Noah J Nelson on Thursday, Mar. 17th
When trolls attack the whole Internet strikes back, as was the case with the now infamous “Asians in the Library” rant of Alexandra Wallace, but to strike back in style takes skill.
TurnStyle: How offended were you (if at all) by Alexandra Wallace’s rant?
Jimmy Wong: When I first saw the video I felt pretty offended and didn’t have words to express how I felt about it. At the same time I saw there was an inherent amount of humor to the whole thing because the entire rant was bookended Alexandra’s attempts to espouse proper American manners. I think my original offense quickly died down once I took a step back from my initial reaction and looked at entire rant as a whole. I’d also like to state now that I completely forgive Alexandra for all the comments she made, I am only praying that she has learned something from this experience. There’s always the chance that when faced with an initial backlash like this someone won’t actually change their beliefs, but rather will retreat and simply not make their opinions known and still harbor the same (if not stronger) resentment inside them.
TS: Did you know that you just wanted to do something on the rant, or did the hook come to you first?
JW: Being on YouTube you’re attuned to these sorts of things as soon as they start becoming viral or hit the web. In this particular case I knew there was something to be said, but didn’t take any action on it until the night prior to releasing the video. The inciting incident was a conversation with my brother (Freddiew on YouTube) who pushed me to create a response. Once I sat down and started the song writing process, the hook came into formation. I knew all along that if I was to write a song, it would have to include the words Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong as the chorus. I think we can agree it was the natural highlight of Alexandra’s original rant.
TS: You’re in LA- do you have friends at UCLA? What’s their take?
JW: I have many friends that are currently at UCLA and some that have graduated. I met them all through performing at The Improv Space (an amazing improv theatre right by In N’ Out on Gayley, check it out!). We’re all comedians so I think their reactions were similar to mine, a mixture of shock at Alexandra’s audacity and recognition of the humor in it all.
TS: You’re an active member of the YouTube community- what do you think goes through the head of someone like Wallace that prompts them to go online and say stuff like that? Do they just lack inner monologs in this age of overshare?
I honestly don’t think people realize the scope of what they’re doing when they post something online. In Alexandra’s case, I can only guess her vlogs have never attracted much attention, so she probably felt more freedom to address whatever issue was on her mind at the time. Thing is, it’s the internet. You can’t predict if something will or will not go viral, but you should never forget that this doesn’t mean that you’re still uploading that the entire world can potentially view. It’s not so much the age of overshare as it is the age of humans being humans. We still had this kind of behavior before the internet existed.
TS: What reactions have you been collecting from people? The YouTube comments seem to be applauding not only your music writing skills, but also the way you’ve facilitated the discussion. You could’ve just attacked her, but instead used creativity to point out the ridiculousness of Alexandra’s comments. Any comment on that?
JW: I’m extremely, extremely grateful for all the comments and support I’ve received so far. I think the way I addressed it all had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t immediately make a video response when I felt I had a huge personal stake in it all and my emotions were running high. Once I could separate myself from the entire situation and take a step back, everything came into focus. That and I think my healthy dosage of manlove for Jemaine Clements of Flight of the Conchords taught me that there’s always an alternative to handling situations like this. By gettin’ funky.
However I’m not saying that we should all approach serious situations with the belief that just laughing them off is always the best alternative. Every situation is unique and so are the ways that we choose to deal with them. For instance, it seems obvious to say but we’d only be a greater fool if we were to make attacks on Alexandra for what she did in the same manner. Regardless, this kind of attack is exactly the first reaction that most people had. Sometimes in the heat of things we can create huge schisms in our minds, justifying our own personal attacks on someone else simply because they initiated it. This isn’t to say that Alexandra shouldn’t take flak for her words, but that if we always jumped to our initial first reaction when dealing with things, we’d be no better than wild animals in the wilderness, lashing out at anything that frightens, angers or irritates them.
TS: This song isn’t a one off for you, what inspired you to strike out on the YouTube scene?
JW: I live with a really strong community of movie makers and YouTubers, including my brother Freddiew, roommates Brandon Laatsch, Matt Arnold, Desmond Dolly and CorridorDigital (comprising of Niko Pueringer and Sam Gorski). I’ve been behind the scenes on YouTube for over a year now, helping out my roommates with videos every now and again. I finally decided to begin my YouTube “career” this past month or so when I had the chance to move into a space of my own down the hall. The added privacy allowed me to focus on songwriting without the distraction of others around, and has helped fueled my work ethic.
TS: Finally, do you know if she’s seen the video?
JW: No idea yet! I’d really love to meet her in person and tell her that I completely forgive her for all the comments she made. Give her a huge hug! Girl deserves one. Receiving death threats can’t possibly be a happy experience. I pray she’s doing well.