Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Feel free to call me Pantone 110

If you haven't noticed, I'm Asian, of Chinese descent to be exact. We Chans go way back; cuz you know, you can't spell China without Chan. It's in my genes and without a doubt, I live my life with one foot firmly planted in the Asian culture. For example, I love me some Asian food and I know how to pronounce Nguyen, Ng and Zhang. There's probably more examples but do you really need more?

So I embrace my Asian-ness but at the same time I've been called a twinkie and/or banana (think colors, not shape). That is, I'm not Asian enough. However, on the other extreme, you can get called a fob (fresh off da boat). That is, you are too Asian. Because c'mon, everyone who's anyone has assimilated.

Hey, it's not all straight A's in math and perfect violin concertos for us Asian kids (I'm so going to get in trouble for this). We got tough identity issues too. Which brings me to the point of this post. (I know, it keeps taking me longer to get to my point. I'm working on it. And what is up with my use of parenthetical statements?)

I was scanning my cable channels the other night when I came across the Imaginasian TV network. The first 24/7 Asian American network, eggs welcomed (colors, not shape). Be sure to watch the feel good intro. Anyways, paused on the channel skipping and thought: cool beans!

I sunk down deeper into my comfy chair and prepared to soak in the "relate to me!" goodness of the content. Bring on the soak! ...Except it didn't happen. I felt like one of those KFC napkins, the ones wrapped with the spork, trying to clean up spilled soda (trust me, someone out there is laughing their ass off). I just didn't really feel any relation or special enjoyment of the content.

I sunk deeper into the chair as the weight of my guilt pressed down. Was I unsympathetic to my roots? Have I lost that connection to my fellow Asian-American brothers and sisters? Was I overthinking it?

With some deeper reflection, what I realized was that the channel is inherently flawed. I just don't think you can make an Asian American channel that reflects everyone and also relates to everyone at the same time. It would be like trying to make a European-American channel and expecting the French to feel cozy with the Germans. Nothing wrong with either group but they have different points of reference. On the ImaginAsian channel, I was watching Korean-American, Japanese-American, Indian-American, Chinese-American, etc-American content that was only loosely cohesive, perhaps attached by only a hyphen.

So what it boils down to is that I'm not sure what target market is going to pick up this channel. I'm not interested and yet I think I'm their exact target. So what gives? Am I just not getting it?

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