Did you hear about Alexandra Wallace? Whether you did or not, diaCRITIC Jade Hidle opens up a discussion about two YouTube video responses from Asian Americans and is asking YOU, what do you think?
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I’m sure you’ve already heard about or seen the anti-Asian rant posted on YouTube by the now infamous Alexandra Wallace, which currently has over 5 million views. Since the video went up, my inbox has been flooded with emails whose subject lines read “You’ve gotta see this” and “This is gonna make you so mad!” So, begrudgingly, I watched the video. (If you’ve been in a cave for the past week or have been commendably resisting indulging Wallace’s YouTube stardom, she basically expresses annoyance with the presence of Asian families at UCLA student housing, stating that they didn’t teach their children to “fend for themselves.” She also rants about Asian students’ cellphone conversations in the library, which, according to Wallace, sound like “ching chong ling long ting tong.” Even more offensive than her racist mimicry here are her flippant comments about the devastating tsunami in Japan.)
And, true, I do find Wallace’s comments to be ignorant. But they’re nothing new. The young, blonde, cleavage-bearing Wallace is merely the most recently publicized mouthpiece for the long-running discourse of American exceptionalism. She repeatedly prizes “American manners,” whatever that is (racism?), and calls herself a “polite American girl.” I know, the irony couldn’t be more obvious. This is the same kind of self-important, entitled attitude that has justified, however thinly veiled, U.S. wars abroad and discriminatory policies and practices at home—the very attitude that continues to largely treat Asian Americans as if they are perpetual refugees or caricatures from a 1930s Looney Tunes cartoon. And, of course, in this American tradition, Wallace publicly apologized and dropped out of UCLA, as if this will rectify the larger problems underlying her video.
But enough about Wallace. I’m not interested in dedicating any more discussion to her, and that is why I don’t post her video here. More interesting to me are the video responses to Wallace. While there are a myriad of such videos posted by Asian Americans, whether professional comedians or students armed with cameras, I’ve selected two videos and, rather than merely write about my own responses to these pieces, would like to hear your thoughts about how effectively they counter Wallace’s claims.
The first is from Spencer who runs two YouTube channels. One channel, itsBigBang, features spoofs about pop cultural topics like Paranormal Activity, Yu-gi-oh, and Pokemon, while his itsjustspencer channel posts less-produced vids dealing with everyday topics such as Spencer’s latest purchases and the trials and tribulations of washing carpet. When you watch the video, keep the following questions in mind and post your responses in the “Comments” section below: Does Spencer’s mimicry of the Vietnamese accent reinforce or undermine the racist caricature implicit in Wallace’s “ching chong ling long ting tong”? Do Spencer’s portrayal of a model minority Vietnamese American and his comments about white girls combat or continue tensions between Asians and whites? What else do you (dis)like about Spencer’s response?
The second video comes straight out of Orange County, California, from hip-hop duo, “The Two,” a.k.a Matt and Tony. Their xthetwo channel features music videos wherein the two lyricists parody mainstream hip-hop songs such as Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” (Also, for The Two’s take on Asians’ production of the majority of American products, check out their “Look At Me Plow” parody of “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, and Lil Wayne.) In their response to Wallace, The Two put down a homemade beat and lyrics whose chorus pleads “Please stop mocking us.” With its humor and hip-hop beats, do you think The Two’s response is effective in addressing Wallace’s ignorant comments?
I look forward to reading your thoughts on these responses to the Wallace video and further sharing my own ideas with you, so don’t forget to post in the “Comments” section below!
Jade Hidle is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Literature at UC San Diego. She aims to write her dissertation on Vietnamese-American literature, with a focus on how narrative structures map struggles of the body–miscegenation, disfigurement, skin color–and identity.
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