The comedian has just been cast in Ride Along 2 and is among the most prolific Asian American actors today.
Some Asian Americans love his comedy and consider him a breakthrough star.
Others see Jeong as a goofball and find his comedy demeaning to Asian Americans.
Being a member of an underrepresented minority in Hollywood can be quite a balancing act. Members of your own community are often so thrilled to see someone like themselves represented on the screen. It also means members of your own commitment watch with hypersensitive eyes and are quick to cast a disparaging comment.
Like many in the Asian American community, I often cringe when I hear actors engage in thick Asian accents. We have been seen as foreigners so long and want so much to be seen as part of America’s fabric.
Yet its true the overwhelming majority of Asian in America today are immigrants and many of them understandably do speak in accents. Should that not be represented in Hollywood?
The reality is when a comedian speaks in an accent as a way to get a laugh, that can be hurtful because many of us have had the experience as a child of someone making fun of them and using the accent as a way to ridicule them.
I’m supportive of Ken Jeong, the actor, and am glad he’s making a name for himself. Yet I feel ambivalence about him because, like others, I want so much to see positive representative of Asian Americans on the screen.
An article in Cinema Blend also expressed the same ambivalence about Jeong.
What do you think?