AirTalk for June 12, 2013

Is it hip to be Asian in America?

A Korean pop group 2NE1. Are views towards Asian Americans changing in the U.S.?

Used to be that the U.S. was the world's cultural exporter writ large, but take a look at American pop culture today, and chances are, what you'll see is a lot of influence coming from Asia.

The shift has compelled one writer to proclaim that it is actually kind of cool now to be Asian in America. This increasing popularity has advanced the position of Asian Americans by making the culture mainstream and breaking down stereotypes.

"Asian Americans have had to endure quite a few stereotypes over the years. Being cool isn't one of them, until recently," said Phil Yu, blogger behind the influential Asian American blog, Angry Asian Man.

Those Asian stereotypes have been negative and positive, from all Asians are short to all Asians are good at math.

"In the end, to even just identify an entire group in one way is just kind of useless. I don't think much good can come out of that," said Eric Nakamura, owner of Giant Robot, a magazine, retail space and art gallery based in Santa Monica focusing on Asian and Asian American pop culture.

With thriving Asian-American communities, says Yu, a generation of young people is growing up comfortable in their own skins.

"They're creating an identity out of this Asian-American youth culture, and that maybe wasn't quite so possible or didn't come as easy a couple generations before," Yu said.

That was because earlier generations were more concerned with fitting in. Now Asian pop culture is exerting its influence on stateside taste like never before -- from boba drinks to the rise of K-pop to the popularity of Japanese fashion brands like Uniqlo. Globalization is one reason why, the power of the Internet is another, and then there's the rise of Asia as an economic super continent.

This phenomenon has been going on for a while, but it's not necessarily about setting trends or being cool, says Yu. 

"It's really about being comfortable in your own skin and saying this is my lifestyle," said Yu.

Guests:

Phil Yu, blogger behind the influential Asian American blog, Angry Asian Man

Eric Nakamura, owner of Giant Robot -- which is a magazine, a retail space and an art gallery based in Santa Monica focusing on Asian and Asian American pop culture

Nuran Alteir contributed to this online article.


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