The 8Asians Talk About: Charice, Glee and Anti-Charice Critics

Our internal e-mail lists have us discussing all kinds of stuff: Asian American identity, representation in the media, the experiences of activism in an academia setting and its progression as we transition to the working, adult world. And sometimes, we talk about YouTube phenom Charice. Sometimes, there are cool glasses of hateraide served with said conversations about Charice.

More hateration in this dancerie after the jump.

Moye: I’m a fan of Glee but I’m not a fan of Charice. Does anyone want to write about [how Charice will appear on an upcoming episode]?

Christine: Rachel’s gonna have a MELTDOWN … can’t wait to see the Diva Showdown Season… that is, if I remember to even tune in.

Dino-Ray: If Charice had a NOT A FAN button on her Facebook page, I would click it. Yes, I am a hater.

Joz: I liked Charice when she was a kid belting out Whitney songs, but not sure that I’m a fan of the “grown up” (remade) Charice. I heard that a lot of Filipino folks (both in the Philippines and Fil-Am) do not like her. Is this true and why is this so?

Mihee: I agree with Joz – thought she was so cute and then got obnoxious or something but not sure why…

Dino-Ray: Hate is such a strong word… how about, I ABHOR CHARICE. And have you seen the windblown cover of her CD? Is the music industry inventing an Asian-American Miley Cyrus?

Jeff: She does give the impression that she got obnoxious and arrogant (“mayabang” in Tagalog), doesn’t she? I asked my brother-in-law who lives with me why she isn’t so popular in the Philippines. He said that it isn’t because any mayabang perception, but because she doesn’t have the ideal looks of what a show biz Filipina should look like. She is short and looks like a typical Filipina, not the taller mestiza that is the typical standard of beauty. Sure she can sing, but if you ever watch some Filipino TV, audiences often don’t care if the performers can sing. Kind of sad – I think it would be better that she is unpopular because she seems to be mayabang. I’d say that there is also the perception that she is “trying hard” – being really fake to get ahead.

By the way, “I hate Charice Pempemco” is on Facebook.

Christine: I really wonder where all this hateorade is coming from. I’m not a fan, but I don’t care either way. Cuz she CAN speak English decently, CAN sing, IS cute – Charming is a bit debatable… Is it jealousy? Is she TOO cute? Too Asian?, not enough? I really don’t get it. Am I just shielded from the Charice-revolution in North America sitting in my Kpop fandom bubble of After School? What is it?

Edward: Whatever! Charice’s “Pyramid” was a pleasure to listen to, and ego or not, I’m glad somebody is trying to do something at least. If we had to give crap to Asian artists who have ego issues, I can name about 20 in the Los Angeles community that I know, and that includes myself. We all got our issues but hey, I’m proud of Charice for getting so recognition, even if it seems “fake” or whatever.

Linda: I’m with Christine — enough of the haterade. Shouldn’t we be glad that Glee is casting another person of color? Until the day Asian-Americans or Asian-Canadians or Asian-Asians become a de facto part of American television, until the day we’re the STARS instead of the ensemble (*cough Tina C. cough*), I don’t think we should complain when an Asian shows up on TV and *gasp* isn’t playing a martial artist or someone’s sidekick. Esp. since her character will be stealing the star’s thunder (Lea Michele’s). This is huge for us. I don’t care if Charice is the biggest beeyotch/diva/whatever ever. As long as she gets to say more than one line an episode, I’m in! Because Glee isn’t exactly known for giving its Asian American characters lines.

Joz: I don’t know why they (David Foster) can’t find a talented young Asian AMERICAN young singer to cultivate and “make a star.” I hate to point it out again, but Charice is Filipina and yet another example of Asian talent getting opportunities over that of an Asian AMERICAN.

As a child star, Charice was pretty darn stunning, but is it that instead of cultivating what might be genuine about her, they “made her up” into something that audiences here would readily accept? If they were going to do that, I would like to see an Asian American singer get the chance to hit the charts.

To me, it’s not about Charice herself– I can’t deny that she is talented and I can’t blame her for taking advantage of whatever opportunities come her way. And I personally can’t see that there is any “ego” involved — she seems to feel grateful for everything that has happened since her big break(s) on Oprah and Ellen. But I’m just so tired of seeing the “big Asian stars” here being Asian and NOT Asian American (or even Asian Canadian).

Jun: Been only creeping on 8asians/email thread lately but someone needs to explain to me the differences between Asian American and Asian besides the obvious ones. Because, for some reason, I’m kinda getting a vibe that the good folks at 8asians have hidden discriminatory feelings for Asian stars who get roles over “Asian-Americans.”

Efren: Jun brings up a really good point. […] I totally understand why people are upset that an Asian from Asia got the role while an Asian American didn’t: there is a lot of racism that is extremely pervasive in the mainstream American media. To put it in as lay terms as possible, people are used to having people from Asia being separate and distinct from America, and while most Americans are getting the fact that there are Americans of Asian descent, mainstream America still doesn’t know exactly what to do with us. Hence, the idea that America of the tea baggers is that everyone is white and that everyone who isn’t doesn’t belong here.

There is also a lot of anger with the fact that there are many Asian American actors and actresses who work in the mainstream for years, and very few of them ever succeed because of this conundrum and that many prime successful roles are taken up by Asians from Asia, and many of them don’t understand a lot of the racism that is written into the roles. Many of them end up having to go to Asia or other places to become successful. It’s a catch-22 for many Asian American actors: either continue to promote these stereotypes in order to be successful, or leave because they know they’re really not wanted in the mainstream.

Jee: I just got through reading everything. I just have one question: does it make me less Asian for not knowing who Charice is?

Ernie: Game over. Jee wins. *disconnects from Internet, reads a book*

So, what do you guys think?

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About Ernie

I'm the creator of 8 Asians and one of the editors. While I'm a regular blogger to the site as well, think of my role as Barbara Walters on "The View," except without the weird white hair. During the day, I'm a Developer for a major Internet company and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've also been writing in my blog,, for seven years.
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