16 votes

Asian Americans: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

18 comments

  1. [9]
    AnthonyB
    Link
    Every now and then, Johnny O covers a subject that I am somewhat familiar with and I'm always impressed by how well they summarize issues. I took a couple of upper-division Asian-American history...

    Every now and then, Johnny O covers a subject that I am somewhat familiar with and I'm always impressed by how well they summarize issues. I took a couple of upper-division Asian-American history classes when I was in college and this segment hit almost all of the major points that were covered in those classes. Obviously, there is so much more that wasn't covered in this piece, but I'm impressed by how they were able to summarize the key points in the amount of time that was available. Also, I think this segment is a nice companion to the NYT's recent article about Asian Americans in the workplace.

    Tilderinians who studied history in America, how familiar are you with the things that were brought up in this piece, particularly the Chinese Exclusion Act? Lately, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the stuff I learned in high school and introductory college history classes, and I feel like the stretch from 1870-1920 is the most overlooked period of American history. When I think back to those history classes, it went something like this: Civil War -> Reconstruction Ammendments -> uuhhh, Thomas Edison, some factories, Teddy Roosevelt -> America saves the day in WWI -> Roaring 20s -> Depression. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there is a massive blind spot there. It's a shame because the issues of that era (post-war reconstruction failures in the south, the responses to immigration, robber barons, populism/progressivism, labor rights, women's rights, etc.) are very relevant to the issues we have today.

    8 votes
    1. Icarus
      Link Parent
      The Chinese Exclusion Act was covered in my AP History class IIRC, as it applied to nativism sentiments around that era. Like with a lot of things that you learn in school, a lot of it was taught...

      The Chinese Exclusion Act was covered in my AP History class IIRC, as it applied to nativism sentiments around that era.

      Like with a lot of things that you learn in school, a lot of it was taught for memorization for tests and then subsequently forgotten about when the next round of classes start.

      5 votes
    2. HoolaBoola
      Link Parent
      I see this a lot, particularly in the comments under the "black hair" episode, where there were hundreds and hundreds of (I assume) mostly black women commenting about how well they could relate...

      Every now and then, Johnny O covers a subject that I am somewhat familiar with and I'm always impressed by how well they summarize issues.

      I see this a lot, particularly in the comments under the "black hair" episode, where there were hundreds and hundreds of (I assume) mostly black women commenting about how well they could relate to the episode. They obviously research their pieces super well, and even more importantly, have them written by the people most knowledgeable about the subject. One of the reasons why I keep watching every episode whenever one appears.

      3 votes
    3. ImmobileVoyager
      Link Parent
      A massive blind spot is the discovery of petroleum deposits in Pensylvania. The USA were the only industrialized nation to be bestowed with such a bonanza and this commanded pretty much everything...

      A massive blind spot is the discovery of petroleum deposits in Pensylvania. The USA were the only industrialized nation to be bestowed with such a bonanza and this commanded pretty much everything that happened worldwide from 1870 to 1970.

      Petroleum played no role in the Civil War and its aftermath, however said war can pretty much be analysed in terms of have-coal vs. not-have-coal.

      History without geology is just a string of stories.

      2 votes
    4. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I grew up in "America" but not the US. Is it weird that I'm Canadian and yet learned about it (albeit only briefly) in high-school History class here? Canada had something similar too, BTW, which...

      Tilderinians who studied history in America, how familiar are you with the things that were brought up in this piece, particularly the Chinese Exclusion Act?

      I grew up in "America" but not the US. Is it weird that I'm Canadian and yet learned about it (albeit only briefly) in high-school History class here? Canada had something similar too, BTW, which us being taught about was why the US version was also mentioned. :(

      https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinese-head-tax-in-canada
      https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinese-immigration-act

      1 vote
    5. mrbig
      Link Parent
      I mostly agree but his segment about Operation Car Wash in Brazil missed crucial nuance and reminded me how much of an after thought we are in North America.

      Every now and then, Johnny O covers a subject that I am somewhat familiar with and I'm always impressed by how well they summarize issues

      I mostly agree but his segment about Operation Car Wash in Brazil missed crucial nuance and reminded me how much of an after thought we are in North America.

      1 vote
    6. [3]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      If I essentially want Last Week Tonight without the snark, do I have any options?

      If I essentially want Last Week Tonight without the snark, do I have any options?

      6 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        I don't think so but I share the sentiment. Oliver stopped being funny years ago. Nowadays its mostly lazy jokes that he knows will fly with his very progressive audience. The research is usually...

