The Magnificent Seven’s Lee Byung-Hun on Hollywood Racism and That Time He Got Mistaken for Ken Jeong
There’s no other Korean-born actor who can boast Lee Byung-Hun’s resume in Hollywood: After a flourishing career in South Korea, he made his Hollywood debut with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in 2009, going on to star in a string of action films including RED 2, Terminator Genisys, and most recently as a shoot-'em-up cowboy in The Magnificent Seven. But as with any first, he’s experiencing how difficult it can be to blaze a trail. Speaking to the Korean website Dailian, Lee discussed some of his experiences with racism on set. Naturally, the original article is in Korean, but it has since been translated and disseminated in English via Redditor hangryforpeace with yours truly making some translation amendments.
“I can’t say who, but there are actors who wouldn’t even look me in the eyes because I was Asian. I tried to [introduce myself] and shake their hands, but they would ignore me and walk past me. I couldn’t shake their hands until we had finished filming the movie,” Lee said. “Rather than feel sad, I felt really enraged.” He continued: “To them, I could just be the ‘actor who couldn’t speak English,’” said Lee. “Still, to confront them, there would be cultural and and linguistic barriers.” Lee added, “Hollywood hasn’t changed all that much.”
Like any other Asian-American, Lee has an anecdote about getting mistaken for another actor of Korean descent, in this case, the comic Ken Jeong. “I went to a coffee shop for a cup of coffee and the baristas asked me, ‘You’re a movie star, right?’ I thought, ‘Finally someone recognizes me,’ but then they said that they really enjoyed the movie The Hangover. To them, all Asians look the same.”
Here’s a little bit of context for those unfamiliar with these two men: Lee is a movie star who starred in J.S.A. and The Good, the Bad, the Ugly. He has abs for days. Ken Jeong is the fantastic Korean-American comic who starred in the beloved Community where he insisted that he was, indeed, a Spanish teacher. This would be like mistaking Tom Cruise for David Spade or Brad Pitt for Dana Carvey. We’ll just leave you with a pleasant reminder of what Lee Byung-Hun looks like:
Don’t ever buy into the lie that Asians aren’t creative. We just couldn’t do much when we suffering privation caused by Western Imperialism. Now that many are well fed, educated, and have the money and time to invent, we get masterpieces like the following…
This could be the world’s fastest electric car - the NIO EP9. So claims the manufacturer, China’s NextEV, which unveiled its new NIO brand of electric cars at a London art gallery today. How fast are we talking about here - NextEV, which also has a Formula E team, says its electric supercar achieved a new lap record at the the Nürburgring Nordschleife racetrack, a legendary German racetrack where supercar speeds are vetted. On October 12th, the EP9 lapped the 12.9 mile (20.8 kilometer) “Green Hell” track in 7 minutes and 5.12 seconds. That’s probably thanks to its wicked 1,390 horsepower engine
China’s NextEV says its new electric supercar is the world’s fastest - The Verge:
Before you read the examples below, I want to share why I think non-violence is promoted very heavily. Non-violence is useless and harmless to your foes. That’s it. This is why they celebrate Martin Luther King and not Malcolm X; Ghandi and not Chandrasekhar Azad; and why they hate Mao of China so much. Now, I’m not recommending violent acts. I’m just saying consequences should hurt whether it’s financial, physical, mental, psychological, social, etc. If your foes are not suffering intensely, you are not fighting effectively.
This is why I see our Asian activists as largely ineffective. They write letters that can be burned, speeches that be be ignored, emails that can be sent to the trash can folder, etc. See http://forum.asiansoul.org/topic/131/consequences-the-building-block-of-asian-power
Excerpts from the book, How Non-violence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos
I could spend plenty of time talking about the failures of nonviolence. Instead, it may be more useful to talk about the successes of nonviolence.
Typical examples are the:
● independence of India from British colonial rule
● caps on the nuclear arms race
● the USA civil rights movement of the 1960s
● the peace movement during the war against Vietnam.
