A little over two weeks ago, I had the honor of leading a comics workshop with my SIUniverse partner Jerry Ma at the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of their annual Lunar New Year festival, Jerry and I helped small children and their families use inspiration from the museum’s rooms of Asian art to create their own superhero characters.
In our final live edition of Hard NOC Life from the NOC Reading Lounge at CTRL+ALT — the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s pop-up culture lab in the former Pear River Mart location in SoHo, award-winning poet Bryan Thao Worra discusses the literature of the Laotian diaspora and explains why the Asian American literay canon needs more speculative fiction.
A few weeks back, we posted about Greg Pak teasing the cover of Totally Awesome Hulk #15, in which Amadeus Cho — aka The Hulk — was joined by Ms. Marvel, Shang Chi, and Silk. Never before had so many Asian American superheroes been gathered on the cover of a mainstream comic book. I recently had a chance to preview the issue — which hits stands this Wednesday, January 25 — and I was actually moved to tears at how resonant it was to see these characters embody being unapologetically Asian American.
Ms. Marvel! Shang Chi! Silk! Amadeus Cho! Has there ever been such an awesome assemblage of Asian American superheroes under the banner of Marvel Comics? Possibly probably not… until now.
Writer Greg Pak recently teased the upcoming cover of Totally Awesome Hulk #15, suggesting that this is the most significant grouping of Asian American superheroes that has ever starred in a mainstream comic book.
In Totally Awesome Hulk #15, kid genius Amadeus Cho — aka The Hulk — is slowly learning how to become a team player, but has to learn fast when Ms. Marvel, Shang Chi, Silk and a host of other heroes come to town.
Rouge One is the biggest movie on the planet, and we finally devote a whole show to talk about the most diverse (or is it?) Star Wars ever filmed. Joining in on the fun is Tosche-Station.net writer, and Star Wars superfan, Bria LaVorgna and Black Girl Nerds’ movie reviewer, and occasional NOC contributor, Valerie Complex. [Spoilers throughout!]
Originally published at NBC Asian America
I am an avid toy collector, and every few years I like to take stock of the number of action figures that feature Asian American and Pacific Islander characters. When I started doing this in 2009, it was difficult coming up with enough figures to fill out a Top Five list. Fortunately, it has become much easier to populate these lists since AAPI visibility in pop culture has dramatically increased in the intervening years. In fact, I actually had a difficult time winnowing down this year’s list since there are so many AAPI action figures from which to choose! Moreover, nearly every slot on the list is populated by female characters, which hopefully puts to rest the fallacy that girls don’t buy action figures.
Originally posted at CAAMedia
When it’s all said and done, 2016 may go down as the year Hollywood finally recognized Asian Americans. At least that’s what actor Osric Chau hopes. The Canadian-born actor — best known to fans as Kevin Tran on The CW’s Supernatural and now as one of the stars of BBC America’s newest hit, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency — recently returned from Lisbon, Portugal where he was speaking on diversity in media as a part of Web Summit, one of the largest tech-focused conferences in the world.
In an environment dominated by innovation and technology, Chau realized society at large had to take on similar thinking. “We’re surrounded by thousands of companies that are really pushing our society forward and we have to do the same thing with tolerance,” Chau said. “It’s not just about ‘tolerating’ one another anymore; it’s about accepting people, making diversity a normal thing.”
When my oldest daughter was 3, we would sit together in her bean bag chair, turn off the lights, and watch the Justice League animated series. Here she learned about superheros and when she started becoming interested in comics, I wanted to make sure she read something that represented and looked like her so I handed her a copy of Araña. That was five years ago, and now she is 12 and is immersed in finding representation in what she reads.
It’s small stories like this that amplify the importance of diversity in literature and, in this case, comics. It is for that reason that the launching of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s La Borinqueña comes at a much needed time.
There is an old fairy tale popularized by Hans Christian Andersen as The Little Mermaid. I’m one of those odd first-and-a-half generation Vietnamese American immigrants, and tales of living in between spaces have always held my attention. The story goes that a little princess from a world under water wants to live on the land. She falls in love, exchanges her tongue for a pair of legs, and finds herself thrust into the unenviable circumstance of navigating a strange space where she literally has no voice. Ultimately finding no place for her in the world for which she had given up everything, she casts herself off the side of a ship into the ocean, drowns, and dissolves into sea foam. Victorian sentiments about Christianity and moralizing stories for children eventually got Andersen to amend the ending. This is more or less the state of Asian American identity politics. We’re always finding ourselves caught between “where we come from” and wherever we yearn to belong.
The buzz around the 2017 Ghost in the Shell film, among many other film and television projects of its ilk in recent memory, has ignited a bevy of thinkpieces about cultural appropriation and the nature of Asian American identity politics. The topic is complicated.
When a leaked script revealed that Disney planned to center its live-action Legend of Mulan film around a white merchant who comes to “white knight” the hero of China, the outrage was swift and fierce. After thousands signed 18MillionRising’s petition, Disney quickly responded to assure fans that all major characters would be cast as Chinese. “Don’t worry,” one patronizing headline went so far as to say, everything’s going to be fine. And by and large, the once-raging fire of #MakeMulanRight has cooled to a few glowing embers. Asian America seems to be satisfied to know that Disney won’t turn Mulan into yet another white savior film.
It’s a win, but not exactly the sort of victory you can feel great about. We’ve been through this too many times, haven’t we?