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Game Changer – Eddie Huang

September 22nd, 2014  |  Published in FEATURE, SOCIAL SCIENCES

Eddie Huang VICE Podcast 2

On how good it felt being in Taiwan among a population that looked like him — “And I thought that was pretty neat. I never say neat. It’s, like, so fucking, like, that heartwarming moment that you talk like a 15 year old girl, you know what I mean?”

My introduction to Eddie Huang came with an episode of his VICE series Fresh off the Boat where he goes to Detroit (see video below) to see how some of the people there live. The friend who sent me the link said that I would be interested in Eddie, an Asian American story teller with a unique style who shows us things that others in media haven’t/don’t/won’t.

My immediate impression of Eddy was that he is something not just American media, nor even North American media needs desperately. He is healthy for the global media landscape: a straight shooting, no-bull, intelligent, tough, charismatic Asian American figure with a sharp sense of humour and his own way of presenting that absolutely must be heard to enjoy because saying it’s special and loaded with hip-hop and pop-culture is, although true, an embarrassingly inadequate description. He is an eff-you to stereotypes and sticks up for his culture. In terms of an immigrant story, he is of that adult generation that would rather be themselves than forced into assimilation.

Fresh Off The Boat book

 

On April 4, 2014, Eddie sat with Eddy (Moretti) for an hour long uninterrupted one on one to discuss a number of topics including growing up, why he wrote his book, what his book means, and upcoming work. I’ve seen quite a few interviews with Eddie having followed him for a number of months now. This one is my favourite with its casual feel in studio and the VICE workers going about their daily routine in the background.

Tons of interesting stuff in this interview. Some examples:

“I just never thought I’d ever break through the bamboo ceiling.”

On Orlando – “It’s all the ignorance and none of, kind of, the accoutrements that go with it. There’s none of the good pickled vegetables and sides that usually come with southern ignorance.”

“I just knew I wanted to write about my American experience. And how there’s so many of us that fall through the cracks of the American dream and the stories that are told to us every day…My story’s just not represented. Not in the mainstream. Not in the sub-culture. It’s just not represented…Margaret Cho is probably the only one I saw as a kid who came through and did her thing and spoke about her experience, but her experience is much different from mine. As a kid, as an 18 year heading to college I knew I wanted to write a book like this one day.”

“I like those things that untrain my brain. I feel like society really conditions you so much that I try just not to touch anything that is going to further condition my mind. I like to read in the margins.”

“We had a real struggle while writing this book talking about “How much vernacular did we want to use?”…And I said that I didn’t want to filter my book. I didn’t want to tame my book for the normal reading audience.”

On why he is most comfortable using his unique way of speaking – “I speak very well. I mean, I passed the LSAT. I went to law school. I know how to use those words. But I had to teach myself to use those words, and it’s very uncomfortable for me. I’ve always been a circuitous explainer of things. I use really strange metaphors and whatever to explain. And it definitely comes from hip hop, WWF, and comics. My thing as a kid was, I loved when people created their own universes…They had their own languages.”

“I saw Adam and Eve. And I saw the pictures, and I remember as a five or six year old I said, ‘Why is Adam and Eve white and I look like this? They don’t look like me.’ And they literally just picked me up and took me outside the room, like, ‘Get this kid out of the room.'”

“I’m torn between the idea of America and what it actually is.”

“Dumpling diplomacy.”

VICE’s Fresh Off The Boat With Eddie Huang: Detroit (Part 3/3)

FYI I think that because Eddie has agreed to have a show on ABC called Fresh Off The Boat as well, VICE has had to take down all the episodes from their series? That’s what I think is going on. Currently, when you search for the VICE series and click on a VICE video link, it will now go to a general page for his new VICE show called “Huang’s World.” You also can’t find links to the VICE episodes on Youtube. Sad. You can still find episodes of VICE’s Fresh Off The Boat through other sites, though (some, not all).

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