HomeAsian AmericansFresh Off The Boat? How About a Seat on the Bus?

Fresh Off The Boat? How About a Seat on the Bus?

Big Hero 6 Blogger EventBy Grace Hwang Lynch

I’ve been in conversation with Disney/ABC PR since my post about the lack of outreach to Asian American parent bloggers for “Big Hero 6″. The following is the email I sent to Disney PR after learning that the latest “Big Hero 6″/”Fresh Off the Boat” blogger event also included an overwhelmingly white group of participants. 

I am tremendously disappointed in finding out on Instagram this afternoon that there was a “Fresh Off the Boat” blogger event in conjunction with the “Big Hero 6” event today, and that not only was I not included in this, but that none of the influential Asian American bloggers were. I never heard back from Ellen Gonzalez at ABC.

In our phone conversation on Jan 20, you repeatedly stated that you wanted to help and to be a friend to the Asian American community. You offered me a spot on the tour, but said ABC had no budget to fly me down from the San Francisco Bay Area to attend, even though the photos clearly show a group of bloggers on a tour bus on their way to the studios. And I understand that your group was not even able to secure a spot for Cynthia Liu, a well-respected and influential blogger who lives in LA and requires no travel assistance, to be the lone Asian parent blogger to represent us at this event.

We also talked about the influence and reach of Asian American bloggers and our community’s high rates of digital engagement. While our numbers in terms of hits and followers may not be as high as some of the bloggers that Disney works with, the quality of our content and the degree of our influence and engagement with the right people is important. Among us, we have journalists and writers for larger publications, vloggers and even stand-up comics. Disney inviting even a few Asian bloggers to this event could at least extend a welcome to let us know that our community is recognized and valued.

The actions on the part of ABC send a clear signal that the company does not think it’s worthwhile to put any effort into multicultural marketing — or at least marketing to Asian Americans. Perhaps ABC feels that Asian Americans are already on the band wagon in support of “Fresh Off the Boat”, without any additional outlay on the part of ABC. Or perhaps you don’t want “Fresh Off the Boat” to be pigeonholed as an Asian show, or even a show targeted to minorities. All too often, the media ignores Asian American stories. Or frames them only as they relate to larger society. Or perhaps Disney thinks that by inviting a group of white, middle-American mom bloggers, the show could be framed not as an edgy, urban program and more as a family-friendly sitcom.

I understand those concerns, I really do. And I really celebrate ABC’s willingness to be the network that is willing to take a risk on an atypical TV show that doesn’t fit neatly into anyone’s preconceived notions of a family sitcom. And that ABC has hired a great team of producers, writers and actors to execute this vision. It is truly a milestone, not only for the network or those directly involved with the production, but for all of who are watching at home and seeing a family that resembles ours on the screen (some for the first time). And we watched the premiere with baited breath, hoping that this would finally be our community’s chance to be recognized on network TV, not just for our own fulfillment, but to illuminate our experiences to our friends, classmates and neighbors. Or to the person who lives in a town and knows no Asians at all.

But even after our discussion about “Big Hero 6″ outreach, ABC expressly chose not to engage with the Asian American community, by not inviting even one or two token Asian bloggers on this trip. Continued




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