EDITORS NOTE FROM JOZ: For background, over the weekend, Lela Lee of Angry Little Asian Girl posted this: Why the “Angry Asian Man” is pissing me off. Today, Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man responded: I AM BEING THREATENED WITH AN ANGRY ASIAN LAWSUIT.
Min Jung left the following comment on the original post, to which Lela did publicly respond (and which will be appended to the bottom of this post).
Min Jung here. We met once, jesus, way long ago. Years ago when I was writing for Koream Journal, Hyphen, or BananaMag or writing for IIstix.com or writing on my personal blog that started back in 1999.
First of all, I want to say, wow. I think it’s rather amazing that after so many years that the Angry Little Girls empire has been doing so well for you with so many books and merchandise. I think it’s great that you’ve managed to use your creative energies to really build out a brand for yourself. It’s no small effort.
And to his credit, Phil too, has worked immensely hard on producing content, scouring news, and advocating for the community. His site has been a mainstay source of great news for the Asian American community. (Sic – I forgot to mention 8asians, of course. My bad.)
Remember back in the mid to early 90s when there was a bunch of magazines that were glossy and sometimes silly and weren’t able to keep up with the blinding speed of the Internet? I’m talking about magazines like Yolk, A.Magazine, and Transpacific. As to be expected with print media, they eventually died with blogs gaining speed.
And I think the late 90s when blogging started picking up it was exciting and new. We were using Yahoo! Search directories, and webrings to find communities and circles for each other. Jesus, remember AsianAvenue.com? Or Xanga?
Did we all inspire each other because we were Asian and wanted to connect with each other and create content?
We found each other and we we supported each other. It was cool. Sometimes it was weird. Sometimes it was super crazy. But frankly, at the time, no one knew what they were doing and that was “ok”.
A lot of us were angry and inspired by each other. A lot of us were just desperately hungry for community, news, and connection. But to say that Phil, who has written thousands and thousands of words has “stolen your ideas” and is taking credit for your work is like saying that the Daily Show should be sued by the Onion for stealing the format of satirical news.
Or it’s like saying any news website that featured a reader of the community on the website should be paying you for the idea of including community profiles. In which case I can find you some links for fancy cat websites that feature fancy cats if you like. New fancy cats profiled every week.
Would anyone have guessed back in 1999 that in 2015, that there would be a TV show where the former Editor of A.Magazine’s kid would be on a major network? Or that anyone could make a living off a website? Or even that comics about misogyny and racism could still be important enough to warrant a plush doll?
Lela, I respect you and I appreciate the work that you’ve done and continue to do.
You don’t own “Angry” nor do you own “blog/news formats for content”.
And the fact that you’re posting this on a blogspot account feels far more juvenile than what AngryAsianMan has produced in years of news for the community.
You do comics. That’s great. You do merch. That’s awesome. It’s about Little Girls who are Angry and sometimes happen to be Asian.
It’s absurdly different than the news site/blog that is AngryAsianMan.com.
You don’t have to be Asian to see that the sites, the content, the focus, and the business models are radically different.
I hope honestly that you and Phil are able to meet with a mediator to resolve this matter amicably and that we can let this dustup go to the past and be forgotten like those magazines and websites from the 80s and 90s that I mentioned before.
Wishing you well and cheers,
Min Jung Kim
Public response from Lela Lee:
Hi Min Jung,
Thanks for your most thoughtful reply. You know, I do respect Phil and his purpose. I think Asians need to get fired up. But this is about infringement of the name, design and other elements. It has bothered me. I met him in 2005, then I didn’t meet him until 2012. People think our businesses are related. He was inspired by me and now he’s begun taking credit for my work. Trademark law is about making sure the source is not confused. I have to make a stand for my copyrights and trademarks. I’ve tried co-existing, but there is too much confusion. In our proposed resolution, I would allow him to use “Angry Asian America.” (Which was lifted from a shirt design I did in 2005) Should I let a “Brother” infringe my work because we’re “community”? It’s not fair nor is it right. But I would allow him to use “Angry Asian America.” He takes so long to respond. I mean, if he had responded in a timely manner, this would have been over last May. But his stubbornness and stalling only made me more angry. I was always willing to let him use it and he told me in an email that he would change his name (or so I wrongly interpreted from Phil). I thought he was going to do the right thing, but he only continued the activities that I had issue with. He can keep doing a blog, same blog, just a different name. That’s all I ever wanted.