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Rain, watch out for that — *thunk!* — glass ceiling

Forewarning: This is a rant. Some facts, mostly opinions.

So the latest Rain/Bi news is that he is newly repped by Hollywood’s William Morris Agency, lending perhaps some legitimacy to his Plans To Conquer America, aka Rain’s Delusions of Grandeur.

I’ve got nothing against Rain and I call his ambitions delusional with no malice — I actually like his songs, think he’s a great dancer, and wish him the best despite not believing much will come of his champagne wishes and Hollywood dreams. It’s just that the guy is so ambitious, so hard-working, that he cannot and will not believe that there are limits.

Yes, William Morris is a big agency. It’s no CAA, but it is one of the Big Three. Some might argue that the Big Three is now the Big Five, but in any case, it’s one of them. Yes, they do represent big Hollywood names like Russell Crowe, Scarlett Johansson, Alicia Keys, etc. You know who else they rep? Struggling no-name actors who play throwaway roles as That Dead Guy on CSI a week after he plays That Dead Guy on Cold Case on his way to playing That Dead Guy on Law & Order: Special Violent Homicidal Maniac Serial Killer Edition. Which is to say: it’s no guarantee of anything.

Rain’s relationship with William Morris may be a big deal for him, but it’s no big deal for them. If he succeeds, they happily take their ten percent and brag about “discovering” the new Asian star. If he fails, they lose nothing. Nobody in Hollywood knows or really cares about Rain right now (and let me tell you, I’d bet money that his minor Speed Racer role will be quickly forgotten), so if he doesn’t hit big, it’s just a drop in their vast star-wannabe bucket.

It feels a bit unsporting to rag on Rain’s ambitions, because lord knows the guy has earned his fame. And who am I to vomit over his aspirations just because he dreams big? But honestly, the guy cannot speak English. You can point to Asian successes in Hollywood (all two of them?) but let’s see: Ken Watanabe was an acclaimed actor in Japan and he speaks English. Chow Yun Fat had a huge acting career in Hong Kong movies and he speaks English. Michelle Yeoh has mad martial arts skills and speaks English. Lucy Liu speaks English. John Cho speaks English (and is funny!). And they all started in Hollywood as The Marginalized Asian Other.

Rain may have put in hours and hours of tutoring and practice sessions but he speaks, at best, an embarrassing hybrid of gangsta Engrishee. And it may not be fair, and it may not be PC, but he’s unlikely to be able to pull off a level of proficiency that’ll get him anywhere near the heights he’s reaching for. It’s unfortunate, because on paper he seems to be the Korean star perhaps best poised for international crossover success — but he cannot speak English. In interviews, he seems so lost and over his head, and his speaking skills and comprehension are not growing much and they are not growing fast.

Some people are just like that. Language isn’t their thing. To contrast, for instance, Se7en seems to be a much quicker study; he actually understands unscripted conversations. Coupled with his decent Japanese speaking skills, he seems to be one of those people who are blessed with verbal facility. Unfortunately for Se7en, he doesn’t have the same status that Rain does — his acting career flopped and he’s not internationally known (outside Asia). He hasn’t had that extra luck factor that Rain has had, being singled out in Time and by Stephen Colbert and such. It’s not that Rain is so much more deserving of Western attention, but he’s had the right timing and alchemy to bring it about. Se7en does seem less brutally ambitious, however — one gets the sense that if he cannot break into the U.S. pop market, he’ll return to his stardom in Korea and be happy with his success there.

Rain, if he is lucky, may land a few minor roles playing the Asian baddie in some commercial flicks and be relegated to the Exotic Villain status. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I doubt he’ll be satisfied with that kind of marginalization — but he doesn’t seem to get that for all intents and purposes, entree to Hollywood results in just that. Koreans don’t really comprehend the concept of the glass ceiling, because there’s no such thing in Korea. (Well, not for being Korean, that is. Women and foreigners still get short shrift.) But it sucks, and it’s real. To break out of that demeaning pigeonhole requires an excruciating amount of work, with liberal doses of luck and some exceptional skill. Unless he can win over America with his hip-hop dance moves and catapult himself into superstardom via a Zoolander-esque onscreen dance-off opposite Justin Timberlake, I’m not too hopeful.

Rain also requires strong management — which, if we can judge from his World Tour debacle last year, he does not have. How else can he be expected to maneuver the twirl ‘n’ whirl of the Hollywood press machine? He needs more than some junior agent at a Hollywood agency, perhaps a Korean-American who is expected to have an intimate understanding of Korean pop culture and media despite being born and raised in the States with tastes that are much more white-bread Middle American than Korean.

