The Silent Treatment, i.e. The Last Word We’ll Ever Utter About the Miley Cyrus Chink-Eye Photo, We Swear

February 19th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

On Sunday, we received a reader tip identifying the Token Asian Guy in the Miley Cyrus chink-eye photo that you’re now sick to death of hearing about. His name is Chuck Willis. He is 24 year-old model/photographer from Nashville–which is perhaps how he knows Miley–who currently resides in L.A. Rather than blog about this new revelation–it was just a name, really, albeit the name of a white, middle-aged, life-insurance salesman (and also a deceased blues musician)–I found the guy’s MySpace page and sent him a message. In the intervening days, his MySpace page has been deleted, and I no longer have a copy of the message. But this was the gist:

Hey. What’s up? We write a blog and have been covering the Miley Cyrus-photo fallout. In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that we’ve been critical of Miley. A lot of people have been wondering what you were thinking when that photo was taken. Would you care to comment, even anonymously? We’re not interested in writing a takedown, we’d just like to know.

The reasoning behind this decision was simple. So much had been said about the guy already, so much had been projected onto him, by us included–that he was a “sellout” (a word I detest because it uncomplicates the complicated experience of being a person of color), that he was in on the joke, that he knew he was the butt of the joke, that he didn’t think anything was wrong with the picture, that he was humiliated–I figured we ought to stop dicking around and go directly to the well.

Today I learned that MTV was the only source to get a response from Chuck, if you can call it that:

When contacted by MTV News, Willis would neither confirm nor deny that it’s him in the picture, saying that, due to the number of calls he’s been receiving from media outlets, he’s ‘not going to talk about it.’

I honestly wouldn’t have cared one way or another what his answer was, I just wanted him to say something. If he had said, “The picture wasn’t racist,” I would have said, “Huh. That’s interesting,” and spent a few days thinking about why I had read that same sentiment over and over in various comments sections written by Asians and why there was such a divide on the chink-eye issue. If he had said, “The picture was wack,” I would have said, “Dude, we feel you. We’ve sooo been there,” and maybe sent him some gummi bears. Even if he had said, “Miley is my friend, and because she’s famous and I’m not, I can’t say anything bad about her so I’m going to make up some drivel because that is the politics of friendship between a famous person and a non-famous person”–or some coded version of that–I would have said, “That sucks donkey dick, but I get how awful it is to be a celebrity’s bitch and I kinda feel sorry for you.”

But retreating into silence? Dude. That’s weak.


Thank you, Maria!

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