“K-Town”, a YouTube reality series based in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, plans to shed the model minority label placed on Asian Americans.
Coined as “Jersey Shore for Asians,” the show is drawing negative criticism for its focus on the cast’s heavy drinking, frequent partying, and blown-up drama.
The eight Asian American cast members, however, represent the young members of the community more realistically and in a way the public is not used to seeing, say creators of the series.
Eugene Choi, co-creator and producer of the show, said that the show is depicting a portion of Asian Americans who are underrepresented in the entertainment industry.
“[B]ecause Asians are so severely underrepresented in the media (specifically TV and film), I believe any and all exposure is a good thing right now. The only images people see of Asians are of the stereotypical roles of the nerd, the martial artist, and the Asian prostitute,” Choi wrote The Daily Caller in an e-mail. “So it is very important to see other portrayals, good or bad, because I think then eventually people will realize that Asians are very diverse and have many layers to them.”
The lack of Asian American representation in the entertainment industry is visible: Just 3.8 percent of Asian Americans made up in TV and theatrical roles in 2008, compared to 6.4 percent of Latinos and Hispanics, and 13.3 percent of African Americans, according to data from the Screen Actors Guild.
Mike Le, another executive producer and creator of the show, was quoted by a Southern California NBC affiliate as saying, “I think a little shame is a good thing at this point.”
Choi told TheDC, “[T]he ‘little bit of shame’ comment was taken totally out of context, and that phrase was used to make a larger point. It’s unfortunate that the reporter[s] zeroed in on that comment and made it seem like that was our only goal for producing this show.”
He said that the statement was meant to express the importance of “K-Town” that shows the good and the bad of Asian American culture, “so we aren’t simply seen as a model minority, or one of those stereotypes mentioned above; to a certain degree Asians aren’t seen as people.”