I See Asian People

With emerging representation in film and TV, can we say we’ve made it?

December 15, 2010

(Illustration by Stephanie Kubo)

In 1985, I was taken on a treasure-seeking adventure with Mikey, Brand, Mouth, Chunk, Andy, Stef, Sloth, the Fratellis and Data. If you are an ‘80s child, are drawn to retro cult appeal or just like the act of doing the truffle shuffle, then you know that I’m talking about the legendary film The Goonies.

Data (who was played by the decade’s go-to Asian boy, Jonathan Ke Quan) was the only “ethnic” one of the bunch. From the first moment he spoke, I could barely understand him because his diction was in perfect broken English. Progressive, fists-of-fury Asians might reproach this lovable character as a puppet in an Asian Minstrel Show. I, on the other hand, see this role as groundbreaking — if not for the fact that the character wasn’t as blatantly offensive as a Long Duk Dong might have been, then because Data was an integral part of what would become a classic ensemble cast.

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