by Todd Lee
Have you ever seen or heard or in some other way experienced something that just made you want to react? In many ways, that was the origin of my first article on William Hung: “Why William Hung Should Go into Hiding”. It was a rant. A rant born of an overwhelming visceral repulsion. This William Hung “Phenomenon” must be stopped.
In its/his tracks.
Upon reflection, and surveying some of the Internet commentary on the so-called “Hung-Phenomenon” (sounds like a cross between Masters and Johnson and an expose on suicide by strangulation), I have tried to put together some paragraphs on Hung that are more thoughtful
It seems to me that the phenomenal popularity of William Hung reflects the coming together of three disturbing trends in America: 1)Anti-Asian, and specifically anti-immigrant, sentiment; 2) the hell-bent lust for (and fascination with) celebrity; and 3) the evil drive of money, the profit motive.
Being into William Hung is a sneaky way for America to laugh at Asian immigrants, under the guise of laughing “with them”. Laughing “with” William Hung would mean that he had some clue as to how bad he really is, but unfortunately, he is really clueless. Hung is not only an incarnation of many Asian stereotypes, with his tacky dressing, his buck teeth and his profession, but his heavy accent and his naivete allow people to ridicule his being an immigrant, too. Although some people purport to love his “innocence” or “refreshing lack of guile”, this is the kind of paternalistic dribble that dominant whites have used to define patronizing “admiration” for racial groups in America from Native Americans as the noble savage, to African Americans as Uncle Tom to the “love” for William Hung.
This “love” is the kind of perverse love that comes out of our lust for celebrities. As others have pointed out, William Hung is the kind of individual that in most social settings in America would be shunned for his lack of social graces or hipness. Yet because he is basking in an obscene magnitude of fame, people are drawn to him like moths to flame. And also, as others in the internet talk on this subject have observed, this “love” is not for William Hung the actual human being, it is for William Hung the celebrity icon, the new star on the horizon, no matter how he got there. The fame dehumanizes the man, and the manner of fame strips him of any dignity in the ascension to fame.
And then there is the money. Some of the talk of “innocence” and “refreshing lack of guile” would be more convincing if William was not getting rapidly rich off of his new act. The question here is not whether there is pimping going on, it’s who’s pimping whom? Is William pimping himself, and all the stereotypical geekiness that America loves in order to cash in on the long green? Or are the producers and record executives and TV moguls pimping William to line their coffers? Or is it a merry dance of the two of them around the money tree, a “win-win” for the whore and the pimp, with only Asian Americans’ and Hung’s manhood, dignity and humanity the victims?
This churning money-making, celebrity-baking machine which takes a mass infatuation born of racial/immigrant stereotyping mixed with a weird populist desire to create odd heroes or anti-heroes has produced William Hung, pop cultural icon and the “Hung-Phenomenon”. Let’s hope the last of those 15 minutes are ticking off the clock very soon ….