Wednesday, November 11, 2009

[Retroview] Asian American Primetime 1995

Back in 1995, the now-defunct A. Magazine was looking at the best and worst of 1995, including a sub-article by Emil Guillermo about what was happening in TV.

Guillermo pointed out: Connie Chung was a CBS anchor, Russell Wong was on 'Vanishing Son' and Margaret Cho had her show 'All-American Girl'. And this was all pretty exciting, although it was also all over in a flash within months for each of these projects.

Back then, highlights were limited roles for Asian Americans as 'The Other Woman' with Lauren Tom's arrival as Julie, a girlfriend for Ross on 'Friends' while Amy Hill got to be in 'Seinfeld' as a Korean nail salon owner or 'The Rookie' pointing out the Star Trek series 'Voyager' with Garrett Wang as Ensign Kim and Joel de La Fuentes in 'Space: Above and Beyond.'

Guillermo also pointed out roles as 'The Gunga Din' or 'The Victim,' including an episode of 'Picket Fences' that had a storyline concerning Hmong bridal kidnapping and killing chickens.

Guillermo's closing question back then was: 'Is Asian as anything but normal better than Asian as nothing at all?'

Interestingly, in that same issue, A. Magazine was on a bit of a roll, giving the 'I'm Every Asian' Plastic Casting Cast for Ethnic Flexibility award to Jason Scott Lee citing his string of as roles as Chinese, Eskimo, South Asian, Polynesian and the Buddha in films such as Dragon, Map of the Human Heart, Rapa Nui, The Jungle Book and Buddha Siddhartha.

So, that's close to 15 years ago. Has a lot changed? And arguably, have we been a part of that change?

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