donnie Yen’s “Dragon (Wu Xia)”


I remember the good old days when America would get the first releases of major movies and the rest of the world would have to wait, sometimes a few months or up to a year, for the same movies to release in their countries. Now, releases happen almost simultaneously, and sometimes other countries get to watch the movie before we do. I’m fine with that, more power to U.S. media export, but it’s really frustrating when I can’t watch a good kung fu movie when the rest of the world has enjoyed it for over a year now.

Case in point Donnie Yen’s Dragon, originally named Wu Xia. Not only did it arrive in the States over a year after the original release in Asia, it lasted like a weekend in the theater, and I can’t even find where it was playing. Anyways, my martial arts geek frustration aside, this kung fu film looks pretty cool, with what looks like good action-based cinematography. The story is a classic plot of an ordinary guy (Yen) who turns out to be expert martial artist. Mystery-unraveling ensues. Can’t wait to watch it. Literally.