Short Film: Wong Fu Production's "Untouchable" and the Utopian Vision of Race
When YouTube first came into being as a video sharing website, it also allowed a platform for creatives who worked outside the Hollywood industry to gain traction as filmmakers. Asian voices in particular were able to make videos for YouTube after being excluded from the Hollywood scene for so long. Popular Asian channels populated the early days of YouTube including KevJumba, NigaHiga and Wong Fu Productions.
Wong Fu Productions in particular have filled this filmmaking space that many Asians have been excluded from. Started in high school by Philip Wang, Wong Fu has become a collective of West Coast Asian filmmakers who creatively incubating short films, music videos and other forms of web media, all culminating in a crowd funded feature film that was released last year.
Their latest short film, “Untouchable,” fits neatly within the Wong Fu canon while showing no emotional growth in their nine years of making short films. The film starts off with a split screen of two people at a party. It becomes obvious that these people are exes who have not talked to each other in a while. They soon find themselves in a Linklater-lite discussion of moving on from the past in the most maudlin way possible. Wang’s script is filled with metaphors such as turning forth a page from a book and being stuck in time. What is made out to be a deep emotional introspection really turns out to be a teenage fan-fiction of what romance is.
But, Wong Fu has never been emotionally perceptive. Nor have they ever been perceptive about race. Wong Fu still has a place in the media landscape because they fill a role in representation that is still lacking. In their short films, there is a utopian view of race. Asianness in their dramas are never the core but the bevy of Asian faces is thrilling. These are Asian males, so often emasculated and pushed to the side, shown as hot, handsome and vulnerable. Philip Wang in these videos function the same as Chris Pratt or Chris Hemsworth or any other white Hollywood Chris.
It has only been recently that Asians are beginning to break through in the Hollywood landscape. In the last few years, John Cho, Vincent Rodriguez III and Ki Hong Lee have all been shown as viable male love interests on television. Wong Fu Productions without a doubt proved through their millions of web views that Asian faces were viable in the market. And Wong Fu needs to keep making films because we are still starving for representation.