Does Eddie Huang Represent Asian Americans?
So there’s this guy Eddie Huang getting a lot of buzz in mainstream media, a part of the machinery to promote the new ABC television show, Fresh Off the Boat, coming on air in Feburary 2015. Eddie Huang authored his memoirs in Fresh Off the Boat, a national bestselling book. And the book is the inspiration and source material for the sitcom television show, just to connect all the dots there for ya.
Since the Fresh Off the Boat sitcom hasn’t run yet, there’s no telling how different or similar it will be to Margaret Cho’s 1994 All American Girl sitcom, other than both were produced for ABC broadcast television, and both of the main characters have had standup comedy stints. And, some people might say they’re both loud and opinionated. Some uncomfortableness is already starting to stir among the mainstream chatter. How far have we come in 20 years? Not very far, as you can see from this opening excerpt from ‘Fresh Off The Boat’s Eddie Huang Stirs Pot Vigorously To Plug Show – TCA by Lisa de Moraes (Deadline) —
“I wanted to ask the question: I love Asian culture. And I was just talking about chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?” a journalist asked the cast and producers of ABC’s midseason comedy Fresh Off The Boat today at Winter TV Press Tour 2015 — perfectly setting the tone for the fracas to follow.
‘It’s more about chopsticks,” snarked Eddie Huang, whose memoir of same name, about moving from Washington DC to Orlando as a child, is the basis for the series that’s part of ABC’s pitch to present a more ethnically diverse primetime this season.
- ABC’s ‘Fresh off the Boat’ panel gets rather awkward by James Hibberd (Entertainment Weekly)
- ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ stars and producers on race, conflict and specific yet universal comedy: A Funny Show where not Everything was Hunky-Dory Behind the Scenes by Alan Sepinwall (hitflix.com)
As the reality of broadcast television is all about getting ratings for its profitability, I have my doubts on the mainstream reception of Fresh Off the Boat necessary for its survival beyond one season, if that. Eddie Huang does wield his voice adeptly, leveraging his law school education and his attitude. I’m glad there’s one more Asian American person willing to use his voice. But, sad to say, it’s probably too clever, too abrasive & scathing, and too impolite, for the masses. Know what I mean? I can’t think of one broadcast sitcom that’s got a sizeable audience because of its controversialness; cable television maybe could pull it off, but mainstream, no.
Without buying Eddie’s book, you can read his voice in action for yourself, in: Bamboo-Ceiling TV: The network tried to turn my memoir into a cornstarch sitcom and me into a mascot for America. I hated that. — an extended version of an article appears in the January 12, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.
And you can watch this unofficial video of Eddie Huang on self-identity, when he spoke as a TED Fellow, who’s since been disinvited and disfellowed for not abiding by the TED rules, as he outrageously explained in “TED Conference Exposed As Scientology-Style Cult“.
With a voice like Eddie Huang, it can be said that he doesn’t represent the majority of Asian Americans. Here’s the thing tho’, no one person could possibly represent the majority of Asian Americans anyways! And mainstream television (or whatever media) tends to put the spotlight and give the platform to the characters that are expressive and entertaining, and the majority of people, be they Caucasian-American or African-American or Latino-American, or other American racial ethnic groups, are just not that. A normal person is plain not entertaining, whatever that profile of a normal person may be. Such as that is.
I’ll tip my hat, or baseball cap, to Eddie Huang for this, for being bold and courageous enough for using his voice — on his dormant blog at BASED FOB, on Twitter @mreddiehuang, on Instagram instagram.com/mreddiehuang. And, soon, on a television sitcom, albeit distorted, attenuated, and adapted for mainstream consumption. One more voice getting mainstream air time can only help, because silence doesn’t help.
And, I’m of the opinion we need many more Asian Americans to use their voices.