A UCLA STUDENT POSTS AN OFFENSIVE VIDEO AND GETS A HARSH LESSON IN REALITY.
By Alexandra Cuerdo
From HUSTLER MAGAZINE September 2011
Hot. Fucking. Mess. That’s what Alexandra Wallace is. She’s the University of California, Los Angeles, student-turned-dropout behind the videotaped racist rant “Asians in the Library,” which she ignorantly posted on YouTube. What followed was a media explosion—including 6 million views, a dozen death threats and countless headlines.
We’ve seen this before. Celebrity misspeaks fill a weekly quota in the tabloids. Fanatical rage posts flood YouTube on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. But the viral “it” factor is an elusive bug. It took the perfect storm—of poor timing and even poorer judgment—to stoke Wallace’s 15 seconds of fame to a sky-high fever.
On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan—claiming thousands of lives and triggering a nuclear disaster. On that same day, Wallace trash-talked Asians’ supposed inability to teach their children to “fend for themselves.” In the video she called herself a political science student with “American manners.” Versus, of course, the “hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every single year.”
Wallace went on to declare, “In America we do not talk on our cell phones in the library! I swear, they’re going through their whole families, just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing.” Then, as the cherry on top of the shit-show sundae, the perturbed blonde imitated an “Asian” language. Her disparaging line “Ohhh! Ching chong ling long ting tong?! Ohhh!” inspired a Web site, aptly named Ohhhching chonglinglongtingtong.com, and T-shirts, all proceeds of which were donated to Japanese relief funds. Wallace’s tirade also turned the limelight to Jimmy Wong, who racked up a zillion YouTube views with his tune “Asians in the Library.” Wong’s catchy refrain “Ching Chong/It means I love you” made it to iTunes and recently earned him an interview with National Public Radio.
So why did Wallace do it? LA Weekly suggested a classic con: the publicity stunt. Some sleuthing revealed that Wallace sought fame. She aspired to model professionally, she loved Jersey Shore, and a month before her cause célèbre she’d planned a series of “comedic videos” similar to “Asians in the Library.” The Sacramento Bee found her father’s Facebook profile, which let slip that Wallace was even searching for domain names for a future blog—maybe AsiansInTheLibrary.com?
But those dreams changed once she became a YouTube sensation. Hackers on forum giant 4chan posted Wallace’s e-mail, phone number and address the day after her infamous rant. Her Model Mayhem profile—an online portfolio to attract employment opportunities—was so flooded with outraged spam that it was taken down. Multiple Facebook groups reposted Wallace’s personal information and encouraged viewers to respond directly to the outspoken student.
In a formal apology published in UCLA’s Daily Bruin, Wallace explained how she wanted to “produce a humorous YouTube video” but in stead offended “the entire Asian culture.” She made a “mistake” that caused “the harassment of my family, the publishing of my personal information, death threats and being ostracized from an entire community.”
Guess no one told Wallace that the Asians she offended are everywhere these days. And that they—along with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and many others worldwide—would see the derogatory clip and counterattack.
Today Wallace reigns as the new face of institutionalized, not-so-secret racism. She’s the living, breathing flaw of the Internet Age: the video we can’t stop sharing, the wreck we can’t stop watching, the bitch we can’t stop shaming. In two minutes and 52 seconds—the running time of “Asians in the Library”—Wallace flung her college career down a black hole.
But we’re missing the bigger picture. We live in a culture that’s at once sensitive and desensitized. We’ve taken her words person ally. We’ve gotten angry. And although it’s okay—and understandable—to be pissed off, there’s a limit to the madness. There’s righteously annoyed, and then there’s calling Alexandra Wallace a “slut that deserves to die.” Let’s face it: Not many of us would be so forward in person. Online raging is so much easier to do, but it doesn’t make it any better or the words any nicer.
Maybe when we can own our rage, we can find a better way to express it. Beau, an original cast member of the Tony award-winning Def Poetry Jamon Broadway, gave it a shot. Imitating Wallace’s emotional voice, he examined the reasons for her racism in a posted video of his own. “If only these Asians would learn English,” Beau said. “If only they understood that I’m here too. That I share this place with them, that I belong here, that the hordes and swarms invading the system I’ve learned remember who I am as the world changes.”
And then Beau—looking right into the camera, like Wallace did the fateful day she aired her dirtiest laundry online— concluded, “I’m so afraid I’ll have to fend for myself, without what I’ve been told was mine.”
Beau got to the heart of Wallace’s anxiety—that the Asian hordes, whether at UCLA or anywhere else, are the bad guys and that they all want a piece of the pie she rightfully owns, the one we call America. But we know better. America is for everyone. And if you want a piece, you’ve just got to shut up and take it.
Alexandra Cuerdo, the daughter of Filipino immigrants, attends UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. “I’m a writer, director and decent cook,” she says. “And really, I don’t even go to the library.” Attention college reporters: If you have an idea for a story involving your school— streaking, stripping, partying, pranks, protests, political or censorship issues, etc.— please contact us at Features@LFP.com. If you get the green light, Larry Flynt will send you a check with his name on it. Besides the financial windfall, a HUSTLER story will look good on your résumé.