March 25, 2008

Where are the now: the "Donger"

I saw this on another NPR yesterday produced a show that covers Asian American male media stereotypes with special reference to Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. They include an interview with Gedde Watanabe, the guy who played the "Donger," who is now 52 and still acting. Read the article here.

I've always said that the problem isn't the media itself, but rather it's a problem with Asian American culture. Colonialism plays a role in shaping culture, but if we would pressure universities to actively create Asian American Studies programs based on knowledge and history rather than on stereotypes, we'd have much better progress on the media front. It all comes from the writing, which comes from education.

Personally, I don't have a strong opinion on the "Donger" either way, positive or negative. Actors play roles, some of which are good, others of which are bad. Some actors will lead the charge for change, while others will just do whatever their employers pay them to do. If the Donger hadn't taken this degrading role, someone else would have. Yes, it's racially stereotypical, but focusing on actors doesn't address the main problems in education and cultural creation.

One really good feature on this news article is the link to one of Adrian Tomine's comics that references the Dong-meister. Now that's cool.

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