Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Hyphen TV: Happy Place

Christina works on a roof. Possibly of sadness.

It was Billy Joel week on American Idol, and Heejun -- who was wearing a "Heejun We Love You" t-shirt -- seemed to make a confusing impression on guest judge Diddy. "I don't know if he's an actor or a comedian. I don't even know if he's Asian. He might be black." Foreshadowing: this observation makes slightly more sense post-performance. Heejun then continued on to the Tommy Hilfiger styling room(?), where Tommy was joined by American Idol stylist Soyon An (whose blog is very cool, with lots of Idol and non-Idol photos and shopping tips). "Obviously I'm a really fashionable guy, as you can see." Oh, that kidder.

Heejun was actually looking pretty sharp for his performance of "My Life," wearing his signature slouchy hat and a bow tie as the piano started up. He seemed to miss his cue, making my heart stop for a second, then said, "Wait, wait. That's too slow for me. And I wanna DANCE!" He then tore off his bow tie'd top, revealing a colorful t-shirt and moving to a funkier, faster beat. If it wasn't already clear enough, the performance was all about the act and barely about the song, which had Heejun's voice and accent sounding stranger than usual to my ears. He sauntered towards the judges and sang to their faces, then jumped into the crowd, ran all around, and danced -- he was clearly having a blast, and his adorable family in the audience was all smiles, but his breath and already not-terribly-strong singing abilities suffered greatly. J. Lo loved that he "had a little fun" and called the performance "a breath [IRONY!] of fresh air." Admittedly, it was definitely different from anything else that happened on stage that night. Steven called him "He-Man" (better than "Hey Jun"), but then he showed his annoyance when he said he took the piss out of the song and Heejun's "gotta take it more serious." Randy said that Heejun was "vocally definitely missing a bit." See what you think of the performance here.

            Heejun in the Tie of Seriousness

And so it wasn't too shocking when Heejun landed in the bottom three for the first time. How amazing is it, by the way, that he and Jessica will be on the tour? Though Heejun promised backstage that "something crazier is coming," Jimmy had harsh words for the goofy performance, saying that it felt like "four minutes of a bad Adam Sandler movie that went straight to DVD" (ouch) and reminding the contestants that they're fighting for a record company to spend a lot of money on their careers, and no one wants to spend cash on what is basically a big joke. Heejun was one of the bottom two, but he was safe. Will he bring the promised craziness this week, or will he take Jimmy's serious words to heart? It seems that he can't help but do the former, but who knows how far he could get by focusing on his vocal talents.

Heejun in the T-shirt of Crowd Surfing

Jessica had what seemed like a very productive meeting with Diddy, who told her to pull back on what he called "oversinging," reminding her that less is more. For a big belter like Jessica, this is pretty sound advice: as we've seen time and time again on this show, when you start big, there's nowhere to go for your big finale. Save something for the end and people will get excited for that conclusion. Jess pulled this off to perfection with her rendition of "Everybody Has a Dream," hitting an insane high note at the end that had all three judges up on their feet. Steven said that she's gone "way past" his judging (no kidding), J.Lo said that the song was written for Jessica (cue Jess talking about her dream and Idol and dreams and everybody having them). Randy said that it takes consistency to win, and Jessica's had "a moment" every time she steps on stage (not last week, according to them, but who's counting). Check out that moment right here. Is it any wonder that Jess was safe as usual?

Jessica is bathed in the glow of awesomeness

I can't put it off any longer: this was not a pretty week on Survivor. Bullying and mockery of Christina continued, but more intense and open than ever. As main force behind the unnecessary meanness, Colton called Christina a cockroach because she's survived so long and told her she'll be the first one gone after the merge. Colton's lackey, long-time Christina hater Alicia, was also openly hostile, with no one (that we saw anyway) saying anything in her defense ... including Christina. During the reward challenge in which no one on Monono performed well (Colton and Alicia very much included), Colton called Christina a "stupid idiot" for apparently not running back to the mat quickly enough after she missed the challenge target. When it seemed like it couldn't get any more blatant or cruel, Colton interviewed, "I hate her voice, I hate her face, I hate everything about her." Wow. Tell us how you really feel, Colton.

Again, I couldn't get over the seemingly unfazed reception these two got from their tribemates. The most we saw was Jonas interviewing that Colton and Alicia are "interesting" in the way they get personal and feel the need to get in one last twist of the knife. Interesting??? Finally we saw Christina trying to employ some strategy, telling Leif that Alicia is aligned with the women on the other tribe, and she'll turn on Monono as soon as the tribes merge. Alicia heard the conversation and got right into the middle of it, telling Christina, "You cannot play this game, you suck at it." When Christina tried to say something to Leif out of Alicia's earshot, Alicia told her to "be a woman and say it in front of me." Of course Alicia admitted in an interview that Christina was completely right about her women's alliance, but saw her own despicable tactics as completely justified in the context of the game. Yikes.

