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First Summit on Asian Stereotypes Urges Empowerment to Make Change

Suzanne Kai

Little Tokyo - Los Angeles

March 23, 2013

More than 200 people attended a summit yesterday in Los Angeles, provocatively titled "Beyond the Bad and the Ugly." The meeting was appropriately named as it took aim at the continued use of offensive images, ethnic slurs and stereotypical caricatures of Asian Americans in American media, and its impact on just about every aspect of American culture, politics, education and society.

AsianConnections.com applauds Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal Online writer of the "Tao Jones" column for organizing this first summit devoted to the problem, and enlisting public dialogue and empowerment. Yang brought together activisits, bloggers and others to examine the issues and encouraged people to take action against the negative stereotypes and portrayals of Asian Americans in the media. 

Stereotypical images of Asian Americans in the media have negatively impacted the lives of Asian Americans for more than a century.

Yang told LA Times writer Anh Do the event is "the culmination of a dream, seeing people not only talking about these issues - but doing something about it," "The point is to empower everyone, telling them, "Change is happening, and it's happening inside - with us." 

The March 23, 2013 summit officially kicks off Jeff Yang's new book he co-edited with Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma, Shattered: the Asian American Comics Anthology (Secret Identities)SHATTERED’s 2013 tour, will take Yang and his co-editors Parry ShenKeith Chow and Jerry Ma to select cities and college campuses in the East, West and Midwest (contacts are listed below if you wish to book a SHATTERED tour event). 

Click here for the story at the LA Times by writer Anh Do. 

Featured sessions at the "Beyond the Bad and the Ugly" Los Angeles summit March 23, 2013:

  • OPENING PLENARY — “IS THIS STEREOTYPE REALLY NECESSARY?”, a fresh, frank, informative (and likely snarky) exploration of Asian images past and present, moderated by SHATTERED editor-at-large Keith Chow and featuring notables such as graphic novelist Gene Yang (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE); performance poet Beau Sia (DEF COMEDY JAM; author, THE UNDISPUTED GREATEST WRITER OF ALL TIME); bloggers Andrew Ti (YO, IS THIS RACIST?) and Jen Wang (DISGRASIAN) and actor Parvesh Cheena (NBC’s OUTSOURCED) 
  • KEYNOTE CONVERSATION — “ORIENTATIONS”, a three-way talk about the history of stereotypes of the “far” and “middle” East, between Professor John Kuo Wei Tchen of New York University’s A/P/A Institute; science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu; and Jack Shaheen, author of REEL BAD ARABS, former CBS news consultant on Middle East affairs and Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. 

    [SPONSORED BY NEW YORK UNIVERSITY’S A/P/A INSTITUTE The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU brings together accomplished scholars, community builders, and artists from New York City and beyond in interactive forums, reflection, and new research. www.apa.nyu.edu

  • KEYNOTE CONVERSATION — “SEXTYPES,” a discussion of race, gender roles, sex and sexuality, with Jeff Yang, adult film star Keni Styles and Helie Lee, director of MACHO LIKE ME, about her six months living as a man 
  • SPECIAL PANEL — “WHEN IS IT OKAY TO LAUGH?,” a frank discussion of ethnic humor, featuring Jenny Yang, organizer of the DIS/ORIENT/ED comedy tour, and featuring an all-star group of Asian American comics, including D'Lo, The Fung Brothers (Andrew and David Fung), Kiran DeolJoe Luu and Greg Watanabe (18 Mighty Mountain Warriors) 
  • SPECIAL PANEL — “MAN BITES DOG,” an exploration of whether and how Asian American stereotypes impact the way news is covered and presented, presented in partnership with the Asian American Journalists Association’s Los Angeles Chapter and featuring MSNBC anchor Richard Lui, USC Annenberg School of Communication professor Andrew Lih, and Pulitzer Prize-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter Mei Fong, among others. 
  • CLOSING PLENARY — “CHANGING THE GAME,” a conversation about reevaluation and reinvention of stereotypes, moderated by Oliver Wang, cultural critic and Assistant Professor of Sociology at CSU-Long Beach, and featuring Parry Shen (star of BETTER LUCK TOMORROW and SHATTERED managing editor); Christopher Chen, producer of the forthcoming documentary LINSANITY; Jay Caspian Kang, Grantland editor and author, THE DEAD DO NOT IMPROVE; Deepa Jeeva, head of production, YOMYOMF Network, Brian Hu, artistic director, Asian Pacific Arts; Benson K. Lee, director, PLANET B-BOY and BATTLE OF THE YEAR: DREAM TEAM; and Mike Le, executive producer of K-TOWN: THE REALITY SHOW.
  • ...AND MUCH, MUCH MORE
Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa

MISSION STATEMENT

In 1914, Sessue Hayakawa became the first Asian American actor to break through on the silver screen, appearing in movie pioneer Thomas Ince’s silent classic The Typhoon, and launching a career as one of the most popular and well-paid stars in the nascent Hollywood industry, albeit in roles that consistently depicted him as villainous, violent and manipulative. As he put it himself, “I want to be shown as I really am, and not as fiction paints me….My one ambition is to play a hero.” 

Ninety-nine years later, Asians and Asian Americans have a much greater presence in U.S. popular culture — but they are often represented in ways that Hayakawa would recognize and lament: Silent thugs. Sexless nerds. Predatory temptresses, calculating conspirators and impossibly strange foreigners. 

Organized by Jeff YangWall Street Journal Online columnist and editor-in-chief of the new graphic novel anthology SHATTERED (http://siun.org/shatteredbook), which uses the medium of the comics to explore and explode unyielding stereotypes of Asians in pop culture, BEYOND THE BAD AND THE UGLY gathers together some of the brightest and most interesting Asian American creators, and critics, activists and academics in a unique one-day summit that begins by looking back at the heritage of Asian images in American media and society, and ends by looking ahead — discussing new ways to prevent distortions and present more vivid, humanized, three-dimensional portraits of Asians and Asian Americans to a wider and more accepting audience. 

The Summit will take place from 9 am to 6:30 pm at L.A.’s Japanese American National Museum — a natural home for an event focused on the power of perception over the Asian American community’s destiny. It will be followed by SHATTERED’s official book launch cocktail reception featuring live performances and signings by its creators. 

Tickets for BEYOND THE BAD AND THE UGLY will cost $15 for students, $25 for general admission and $35 for VIP admission, which includes reserved seating and a free copy of SHATTERED: THE ASIAN AMERICAN COMICS ANTHOLOGY (a $21.95 value!). 

For more information on BEYOND THE BAD AND THE UGLY, or to connect with participants for interviews, email organizer Jeff Yang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./"  BEYOND THE BAD AND THE UGLY will officially kick off SHATTERED’s 2013 tour, which will take Yang and his co-editors Parry ShenKeith Chow and Jerry Ma to select cities and college campuses in the East, West and Midwest. For further information on booking the SHATTERED tour, contact Keith Chow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or complete the SHATTERED booking form at http://siun.org/shatteredtour