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Monday, 20 August 2018

Review: Uploaded: The Asian American Movement (2012)

Uploaded: The Asian American Movement

Synopsis: A documentary that explores the increasing visibility of Asian Americans in pop culture since the advent of new media forms such as YouTube 

'For Many Asian Americans, Online Exposure Is Where It Is At'

You may have seen or heard of half-Chinese, half-Korean actress & rapper, Awkwafina (real name Nora Lum) in Crazy Rich Asians & her co-star Mindy Kaling, both of whom were in Ocean's 8, Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill, Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi), Ken Jeong in The Hangover and Bruce Lee in a particular movie of theirs. But for the latter, there are fewer Asian Americans actors and entertainers in showbiz compared to their White and Black/African American counterparts.

Even with the recent Crazy Rich Asians that has been making waves with audiences and critics, Asian and Asian Americans roles in TV, movies, music have been reduced to bit-part and sidekick roles and roles that reinforce stereotypes; thus, it still has a long, long way to go in being embraced by the media and entertainment industries. However, this is a totally different story when it comes to online media through Youtube, blogging, social media and networking on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram wherein they are using these platforms and sources to project their ideas, views, comments and other content and to connect and keep-up-to-date with their audiences. 

Originally a Kickstarter project, 2012's Uploaded: The Asian American Movement is a documentary that charts the visibility, emergence and uprise in the current generation of Asian-Americans who seek other avenues to further project & showcase their ideas and talents to the worldwide online community. & in seeking alternative ways to do so by creating Youtube videos, podcasts, websites and blogs to name but a couple, which they would otherwise would not have been successful through traditional media such as TV and movies, as opportunities do not arise for them. By doing so, they are showing that initiative and leading the way by helping to redefine and reshape how Asian- Americans are perceived and valued in the media and society.

Kent A.Ono a professor of communications and Asian- Americans studies at the University of Illinois insists that whilst the lack of Asians in mainstream media is down to the misconception that Asian-American actors are not bankable to audiences, the huge numbers of Asian- Americans accessing the internet just shows there is, in fact, an audience out there for them.  

For me, Blogger through blogging has been my platform of choice for creating and sharing content, such as film reviews and such as I am not very good at making and uploading videos on Youtube, and it has been a tremendous experience, where I am also learning and trying to better myself and one where I am attaining viewers and readers from around the world, who access my content. 

Uploaded has altered my opinion on youtube stars, particularly the Asians and Asian-American ones and I think it is good to see them doing what they love and enjoy, but more importantly, doing it because they feel passionate about it without having to seek anyone's approval and they have something meaningful and of value to add, of which mainstream media would not give them the time or day. 

Asians have always faced that reputation of conforming to certain standards and have long remained an invisible, submissive and undervalued community in wider society. It doesn't help also that we have been burdened with labels: the model minority who are well-educated, not criminals or drug dealers, the smart one who is a doctor, the perpetual foreigner (the 'where are you from?' question is the most common example that many Asian- Americans, Brits etc get asked all of the time), Charlie Chan, the aggressive angry woman trope & sexually hungry dragon lady and the tiger mother. Additionally, pressures placed by family members, particular elder and senior parents and the older generation of traditionalist Chinese, on young Asian Americans, British Asians, Australian Asians etc to achieve higher academic success and to do extremely well in their studies in order to become teachers, doctors, bankers, lawyers, when being an actor, performer, musician is constantly looked down upon as being not 'acceptable', has played a considerable factor as to why there aren't that many movie & TV stars and actors, singers and musicians, artists of Asian origin/descent. 

Yet social media and the internet has shown how this generation of Asians have confounded these misconceptions and labels & that what they are doing right now can only be passed onto the next gen of online stars and people like myself, of whom, want to share their ideas and views. We can't land professional jobs and careers as journalists, writers, singers, actors, performers, TV hosts - but that doesn't mean we can't stop creating content and doing what we love and are passionate for, even for peanuts, or in the case of myself, for free. 

Final Verdict:

Uploaded: The Asian-American Movement is a really good look at online Asian American representation and celebs and stars, how they got to where they are, and that whilst the concept of a celebrity has changed for the good, as well as bad - bad being it is easy to become a star on Youtube and not having to go through the process of rehearsals and being selected for certain shows, movies etc -, for Asians and Asian-Americans who find it increasingly difficult to get their foot through the door, when it comes to starring and appearing on movies, TV shows etc, online via Youtube and other social media and entertainment outlets has made it all the more easier and possible for them, when otherwise through traditional media and entertainment forms, it would have been even more difficult and their chances would be slimmer. 

It's a well-produced documentary that manages to probe and answer the questions that have been dogging Asians and Asian-Americans for years on that issue of their lack of exposure, lack of Asian voices and celebrities and what is being done to turn this negative into a positive by finding their true calling in online media, where they are reaping the rewards. 


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