Huan Hsu’s dense dissection of his disaffection for International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Michael Chang in Slate magazine resulted in mixed reader reactions this week. Some found him a pathetic self-loather, others believed he was proudly daring to be different. Or maybe he was just a contrarian writing for Slate, trying to rack up page views by being “the one Asian guy on earth willing to hate Michael Chang.” Wooo fucking hoo!
We found his piece to be… sad.
Now, we don’t fault Hsu for loving Edberg and Sampras more than Chang, or for salting his own childhood tennis game to get people to stop comparing him to the champion of Prince. We’re even a bit fascinated by Hsu’s dwelling on Chang’s physicality, his preoccupasian with male body inferiority (especially because we can’t find a picture of the tough-guy writer anywhere online).
And while his accusasians that Chang–by virtue of being a studious, determined, straight-laced player, somehow perpetuated negative Asian stereotypes–confuses us, we are even more boggled by how determined Hsu is that those qualities are intrinsically bad. Outlasting a tennis opponent with endurance is bad. Getting a degree after retiring is bad. What else is bad, then, we wonder: Valedictorian caps? High-paying jobs? Gold medals? Nice cars? Rice?
All we know is that for someone with such a steel opposition against stereotypical values, he sure does a bang-up job of showing his Hardass Asian True Colors: Hsu spends the latter half of the piece insisting that although Chang was once a prodigious champion, he wasn’t really champion enough or for long enough. And he didn’t bang a hot enough woman at the end of it all to convince Hsu that he too could get some sweet, Anglo poonanie (we’re not so sure he will) one day.
Jeez. Our parents have challenged us on some similar points before (“You used to be a genius” more so than “You should be getting laid), but um, we think it may have actually sounded a bit nicer. A lot, actually.
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