Letter Of The Week

Chinese American Idol

I very much enjoyed David Ng's "Hung Out to Dry" [The Essay, April 7-13] However, there is one thing that Ng neglects to mention.

William Hung, intentionally or not (well, pretty clearly, unintentionally), serves as a fuck-you to the horrible generic adver-pop cobbler that the American Idol line chefs churn out. He's more culturally important (relatively speaking) than any of the "winners" whose dreadful, prefabricated mewlings have sold 100 million copies.

Ng may be right that the general public image of the Asian male is derisive, but it's important to acknowledge that Mr. Hung is choosing to do what he is doing. Considering the condescension, perhaps he should choose differently. But that's up to him.

Curt Hopkins
Eugene, Oregon

Hip to Be Square

David Ng completely misses the point regarding William Hung in "Hung Out to Dry" [April 7-13].

What's really going on here is the popularization of geek chic, not some insidious Asian American stereotyping (and as a geeky Asian American, I feel qualified to say this). William Hung is basically the Asian American Urkel. Can anyone out there say that Urkel became popular because he reflected something about African American stereotypes? No, people love geeks, especially geeks with lots of personality.

Clay Aiken became popular because he is a lovable geek. The two white guys on American Idol who have survived thus far (John Stevens and Jon Peter Lewis) are about as geeky as you can get, and not all that more talented than the white football player (Matt Rogers) who was cut. And who is the most popular cast member on BET's College Hill? Jabbari, the Star Trek-loving computer nerd who carries around his meditation stones in a pouch. Do any of these guys represent anything about Caucasian or African American stereotypes? No, they represent the geek world, where people like myself, William Hung, and Urkel live.

I think America is sick of the slick, over-produced, unreasonably good-looking people, the Nick Lacheys and Jessica Simpsons of the world. We are looking for people who are themselves—no matter how geeky—to rally behind. This is what William Hung represents.

Lesley Kim Grossblatt
Sacramento, California

Hung Jury

William Hung is a person who appeals to many (nonracist) people because of his charm and indefatigable spirit. It is David Ng who turns Hung into a stereotype when he writes "Most people know or have met a William Hung, and I met mine while . . . "

Dana Isaacson
East Village

Cho vs. Liu

David Ng's article on William Hung was dead-on and a pleasure to read. Back in the day, Anna May Wong sold Asian style to promote Chinese culture and explore her own identity (Wong was American). In doing so, did she unwittingly set a precedent for today's Asian American entertainers?

Nowadays, the solo entertainer must decide whether or not to use race as a selling point. There are two main types of Asian Americans in entertainment: the Margaret Cho camp, where you make fun of yourself before anyone else can, and the Lucy Liu camp, where you refuse to act as a spokesperson. I'm not sure where Hung falls, and I'm not quite sure he knows, either. He's a perfect model minority, but I wouldn't want to do him—that's where his geek chic differs from Clay Aiken's.

Maybe the Asian American community is so fiercely diverse that it lacks the unity to form a proud, cohesive identity, seen more readily in black or Latino culture. On the other hand, many people seem all too eager to label. After all, we are a previously untapped consumer group and marketing dream. See Yao Ming.

Stacy Wu
East Village

Avoiding a Bum Rap

Re Dasun Allah's "The Hip-Hop Cop" [April 7-13]: It is good to know that police in New York and other major cities are keeping an eye on the rap music industry. It's not a race thing; you fish where the fish are. African American music artists who croon syrupy love songs to older audiences are less often accompanied by thugs than those who sing about assaulting women and police officers. If the latter attract police interest while the former do not, where's the racism in that? Of course, I would hope the police also devote a little time to the white thugs who hang around the racist skinhead music scene.

We should have no tolerance for wiretaps, entry without warrants, or other illegal activities, but attending public events, taking photos in public places, and clipping newspapers should be fair game. Management is responsible for controlling costs, but the problem with intel is you seldom know what was the right thing to spend resources on until after the fact.

J. Keen Holland
Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania

Battle Crybabies

I am pretty liberal, I hate this administration, and I really hope that we can withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible, but this article about the kids deserting ["Soldiers Choose Canada," by Alisa Solo-mon, April 7-13] makes me sick.

I don't care how much you disagree with Bush or the war; you join, you serve. There is no draft, and if you really object to killing, why did you join? Those kids are using politics to cover for the fact that they are cowards.

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