Is America Obsessed with Asian Women?


poster for "the barbarian and the geisha" (1958)

I came home from a trip to the States with a question: Is America obsessed with us Asian ladies?

Leafing through the November/December issue of Radar magazine I picked up at the San Francisco airport, I got to thinking. In the mag, I found not one but two (albeit tiny) pieces on dating/marrying us, Asian women.

First I saw scary pictures of the following couples: Nicholas Cage, 41, dressed in a traditional Korean garb, with his then 19-year-old waitress-turned-bride Alice Kim; Rupert Murdoch, 74, and his Chinese translator-turned-wife Wendi Deng, 36; CBS chairman Les Moonves, 56, and Chinese American anchorwoman Julie Chen. With a screaming title, "The New Trophy Wife." Yup, lately the rich and famous moguls are scandalously choosing Asian beauties over (gasp!) traditional blonde bimbos as their second or third or fourth much-younger wives.

Wow. The New Trophy Wife? Have we finally arrived or what?

Then there's a Radar list of "Advice for Men Who Hope to Date Asian Women, from the editors of Audery, a magazine for Asian-Americans". The tips includes:

-- For the love of God, don't open up with 'I love Asian women,' or 'hello' in any Asian language.
-- Don't ask us advice on herbal medicines.
-- Don't take us out to an Asian restaurant where the entire wait staff consists of Asian women dressed up in traditional Asian costumes.

All kind of predictable, but still, what's important is the implication that they want to date us.

Who can blame them? Even Harry Potter has a crush on an Asian cutie. While in the US visiting family and friends, we grabbed "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" with one of our nephews. It's pretty good. Of course, I slept through the first half of it (blame the jet lag), but our nephew says it's the best one ever, and I believe him. And Harry's first-ever love interest is a Chinese girl, played by a lovely Katie Leung.

Once in the theater, there was no way we could avoid the trailer of that nonsense of a movie: "Memoirs of a Geisha." I predict the Japanese audience will go wild the moment those Chinese action stars start shouting at each other, "I will destroy you!" in accented English. The point of the movie is that somebody really, really liked to see catfights among pretty Asian gals in gorgeous (but spectacularly incorrectly interpreted) traditional outfits.

It was exactly the point, as far as I'm concerned, of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," too. Is "Geisha" a remake of "Tiger"? Are these two basically the same movie? In the former, beautiful fighter Michelle Yeoh mentors the young and delicate Ziyi Zhang. "Geisha" features beautiful geisha Michelle Yeoh supposedly mentoring the young and delicate Ziyi Zhang.

In any case, here's one thing I would add to Radar's "Advice for Men Who Hope to Date Asian Women" list:

-- Don't ever start a "Geisha: a hooker or an artist?" debate with us. I'm begging you.



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