APA Top Ten: Hot Asian Actors Hollywood Doesn't Yet Realize It Needs|
APA Top Ten: Hot Asian Actors Hollywood Doesn't Yet Realize It Needs
By APA Staff
On the occasion of Daniel Henney's debut on the Hollywood summer blockbuster scene, APA counts down the top ten Asian actors who were born to seduce American audiences.
So... we're the first to admit this is a highly nonacademic, inevitably biased, and minorly inappropriate study. But let us academize it and tell you why it's important to talk about.
For many decades, Asian Americans have been a minority group in the United States, dealing with irritating and offensive stereotypes, being lumped as the "model minority" or "the other," etc., etc. Asian American women have had the strange burden of being exotified, over-sexualized, and rendered submissive, while Asian American men have been stereotyped as nerdy, studious, asexual, and unable to throw a football (let alone get a girl). This has made people such as Frank Chin and David Henry Hwang -- and angry asian man -- very angry.
As Asian Americans living in Los Angeles, California (with a decent-sized Asian/Asian American population), we hear many of the activists obsess over Asian American male demasculinization -- and for good reason. But you get tired of some of the reactions. You get tired of people who watch Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and think that seeing an Asian American man with a multitude of hot white/black/Latina lovers onscreen is some sort of empowering statement for Asian male sexuality. These images serve a purpose for a certain context, but they often come across as insecure, desperate attempts to overcompensate for an Asian/Asian American male hotness that supposedly isn't really there in the first place.
The reason this drives us crazy is because it is there. Hot Asian men abound in so many different forms that it's too hard to count or categorize. And in every case their hotness comes before the politics of their race. This is abundantly clear on the other side of the planet (4/7th of the Earth's population and growing), where Asian men have long been considered hot, and no one has identity issues over it.
It can be argued that mainstream America needs to be more open-minded about its standards of beauty, so they can fully appreciate the Asian faces we've got. Sure, Daniel Dae Kim, Kal Penn, and John Cho are attractive in certain ways, but let's not pretend they're the best examples of hot Asian men we have (just 'cause they're the only ones in Hollywood we can think of). When analyzing diversity in the media and thinking about Hollywood as a business, it's important to understand that Asian male actors will make you money in Hollywood if they are hot enough by mainstream standards. Let's not put all our pressure on our existing Asian American actors to compete with the Pitts and McConaugheys, when we can easily find others who can.
We're talking about blasting through glass ceilings here, not lowering them. Take Denzel Washington. Unarguably talented, Oscar-winning actor. But let's not pretend his hotness wasn't a deciding factor (see Mississippi Masala) when he was first breaking into an industry with an embarrassing dearth of African American actors.
Nobody had to explain that Denzel is hot "for an African American." Everyone just got it. There are hot Asian equivalents around, though we might have to look across the Pacific to find some of them. With the entertainment industry going global, this is a realistic possibility. Some of the Asian actors we're thinking of are locals, some are Asian Americans who have found work in Asian cinema and television. All are equipped for international domination.
This isn't a list of Asian actors who have offbeat charm, who are adorable in romantic comedies, or who are impressive character actors (although most on our list are talented beyond their hotness). Cute isn't going to cut it; pretty boy isn't going to sell enough tickets; and let's face it, great personality is going to get you supporting roles on TV shows, leads in oh-it's-so-great-to-see-Asian-Americans-in-starring-roles! festival films, and supporting parts in Judd Apatow movies. (All are very respectable, appreciated, and near and dear to our hearts -- but it's just not what we're talking about right now.)
This is about men who are striking enough to cater to international, cosmopolitan, mainstream tastes. This is about one day being on in the front pages of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People, not as a token Asian, but because you have first or second billing in the next summer blockbuster. No, scratch that... it's about being on the cover.
We'll let the pictures/links for our top ten do the convincing, but all we'll add is this:
1) As Asian Americans, we believe that we are in a prime position to understand American standards of beauty (for instance,
skinny spiky-haired pop stars, while hot in Japan, might not be considered hot in the US), while having familiarity with a larger
pool of Asian actors that your average American might not be exposed to.
2) Since the idea is to highlight men who need to come over to Hollywood, we decided to focus on a younger generation.
Which left many very hot people off our list: Hiroshi Abe and Tony Leung just to name a few.
3) There were talks about making sure the list was diverse across all the Asian countries. But we scrapped that idea when certain
choices didn't seem to meet the hotness requirements we were looking for. That's not to say that there aren't hot men actors
working in these countries. It's just that, at this moment in time, no one who might be competitive was high profile enough for
the persistent Google Image stalker (us) to find them. In other words, no national quotas. We chose to compromise on diversity,
in order to not compromise on the hotness.
4) English-language skills and worldliness were originally factors we considered for the purposes of Hollywood-readiness,
but sometimes people were hot enough that we completely forgot about that.
5) We're aware of some of the controversial omissions, but we stand by them.
Feel free to write to email@example.com to yell at us.