Op-Ed

Asian American Youth: America’s New Trendsetters on U.S. Pop Culture

Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children

Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children

DALLAS, Jul 26, 2006/ FW/ — Pop culture, the muse of many fashion designers. In the recently concluded menswear season alone, pop culture was the main staple of several collections that includes Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, (N)umber Nine, Thierry Mugler, Wendy & Jim, Les Hommes.

A new study released by New American Dimensions and interTrend Communications reveals that Asian American youth are increasingly generating some of the key trends in pop culture being embraced by the rest of mainstream American youth culture.

According to results of the study, ‘Made in America: Asian American Teens and Echo Boomers,’ Asian American young people are likely to see themselves as trendsetters in three distinct cultural categories — technology & gadgetry, anime & manga, and video-gaming.

The results, though very revealing is hardly surprising. Hollywood, which is a purveyor of pop culture itself, has recognized it for sometime. Several new movies had featured the Asian American youth’s preoccupation with the latest technology and video gaming.

In a 2004 movie, ‘The Perfect Score,’ wherein six high school seniors decide to break into the Princeton Testing Center so they can steal the answers to their upcoming SAT tests and all get perfect scores, it was asked who get the highest SAT scores.

The answer, though said in jest, but very truthful, ‘Asian girls who sit in front of their computers and study all the time; they don’t drive, they don’t hang out, they don’t watch MTV.’

In the 2006 movie, ‘Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants,’ Brian McBrian, played by Leonardo Nam, an actor of Asian origin was the neighborhood champion of Dungeons and Dragons, who can play the whole day in a local 7-11 Store for a quarter.

Speaking of video games, Final Fantasy, one of the most successful game franchises was created by Square Soft, now Square Enix, a Japanese video game company. Final Fantasy I was released in 1988, the latest installment, Final Fantasy XII is due in stores this October. The franchise has also released two movies based on the games: Final Fantasy, The Sprit Within and Final Fantasy – The Advent Children.

That Asian American youths think of themselves as ambassadors of video gaming, anime and manga is also very understandable. Anime and manga originated in Asia, specifically Japan.

And because video games, anime and manga have strong ties with technology and gadgetry, the Asian American youth’s love for new gizmos is a natural progression.

“It’s not completely surprising that Asian Americans wield a tremendous influence in areas like video-gaming and manga,” states Thomas Tseng, Principal & Co-Founder of New American Dimensions, who oversaw the research study.

“Anime and Manga constitute a growing $4 billion business in the U.S. and is embraced today by millions of American kids across the color spectrum. As ambassadors and curators of this subculture, Asian American youth really shape the contours of this space and spread it to the rest of their peers,” Tseng added.

This study, “Made in America: Asian American Teens and Echo-Boomers,” will be presented at the conference “IMPRINT: Urban Youth Unabridged” (www.imprint-life.com) on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at the Japanese American National Museum.

George Takei will be the opening speaker, while the rest of the conference will feature a mix of live panels, presentations, and performers — including Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment, Jim Farley from Toyota Motor Sales, Eric Nakamura from Giant Robot, Gonzalo Perez from MTV, and John Hiler from Xanga.

One Response

  1. anil May 4, 2009