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Asian Persuasion: “What you know about these stereotypes?”

November 17, 2010

Raise your hand if you were shocked when you found out the group behind the song “Like a G6” is Asian (or if you are just now finding out and are currently shocked).

Now put your hand down, you look silly raising your hand in front of your computer.

I found out when I saw them perform in San Francisco.  They just happened to be at the club where I was getting my groove on with a few of my friends.  It was then that I figured out that a) they were Asian and hence the name “Far East Movement,” and 2) they were also behind the song “Girls on the Dancefloor” which I liked much better than the G6 song.  On stage they wore their trademark plastic glasses, shiny coats, and skinny ties while holding giant bottles of Grey Goose and giving out free shots (via pours in the mouth) to the willing young women near the stage. They seemed to embody the party life they were singing about in their songs.

I got a chance to listen to the album “Free Wired” (the name they have given their style of mixing underground dance beats with hip hop and pop) and overall really liked it.  I personally like all the inspirations they drew from but more than that, they seem to be picking up on the fact that while they are indeed making great danceable songs, they are also breaking stereotypes of Asian Americans.  I mean, why else did you raise your hand when I asked you if you were shocked they were Asian?

On no fewer than three songs on the album the lyrics include the question “What you know about these stereotypes?” And if you listen closely, sometimes they simply say the word “Stereotypes” through a synthesizer.  I absolutely love it.  Here are a few notable songs:

She Owns the Night – This song is about a “college girl with a four point o” that gets sexy on the dance floor at night.  The singer/rapper says “It’s not a question if you sexy, the only question is: What you know about these stereotypes?” So even though she’s your typical Asian American booksmart girl, she has no problem owning the night when the lights go out!

It Was You (OMG) feat. Snoop Dogg – I think one of the reasons we all were surprised that FM was an Asian group was their use of ebonics.  In this song, the chorus includes “You ain’t a dime/You’s a silver dollar/It’d be a crime/If I didn’t HOLLA”  It’s hilarious.  And has a catchy beat.

Girls on the Dancefloor – “Ste-re-o-types” through a synthesizer.  LOVE IT! Ebonics is definitely present in this song: swag, chillin’, gangsta’ lean, who I are, etc. This song is also breaking the stereotype of Asian men being less sexual than other men, as they talk about smacking those “bedroom thighs.”

Fighting for Air – FM channels their inner Backstreet Boys with an 80s twist. I like this song even though the main hook is grammatically incorrect, “You take MY breath away from ME” is redundant. But hey, if they’re breaking the stereotypes of smart Asians, they might as well go all in.

They also bring in a lot of guests on their tracks to make up for the fact that the guys in this group can make some sick beats, but can’t really sing.  I especially like Keri Hilson in Don’t Look Now.

That FM is making their anti-Asian stereotype album now is not totally surprising to those of us who found out there may be a “Jersey Shore” type show coming out called “K-Town” that focused on Korean Americans in Los Angeles, although admittedly not all of the cast was actually Korean.  The show included young Asian Americans who partied a lot, drank a lot, and had random sex with each other. Here’s a picture of the good-looking cast:

K (who is Korean…but that’s not why she goes by K…or is it?) had this to say:

When I think of asian stereotypes where I grew up – the stereotype was that Asians were all smart, good at math, played piano or violin.  In a word – nerdy.

I think the k-town cast looks like it’s going to really change how some people in less-diverse areas of the country think of Asian people…perhaps for the worse, but it also will demonstrate that Asians don’t have to be all that different from other cultures.

I think it’s going to have [two] effects. It’s going to tarnish people’s image of Asians and there will be some people who see the show and assume all Asians are like that, forgetting this is a reality tv show where they get free booze and are paid to go out and hang out with one another…but it’s probably going to break a lot of the other existing stereotypes as well.

Maybe FM should be the official music of K-Town if it ever gets picked up by a network. It’s been four months since I heard that it was being shopped around. Maybe the groundwork needed to be laid with other pop culture trends, and the Far East Movement may be even bigger than we think.

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