I usually don’t like to publicly weigh in on internet drama and politics, but today I will for three reasons. First, I consider myself a moderately successful, educated part of the Vietnamese American subculture who has the potential to affect it and define it in the future. Second, I don’t want to live in an environment where we can’t make jokes about ourselves – even if bad ones – and openly mock the stereotypes that define us for a lot of people. And third, I think model, actress, and fellow Viet-American Levy Tran doesn’t owe anybody an apology for her part in a recent music video called “Asian Girlz.”
You can check out this summary on Huffington Post or one of the original articles on Jezebel.com, who are still paying rent by stirring up shit for clicks. Basically, there is a shitty song online by the band Day Above Ground with a ton of awful sexist and Asian jokes and stereotypes. It’s obviously a joke, made by people who are comfortable hanging around with and joking about Asian American people. In the music video, there is a charming and attractive Vietnamese American actress named Levy Tran, whom this blog post is written about. Got it?
At some point within the last year, my girlfriend introduced me to the online presence of Levy Tran via her usual recommendation “You’ll looooove her, lover.” My usual response to these babe endorsements, however appreciative I am, is “She’s cute but what else?” but this time, I actually became a fan of Levy. I like to see Vietnamese American people succeed outside of their microscopic Little Saigon culture-bubble – like the Sriracha guy. And this young lady happens to be charismatic as hell on camera, insanely gifted in the looks department, well-spoken in English and Vietnamese, and obviously in-tune with building her online brand.
Secondly, let’s talk about this song/music video, “Asian Girlz.” It’s a fucking joke, people, relax. Remember that one time In Living Color made fun of black people stereotypes and nobody wanted to start a protest? Okay, so this video is of no Dave Chappelle caliber. In fact, it’s of the caliber of a middle school playground conversation where the kids are still getting a rush from peppering their statements with curse words and misunderstandings of how sex works. The lyrics are terrible and unoriginal, nothing clever was done with a potential GOLDMINE of good material, and the band looks pretty fucking dorky. The song is more sexist than racist. Are we angry that it’s “racist” or are we pissed as hell that it’s just so shitty of a song? Is it racist because the band is not Asian, or it is racist to be offended because those jokes didn’t come from Asians?
We find humor in talking about certain stereotypes because most of the time we recognize them and they’re true, embarrassing, and… funny. This Latina babe does a spot-on Vietnamese nail salon stand up bit and it’s funny. Vietnamese Americans can laugh at it because we recognize our parents and friends in the impersonation – people who learned English after decades of speaking Vietnamese are going to have accents. Lots of Vietnamese people work at nail salons. And yes, they do talk shit about you in Vietnamese when you come in with stinky-ass kankles, a 34 ounce Starbuck candy drink, and you tip shitty. BFD!
Okay, so our girl Levy Tran has been getting some gruesome heat on YouTube comments after appearing on “Asian Girlz” and I’m sure she’s getting some shitty emails, tweets, and whatever else the kids use to communicate these days. This is where the true racism is on display. Go read the comments on this video. She’s not taking Asian women back 50 years, as some twitterer complained. If you feel she is, then you should stop buying bras and skin cream because beautiful models sell products.
I saw this type of ignorant, racist crap when my friend Mariqueen Maandig was becoming Mariqueen Reznor. People talk shit when they ain’t doing shit. It takes some courage to get out of your house and interact with the world each day. It takes a crap-ton of courage to put yourself in the public eye and do something with your career. And it takes absolutely no courage to sit behind your keyboard trolling the internet with ignorant, mean-spirited comments. Fortunately, Mariqueen gave this many shits and still does.
These women are massively talented and have huge cajones to put themselves out there to entertain the masses and make a name for themselves without having to commit mass murder. The have places to go and the people at home trolling aren’t going there.
Levy Tran Needs to Apologize to Nobody
So in my opinion, Levy Tran doesn’t need to apologize to anybody. She probably thought that stupid song was funny at the time and probably thought the video concept was clever. That’s her prerogative. Even better, she got the joke because probably lives in an environment where these cultural stereotypes are out in the open and we can all joke about them – where friends are just friends and not Hispanic, Black, or White friends. Aside from some anomalies, this is the world I live in in Southern California and this is the world I’d like to live in. Nothing makes me happier than to see young kids who have no concept of race between their friends. It only comes up when parents ask. Race is not invisible to them, it’s just not a big deal.
If you want to talk about racism and ignorance, there are better things to pick on. No offense to my distinguished ladies at Disgrasian or the perpetually angry and eloquent AngryAsianMan, but we don’t need to get worked up about this kind of stuff or draw more attention to it – it’s obviously a joke, very very poorly executed. Those dudes from the band probably hang out with Asian folks every single day and they probably all make the same jokes about Asians and more jokes about the other races involved. Most of the time, these jokes are funny – this time they were not. Michelle Malkin is not funny because her dumb puppet ass is doing real damage to the credibility of Asian Americans. Let’s pick on her.
I’m kind of glad we’re having this talk, my son, because everyone needs to remember that there are always uneducated, generally negative, or just racist people on the internet and lurking in all parts of our lives. Racist stereotypes stop being funny when the stereotypes are no longer relevant. Not many jokes today about the yellow man wearing queue haircuts. It’s all good in the hood (yes, I said that). If anything, I think the guys from Day Above Ground need to apologize for flopping so hard on the execution of their joke – you’re supposed to shock and entertain, not get blacklisted. It looks like they’ve made a statement about it. But good for all of them and for Levy for actually doing something creative, productive, taking chances, and putting something out there for the world to react to. Levy needs to take this free publicity and run with it. What have you done today that matters?