Young Asian Actress Regrets Being Lured Into Abusive Relationship


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Lisa Chan, actress in anti-Chinese political ad

Used, abused, and tossed aside: "Thanks for the use of your ethnicity, doll! Your money's in the envelope."

Meet Lisa Chan — but if you follow politics  — or if you watched the Super Bowl in the state of Michigan — you probably already have.  Here’s a YouTube video containing what has become her most famous work as an actress:

This is one hard-hitting ad — and the hardest hit may have been the one aimed at Lisa Chan’s career.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, is (judging by his lack of apology) perfectly happy with the reception that this ad has received.  He is, after all, running against a Tea Party candidate for the Republican nomination, and the more of a xenophobic know-nothing he can portray himself as being, the better off with the primary electorate he probably is.  (The general public has been treating him a bit worse.)

I don’t know what information Ms. Chan had about the ad before agreeing to star in it.  Actors sometimes aren’t given a whole lot of information; perhaps she had no idea of the prominence it would receive (and it is unlikely that she had an inkling of its likely notoriety.)  And novice actors, starving for any role, end up doing all kinds of things.  But this — well, to this adult with daughters both older and younger than Ms. Chan appears to be — this is pretty breathtaking.

Yes, she’s an adult.  Yes, she made her own choices.  But yes, yes, YES, whoever cast her in this role had to be aware of the likelihood that they were destroying her career — and possibly her stature within the Asian-American community itself.  And they just … did …  not … care.  This was an abusive relationship between rich employer and poorer employee — and she was used, abused, and discarded.  I’ve wondered from the first moment I saw this ad about how much shame she must now be feeling; it turns out that my suspicions were right.

All’s fair in love and war, I suppose, and politics has elements of both.  I am just happy, as a parent of four Asian daughters and one son, that Ms. Chan has recaptured some of her dignity with this heartfelt apology.  This isn’t just playing some racially stereotypical character in a third-rate direct-to-video chopsocky movie.  This is aiming a blow at one’s own culture’s windpipe.

There are lots of rational objections to many of China’s actions in our world economy and out political system; there are lots of reasonable responses to it.  “Let’s stoke more racism against my own people” is not among them.

What I hope that some arm of the Democratic Party will do this year is to make a short ad of the real Lisa Chan, as herself, giving her the opportunity to say how she felt she was abused and to call for greater racial understanding.  It might be good politics, sure.  It would be even better as a way to undo this wrong.

With her apology, Lisa Chan deserves to be forgiven.  But even more than that, she deserves to be pissed.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)