        I don't think so but I share the sentiment. Oliver stopped being funny years ago. Nowadays its mostly lazy jokes that he knows will fly with his very progressive audience. The research is usually top notch though.

        6 votes
      2. dubteedub
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Most of his long-form segments are just detailing the findings of actual investigative journalists. If you want just the facts, you could check out Propublica which John Oliver has shouted out...

        Most of his long-form segments are just detailing the findings of actual investigative journalists. If you want just the facts, you could check out Propublica which John Oliver has shouted out before and two of his primary researchers previously worked there.

        Here are several stories that John Oliver has done that used Propublica reporting as their foundation.

        4 votes
  2. [7]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    If you had taken said poll and were asked to name a famous Asian-American, who would you have gone for? Before watching the full video, a few names immediately came to mind (e.g. Ali Wong, Eddie...

    If you had taken said poll and were asked to name a famous Asian-American, who would you have gone for? Before watching the full video, a few names immediately came to mind (e.g. Ali Wong, Eddie Huang, Roy Choi), but I was still a little chagrined as they could arguably be considered niche. After a minute or so of trying to think of someone with real mainstream visibility, I came up with Aziz Ansari and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I know I can name a number of other Asian-Americans, but who are the biggest/most obvious people I'm overlooking, especially in terms of those who claim AA identity? Even some of those in the collage at the end could be considered niche as well.

    (In my defense, I try my best not to pay much attention to mainstream US culture.)

    On another note, I really wish the diversity of the activism of the '60s and the collaboration between different groups during the Civil Rights movement were properly highlighted in US history. Every subsequent generation should have had the opportunity to use that as an entryway into learning the histories of their fellow Americans who don't look like them, the opportunity to understand that it's not their history but all our history. The country would be on a much different path by now.

    2 votes
    1. [6]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I would have no trouble to name George Takei, Andrew Yang, Aziz Ansari, Ali Wong? And I'm not even American. I'm not sure not being able to name Asian Americans is indicative of racism though.

      I would have no trouble to name George Takei, Andrew Yang, Aziz Ansari, Ali Wong? And I'm not even American. I'm not sure not being able to name Asian Americans is indicative of racism though.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        Well, not so much racism on your part as much as the system that determines who and what gets exposure. Visibility and opportunities have improved a lot in even just the past 10 years.

        Well, not so much racism on your part as much as the system that determines who and what gets exposure. Visibility and opportunities have improved a lot in even just the past 10 years.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          Lucy Liu, Awkwafina, Dev Patel, Mindy Kaling, John Cho, Ken Jeung, Sandra Oh, Azis Ansari, Kal Penn are all well exposed and have been for a while, there are also a bunch of quarter- and...

          Lucy Liu, Awkwafina, Dev Patel, Mindy Kaling, John Cho, Ken Jeung, Sandra Oh, Azis Ansari, Kal Penn are all well exposed and have been for a while, there are also a bunch of quarter- and half-Asian Americans we don't consider like Hailee Steinfeld and Vanessa Hudgens.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            culturedleftfoot
            Link Parent
            While they're all successful in their own right, almost all are still arguably niche. My guess is the average American either hasn't heard of them or only knows them by face/character, not by...

            While they're all successful in their own right, almost all are still arguably niche. My guess is the average American either hasn't heard of them or only knows them by face/character, not by name. Lucy Liu's the likely exception, maybe along with Dev Patel.

            1. [2]
              mycketforvirrad
              Link Parent
              Dev Patel doesn't qualify as an Asian American as he's English, born in London.

              Dev Patel doesn't qualify as an Asian American as he's English, born in London.

              1 vote
  3. [2]
    3_3_2_LA
    Link
    Interesting watch. Honestly, this is the first time I've heard of Indians being lumped with Asians. Aren't they usually considered South Asians?

    Interesting watch. Honestly, this is the first time I've heard of Indians being lumped with Asians. Aren't they usually considered South Asians?

    1. mycketforvirrad
      Link Parent
      Wikipedia – British Asian

      In Britain, the word "Asian" most frequently refers to people of South Asian ancestry (Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans). This usage contrasts to that in the United States, where it is used primarily to refer to people of East Asian origin.

      In British English usage, the term Asian usually refers to people who trace their ancestry to South Asia, in particular the former British Raj and Ceylon (the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives). The British Sociological Association's guidelines on equality and diversity suggest that "South Asian" is more precise than "Asian" and that the latter should not be used where there is a risk of it conflating South Asians with people from elsewhere in Asia.

      Wikipedia – British Asian

      1 vote