A new documentary that features some of new media’s biggest names will hold its world premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on May 16th. YouTube and internet favorites that lend commentary to the film include AJ Rafael, David Choi, Freddie Wong, Daniel “Cloud” Campos, Ryan Higa, ClaraC, Ross Ching, and Timothy “Traphik” DeLaGhetto, among many others. You probably noticed one commonality in particular shared between all those mentioned, and no, it’s not a coincidence.
Uploaded: The Asian American Movement producer Julie Zhan tells NMR, “New media has given this generation of Asian Americans a voice. It is a space that allows for 100% creative control, and the emerging Asian American identity is vibrant, dynamic, and spans the entire spectrum of personalities from nerdy and quiet to funny and outspoken. New media has showcased Asian American talent and given opportunities rarely seen in traditional media. With millions of view counts as proof, the world is being exposed to Asian Americans outside of the stereotypes.”
Uploaded: The Asian American Movement is a documentary that “explores the visibility of Asian Americans in pop culture since the inception of new media such as YouTube.” Through conversations with Asian American stars from music, dance, film, comedy, and media, Uploaded attempts to survey the current cultural landscape of now-altered perceptions and valuations of Asian Americans, as well as predict where that increased visibility and success may eventually lead.
Kane Diep, director of the documentary, says, “The visibility and creative freedom that Asian Americans have gained online are leaps and bounds from where we were just a few years prior. For three and a half years, the top YouTube channel belonged to Japanese American, Ryan Higa, and many Asian American artists on YouTube have also parlayed their success online to gain massive sponsorship deals.”
In the past, Asian Americans were relegated to stereotypical roles that had them playing martial arts masters, academic whiz kids, and foreign villains, along with other stereotypical sidekick and perfunctory bit roles. What’s the difference now?
“With the creation of new media platforms like YouTube, Asian Americans have been able to take control of not only their image but have been able to become accessible to viewers in a way not imagined before.” says Farah Moriah, Uploaded’s other producer.
And what do all the players behind Uploaded hope the film will achieve? According to lead editor of the film, Rommel Andaya, the Uploaded team’s aim is, “to educate the world about Asian American culture and identity, empower the community, inspire the next generation of artists, and further the advancement of minorities in the media arts.”
It’s a tall task, but assistant editor Mark Gadia says, “Thankfully, the Asian American community is extremely supportive and collectively want all of us to move forward.”
Here’s the official trailer:
How do you think new media has helped increase the profile of Asian American entertainers and artists?
Visit the movie’s website: Uploaded: The Asian American Movement