Keep on Wondering...

What are the connections between social and historical forces and the representations we see?
Why is yellowface still acceptable? When and how did yellowface turn into whitewashing?
How do these representations create and/or perpetuate stereotypes that are present in our world? What is the impact?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Juniper Lee vs. Jake Long

Who would win in an epic throwdown between two pre-teen Chinese-American cartoon characters? Disney-bred Jake Long? Or Cartoon Network offspring Juniper Lee? 

Let's make a list about the merits of each of our... heroes?

Jake Long can shapeshift into a dragon! Whoa! Not only that, he's the American Dragon! And he protects the other magical creatures in Manhattan. But, while he can kick evil-dude butt, Mr. Long (yes, yes, long is Chinese for dragon, we know) can't seem to ask the gal of his dreams out, Rose. And he skateboards. Dude. He's also got a grandpa who is the Dragon Master. Ohmahgawd. And a Shar-Pei sidekick named Fu Dog.
Jake is voiced by actor Dante Basco, who also did the voice of Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender (the television show). Grandpa, voiced by Keone Young, spews Confucian-esque proverbs and dresses in... your stereotypical "Chinese" robe. Fu Dog, voiced by John DiMaggio, is 600 years old. And he's cuddly, as the above picture shows.

Juniper Lee can't shapeshift, but she fights monsters with the help of her grandmother in the fictional town of Orchid Bay City (loosely based on San Francisco). Juniper is the Te Xuan Ze, which means she balances stuff... in the mortal and spirit worlds... She protects the world from eeeeeeevil, but gets all nervous and whatnot when she's around her crush, Marcus. And she plays guitar. She's got a pug dog named Monroe as well.
Grandma (Ah-Ma in the series - Ohmahgawdyay) is voiced by Amy Hill, while Juniper is voiced by Lara Jill Miller. Cute. 

They both have colorful hair... and squishy-looking dogs. And by squishy-looking I mean cuddly-fuzzy-huggable. They both have magic powers. They both have grandparents who spew Confucian-esque proverbs. 

And they have both been canceled. WHY? Yes, they were both campy and had painful painful theme songs, but... how many kiddo TV shows have you seen with kickass ASIAN-AMERICAN preteens with magic powers and squishy dogs and and and...

Note: Both of these characters are Chinese-American. Can we get some recognition for the other "types" of Asian out there? I want to see these kinds of shows plus some about superheroes in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, India for the love o' Peter Bjorn and John. I do not wanna see some pan-Asian kinda shindig that lumps us all together in an unkindly fashion...

But who would win in that epic throwdown, you ask? Well, any show that's got this as their logo...

Come on, really?? REALLY? I guess it's kinda cool... but... It's a freaking gong. With a dragon... kid... martial arts... faux-Asian font... Just... No. No.
As opposed to this:

So I think Juniper won the logo contest...

LIST: Observations and Inquiries
1. What is it with all these martial-arts themed things that there's always a Mr. Miyagi type mentor person? And they're usually elderly and they excrete wisdom out their very pores... 
2. Both Jake and Juniper's feetsies are huge.
3. Can't get over... the dyed hair... 
4. Why dyed hair? Why funky-colored-dyed hair?
5. Theme songs for all kiddo shows are embarrassing. Particularly these two. Especially Jake's theme song. It's got gong noises and the zither noises and it just sounds so... stereotyped and gross and obnoxious. At least Juniper's hasn't got any of that. It's just downright annoying. 
6. Magic Powers... 
7. Matching initials!!!! JL vs. JL
8. So... in order to have a "successful, appealing" kiddo TV show with Asian American main characters, you gotta put martial arts, magic powers, mythical creatures, and proverby elders all together? Sounds... stereotyped? Must it have magic and ancient arts and traditions? Apparently.

In the badass throwdown, Avatar: The Last Airbender would win. Nickelodeon triumphs in this case.
Cuteness throwdown? Sagwa. (Future blog post in the works)
But between Jake and Juniper? 

Your call. 


  1. I think you hit upon a concept we will see again and again this semester. This idea that 1) it's great a show exists that has Asian American characters and 2) it fulfills so many of the stereotypes we are trying to combat daily. Thus, the question becomes, is it better to have these shows with all their warts......or not at all??

  2. Just a TV show that features an Asian-American kid who's average would be nice. Like an Asian-American Lizzie Maguire... Or an Asian-American version of Friends. Then it could actually feature John Cho.

  3. There are really more important things to get your knickers in a twist over, kiddo. Besides, as long as there is a US, there will be shows with stupid stereotypes, especially on the Disney channel. Look at the Proud Family.

  4. Oh really? Do enlighten me as to what I should be "getting my knickers in a twist over," O Intelligent Adult.
    And I'm analyzing shows with stupid stereotypes about Asian Americans, not African Americans. I'm sure someone else is blogging about that.

  5. Jake came first... Therefore Jake wins.

  6. I never liked those shows because their pathetic content. And so, I'm pleased that they're no longer in production.