How New Media Empowers Asian Americans

On Saturday, April 30, I had a chance to attend the C3, the Conference for Creative Content, which focused on participation in new media. The conference was held at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles and presented by Visual Communications in partnership with the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). Featured speakers included Wong Fu Productions and Harry Shum Jr.; topics discussed were acting in new media, intellectual property regarding new media, and web appropriate content.

It was one of the first industry events I had attended and it was interesting to hear the discussion on how media is becoming more digital and popular. People are logging on to different platforms like Hulu and YouTube to watch shows, short films, and skits, instead of TV shows. It was cool to hear that Asian Americans, in particular, are leading the way in this new wave of new media.

“You got to think globally about the Internet. There’s a need for original content; stories that can speak to anyone in the world in their language in real time. It’s really a small, flat world that we’re living in,” said Hieu Ho, a producer who has worked on The LXD: Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. “It’s a historic time, where there’s hegemony and representation by Asian Americans. New media is about visibility and representation.”

But like any form of media, there are advantages and disadvantages to using new media. While there's room for creativity and accessibility, there are also disadvantages, like protecting your intellectual property.

“The most intriguing thing about new media is the level of red tape you don’t have to go through. You get to put on your producer hat more and do more stuff on your own, that’s what drives new media,” said Kevin Tancharoen, director of the 2009 remake of FAME.

Wong Fu Productions also created and curated a special program at C3, which showcased their work and clips from their fellow YouTube stars Kevin Wu of KevJumba, Freddy Wong of Freddiew, among others. It was a particularly meaningful event for Wong Fu Productions as it was their 100th speaking event. People were lining up four hours before the event start and the room was filled to capacity with not just young Asian Americans, but people of all backgrounds who were inspired by Wong Fu Productions’ work. Watching their clips on a big screen, it was interesting to see the growth and transition of their videos from the the past eight years and I’m excited to see the projects they have in store for the future. With this conference, it is clear that new media has taken hold of the entertainment industry and the line is starting to blur between what is considered mainstream and what is not.

“New media hasn’t existed for that long, but it has allowed talented people to showcase their work. It exposes Asian Americans in a new light, a more positive light where they’re not bound by stereotypes. It’s also a more accurate depiction of their capabilities beyond one dimension,” said Wesley Chan of Wong Fu Productions. “We never made it to a goal to help new media evolve. We make content that people enjoy. When people watch our videos, they can relate to our stories as Asian Americans; it spreads to other ethnicities and touches people at a deeper level. We want to keep growing and to continue making content without limitations.”

Photos courtesy of Connie Chung and Connie Ho