I’ve thought long and hard over the past few weeks (which were spent not rewatching the series, since I forgot I had to pack for my big move), and I’ve thought about all of my positives and critiques of this season of Fresh Off the Boat. I think most of my criticisms were said in the first part of this post, but at the time, Eddie Huang hadn’t used Twitter to dig an even deeper hole for himself.
“It sounds like you’re changing your tune! Didn’t you write a post defending his rant?” Well, imaginary person, not quite defending his rant, moreso defending his frustration at the show being boiled down to what could be perceived by some as milquetoast. In my article, I was writing that there’s a formula Hollywood uses to make, for lack of a better term, make people “comfortable” with non-white stories on TV. I used examples I know, black shows, to exemplify how the minority show goes from showing extremely perfect, safe models of minority characters (“model minority” characters, if you will) to progressively showing characters that are a lot more flawed. Eventually you get to the “anything goes/minorities are people too” scale with shows like Empire.
What I didn’t write in that post, largely because I forgot because it took me hours to write it, was that I don’t agree with Huang’s approach of showing his angst. He needs tact, to say the very least. It’s always in bad form to bad mouth a show you’re associated with in a public forum. But, I could understand the core frustration of seeing something that probably didn’t gel with his “hard/real” idea of what the show should have been. He signed the contract, that is true, but sometimes anger is awkward. I know I’ve been in an awkward angry situation before. It didn’t turn out well, to say the least. I don’t think it ever does.
HOWEVER, with all of that said, I can not abide by his latest round of Twitter ranting, which involved him getting into a Twitter fight with black feminists, particularly Black Girl Dangerous, Trudy, KB and Feminista Jones. Most of the conversation can be seen in Jenn from Reappropriate’s amazing article on why Huang’s misogyny isn’t necessary in any conversation about anything.
The whole debacle happened because Huang said on Real Time with Bill Maher that Asian men are emasculated and devalued, making them treated as badly as black women. The statement stems from the OKCupid studies detailing how black women and Asian men are both the least-desired groups in online dating (at least on OKCupid). The studies themselves I view as BS, but they made the news rounds, annoying tons of people who read about them, including me. When asked to clarify his statement on Real Time, he could have simply sent out a set of tweets detailing what he was discussing. However, he went the completely opposite route, dismissing the women’s tweets, including coming on to them.
I’m not in his head, so I don’t know what he could have been thinking that would make him believe writing that made any sense. But it, along with other retaliatory remarks, such as:
.@RegularBlack_ PLEASE. CHINESE PEOPLE INVENTED BEING RICH. OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY IS A GATED COMMUNITY, PLEASE GET OFF OF MY PROPERTY
— RICH HOMIE HUANG (@MrEddieHuang) April 27, 2015
.@whatfaith WHAT HAVE YOU BUMS DONE? FOR REAL DOE!
— RICH HOMIE HUANG (@MrEddieHuang) April 27, 2015
only did tons of damage instead of coming off as righteous jokes. And why shouldn’t it not do damage? Not only has he offended many women by dismissing their viewpoints and then attacking them as if he’s the victim, but he’s also made some statements (whether he meant to or not) that are STEEPED in anti-black sentiment and model minority wank. All this Twitter fight did was make people worry as to whether Fresh Off the Boat, a show that has changed the TV landscape forever, would be cancelled due to his shenanigans.
It’s one thing to separate yourself from the show. That’s annoying in and of itself, but one can live with it. It’s another thing to insult people who just might be supporting your show, since I did see some that wrote they wouldn’t be watching again or they were glad they didn’t watch it in the first place.
So, with all of that said, I would suggest to ABC to 1) take a look at what I wrote in the first part of this post-mortem and 2) for them to consider very heavily about getting rid of Eddie Huang’s voiceovers. Just remove him from the show. He wants to be separated from it anyway; he can hate it from afar. Just pay him his royalties and leave him be.
I’m sure ABC is already considering this, if they haven’t already decided they won’t involve Huang in the proceedings anymore. He’s become a liability to his own show, which is a shame, since he could turn what he perceives as a negative into a positive way, such as using it to promote his restaurants and other ventures instead of being so narrowly focused on being “street” and “hard.” Of course, I haven’t even got into the names he uses for his menu items, another thing Jenn goes into in her article. It’s problematic to say the least.
I don’t know if I am right about what ABC’s considering, but seeing how he called Nahnatchka Khan out for working on American Dad and the like, became a lightning rod for fans to divide themselves on either #TeamShow or #TeamEddie, and now this misygony debacle, I don’t know why ABC would keep him as the voiceover guy. The show can succeed easily without him narrating it for us. And, to be honest, the show started using him less and less, evidence of how deep the split between him and ABC had become. It’d make complete sense for ABC not to hire him again.
To end this, I’ll just say that I hope Huang learns something from all of this, since the articles by Jenn, and Race Files’ Mark Tseng Putterman as well as an open letter by ManForward have made beaucoup waves on social media. So far, Huang’s kept interestingly and uncharacteristically silent on the matter, only tweeting innocuous stuff. Things have blown up well past Twitter now, so perhaps he’s finally learned something. Let’s hope, because I really wanted to support him and Fresh Off the Boat. But as it stands, I’m glad Fresh Off the Boat is coming back, and I’ll be ready to watch it when it graces my TV once again.
A suggestion for everyone reading this, since there are many issues that are involved in that Twitter conversation and comments about Asian men and black women, I would severely (yes, severely) advise everyone reading my post to view it as a post-it note to the articles by Jenn, Tseng, ManForward and other articles posted at the end of Jenn’s article (one of which is written by a 15 year old!). Reading all of those in conjunction (and some of the comments in those articles’ comments sections, actually) will help illuminate everything about these incidents. I’m merely touching the tip of the iceberg.