GamesBeat

Felicia Day and Freddie Wong talk geekdom, stereotypes, and Internet fans (interview)

Felicia Day and Freddie Wong laughing

Above: Felicia Day and Freddie Wong laughing at the Dice Awards.

Image Credit: AIAS/Dice

GamesBeat: It’s the Internet.

Day: It is.

VGHS final season

Above: Video Game High School final season.

Image Credit: VGHS

Wong: I want them to do that for something like, “Bill Gates changed his haircut,” and see what that would do.

Day: That’s the thing about it. It would never be a question that you’d ask a guy.

Wong: That would be great. A series of interview questions where you just take the typical….

Day: Yeah, the exact same questions you would ask a woman.

Wong: “So! What’s it like balancing home life and your work?”

Day: “How do you feel like you’re betraying your kids by going off to do this?” It would be amazing. We should do that.

GamesBeat: It’s like you guys deserve this because you stepped onto the Internet, right?

Day: I don’t mean to be aggressive about it at all. I understand there are a lot of unconscious things in our world that we don’t even recognize, that are just part of our patterns of behavior, especially when it has to do with different standards for the sexes. If I go on screen, nine out of 10 people will say, “Why the hell does she have anything to do with gaming?” As opposed to Freddie, where they’re going to assume….

Wong: Oh, he’s Asian, of course.

Day: Right. He’s Asian. He’s got this. That’s why I continue to do things in the gaming space, because I love the gaming space, and I want to represent that. I’m stubborn about it. If I can just be a woman and do what I do, hopefully other women and girls will be inspired to do that too. Anyway. That’s my soapbox. But thanks, I really like my hair.

Wong: I’ve gone from longer to shorter. It’s less shampoo, right?

Day: Oh, yeah. I save a lot of money.

Wong: Doesn’t it freak you out at first? Wow, my hair’s dry already.

Day: It looks better on the second day than on the first! I saved 30 minutes! I don’t have to do all that puffing and curling. It’s fantastic. Guys don’t know how easy they’ve got it.

Wong: Oh, I know. I just turn on the bathroom light and I’m done.

Day: You don’t condition? Oh, God.

Wong: I have Asian hair. I have tree trunks. The roots go deep.

Felicia Day and Freddie Wong in Vegas at Dice

Above: Day and Wong in Las Vegas at Dice.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: What do you think about stereotypes regarding Asian people in games? You’ve broken some types in your way.

Wong: I’ll go with that a little bit. As weird and as brash and ridiculous I am at some times, I do quite a bit of thinking in that regard. The Asian male has an interesting history as far as Western appropriation. At one point, we were completely sexless Chinamen building the railroads. Then, World War II came around, and it was like, Asian guys are coming after the white women. We became a menace for a second.

There were always extremes. It’s either not sexualized whatsoever or hyper-sexualized. It’s the case for both Asian men and women. Look at Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That’s a hyper-sexualized male. But at the same time, there’s that neutered stereotype. He’s an Asian guy. He’s a nerd. Which is so fascinating. No other race portrayal spans those absolute extremes.

Day: Well, I would argue that. If you look at other races and women, you have the same stereotypes. We’re served cliché after cliché in our entertainment all the time. But it is interesting to have your perspective on that.

Wong: With women it’s even crazier. You have the submissive geisha on the one hand, but then you also have the mysterious dragon lady of the Orient who’s the mistress of the secret arts. It’s always extremes. There’s never a middle ground.

Day: Or, they’re a judge.

Wong: Yeah, exactly. So a lot of times people are like, “Are you conscious of this? Are you aware of this?” And here’s the new one. The new one that’s interesting is that Asians are good at everything. Which is weird. It’s one of those things where it’s like, is that a bad stereotype?

GamesBeat: You’re a model minority.

Day: It sets a standard to which people frame themselves as they grow up. And, therefore, you don’t have a lot of options. You have something that society is saying you need to be.

GamesBeat: This is the way you should behave.

Wong: Yeah. There’s a lot of history here. In terms of Asians in this country, you have a big influx after the Cultural Revolution, a big influx after the Korean War, a big influx after the Vietnam War. Anyway, the point is, in terms of gaming stuff, I’m weird. I’m kind of ridiculous. I like certain things. I’m stereotypical in some ways and not in other ways. I run afoul of people who claim that, “Oh, you want to be a banana — yellow on the outside, white on the inside.” You also don’t want to be “FOB,” fresh off the boat. There are those different sides. But the point is, what I try to do is what I think is interesting, what makes me happy. I try not to regard where that falls on the spectrum of stereotypes. That’s the luxury everyone else has, so why shouldn’t I take that for myself?

Video Game High School episode 1

Above: Episode one of Video Game High School.

Image Credit: VGHS

GamesBeat: You had the white girl with the Asian boyfriend on your Video Game High School show, which is kind of an unusual pairing.

Wong: That is unusual, because statistically, if you look at all interracial couples, the most common one — something like 70 percent — is an Asian woman and a white man. It’s one of those things where, if you want to live in a post-racial society, just start acting like it’s a post-racial society. If people have problems with it, that’s their fault. They need to come around. It’s not a matter of consciously trying to do something. It’s a matter of being like, “This makes sense. This is interesting.”

Day: They’re just people. That’s the way I do it on my show. Nobody’s pointing out, “Wow, isn’t that unusual? Those women play games! That’s an Indian guy! Wow!”

Wong: Because the moment you draw attention to it in that way, you set it apart as something that’s now different. Whereas if you just go about it like, “No, this is regular, there’s nothing unusual here, this is what it is,” the world you depict is the world you want to live in. That’s the way I try to go about it.

Day: We’re just being ourselves. Which everyone should be.

GamesBeat: Well, you gotta be funny too.

Day: We’ll do our best.

Wong: They have a guy on rimshots all night, so I think we’ll be okay.


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