YouTube Red is a streaming service that allows people to pay monthly for exclusive content (Image via GirlTalkHQ)
Culture /// Screens x

The new YouTube Red series allows Asian representation to extend into mainstream media.

The YouTube Red Series “Youth and Consequences,” which premiered on March 7, 2018 and created by Jason Ubaldi, consists of eight episodes that establish a thought-provoking allegory on the dynamics of power and perception and minority representation.

Notably, the short series stars the motivational YouTuber, actress and Executive Producer Anna Akana as the power-thirsty protagonist Farrah Cutney, the figurative ruler of Central Rochester High School.

She secretly pulls the strings on what gets posted on “The Crotch,” which is similar to a school newspaper, that exposes the terrible truths of the school officials or reveals infidelity in romantic and sexual relationships. Setting the premise of the series, Farrah sees people viewing “The Crotch” as an entity that everyone fears but can’t turn away from.

The YouTube Red series parallels the 2004 movie “Mean Girls” in which the queen bees possess arrogance and carry the new girl into popularity during the early scenes of the show.

Did I forget to mention that they both throw snarky comments and control a trio that follow and grant almost every command? Nevertheless, the series steer away from the Regina George type, showcasing Farrah as a benevolent leader.

In general, the media has a huge role in influencing people’s behaviors and setting societal standards, which eventually affect future human endeavors. Growing up as an Asian-American, I rarely saw Asians playing lead roles in television series or movies unless they were specifically made in Asia.

Unlike most shows, “Youth and Consequences” cast two female Asian leads, Akana and Piper Curda, who begin as mutual friends and then become rivals towards the end of the show, which is rarely seen in the traditional world of media. Altogether, the series has its own twists and turns, greatly putting together an amazing representation of minorities on camera.

In a BUILD Series interview with Akana, she admits, “if I auditioned [for] something like [Farrah] in the traditional world, I would never get it. They would never hire an Asian woman to play the queen bee of the school. You would have a Regina George type — someone blonde and icy with blue eyes.”

Typically, in the very traditional world of media, the female leads, especially in high school settings, are Caucasian. To this day, there is still favoritism towards white actors that runs rampant in Hollywood.

For instance, the movie adaption of the manga series “Ghost in the Shell” depicts a blonde, white woman playing the lead female character Motoko Kusanagi, who clearly has Japanese heritage.

Unquestionably, this is white-washing and cultural appropriation, not to mention extremely offensive and a loss of opportunity for people of color. By casting a blonde, white woman, it removes the cultural authenticity of the story and completely expels the story from its true roots.

In shows such as “Nikita,” the CW show “Beauty and the Beast” or even the American animation “Kim Possible,” there is a pattern of a hacker being associated with a man, but “Youth and Consequences” breaks the trend by casting Kara Royster, a woman of color, as Jayne Carter, displaying that women, including those of color, have an equal amount of potential and capabilities to take on the challenges of the STEM field.

Let’s not forget that the series also highlights a couple topics that are frequently swept under the rug.

Equal Cuts & Pay

As the trend of patriarchy continues through the generations, equal pay is an ongoing struggle. Similarly, the YouTube Red series portrays unequal treatment, in which all the girls’ sports are completely canceled due to “budget cuts” yet the boys’ sports remain untouched, even with alleged financial setbacks.

Questionably, the girls’ sports are completely expunged because of low funds, yet the school pays extra money for buses in order to have students watch and cheer on their boys’ football team for off-campus games. This suggests that the girls’ sports are not as significant as that of their counterparts.

Transgender

The show sheds light on respecting and allowing those who identify as transgender or gender-fluid to reveal their own story rather than having them be exposed by their peers. Early in the series, a popular jock named Tripp starts changing in the girls’ locker-room because he identifies as a woman.

Many students become skeptical of his sudden identification and believe that he is manipulating the transgender excuse to peep at some girls since they have never heard of his transition, let alone seen any physical changes.

However, it becomes revealed that Tripp is actually struggling with the thought of being trans after Farrah and Collin Cowher, who is Farrah’s puppet that posts new updates on “The Crotch,” follow Tripp to a drag queen show.

Collin’s first initial thought was to post pictures of Tripp going to the show even after being humiliated, but Farrah stops him and reminds him that Tripp is already going through a crisis and that he doesn’t need to be further humiliated; basically, he already has enough on his plate. What Farrah says is right, it is an invasion of privacy and Tripp’s story to share, not anybody else’s.

Imagine having your biggest secret spread across campus or social media. Wouldn’t you prefer your secret be personally disclosed rather than having someone untrustworthy, and possibly uncredible, spread it for you? Or, imagine paparazzi trying to expose and/or fabricate a story about you; wouldn’t it just be better for you to reveal your own experience, especially when you’re ready to?

All in all, respect the person’s privacy and let them share their story when they are ready since you don’t want to be the one spreading fake news. As the old cliché mantra goes, treat others the way you’d want to be treated.

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