Mastering Stereotypes: Kung Fooled

Wes, Ted, and Phillip, also known as Wong Fu Productions, have often times published videos that explicitly address stereotypes, conflicts, and perceptions that surround Asian Americans. In their 2011 video dubbed “Kung Fooled”, FreddieW and NigaHiga play starring roles as they attempt to use a stereotype to their advantage. The video begins with Freddie and Wes conversing about blatant stereotypes that Asian Americans face. Later on, Freddie is confronted by a white male with a knife who asks him for his money and cell phone. Freddie, while attempting to swat a fly, lucks out when the white robber “realizes” that Freddie knows Kung Fu. In return, the white robber leaves his cell phone and money and runs away. Soon after, Ryan Higa and Freddie confront each other after an accidental bump on the shoulders as they walked past. As things heat up, they both soon realize that neither of them knows Kung Fu, but are only bound by their stereotypical accusations. Freddie believes that the acting worked and that pretending to know Kung Fu saved him from two encounters thus far. When Freddie approaches a black male, he attempts to rob his car claiming that he knows Kung Fu. However, the African American male played upon his stereotype as the provoking hyper masculine African American male, successfully warding off Freddie.

This short video addresses the dangers of stereotypes and the falsities associated with them. Having a specific mindset given by the general public pertains many delusions of false confidence (in this example) but can also lead to delusions of low self confidence. The title of the video is quite appropriate in a sense that it is a pun that plays on Kung Fu, but addresses a grim, deeper context of stereotypes addressed to Asian American men.

In Nakamura’s “All Look Same”, Nakamura writes about a website that the general public can use to distinguish specific ethnicities of Asians from each other. The website has then since expanded and have included other forms of Asianic representations, such as art and food culture. However, their message is still the same. Depending on how one looks at this website, it can either be deemed racist or educational. This website, as does the video from Wong Fu, aims to distinguish and diversify Asians from existing stereotypes (All Look Same vs. All Knowing Kung Fu) through media exposure. After all, Nakamura does point out that Asian Americans browse the web most often.

8 thoughts on “Mastering Stereotypes: Kung Fooled

  1. I think the great thing about the web today is that now anyone who has access to a computer, smart phone or tablet can be a creator of popular culture. This takes power away from the hegemonic group and gives power to minority groups such as Asian Americans. Now, Asian Americans can create websites (such as alllooksame.com), blogs and YouTube videos (such as “Kung Fooled”) that redefine Asian Americans and/or battle stereotypes. In addition, there is much more space on the web for conversations to happen and for people to voice their opinions about certain pieces of information put out there. For example on our class blog. One person writes an original blog with their opinions and others can join in on the conversation by commenting and sharing their perspective on the issue, therefore the Internet is a great space to have open discussions about issues of race.

    Another interesting aspect of creating things on the web is that one can be anonymous. More specifically, one’s race can be hidden from the readers. This allows many interesting things to go on and opens an endless number of ways for the Internet to be used as a tool to redefine Asian Americans. However, the idea of anonymity on the web can also be an issue because many people who have negative or racist things to say often use the Internet to voice their opinions because they feel that they can do it anonymously.

    The site alllooksame.com is a great example of how Asian Americans are empowered through access to the web in their ability to redefine how people perceive Asian Americans. An Asian American author has created the website in order to send an important message to the public about Asian Americans. He uses the clever form of a game so that it is fun and will attract more people to try it out. This game is able to send a strong message to the player: you may think you have preconceived notions about what each “type” of Asian American looks like….. but by the end of the game you will realize you were wrong. So hopefully people leave the site with a slightly different perspective than when they logged on.

  2. I was honestly surprised at Nakamura’s statistic that Asian Americans had the greatest proportion of users on the internet. I thought that in American, Whites would have the greatest percentage online, or least be close to Asian Americans. I wonder how the absolute quantity of users online by race compares to the proportional values. I also wonder if webmasters and online advertisers are aware of this statistic.

    Then again, does it even matter? Behind the veil of online anonymity, what is the significance of race? This information never even surfaces on the internet unless asked for and voluntarily surrendered. The reason you never notice any “Asian dominance” on the internet is because there is no such thing. When everyone is just a username, everyone is truly equal. Generation Y was brought up alongside the internet, and now that they are starting to mature and influence the culture of Earth, perhaps the race-blind nature of the internet will eventually pervade into real-world society.

    World views change due to cultural upheavals and generational turnovers. The advent of the internet and the netizens is by far the most widespread transitional period in human history. Thus it is only a matter of time before the human race progresses further toward a global culture.

  3. The accessibility coupled with the anonymity that the internet provides makes it a great place for people to share their ideas and thoughts. Anyone how has access to the internet can make their opinions known without the fear of physical harm. The individuals who are well-versed in the use of this form of media can can amass a lot of influence and can utilize it to spread awareness and combat stereotypes. Asian YouTube stars such as Ryan Higa and Freddie Wong are definitely the powerusers that Nakamura refers to “All Look Same.” Ryan alone has over 9.5 million YouTube subscribers.

    Although Asians are considered a silent minority, it is very different on the web. Sites like alllooksame.com and asianamericanactivism.tumblr.com are created to support Asian American identity. Through the effective use of the web, these site are able to raise awareness and effectively combat the stereotypes about Asian-Americans.

