Carnal Orient: An Asian American Female Reponse to Yellow Fever
The short musical film "Carnal Orient" is an attempt to combat the viral hit "Asian Girlz," just one example of popular media's tendency to objectify Asian women as hypersexualized subjects of male desire.
by Ada Tseng
Date Published: 07/07/2014
Camille Mana, Mila Zuo, and Angela Seo. Photos courtesy of Erica Kawamoto Hsu.
There's a little over one week left (until Tue, Jul 15 2014 10:04 AM PDT) to support the Kickstarter campaign for the short musical film "Carnal Orient," co-directed by Mila Zuo and Angela Seo of the band Xiu Xiu and produced by actress Camille Mana. It will also feature a score by Seo.
"Carnal Orient" aims to explore "the nightmarish undertones of Asian fetish." Last August 2013, a music video by Day Above Ground called "Asian GIrlz," about their "appreciation" of Asian women (notably, their "slanty eyes" and "ninja pussy") became a viral hit and disturbed many -- including a contributor for Huffington Post, who called it "the racist song in recent memory" as well as the creatives behind "Carnal Orient," who saw it as a sign that Asian American female voices were being underrepresented in popular media.
"They don't realize how degrading and abusive their imagery and their language is," says Seo, in their Kickstarter video. "All these images of us as submissives or 'kawaii' or schoolgirls or whatever. Those are so grotesque, it's unsettling. People don't realize it because they've seen it so many times already that it's been normalized. It really does translate to real physical violence against Asian women."
"Carnal Orient" aims to challenge the stereotypes of Asian American women as well as open up the kind of art that Asian American women can be seen making. A teaser video can be seen above.
"The concept of the video is 'Asian fetish' and estrangement," explains Zuo. "So the 'woman' in the video is a representation of distorted desire rather than a 'realistic' representation of Asian women. So there are definitely surreal, horror, and psychological aspects to the short film."
Their visual influences include artists like Chris Cunningham, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Vanessa Beecroft and Floria Sigismondi.
Check out a podcast interview conducted by producer Camille Mana about the project:
As the Kickstarter deadline draws near, the "Carnal Orient" team will be conducting random drawings for those who pledge at least $25. Prizes include free tickets to Xiu Xiu shows on their upcoming tour and shirts from Zuo's T-shirt line Two City.
For more information, go to their official Tumblr page.