So I’ve been seeing this piece being shared on social media over the weekend asking the question: Is it inconsistent that Constance Wu’s boyfriend is white considering her strong advocacy on the part of Asian Americans?
For those requiring some more context regarding this question, Wu plays the role of the matriarch Jessica Huang on ABC’s series FRESH OFF THE BOAT and has emerged as one of the loudest public voices on issues of Asian American representation like calling out the trailer for the upcoming film THE GREAT WALL, which stars Matt Damon as a white dude in historical China who’s apparently leading the fight against some monsters and…whatever the fuck it is ’cause I can’t make heads or tails from that trailer.
But as the question posed above suggests, there are some in the community who have issues with the fact that her boyfriend is white and believe that somehow makes her a hypocrite for speaking out on Asian American issues.
I’m going to venture to say that most, if not all, of her
trolls critics are my fellow Asian American men. This isn’t a new thing. I remember taking Asian American studies classes back in college and no matter what the topic was, somehow the discussion always returned to “white male-Asian female relationships” and how the “prevalence” of these relationships was evidence that Asian women were race traitors contributing to the continued emasculation of Asian American men in America. And yes, it was always an Asian American male student who hammered this point over and over.
Obviously, the stereotype of asexual Asian men was and is a real issue–as is the continued media portrayal of Asian women as exotic love interests for white males–and all that should be addressed, but I never found those discussions to be genuinely productive since they usually stayed on the level of name calling and attacking Asian women and not much more. Clearly, in the over two decades since those college days, the dialogue really hasn’t progressed much at all.
Now, before I address the Constance Wu question, I should point out that I don’t know Wu, never met her, don’t her boyfriend, don’t know much about her life beyond what I’ve seen and read since the premiere of FRESH OFF THE BOAT. But I have been impressed by her outspokenness which is rare for Asian Americans in the industry who generally tend to not be so vocal for, among other reasons, fear of offending people in the industry and losing jobs. Wu doesn’t seem to care about that and has said as much. Kudos to her.
Which leads us back to the question of the day: does the fact that she have a white boyfriend negate her advocacy?
To which, let me reply with a simple question of my own: WHY THE FUCK IS THIS EVEN A QUESTION?! Come on, guys, it’s 2016, can we please reframe this dialogue differently? Why does this even matter?
Look, if Wu had come out and straight out said something to the effect of, “Asian men are unattractive, they have small dicks, they’re gross and yucky,” then I’d be the first to say fuck her, but that’s not the case. As far as I know, she has never said anything vaguely anti-Asian male and simply having a boyfriend who’s white and whom she seems to have a genuine relationship with is not the same as dissing Asian males. That’s what’s known as a false equivalency.
So in researching this issue (i.e. googling “Constance Wu” and “sorry ass loser motherfuckers”), I came upon a Reddit thread created back in June entitled “Constance Wu and her average white boyfriend. Asian females are hypocrites.”
Since this reddit thread is apparently where all the truly sorry ass loser motherfuckers are hanging out, let me address a few of their
Yes, she has stated that she is interested in supporting projects by Asian American women and LGBTs. Again, just because she’s passionate about seeing more of our female and LGBT filmmakers succeed doesn’t mean she is dissing or excluding Asian men. This statement is the equivalent of those folks who say #AllLivesMatter whenever #BlackLivesMatter comes up. Just shut the fuck up!
As others on the thread pointed out, this isn’t even true. It’s what’s known as a Trumpism–putting forth information with no basis in reality as “fact” because you heard someone talk about it or you read about it somewhere or God came to you in your sleep and told you so.
I don’t even know how to respond to this. Hey dumbasses, FRESH OFF THE BOAT is a fictional TV show written by writers who make up the stories. The actors on the show are hired to pretend to be other people. So no, that is not a real family we’re watching and it’s not a documentary. IT’S NOT REAL!
There’s no way the comments can get stupider than that, right? Well:
What does this even mean? But I’d love it if you could tell me how to do the dishes the right Asian way ’cause I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing it wrong.
Speaking of the Chinese Exclusion Act since you brought it up, that “disgusting traitor” is developing a project about that (among other things which also sound inclusive of Asian men). What are you doing, BTW?
And moving on to:
So of course no online thread criticizing an actress would be complete without the “she’s really ugly” comment. Sorry, I think she’s pretty damn attractive.
And finally, no online thread criticizing an Asian American actress would be complete without a broadening of the focus to include others:
Not much to say after that.
UPDATE (8-22, 1:45PM): Let me add one more response since I’ve been seeing a number of reactions like this since this blog went up:
Again this is a false equivalency. Firstly, this is comparing apples to oranges. Being in what appears to be a loving relationship with a human being isn’t comparable to something like running a slaughterhouse or owning a Hummer (the other example I’ve been seeing a lot today is how she’s like an environmentalist who owns a Hummer).
For this comparison to work, she’d have to be, for example, producing movies featuring Asian characters but casting a white actor in the lead role (i.e. Scarlett Johannson in GHOST IN THE SHELL). If she were doing something like that while still claiming to be an advocate for the community then comparing her to an animal rights activist running a slaughterhouse would be a comparison that makes sense. So if Constance Wu announces she’s going to produce and act in a movie set centuries ago in China that stars Matt Damon, then by all means go to town and call her out on her hypocrisy. But that is clearly not the case here.
But let me help you out with a better example–an equivalent comparison would be to say she’s like a pro-vegan activist in a relationship with a non-vegan. Does that make the vegan activist a hypocrite? I’m sure some would argue so, but I don’t see how that should matter as long as she’s true to her principles and cause (and yes, there are examples of vegan activists in real life who are married to supportive non-vegans who continue to do their activist work without any problems). Just as a Christian who is with a non-Christian can still be a devout Christian, just as a Democratic activist working to get Hillary Clinton elected can be married to a Donald Trump supporter, just as someone who’s a cancer survivor can advocate for funding and resources for cancer research while in a relationship with someone who’s never had cancer–these are just some examples of couples I personally know who don’t have an issue navigating around what some may see as a contradiction.