There is a pattern to the historical manipulation and whitewashing evident in every single victory claimed by nonviolent activists. The pacifist position requires that success must be attributable to pacifist tactics and pacifist tactics alone, whereas the rest of us believe that change comes from the whole spectrum of tactics present in any revolutionary situation, provided they are deployed effectively. Because no major social conflict exhibits a uniformity of tactics and ideologies, which is to say that all such conflicts exhibit pacifist tactics and decidedly non pacifist tactics, pacifists have to erase the history that disagrees with them or, alternately, blame their failures on the contemporary presence of violent struggle.
In India, the story goes, people under the leadership of Gandhi built up a massive nonviolent movement over decades and engaged in protest, noncooperation, economic boycotts, and exemplary hunger strikes and acts of disobedience to make British imperialism unworkable. They suffered massacres and responded with a couple of riots, but, on the whole, the movement was nonviolent and, after persevering for decades, the Indian people won their independence, providing an undeniable hallmark of pacifist victory.
The actual history is more complicated, in that many violent pressures also informed the British decision to withdraw. The British had lost the ability to maintain colonial power after losing millions of troops and a great deal of other resources during two extremely violent world wars,
the second of which especially devastated the “mother country.” The armed struggles of Arab and Jewish militants in Palestine from 1945 to 1948 further weakened the British Empire, and presented a clear threat that the Indians might give up civil disobedience and take up arms en masse if ignored for long enough; this cannot be excluded as a factor in the decision of the British to relinquish direct colonial administration.
End of the Nuclear Arms Race
Once again, the movement was not exclusively nonviolent; it included groups that carried out **a number of bombings and other acts of sabotage or guerrilla warfare.**12 And, again, the victory is a dubious one. The much-ignored nonproliferation treaties only came after the arms race had already been won, with the US as undisputed nuclear hegemon in possession of more nuclear weapons than was even practical or useful. And it seems clear that proliferation continues as needed, currently in the form of tactical nuke development and a new wave of proposed nuclear power facilities. Really, the entire issue seems to have been settled more as a matter of internal policy within the government than as a conflict between a social movement and a government.
US civil rights movement
The US civil rights movement is one of the most important episodes in the pacifist history. Across the world, people see it as an example of nonviolent victory. But, like the other examples discussed here, it was neither a victory nor nonviolent. The movement was successful in ending
dejure segregation and expanding the minuscule black petty bourgeoisie, but these were not the only demands of the majority of movement participants.13 They wanted full political and economic equality, and many also wanted black liberation in the form of black nationalism, black inter-communalism, or some other independence from white imperialism. None of these demands were met — not equality, and certainly not liberation.
People of color still have lower average incomes, poorer access to housing and health care, and poorer health than white people. De facto segregation still exists.14 Political equality is also lacking. Millions of voters, most of them black, are disenfranchised when it is convenient to ruling interests, and only four black senators have served since Reconstruction.15 Other races have also been missed by the mythical fruits of civil rights. Latino and Asian immigrants are especially vulnerable to abuse, deportation, denial of social services they pay taxes for, and toxic and backbreaking labor in sweatshops or as migrant agricultural laborers. Muslims and Arabs are taking the brunt of the post-September 11 repression, while a society that has anointed itself “color-blind” evinces nary a twinge of hypocrisy. Native peoples are kept so low on the socioeconomic ladder as to remain invisible
The common projection (primarily by white progressives, pacifists, educators, historians, and government officials) is that the movement against racial oppression in the United States was primarily nonviolent. On the contrary, though pacifist groups such as Martin Luther King Jr.‘s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had considerable power and influence, popular support within the movement, especially among poor black people, increasingly gravitated toward militant revolutionary groups such as the Black Panther Party.
