Saturday, January 22, 2005

On William Hung

As we all know, every sophisticated poet and poetry lover is a fan of American Idol. One recent scandal in the Asian-American community (even bigger than the departure of Lisa Ling from The View) was the rise of contestant William Hung.

Any attempt at fully describing Hung feels like a failure, but basically, trying to be objective, Hung was a poor singer who sang Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" so enthusiastically that he endeared himself to much of the viewing audience but infuriated some Asian-Americans for fulfilling almost every negative stereotype of Asian Pacific American men in the book --think "an Asian-American Steve Erkel," and you've got the picture. You can google William Hung if you'd like more information.

I think much of how people perceive William Hung depends on their views on why he so quickly developed a fan base. Was it because he was charming and energetic? Or was it because he fufilled a negative, "me so solly" stereotype that made it easy and acceptable for people to mock and/or give mock affection to him? What role did his humility and innocence play in his popularity, and was it linked to race?

I'd be interested in reading poems on William Hung -- pro, con, or neutral -- or more essentially, poems about any real-life Asian-Americans. I think that the "biographical" poem about real-life Asian-Americans is a rarity in Asian-American poetry. There really haven't been a lot of famous, or infamous, Asian-American people that have entered the poetic or historic imagination.

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