We’re golden: the Asian entertainers are here
Once again, BTS was nominated for the Grammy Award two years in a row, but they got rejected. Instead, Doja Cat and SZA take the winner of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
“We will be disappointed today and let it go,” RM, a leader of BTS, said.
The Grammy Award, stylized as Grammy, is one of the biggest music awards. Presented by the Recording Academy, Grammy has annually held in the U.S and this year’s 64th Grammy was at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3. With its long-standing history of awarding trophies more often to White singers rather than performers of color, Grammy was continually blamed as the “White Grammy.” This year it was dubbed “Scammy” due to BTS’s loss.
After Grammy snubbed BTS, the hashtag “Scammy,” which means “Grammy scams BTS,” was incited by the fandom of BTS on Twitter. It recorded more than 30 million retweets and lots of media outlets such as Elle, Rolling Stone and Variety also criticized Grammy for lack of its diversity. Thanks to BTS, the exclusivity of the judging panels, mainly composed of the White artists, is revealed again in the winner list of the Grammy.
Unlike the Billboard Music Awards, based on music chart rankings and the American Music Awards selected by the fans’ vote, Grammy has a special committee that judges both candidates and winners. Unfortunately, its secret committee has been accused of conservatism, which cannot correctly reflect the public’s opinion and keeps neglecting third-world musicians. Therefore, although Grammy boasts the highest authority with those two music awards, it has stuck to an old-fashioned evaluation system.
Grammy struggles but is still harsh to Asian
“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” The Weekend, a Canadian artist of Ethiopian descent, tweeted.
Despite his achievements and popularity, he was dropped as the candidate for the 63rd Grammy Awards and it ignited the fundamental racial problems of the Grammy. After his comment, Grammy has strived to clear its “White Grammy” tag. Therefore, last year they selected all the winners from the non-White group for the first time, an unprecedented decision. However, how many Asian musicians shined at the Grammy?
This data, collected from 2012 after the Grammy abolished winners by gender, has seven main categories regarded as the general and pop fields. Ethnicity group is divided into five sectors: the Asian, the Black, the White, the Pacific Islander and the Latin. On average, the White was the dominant group in the winner list, which recorded around 74%. The Black took 20% and the Latin and the Pacific Islander 3.8% and 1.2%, respectively, whereas there has been no Asian winner for the past ten years.
“White Grammy” started to change in 2018 along with the leading social issues like “Black Lives Matter.” In addition, a restrictive new Texas abortion law helped more female musicians to receive the award in 2021. Adjusting its ratio of candidates and winners proves that Grammy consciously moves in sync with society. However, issues around Asian hate crimes with the appearance of COVID-19 have received less illumination from the media than other ethnicities. Therefore, some experts said even though BTS failed to win the Grammy, it would be an excellent signal to the Asian musicians in the U.S.
The current public’s rage is understandable when considering Grammy’s excessive commercial advertisement for the BTS nomination. The megahit song “Butter” and “Dynamite,” which spent 32 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 100s, failed to persuade the Grammy’s committee taste. Grammy would like to show how fair and considerate their organization was through BTS, but still, they are cynical about Asians.
Not only Grammy but also Academy Award
Grammy is not the only problem. The standpoint of the Asian entertainers in the U.S. film market has weakened than other ethnic groups. Amid this implicit bias, the movie “Parasite” was the first foreign-language film to claim the Academy Award for Best Picture and it took 94 years for Asians to be recognized.
“The Oscars are not an international film festival. They are local,” Bong Jun-Ho, director of the movie “Parasite,” said in describing the Academy Awards.
Based on the Academy Awards’ winner and nomination list since 1929, 16 countries were proposed as the primary six competitive categories. Japan and Lebanon were the most called, recorded 10 times and the followed was India, which has seven times. Lebanon is the only country that has named all main categories and Japan has four prominent actors who put their names on the candidate list.
South Korea won three times from Best Picture, Best Supporting Actors and Best Director in winner lists. Lebanon, the most nominated country, has a total of two wins from Best Picture. Taiwan was also awarded Best Director twice, and Armenia also had two good opportunities to receive Best Actress.
According to the Pew research center, the Asian population in the U.S. is predicted to reach 46 million by 2060, surpassing the ratio of Hispanics. However, additional hurdles still existed and remained invisible on the screen.
“Industry should be more creative in the way it does cast Asian actors,” Constance Wu, a Taiwanese American actress, said. “The stories were always the side character, the best friend, or the kung fu expert. I think there are a lot of roles that we could be played.”
Diversity in Media Matters
More disclosure and discussions over cultural diversity are highly required. Media can give voice to them and magnify the importance of variety. As media is a window for people to understand society, portraying various ethnicity can affect to public’s mindset. Not falling into a pit of prejudice, the media should lead the people correctly. Therefore, unbiased and colorful media can save our society.
Netflix launched the “Netflix Golden” social media channel, which focused on Asian-Pacific Islander actors. It exposes more Pan-Asian actors on their media platform, giving them a mic to speak out whatever they want.
“As a first-generation Chinese-American growing up in the Midwest, I rarely saw individuals who looked like me in American media,” Lucie Zhang, the manager of Netflix Golden, said.
By strengthening the bond within the Asian diaspora community, it hopes more talented Pan-Asian entertainers could pay attention to global society and bridge the gap between other cultural groups.
“People call our community quiet but look at us. We do it at all. We sing, act, make jokes and make people cry,” actors from the Netflix Golden community said. “Sometimes, we even make history. We’re the ones who’ve been here for generations and the ones who arrived fresh off the plane. We have freckles, double lids and mono lids. We are billions of people from dozens of countries with hundred languages. We’re groundbreakers, rule breakers, record breakers and internet breakers. All of our stories are golden.”