In the News

Follow-up on "Gay or Asian?"

As I mentioned in my earlier entry on Details’ Gay or Asian? article, a

protest was scheduled to take place on Friday, April 16th outside the

Details offices in Manhattan. A Google news search found these articles

covering it:

According to the reports, about 200 people attended the protest,

which led Details’ editor-in-chief, Daniel Peres to make the following


“It has been made abundantly clear to me that this story, which is part

of an ongoing series challenging male cultural stereotypes, was

insensitive, hurtful, and in poor taste,” Details

Editor-in-Chief Daniel Peres said in a written statement. “There’s a

line that should never be crossed in any satirical humor, and Details crossed it. I, on behalf of the magazine, deeply regret this misstep, and apologize to those who were offended.”

The Advocate article reports that Details

will “run a full-page apology in an upcoming issue and move forward in a

more sensitive manner in featuring stories on lesbian, gay, bisexual,

and transgendered people as well as Asians and Pacific Islanders”.

I’ve never been terribly keen on the word “sensitive” in this sort

of context. It has a “poor widdle baby, can’t take a couple of barbed bons mots” pat-on-the-head connotation. How about “non-bigoted”?

In the meantime, thanks to how publications work and the magic of

lead times, Whitney McNally’s dead horse receives continued flogging.

May’s issue of Details has her latest ouevre, Gay or Socialite’s Husband?

Here are scans of her entire “Gay or…?” series, courtesy of the blog What Tian Has Learned:

Geez, and I thought the writers at Saturday Night Live were the kings of milking a joke long after it ceased to be funny. Whitney, you can take that crown now.

And what can be done about Ms. McNally (picture purported to be her, taken from the slam site shown below)?

Hey, wait a minute…wasn’t she all over me at the For the Love of Breasts fundrasing gala?

A number of Asian and Gay advocacy groups have demanded that Details

fire her. I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do, as she’s only the

writer. Every magazine article is the product of a team of people, of

whom the writer is only one part. The “Gay or…?” series had to be

approved by a story editor, and each article submitted is probably

approved by a section editor and (at least in theory) the

editor-in-chief. The act of firing Ms. McNally in the absence of any

other sort of remedy merely opens the door for another like her to

replace the void left in her absence (although I suspect that her

presence is a void itself).

I can suggest three possible solutions:

  • Have one of those “roundtable” articles in which

    editor-in-chief Daniel Peres, Whitney McNally, a high-profile gay man

    and a high-profile Asian discuss the issue.

  • Have someone with good powers of persuasion convince them to

    run a “Gay or Al-Qaeda?” article. (Probably unwise, as the resulting

    “protest” will probably harm a lot of innocent people).

  • Team Ms. McNally up with her Canadian dim-bulb counterpart Leah McLaren and put them on some kind of “gosh-they’re-cute-but-dumb” reality show a la The Simple Life or Newlyweds.

    I will gladly volunteer my services for the episode in which they must

    wrestle an Asian accordion player in a vat of creamed corn.

7 replies on “Follow-up on "Gay or Asian?"”

I read all of the scans of the “Gay Or…?” articles. Frankly, they’re the most roaringly -un-funny things I’ve read in a while. It’s not just that they’re bigoted, but they’re also just really ham-handed and lame. These craptacular articles were actually considered fit to print? I tell ya, my amazement each time I see idiocy never ceases, though sometimes, I wish it would.

I have to say I find the “Gay or…” more boring than offensive. I mean it was overdone when she picked it up at the beginning.

I am little bit surprised about the uproar. Initially I had some understanding why there was some because it’s true (and unfortunate) that there is a strong Asian stereo type in the media but now that I know that several stereotypes were featured, I have more problems understanding it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the “Gay or …” series are funny and yes there are very provoking, but at least no stereo type in particular is picked on. I mean, they even pick on Jesus. So they certainly know that they are provoking.

In a way I think that Details is loving this. All the attention they are getting for free. I am sure they have been selling more magazines because of it. Sure, they may publish an apology but deep inside they are laughing loud.

For me it’s just a case of bad humour that deserves as little attention as possible.

The uproar stems from the downside of the “model minority”: in popular culture, Asian girls are the new “must-haves” and Asian boys are the friends who help you with their homework. It’s a double-whammy: the Asian girls are goin’ for the gwai lo and the bruthas, and the other girls aren’t bothering with you either. This has been a sore point for some; sore enough that over the past couple of years, the Asian-American press has been paying inceasing attention to it. Take a look at these articles:

(If you think there’s a lot of agonizing going on over this topic, you might want to check out anything discussing the fetishization of Asian women, Rice Kings and the like.)

My own personal experience isn’t so bad — I just get the occasional “You know, you’re cute…for an Asian guy”, or “I never thought I’d be into an Asian guy”. For an example of this in action, see this blog entry.

The “Gay or Asian” article might have been the tipping point for the “Asian Male Dilemma” issue. A number of people — perfect strangers, at that — who took the time to email me saying things like “Hey, you’re a high-visiblity Asian in the blog world, you really should cover this.” And I did, because I do read men’s magazines from time to time and because it gets me right where I live, as a single Asian guy (though not an available one).

I think Details knows they’re being provocative, which is why they picked targets not likely to bring about any reaction, or in the case of “Gay or Jesus”, a reaction that would be dismissed as silly. They would never do “Gay or Black?” or “Gay or Jewish?” for fear of the backlash; running “Gay or Muhammad” would be suicide. I’d bet good money that they figured there’d be no reaction to “Gay or Asian”.

As the white woman in love with you, Mr. Single Asian Guy, I would just like to say you are HOT.

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