  4. The Internet, like most other spaces in America, is extremely important for advertising. The demographics of users are crucial in the type of advertisements that are being placed on the web pages. So there is not necessarily a true anonymity on the Internet because the sites that you visit are used to produce advertisements catered to your specific browsing history.

    As Nakumara says that 75% of Asian Americans use the Internet, they represent an important group because they are exposed to a larger quantity of material. They become both producers and consumers popular culture and greatly expand the way in which Asian American popular culture is produced. I haven’t seen many of these videos before these blog entries, but many of them seem to be satirical in nature and address not only problems for the Asian American community but of problems in America as whole. The material being produced can exemplify the need for spaces where people can express the troubling situations of their everyday lives. Kung Fooled showed that while stereotypes are usually unrealistic they can be used to peoples advantage in certain situations.

  5. Kung Fooled takes a hilarious look at some stereotypes used to peoples advantage while at the same time showing just how ridiculous these stereotypes actually are. Nakamura points out in his article that the asian american community is the highest percentage of web browsers. In continuation with that it makes perfect sense for the asian american community to strike back against these stereotypes via the web.
    In Kung Fooled when the two asians meet in the alley and have the stand off in the alley both are pretending to know martial arts and are doing their impression of what they believe martial arts to look like. This scene shows the universal pressure stereotypes place on many asian americans. The total lack of knowledge on martial arts only further highlights the separation between reality and the stereotype.
    The numbers of asians on the web who can and do produce media which challenge these stereotypes is high. With the accessibility of the web only continuing to grow the audience for videos like this will only continue to grow. The power to change these stereotypes is there now but at the same time the internet has the potential to perpetuate these stereotypes on a new level. Therefore it is imperative that more media fighting stereotypes is produced, consumed and spread.

  6. I think internet today not only provides convenience, it also provides a way for different ethnic groups to clarify many different things. For example, when we watch Youtube clips we start to learn that not every ethnic group falls under the typical stereotype. However, I do discover something interesting online. Whenever we watch some Asian related clips, the commercial often is played in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese..etc. It seems to automatically assume that the viewers would be non-Americans.
    Since you do not need to reveal your true identity online, cyber bullying as well as racial discrimination becomes more severe online. Internet has provided a way for the general public to express their opinions, we can easily see how people think of Asians on the comment section and they can be quite harsh from time to time. Even though we seem to live in a peace in reality, we are actually having a racial war via internet everyday. It is always interesting to see how people think under internet anonymity.

  7. As has been mentioned by Nakamura, approximately 75% of Asian Americans are users of the Internet and thus represent a large part of what is consumed and produced via the Internet. Looking at the example of ‘Kung Fooled’, it is interesting to see how Asian Americans, especially Asian American youth, deal with trying to shed light on the ridiculousness of stereotypes and thus eventually hope to eradicate them. Through the use of social media sites such as YouTube, young Asian Americans have been able to create their own kind of pop culture and thus relate to all kinds of youths both Asian American and not Asian American. By relating to other Asian Americans, these creators almost console others in their ‘fobiness’ and make it okay to be different and encourage youth to retain their culture and not let dominant ‘American culture’ break ties to their tradition. While relating to other Asian American youth, these creators also relate to other non-Asian American youth, and make them aware that these stereotypes are not true. This playfulness with stereotypes and deconstructing them is easily done through the use of comedy, because if you can make someone laugh, they will most likely listen. At first even if there is some sort of hesitation to watch any of these videos, that goes away if the comedic factor is great enough. Over time people who may have previously believed in certain stereotypes learn that these are not true and grow to believe that Asian American youth is not much different and that all other cultures will have cultural/traditional influences in their actions no matter what.

    It is apparent that this video is aimed towards a demographic of young people who are around the age of the makers of the video as they mentioned ‘GOKUsan’ and ‘Zordon’ some characters in popular culture that a lot of youth of our age watched growing up.

    It is important that youth speak out to other youth to diminish these stereotypes because youth are more progressive and open minded and they truly are ‘the future’ so by relating to youth and educating them on different cultures and the misinformed stereotypes, the future will hopefully be void of as much racism and stereotypes as there are now.

  8. I agree with your point that Asian American’s digital majority and the disproportionate number of web users compared to other ethnicities empower Asian Americans. Anyone with a smart phone or access to a computer can get be a dominant voice in pop media. Nakamura’s reference to Asian Americans as “power users” can help Asian Americans resist and redefine negative stereotypes. This is exemplified by online media production companies such as Just Kidding Films and Wong Fu productions.

    After Tom Trinh’s talk, I watched a few videos produced by Just Kidding Films and found them hilarious. “Shit Asian Dad Say” particularly caught my attention because it definitely reminded me of my dad and things my dad would say at home. In the video, the dad talks and acts very “f.o.bby”.While some people can find the video very racist and offensive, I don’t find it demeaning towards Asians. Because the portrayal of Asians in JK’s videos are so exaggerated, I feel like they combat Asian stereotypes instead of perpetuating the controlled image of Asian Americans in other pop culture, such as in movies, TV, magazines, etc. I think this generation of Asian Americans can judge the difference between a harmless funny video versus actual racism (For instance, a girl from UCLA uploaded a Youtube video ranting on about how annoying Asians are in the library). From the perspective of someone who is more racially sensitive, I can see why he or she feels this type of crude humor is hurtful and disgraceful to Asian Americans. But to me, these videos are all in good fun and redefine Asian American identity in a new light.

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