“Tiger Cub” Mike Chang on Glee Gets an “Asian F” but an A in My Heart [Oh. That’s Good.]

Mike Chang "It's what I love to do" Glee Asian F Episode 3

Source: "Asian F" Tumblr.com tag search

Mike Chang "It's never gonna be a waste of my time" Glee Asian F Episode 3

Source: "Asian F" Tumblr.com tag search

Can’t lie.  I teared up when I watched Glee this week.  During the Glee Season 3 Episode 3 called “Asian F”, the usually quiet and non-singing Asian guy in the Glee Club, Mike Chang, gets a major storyline (finally). In this episode he’s confronted by his Asian (Not Tiger Mother but Father) dad for getting an A- in Chemistry (or what Glee called an “Asian F”) and gets support from his mom.

Mike Chang Glee Asian F Episode 3 Dancing with Mom Tamlyn Tomita

Mike Chang's mom is supporting his passion for dance! (sniffle. sniffle)

If I overlook the fact that the concept of an A- being equal to an F for Asians is played out and stereotypical, I really love the kind of conversation that Mike Chang’s storyline has stirred!  I really loved a lot of the posts supporting Mike Chang’s commitment to do what he loves – to dance and perform (and AWESOME animated GIFs that crop up on Tumblr).  But one in particular captured my heart…it’s a rundown of lessons learned by threesixninja:

  • You can’t always get what you want.
  • Never give up on your dreams. Even if your dreams for yourself aren’t the ones your parents have for you, live it and convince them otherwise thatthis is what you want to do. However, if your dreams would need you to step on others and ruin relationships, back off. Friends are more important than anything else.
  • You shouldn’t let one relationship change you. (I mean, look at Kurt, Mercedes!)
  • Sometimes you have to be faced with hard choices where in either choice, you hurt someone. Even if you try to let both have their own way, it wouldn’t be enough for the other. But then sometimes, you really have to choose who and/or what is more important to you.
  • If you don’t get what you want, celebrate the one who did. Don’t hate them for it. They may deserve or need it more than you do. You could have a million chances for that, but not a lot for the relationship you have with them.
  • The spotlight isn’t always on you.
  • You can always do better than your best if you try.
With all its faults in reinforcing the stereotype that Asian Americans have crazy high standards with cold-hearted parents, I really love that it’s a super high-profile moment in popular culture where a likeable and rather vulnerable character like that of Mike Chang can encourage people to see him as being more complex than simply his hot dance moves and quiet demeanor. More than just for Asian Americans, it’s great to have a young role model for kids to see that there is a world where parents can be supportive of your “non-traditional” career choices.
It warms my heart.
For an more in-depth analysis of the episode, check out Jeff Yang’s new corner of the blogosphere on the Wall Street Journal! Congrats Jeff Yang (um. No relation.)
Oh. And..um. I just can’t help myself. This was taken earlier this year at an awesome conference in Los Angeles put on by the great folks at Visual Communications. Teehee!
Jenny Yang with Harry Shum Jr Mike Chang on Glee C FilmFestival

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4 responses to ““Tiger Cub” Mike Chang on Glee Gets an “Asian F” but an A in My Heart [Oh. That’s Good.]”

  1. inspiredbysandy says :

    The hubby and I totally teared up, too! I’m still waiting for my parents to acknowledge what I do–heck, I can’t even figure out what the Vietnamese term is for what I do. And I think a C is more like an Asian F, at least in my home growing up. Does that fuel the stereotype? Sorry! 🙂 I love Harry Shum, Jr.! It’s awesome seeing Asian-Americans (especially cute ones) in film and television bringing to light real issues in our community and challenging stereotypes about us. Great post, Jenny!

  2. Jenny Yang says :

    Thanks inspiredsandy! 🙂

    • Tara Brown says :

      Hi Jenny,
      I’m preparing a speech for parents and am searching like crazy to find the glee clip with M Chang and his mother. The focus of the speech is embracing your kids passion and the direction they want for their life and this clip would be an amazing addition. Any thoughts? So appreciate any guidance. Thanks!

  3. Tara Brown says :

    Hey there,
    I’m preparing a speech for parents and the focus is embracing your child’s passion and supporting the direction of their life. The clip with M Chang with his mother would be an amazing addition. I’ve searched high and low and can’t find it anywhere. Any suggestions you could provide to download it somewhere would be so helpful. Thanks!

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