Friday, October 7, 2016

Much Wu Wu About Nothing....

Constance Keeps It Constant....

There was a YOMYOMF post recently that sought to defend Constance Wu from accusations of hypocrisy after she tweeted criticism of the casting of Matt Damon in a historical film set in ancient China. As readers might know, Damon is Caucasian and very much un-Chinese - making his starring role in a film set in this period of ancient Chinese history somewhat anachronistic. So, Wu's comments are on point.

The criticism of Wu came from - according to the YOMYOMF article - Asian men who, apparently, consider her a hypocrite because she criticizes white racism yet, she is dating a white man.

This is the significant piece of what she said, but you can read the full tweet here.....
We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world.........Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.
The YOMYOMF article links to this Hapa Reddit thread as its primary example of Asian men shitting on Wu. I have a couple of things to say about this whole shitfest.

Firstly, to cite a Hapa reddit thread and then throw out the accusation that it is "Asian men" who constitute most of the critics is one conflating bridge too far. If you read through the Hapa Reddit site, you will notice that a good amount of it is devoted to criticism of Asian female and white male relationships. As the offspring of mixed marriages/relationships who most likely are drawing from personal (often painful, apparently) experiences in their criticisms of their own backgrounds, to dismiss them as "Asian male trolls", is insulting to their life experiences as mixed-race people who have a unique perspective on the racial dynamics of mixed-race partnerships. At the very least, they are owed - as human beings - the decency of having their experiences not dismissed out of hand merely because it makes progressives uncomfortable.

It doesn't help that the Hapa Reddit thread criticizing Wu dates from 11th June 2016, whilst Wu's tweet was published on 29th of July - so the Reddit thread is not actually criticizing her specifically for her tweet.

The second issue relates to what Constance Wu actually said in her tweet and whether it warrants the kind of orgasmic excitement displayed by many in the Asian-American activist blogosphere. Firstly, I don't agree that Wu is being a hypocrite or inconsistent by having a white boyfriend. And neither do I think she deserves to be insulted because of this.

At the same time, her words...
We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world....
...weakened her case and left her open to criticism. Let's be honest, the high rate of out-marriage amongst Asian women (particularly to white men) also, in its own way, perpetuates a racist myth of Asian men made undesirable by their misogyny. There's no getting away from this fact. But this is not why I'm not particularly inspired by Wu's tweet.

In essence, Wu's comment follows the worn and weary path of recent fashionable Asian-American activism. She takes an issue of specific anti-Asian bias and uses it as a springboard to wax poetic about a general issue of bias in which the specificity and unique issue of Asian cultural invisibility becomes secondary. She doesn't even use the word "Asian", and the word "Chinese" crops up only in relation to the film's investors. In effect, Wu has herself rendered Asians - that is, East and South-East Asians - somewhat invisible.

Even the people that Wu puts forward as our heroes - Malala, Ghandi, and Mandela - don't actually look like me or my ilk. Doesn't she have heroes who look East or South East Asian? If she can't think of any such people, then that in and of itself speaks to a need for activism that focuses on us, and not some wild, pompous, big tit in the sky approach that is inclusive of everyone but satisfies no one and renders me invisible. The content of Wu's tweet is not even particularly unique or original - these sentiments have been, and continue to be, voiced by anonymous Asians on countless forums and blogs.

So, while it is good that these ideas are being voiced by a high profile figure in the public arena, there's nothing new being said, and the way it is being said actually renders me invisible. The crux of the problem is that Asian-American activist thinking has become so one-dimensionally focused on "coalition" building that it has become one of the major forces marginalizing Asians - Constance Wu's tweet illustrates this as clear as day.

While there is grandstanding about "building coalition" with other minorities, the all-important foundation of an Asian-American coalition seems largely neglected. There seems to be a lack of cohesiveness and understanding between the various ethnic Asian groups, between generations, genders, sexualities and social classes. The dis-unity of Asian-America is even exacerbated by the anti-Asian racist rhetoric of Asian progressivism that characterizes Asian men as toxic, Chinese FOBs as rampant anti-black racists, and any Asian man who works in the tech industry as an implicit supporter of white supremacy.

Constance Wu, in a subsequent moment of activist zealotry was kind enough to illustrate this division for us in another tweet where she seemed to voice support for a mail-order bride "sitcom" that was being considered by media racists. As a privileged woman of North-East Asian descent, living in the wealthiest country in the world, Wu seems to be out of touch with Asian women in the less prosperous countries of Asia who, perhaps, are more vulnerable to exploitation.

In short, there really is not much to see here. Constance Wu's sentiments meet the required standards of present-day Asian activism in that it utilizes an instance of specific anti-Asian bias to promote an agenda that results in more invisibility for Asians. There's nothing inspirational about that, regardless of who Wu is dating.