The Hangover II, Asian-American Artists, & English Professors: One Perspective on Marketing…

So, how do all of the three topics relate to marketing, you ask? Follow me into the life of “Mad Men”…

According to Jeff Yang, H2 found 103 million reasons over the 3-day weekend to start production on H3.

Hold me back. I cannot wait for it…err…No.

While H1 was about as over-the-top as my sensibilities can handle, everyone-lovers, haters, and critics- agree that H2 is about as stupid as one could possibly get. Go to Rotten Tomatoes or google any review, and not one journalist or blogger will tell you this movie is good or has a plausible storyline or is even funny.

And while I’m here: I cannot help but notice the coordinated use of the words “Asian” and “penis” in the same sentence in every single review. “C’mon”: there is nothing gainsaid in a negative movie review by the inclusion of evidence of exposure of any gender’s genitalia connected to the ethnicity of the person. It’s just a bad movie, even if the full-frontal nudity were “left on the editing floor,” and linking the “disclosure” to the ethnicity of the person promotes nothing to the review. This usage reminded me of all of the news anchors using the word “penis” when John Bobbitt was confronted by his angry wife many years ago: these TV journalists were beside themselves with joy in getting to describe male genitalia as well as describe the violence applied to the adulterer…

Back to Yang: he doesn’t stop there in his discussion. H2 trades on old and repugnant stereotypes about Asians. Again, the reviews are unanimous about this, and thankfully, everyone is repelled by the presence of such.

Yang moves the conversation forward, by essentially asking, “Whither Asian-American film?” He has some really intriguing proposals that involve leveraging the high-density presence of Asian-American students at select North American universities- and with a supposed pocketbook to purchase film/DVD (?), music, etc.- with the goal of cultivating Asian-Americans who are film makers, musicians, and other artists.

Will it work? According to those he interviewed, there has to be a market for the art form: pure and simple. It’s an essay, but well worth the time to read.

This whole matter of marketing is a complex one, and I’m hardly the one to run to for advice on this matter. But, I would want to affirm that making your self known and establishing one’s network is fairly and universally sound wisdom for fruitful bread-winning and service to one’s community and beyond.  It’s the former, making your self known, that I was reminded of the hiring of an English professor at a nearby university through reading Yang’s editorial.

In a conversation with some of the PhD students I knew in the department, the topic was “How does one get hired in the Humanities these days?” There are all of the usual proposals, but one student observed that in the recent hire, some of the grad students participating in the interviews noticed something about themselves as well as the prospective faculty member.

The prospects with the most interesting research gave the most boring presentations and proposals for the courses they would teach.

The prospects with the least interesting research gave the most attractive and interesting presentations and proposals for the courses they would teach.

The grad students all checked-in with each other, and the results from above were unanimous. Scary. As you may have surmised, the hire went to the prospect with the best public representation. As one grad student put it, “That guy marketed himself better than anyone else.”

As the parent of two Asian-American artists, my sense is that this topic of marketing is always and will ever be a sensitive one. I have inquired of my kids if they wanted to start a blog as a way of making themselves known in the dance world. “No.” In short, that’s not the way the dance world works. Or so they presently understand the culture of dance. (I wonder if that culture simply both employs social media for the promotion of performances and disregards it for the promotion of the performer.) And, there is also the tacit concern that such promotion will work in reverse or against the very aims they want fulfilled. I suppose there is also the phenomenon of what happens to “the nail sticking up” that may also be a concern.

All that being said both kids routinely get gigs, one had a succession of long-term contracts with a ballet company, and both audiences and artistic directors have enjoyed their person and performance. Why not market yourself if you are an emerging or experienced Asian-American artist?

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