Report on Hyphen

From Issue 21 "The Yellow Brick Phenomenon"

“Some of the challenges for thinking about Asian American culture have to do with incorporating these multiple visions of “culture,” aesthetics, pleasure, and their relationships to social action and its benefits for social reform.” – Soo-Young Chin, Peter X Feng, and Josephine Lee, “Asian American Cultural Production”

There are many facets to Hyphen, from their digital presence to their print edition that comes out three times a year. Going through different aspects of both formats, I took notice of a few recurring themes. First off, from content to hosted events to style and form, Hyphen actively rewards imagination, creativity, and those who contribute to their local community or community of interest in unique ways. They persistently search for different ways to portray their content and different people to cover, whether it is in a live format, such as Mr. Hyphen, or in a written report.  In doing so, their method of producing media conveys multiple forms of diversity and stories that have not been covered before, as proven by their submission guidelines, the consistently wide range of topics from Issue 1 to the most current, and their huge reservoir of blog posts. Though they call themselves “a split personality”, Hyphen’s schizophrenic tendencies convey a positive observation of Asian America: a balance of fun and serious makes way for 1) raising consciousness and learning about critical issues, 2) provoking serious reflection, while 3) providing real life examples of how Asian Americans deal with them, whether it be through art, literature, music, theatre, politics, business, science or any type of field. Too many times critiques result in being negative without offering the other side of what can be done or changed.

Secondly, from content to advertising, Hyphen is conscious of not only their audience but also the outside community. Albeit their readership is mostly 20-30 year olds, living in urban cities, Hyphen does not lose mind of the populations of Asian Americans in suburban or rural Mid-America. While statistics report a huge majority of Asian Americans in their readership, there is still a slice of non-Asian Americans who follow their work. This small connection to others is an excellent way to conduct Asian American dialogue with the rest of the American community, taking it from exclusive to inclusive.

Thirdly, Hyphen has no qualms in approaching delicate matters. Suicide in relation to high familial and societal expectations of the Asian American individual as the ideal “model minority” is a hot topic on the blog. Abortion was a featured article in the previous Issue, a spread that covered six pages. Pushing presumed Asian conservatism aside, Hyphen bloggers and writers actively pursue hot issues involving gender ambiguity and re-visioning sex and erotica. These are topics that would set some first generational Asian forefathers and foremothers’ tails on fire. Delicate, private subjects like these are confined to spaces such as home and within the family, not in a public setting where details are exposed and discussion can be held with anybody. In addition, today’s media still reveal persistent stereotypes portray Asian men to be asexual and Asian women to be compliant and passive. But Hyphen goes forward in being vocal, exposing all sides to Asian American identity, and re-shaping the way public discourse depicts them as quiet, shy, delicate people who are too scared to open their mouths.

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