The identity of the Asian American has been hampered by such type-casting. It predisposes people to be inclined to laugh at Asians even in circumstances where they are not being funny or even trying to be funny. They laugh because they are used to it. Here at KOC, we protest against this subtle yet powerful illusion that is not representative of the reality. We aim to forge a respectable and dignified identity for the Asian American. So, it is our pleasure to bring you...The Search for Bobby Lee!!!
1) Bobby Lee
What better place to search for Bobby Lee than with Bobby Lee himself. Bobby Lee is an actor/comedian best known for his role on the TV show Mad TV. The characters that he played were mostly Asian-type roles such as parodies of Kim Jung Il, Connie Chung, and a blind Kung-Fu master. It was a comedy show, so he played the characters in a manner that poked fun them. And that's our point here. We would like to see characters that are not tied to some form of Asian caricature. We want to find the real Bobby Lee, the one who is...you know...like everyone else.
2) Asian Guy on Blind Date
The producers of Blind Date put an Asian guy on the show who fit many Asian stereotypes. Reality TV is not really reality, as there is scripting involved. So, the Asian guy deserves blame also for agreeing to play this type of role. For those of you who watched the show, you might know that Blind Date became a show where many actors/models went to publicize themselves. So, he may have gone on the show to promote his brand. That's the sad part...this was his brand.
3) Jet Li
How about we try another Li, Jet Li. Ahhh, now here is someone who commands respect. Jet Li is a martial arts expert turned movie star. He has starred in many hit movies both in Asia and America. The characters he plays are usually kick-ass. We like that. The trouble with Jet Li is that in the spectrum of Asian American, he is almost purely Asian. In fact, he became an American citizen and then renounced it and moved to Singapore. So, here we are searching for our identity, and one of the candidates takes off and leaves!!! Oh no, this can't do.
4) Shark Tank Contestant
Okay, how about this one. One of our favorite shows is Shark Tank where contestants present business ideas to try to get funding from venture capitalists. It does not get any more real than giving a presentation to try to get money. Bobby Lee doppelganger, Mary Ellen Simonson, appeared on an episode to pitch her idea of a sticky pad (formerly known as Post-It Note) for sticky pads. Huh??? That was also the reaction of the Sharks. Oh no, here was a golden opportunity to prove our case in front of a national audience and....sigh....fast forward to 25:50 of the next clip.
So, what have we unearthed in our search for Bobby Lee, the Asian American identity? Well, in the immortal words of Bono, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". Proper portrayal of Asian Americans in the media remains illusive. We can only carry on and continue to fight the good fight and demand that media stop the stereotypical patterns and progress to casting Asian characters in roles that are dignified and respectable.