Jonas and Leif discuss how everything seems totally fine at camp

Could the episode have gotten any weirder or more distressing? Cut to: Colton moaning in pain, lying down with his head in the lap of ... Christina?! "When someone is sick and needs help, I'm going to be there for them ... Colton will see I'm a good person." I know we miss a lot that isn't aired, but I cannot for the life of me imagine how Christina could hear the things we did hear and believe that one night of kindness could turn that vileness around. Need further proof? Check out this footage that wasn't aired in the episode. Yep, that's the ol' slanty eye. Just a little meaningless hate of Christina's face, right? It doesn't appear that she knew, but ... come on, Christina! No head rub is going to sway that level of racism, immaturity, and ignorance. This is reality TV, girl, not fantasy TV. Perhaps she's just a far bigger person than I am, which is undoubtedly true.

In a not unwelcome but also not satisfying bit of karma, it turns out that Colton likely has appendicitis and must leave the game. Obviously it's a relief to get that hate party outta here, but oh how much sweeter it would have been to see his tribe -- perhaps led by Christina -- vote him out. I realize that that's unlikely. In another strange happening, Jonas actually cried as Colton was carried off to go to the hospital. He cried! He also observed that now is his opportunity to "take the bull by the horns and make myself the leader," an interesting thought from someone whose entire strategy was to follow Colton blindly just one episode ago. Jonas's proclaimed plan might not come to fruition now that the tribes have merged into one, but it'll be interesting to see what happens to the dynamic now. This is likely a good development for Christina, who was surrounded by as many enemies (Alicia, Tarzan) as neutrals (Jonas, Leif). In case you need a refresher on Tarzan's take on Christina, he told her in this episode, "You're a wonderful girl who will be very successful, but you wouldn't be my friend" and then interviewed that, "Christina sucks up and says just the right thing." Imagine the nerve of this person, at the very bottom of this twisted totem pole, trying to get people on her side! We got Tarzan's take on race back when he complained that "people [of color] talk too much about race" and he's sick of it. Hoo boy. They really got some live ones this season.

Christina is hopefully saving her challenge prowess for individual immunity

On RuPaul's Drag Race, the queens were paired with their "frenemies" to perform a (live, not lip-synced) song and dance. Phi Phi was paired with Sharon, the "Party City" queen who had a blowup with Phi a few episodes back. Things got off to a rocky start during their angel/devil rehearsal (Phi Phi as the angel, of course) when Phi tried to outdo Sharon by singing in a weird falsetto and adding in lots of runs that ... she didn't quiiite pull off. They seemed to start getting along later, especially during their prep when it was revealed (or at least I noticed for the first time) that Phi Phi appears to use ... a glue stick on her eyebrows?! I'm sure it was some kind of fancy makeup thing I'm not familiar with. But it sure looked like a glue stick.

The performance was, to borrow a word from Jonas, interesting. Though the coach/songwriter suggested that Phi Phi tone it down, and though she did lose the falsetto, as Sharon said, "I think she added a teaspoon or two of Christina Aguilera." Guest judge Jennifer Tilly was impressed by the harmonics, but then things went south and they were singing some clashing notes. Other guest judge Pamela Anderson noticed that Phi Phi's look resembled Pam's own, and Phi told her that that was her aim. The rest of the critique was unexpected for this pairing: they were "almost too nice," the comedy was underplayed (this is more surprising for Sharon than for Phi Phi), and there didn't seem to be any shade in the performance at all. They were the bottom two girls, about which Phi Phi huffily interviewed, "I was nice to Sharon and it backfired." Okay girl, I think you've got some selective hearing going. Phi was energetic in her lip sync, throwing her wig off when it came unfastened, but she and Sharon were both saved when Willam was mysteriously revealed for breaking a Drag Race rule. What could it be? Has Phi Phi truly learned nothing from this challenge experience? I think I know the answer to one of those questions.

On Top Shot, the contestants were shooting a cannon, which really excited IT guy Chris. Not so excited? Chee, who was elected to sit out again by the blue team. He was understandably frustrated, and I'm sure Chris's boyish glee was no help. The blue team lost the cannon challenge by just an eighth of an inch, and morale went from bad to worse back at the house when Chris took it upon himself to go around and sum up the strengths and weaknesses of each player's performances -- or as he called it, "putting the data out there." Oh, Chris. You make the IT guy jokes too easy.

Teammate Tim got upset by Chris's actions, accusing Chris of naming everyone else's faults and glossing over his own. Tim thought that he and Chris should be the ones up for elimination, but then Chee practically begged to get sent out there so that he could do what he came there to do: shoot a dang gun! It really is a bummer that he's had to sit out two fun-seeming challenges, and he kind of embarrassed himself badly on the rope swing last week. Ever the fair players, they put it to a coin toss between Tim and Chee to go out with Chris, and Chee was chosen. But then! The rest of the team decided as individuals that it was just ridiculous to send one of their strongest shooters out for possible elimination for almost no reason, so a last-second change was made and Tim went out with Chris after all. The men had to throw a primitive spear-like weapon called the atlatl (super fun to say), and Chris started out with a couple misses. Then he went to his "happy place," which he explained is "a penguin in an ice cave" that kept him "cool and focused." If I weren't already a fan of this guy, he won me over for life right there. Whether it was the penguin or a steep learning curve, Chris turned the game around and scored time and time again, ultimately hitting the smallest circle on the farthest target and beating Tim 30 to 10. Stay with that penguin, Chris. He's really steering you right.

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soyonan.com wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Thank you for sharing the

Thank you for sharing the link to soyonan.com!

Dianne Choie wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Happy to spread the word!

Happy to spread the word!

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About The Author

Dianne Choie

Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.

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