Disclaimer: I’m quite fond of Jeremy Lin. He’s a smart player and a complete crowd-pleaser. He understands the theatrics of a live basketball game, its appeal to the audience, and knows how to use it.
I’m not sure where I stand on the whole Asian American bandwagon thing though. I’m pretty certain that Jeremy Lin is a decently skilled basketball player — enough to have a good-sized fan base. Then again, I also know that I personally wouldn’t have watched reruns of the Knicks games if he hadn’t been an Asian American basketball player. But I don’t think that’s wrong. I like Jeremy Lin because he brings up questions about modern racism and seemingly immovable social constructs of masculinity, especially for Asian American men. I like that, for once, there is positive Asian American representation on TV — an athletic Asian American guy on national television who is scoring mad points, winning games, and succeeding.
His shot to fame had also exposed the existence of anti-Asian sentiments and racist comments and the need for a dialogue that I never thought would be still needed in the 21st century. People have always said things in private settings that have disturbed me — comments that were never quite able to be pinned down as being racist — but to be said in public or national TV? Quite interesting. I have found that many have a deep engrained disdain for Asian American success in this country. They analyze, evaluate, and calculate how Asian Americans are able to succeed in the rare cases they do — as if we’re some alien species or robots. Which is exactly what this article does by trying to analyze Lin’s perception skills and ascribing them to his “Asianness.”
I personally loved the SNL clip about the Linsanity surrounding Lin’s NBA basketball success. So often, the boundaries of Asian/AA racism are blurred for people. The juxtaposition to black racism helped to give people perspective — i.e. that references to chopsticks or fortune cookie humor is like talking about black people and fried chicken. For some reason, the former is considered funny while the latter disturb people’s political-correctness meter.
With Lin starting up again as the Houston Rockets’s point guard this coming October, the Linsanity conversation should be back soon. No matter how much the sight of another “Who said Asians Can’t Drive” Meme or a “Will you be my ValLINtine” poster makes me groan, I can’t deny that he has great court presence and flashy moves that makes the games worth watching. Heck, I might even buy myself one of his jerseys.