April 27, 2011

Disgrasian: You're A Disgrace. To Your Race.



I blog so much (often poorly). Apologies for all the typos; I write crazy fast. Sometimes I forget about why and how I do it. I love reading blogs and always want to replicate that which I admire and do things I feel others are not. This brings me to the always amusing Disgrasian blog that points out disgraces or "disgrasians" in Asian culture.

The site makes humorous and witty observations about society in terms of Asian racial archetypes and stereotypes. Creators Jen Wang and Diana Nguyen bill themselves as "A Tiger Mother's worst nightmare" and specialize in the ridiculous and hilarious aspects of Asian life in western culture. They offer a refreshing, balls out attitude and point of view that only being raised by immigrant parents can generate.

While pointing out foibles and absurdities in growing up Asian, they also highlight the obvious. I love the title of one of their latest articles referring to noted Tiger mom and author Amy Chua, called "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior: Because Their Daughters Get Into Harvard, That’s Why". I find that title kind of brilliant in its bluntness, dissecting the obvious.

I think one reason why Asians are shorted in media is our lack of public outrage or outcry, whether needless or not. It pains me when all Southeast Asian cultures are treated as interchangeable in cultural depictions. That's why I find Disgrasian so appealing, particularly their "Disgrasian of the Weak" [sic] feature, pointing out the generalizations of our different, rich cultures portrayed in public.



Furthermore, I really enjoy their takedowns of ridiculous Asians pop culture figures that do a horrid job of representing anyone. Tila Tequila and Bai Ling come immediately to mind. As their name would suggest, Disgrasian's bread and butter is pointing out our tendencies to shame and embarrass ourselves. They offer the best kind of self-mockery.

You can even find a dictionary breaking down various Asian reference including "Amazian", "Discrazian", and "Uncle Tam". While I don't think the blog offers anything groundbreaking or even new, Jen and Diana keep us honest and manage to breakdown the seriousness and humorlessness that comes along with our race's perceptions with a still needed Asian bent.

Going to UBC and growing up in Vancouver, I tired quickly of pseudo-academic Asian alternative publications with names like "Reflections" or "Perspectives". I felt they offered nothing significant about our culture by being bland and unforgettable while only further cultivating the same "Too Asian" sensibilities Asians are often criticized for. You can be open, honest, and more importantly funny without betraying your roots, and in fact, still embracing them.

With the MacLean's article, Chua's writings, and the UCLA indicident, I find this kind of commentary more relevant than ever. We can all stand to stop taking ourselves too seriously.

Call me a fanboy for my own race, but there's something refreshing about two young, bright, clever (non-white) Asian women bluntly commenting and mocking society for a change. Disgrasian offers a mostly thoughtful, always biting take on culture with a refreshingly self-referentially Asian perspective.


Source | KoreAm / The Durrian

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