On the Angry Asian Trend

Angry Asian Man blurbed a CBC article about the trend of the angry Asian man. (The article is about the emerging image of the angry Asian man, not about Phil Yu’s site which is coincidentally but not irrelevantly named Angry Asian Man.) The news article cites a variety of evidences, including Seung-Hui Cho, Shortcomings, and Harold and Kumar.

Much of this would be more accurately named discontent or something else, but for dramatic purposes, ‘anger’ suffices. And movements are more powerful when grouped together to make a trend. Here’s another to add to the collection, though it comes from Japan rather than the US — that angry look in much of Yoshitomo Nara’s art. The character depicted in his paintings also convey the feeling of the child- being a small person or just someone who is viewed as relatively powerless, yet who has internal potential and thoughts roiling in their head.

Nara’s art takes into account this other side – niceness, congeniality, emphasis on providing goodwill. I think the anger is the backlash to some broken or frustrated aspect of this circulating generosity. And though no one would write articles about him, there’s also the too-nice Asian man. The closest I’ve come to seeing it is travel articles about how nice the Thai family was to take them in even though they hardly knew them. There is one in the current issue of the New Yorker, “Wheels of Fortune,” in which the author gets in a lot of car accidents and doesn’t pay for any of them because the car rental man smiles and says it’s okay.

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About Lily Huang

Lily Huang is a writer of Taiwanese descent, who lives on the East coast. She grew up in suburbia completely oblivious to Asian culture, and is making up for it now.
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