Catching The Yellow Fever

Wong Fu Productions is one of the most popular Asian American filmmakers/artists on the web. With over 1,700,000 subscribers to date, their success is attributed to their first short film, “Yellow Fever.”

Initially released in 2006, “Yellow Fever” follows a young Asian American college student, Phil Wang, as he questions why “all the white guys are taking our girls.” Phil is the only one passionately curious and fascinated with “what do white guys have that Asian guys do not,” while his fellow Asian male friends appear more indifferent and nonchalant about this issue. Phil makes it his quest to figure why white guys would go for Asian girls and why Asian guys would never go for white girls (or could never) in hopes of finding a girl for himself (“maybe even a white girl.”) A friend of Phil suggests that Asian girls are mesmerized by and attracted to the white male’s masculine and rugged qualities -something that Asian men do not have, such as a big butt and body hair. Phil then goes to his white friend, Andrew for advice on getting a woman’s attention. Andrew gives Phil poor tips such as how Asian women love it when white men say “Ni hao ma” in a poor accent. Phil replies that that technique could only work one way. Andrew also shows Phil how he can simply point and at an Asian girl, give her a “look,” move his fingers in a “come hither” motion and she will come running. The film’s popularity is due to its usage of humor, sound effects, identification with the main character and incorporation of memorable scenes, (For example: the scene where the Asian women are attracted to the simple act of the white male character spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread.) Although their commentary reveals that Wong Fu Productions never meant for this video to make any type of social commentary, Wong Fu productions and “Yellow Fever” gave a comedic spin on the questions of present day miscegenation between Asians and Whites.

As Lisa Nakamura states, Asian Americans are the Internet’s most active users. YouTube is effective and influential for Asian Americans due to its ability to “recast Asian Americans as the powerusers of cyberspace.” In a technological age where cameras and editing programs are easily accessible, Asian Americans are taking part in self-identification while destabilizing the notions of essentialism and Asian authenticity through YouTube videos. By taking the perspective of an Asian American male character interested in finding a companion, “Yellow Fever” reveals that Asian Americans are falsely represented as the “model minority.” The film also resists the ideals of the sexless, nerdy Asian male and raises questions about the mainstream definition of masculinity. Does having body hair and a big butt make you more masculine than others? Hmm…

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