by Todd Lee
William Hung may be the most well-known Asian American in the country right now.
Unfortunately, William Hung is a freak. And I don’t mean a “freak” a la Rick James (“Superfreak”) or Funkadelic (“One Nation Under a Groove”.) William, to all our shame, is just a big ol’ circus freak, like the two headed man or the dog-boy. Against all odds, and against all sanity, he has become the star of the most watched TV show in the nation, American Idol.
For those of you who are uninitiated (or unlike me, who are not addicted to reality television), William Hung is one of the American Idol “rejects” of the present contest show’s season. Unfortunately, this media-anointed standard-bearer for Asian Pacific Americans is not noteworthy in the same way as Jasmine Trias, the Hawaiian contestant who should have a decent shot at winning the competition with her trademark flower in her hair and an incredible voice reminiscent of her idol, Christina Aguilera.
No, William’s claim to fame is he sings REALLY BADLY.
Not just badly, spectacularly badly. It is hard to decide whether his audition song, a painful version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” is more hideous for his awful yelping or for his unintentionally jerky, robotic dance moves.
Yet somehow, William Hung has become a pop cultural icon.
It would be bad enough if William just went the ways of most of the Idol rejects, and crawled back to whatever corner of America he sprung from. But no, William managed to ride that pony to extend his 15 minutes to a full 30 minutes.
He has become Famous.
Granted, it is Famous in a kind of Joey Butefeco way. William is making a chunk of change, with a web site, a video, a full-length CD and a DVD, for chrissakes. But Asian Americans, and Asian American men in particular, should be spared the spectacle of William on video shaking his “bon-bons” and croaking out a hideous rendition of “She Bangs” in front of a phalanx of blondes with fake breasts the size of his head. Imagine Erkel in yellow face, on caffeine and a cheap Hawaiian shirt. Despite the sneering English connotation of his family name, William is the emasculated Asian American man – supergeek, the eunuch, the guy noted for his utterly clueless lack of talent, style and shame.. In the course of his little mini-career, the electrical engineer from UC Berkeley is becoming an icon of Asian American male ridiculousness. He is a skinnier, more modern version of Charley Chan. And like Charley Chan, he is without a trace of irony or self-satire, or any other redeeming quality.
Please, write Entertainment Tonight, write Access, tell all the entertainment news magazines we’ve had enough already.
William has hung around long enough. Long live Bruce Lee.