Alex Wong & Watching Asian Americans on Television

By Ken

Not many people realize that James Dean only starred in three movies, two released after his death. And yet his legend remains. There are few people who can have such a mesmerizing hold on people.

In just a few So You Think You Can Dance audition highlights, Alex Wong became “freaking Alex Wong” without even making it to the live competitive phase. Alex didn’t make it through, not because he wasn’t selected, but because he was held back by a piece of paper. As you may know his “legend,” the Miami City Ballet wouldn’t let him out of his contract to compete on the show. Alex returned two seasons later, and already a superstar, was a sensation. Until he got injured.

When Alex Wong left SYTYCD, reality TV died, at least for me. I had no interest in the other contestants, even though I was once addicted to the show. That year’s Amazing Race seemed flat, especially after Kevin and Michael Wu exited the show. Similarly Margaret Cho was off Dancing with the Stars. When I heard about Peter Wong winning All American Handyman, it reignited my interest in reality. But it will never be the same with Alex Wong.

In moderating the TV academy’s panel on Asian Pacifics Americans on TV, Phil Yu of AngryAsianMan said that a show with an API on it held more of his interest. I feel that way as well, and I bet there are more than a few like me. The Screen Actors Guild report on the API Market and the Entertainment Industry (pdf link) confirms this.

Are you more inclined to watch AND follow a show if there were an API on it? And if they got voted off the show, would you stop watching it?

ABOUT KEN: Ken Choy is an actor, writer, community organizer, and producer of Breaking the Bow. He is gay, green, and gluten-free.

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