Ending the Vietnam War
With unforgivable self righteousness, peace activists ignore that three to five million Indochinese died in the fight against the US military; tens of thousands of US troops were killed and hundreds of thousands wounded; other troops demoralized by all the bloodshed had become highly ineffective and rebellious;22 and the US was losing political capital (and going fiscally bankrupt) to a point where pro war politicians began calling for a strategic withdrawal (especially after the Tet Offensive proved the war to be “unwinnable,” in the words of many at the time). The US government was not forced to pull out by peaceful protests; it was defeated politically and militarily.
As evidence of this, Churchill cites the victory of Republican Richard Nixon, and the lack of even an anti war nominee within the Democratic Party, in 1968, near the height of the anti war movement. One could also add Nixon’s reelection in 1972, after four years of escalation and genocide, to demonstrate the powerlessness of the peace movement in “speaking truth to power.” In fact, the principled peace movement dissolved in tandem with the withdrawal of US troops (completed in 1973). The movement was less responsive to history’s largest ever bombing campaign, targeting civilians, which intensified after troop withdrawal, or the continued occupation of South Vietnam by a US trained and financed military dictatorship. In other words, the movement retired (and rewarded Nixon with reelection) once Americans, and not Vietnamese, were out of harm’s way. The US peace movement failed to bring peace.
important. They didn’t give a shit about “mere gooks”. Never forget this.
Far more significant than passive conscientious objectors were the growing rebellions, especially by black, Latino, and indigenous troops, within the military. As Colonel Robert D. Heinl stated in June 1971, By every conceivable indicator, our army that remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non commissioned officers, drug ridden and dispirited where not near mutinous. Elsewhere than Vietnam the situation is nearly as serious.25 The Pentagon estimated that 3 percent of officers and noncoms killed in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972 were killed in fraggings by their own troops. This estimate doesn’t even take into account killings by stabbing or shooting. In many instances, soldiers in a unit pooled their money to raise a bounty for the killing of an unpopular officer. Matthew Rinaldi identifies “working class blacks and Latinos” in the military, who did not identify with the “pacifism at any price tactics” of the civil rights movement that had come before them, as major actors in the militant resistance that crippled the US military during the Vietnam War.
See http://forum.asiansoul.org/topic/126/debunked-myths-blacks-are-our-enemies for more about how Blacks sided with Asian American soldiers in Vietnam. This is why I urge you to focus on spreading the truth and laser focus the attacks against white supremacy. Help non-white see our common enemy as much as possible.
Peter Gelderloos how nonviolence protects the state
The symbol of Western rape and subjugation of Asians are now your “leaders”.
This is some sick cruel joke, but it’s everywhere. The problem is too many Asians are SO STUPID that they don’t even understand the industrial strength irony. Here’s a relevant excerpt from a real Asian intellectual.
If the system works, the stereotypes assigned to the various races are accepted by the races themselves as reality, as fact, and racist love reigns. The minority’s reaction to racist policy is acceptance and apparent satisfaction.
White racism has failed with the blacks, the chicanos, the American Indians. Night riders, soldier boys on horseback, fat sheriffs, and all them goons and clowns of racism did destroy a lot of bodies, mess up some minds, and leave among these minorities a legacy of suffering that continues to this day. But they did not stamp out the consciousness of a people, destroy their cultural integrity and literacy sensibility, and produce races of people that would work to enforce white supremacy without having to be supervised or watchdogged by whites.
In terms of the utter lack of cultural distinction in America, the destruction of an organic sense of identity, the complete psychological and cultural subjugation of a race of people, the people of Chinese and Japanese [East Asian mainly] ancestry stand out as white racism’s only success.
FRANK CHIN BLOG: Racist Love
Ashlee Consulting LLC:
This is just twilight zone levels of absurd. The last pair of people ready or willing to “help” guide Asian masculinity are Afwm (who have everything in the world to do with their emasculation) yet here these oblivious lunatics are. I can’t even begin to imagine the self-hating Asian men who would hire these people for “masculinity training”, which will likely compromise of:
you are a misogynist, stop foot binding, be really really nice, don’t work out, and consider homosexuality – and of course, you need to stop that deep-seated anti-Blackness. /sarcasm.