Review by YUDHO ADITYAJune 07, 2017
What I liked
What I didn't like
My overall impression
With the onslaught of insensitive whitewashing and erasure of Asian American history by the mainstream media, Paul Yen’s “Secret Identity Crisis” is a breath of fresh air that seeks to critique and challenge this disturbing status quo.
However, while the show’s exploration of 3 different superheroes’ re-imagined backstories from a minority’s POV is a clever concept, its execution feels a bit repetitive since all three stories hit the same beats. Because of the short 1 hour run time, it can be difficult for the audience to fully delve into the stories before Yen moves on to his next character. It’s an ambitious piece of writing that deserves a larger format (and run time) to fully explore and flesh out the complexities of being a superhero with a minority background.
Yet, despite the too-moody lighting design and uneven pace,
Paul Yen’s personal journey as an Asian American man trying to gain self-acceptance in a predominantly white and masculine world provides a palpable and soulful anchor to this uneven one-man show. It is when Yen is telling his own personal connection about the racial prejudices that he has to endure on a daily basis, that the show becomes a validating testament of the forgotten voices of Asian Americans. In these segments, his charm, fragility and passion truly shine, capturing the plight of Asian Americans everywhere who deserve far more for their hard work and talent but are getting way less in America where straight white bros still reign.
With the recent box office bombs of studio tentpoles (I’m looking at you, Pirates) starring mostly (if not all) white people (and very few black actors in supporting roles, because that’s what they consider as “diversity”), Hollywood is running out of excuses for not being woke and including minorities (especially Asian Americans) in leading roles. Paul Yen’s show may not change this any time soon, but it’s an important step in vocalizing and critiquing this nonsensical and clearly outdated Hollywood train of thought. After all, every Chris Pratt or Hemsworth or Evans must come from somewhere… even if he is indeed a man from Norwalk, California with a family originating from the South East Asian country of Vietnam.