Ken Jeong Gets Emotional at MTV Movie Awards
I used to blame my lack of funds to pay for cable as my excuse for not watching any of the MTV Movie Awards, but with the advent of easy access to television on the Internet, I now have to admit that I don’t tune in because they suck. But again, that has always been the appeal. In what sane arena would RPattz and Kristen "Permanent Entitled Scowl" Stewart be awarded for simply being emo on camera?
Today, clips of the aftermath of the show have been circulating on the Internet: Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez dancing together in a bid for relevancy, Sandra Bullock locking lips with Scarlett Johanssen in what I assume is a big ol' middle finger to Jesse James. But one clip that caught my eye was Ken Jeong's acceptance speech for winning the "WTF Award" (I did not make that up) for his role in The Hangover.
Jeong's role as Mr. Chow was a divisive one in Asian American communities that saw the accented, effeminate gangster character who first appears onscreen jumping naked -- and not exactly well-endowed -- out of the trunk of a car as a flashback to...pretty much every terrible stereotype of Asian men to hit celluloid. Some Asian Americans love him, some cringe, and some think he's an Uncle Tom.
But last night during his acceptance speech, audiences got to see the emotional side of Ken Jeong. He profusely thanks his colleagues (even throwing in a nod to his Community castmates) and especially shows love to his wife Tran who was battling cancer at the time he signed on for The Hangover. Jeong started breaking up while he praised her 2 year cancer remission and her encouragement for him to take the role as Mr. Chow because, essentially, life is short. He got me, man. I was tearing up along with him. Perhaps my critical lens has been clouded by an "almost lost my wife to terminal illness" tug on my heartstrings.
Because I'm sure people still hate Mr. Chow and, on some level, the actions of Ken Jeong. I don't disagree that the role of Mr. Chow is problematic, but I suppose I'm a bit more philosophical on the topic.
Instead of asking myself why Jeong took the role -- which he very succinctly explains in his acceptance speech -- I'm more interested in why Hangover director Todd Phillips created the role and why that imagery is still so hi-larious to general audiences. Oy, discussing Hollywood representation and race is frustrating. I suppose that "WTF" award is actually quite aptly named.
A cross-post with KoreAm Journal.
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