Rain will give a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday to elaborate on the “partnership” with WMA. And if I am proved wrong in my dire predictions, I will gladly eat all my words. Part of me hopes I will have to. Part of me rolls my eyes at that other part of me and thinks, “Girl, which America do you live in? Because the one I live in is one that likes kalbi and thinks Korean women are exotically hot and asks what kind of Chinese I speak.

Sources: Newsen, Sports Khan

SONG OF THE DAY

Rain – “Still Believe” (jazz version). Remember when Rain did that elaborate BMW ad campaign with its own mini-movie and song? Well, this is the song, in two different styles. There’s actually a rock version out there too, but I think it sucks while I rather like these two — I prefer this one, the jazz, but the lounge version isn’t too bad either (although how is it “lounge-y”? This one’s a lot lounge-ier — loungier?)
[ zShare download ]

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Rain – “Still Believe” (lounge version) [ zShare download ]

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hahahahaha!
HAHAHAHAHA!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Can't stand it - need more space to LAUGH OUT LOUD!
HHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!
just a touch of brilliance there dramabeans!

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hahahahahaha!
i cannot stop laughing at this column.
it's so perfect - in every way~!

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I'm not really a Rain fan but to be honest I feel a bit sorry for the guy. I don't want to see him fail but not being able to speak English means he will never be as big a star in the West as he seems to want to be. It's almost like he's setting himself up for failure, because everything has been so ridiculously overhyped (especially his part in Speed Racer). Not to mention that his popularity in Asia is starting to wane, too.

I totally agree with you re his needing a good manager. If JYP had really intended for Rain to be a "global star", he'd have started him on intensive English training right from the start, kind of like how SM trains certain people in Japanese very early into their careers.

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I kinda feel sorry for him :( hopefully he will learn English before he does his crossover :) Good Luck Bi.....

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I wish Bi the best. I believe he thinks he will get as far as he wants to, but you are right, his english will be the main thing that holds him back. I admit his voice isnt the strongest , but he is a great entertainer and works hard at what he does. Se7en's english has improved greatly but I dont think he has the charisma or the ambition. I kinda wish that Minwoo (there I go referring to Shinhwa again) was still serious about trying the US market. His English isnt great either but I think he's the most talented and better looking of the three.

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this cracked me up a bit. I'm thinking the same thing: I doubt Rain will ever acheive a huge career in the US but I do admire him for trying and you know what, sometimes having no ceiling is better than having a short one. I wish him all the best ~ but I have to say there are plenty of Asians that CAN speak English and they can't break into the big business but we'll see...

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Hey, if Marky Mark and his good vibrations can do it...so can Bi, it's just too bad he doesn't have the same level of English proficiency. ;)

I actually don't like JYP's attempt at bringing Korean born talents to the US simply because they are easier to influence and mold. He pretty much said it himself in one of his documentaries (saw it a long time ago)...and I just find that pretty manipulative, especially when his very young stars are in America and without their real families. There are plenty of talented Asian Americans who could use JYP's network but because they will have a mind of their own artistically, he probably doesn't want to deal with them.

Besides, he made G-Soul work with R.Kelly...a singer who compared his struggles of pissing on an underage girl to Muhammid Ali....and that's just stupid.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSdp_HpzqRs

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unfortunately, i have to agree 100% with you javabeans...which is a shame because the guy is very ambitious and does work hard to get to where he is now, and to have something like language be the barrier that keeps him from achieving his goal is really sad...but best wishes to him and hope he doesn't fall too hard..

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I always thought he was a decent actor. Perhaps he should go back to acting in dramas, he was adorable in "Full House." Can't help feeling a bit sorry for him, he is trying very hard.

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A few of my friends ran into Se7en in LA a few months ago. They approached him by asking him (in English) for autographs and were surprised by his fluency in speaking. He told them that he was in LA for a recording, so I'm assuming he's working on his U.S. debut.

I think he may have more potential than Rain, but like you said, he's still virtually unknown outside Asia.

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Hi javabeans, enjoyed reading this article.
Nevertheless, i wish Bi all the best in his career!
He's always been aiming for the sky. If not for that, he would not be where he is today. :-)

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This is what I think about Rain in my head written down beautifully.

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Oh the last line is wonderful. (though I love kalbi...)

It's going to be hard getting good reception. Though people are becoming more open to Asian culture (especially diverse areas and among the non holy crap borderline White surpremicist teens) like sushi/maki and kimchi, everyone makes fun of Engrish (heck, I do!). People are gonna laugh at Korean rap (my friend does which frustrates me, so I make fun of her back) or pop. I never really liked it when I tried listening the first time (I only really like ballads, soft voices and Epik High due to their lyrics). Anyway, people might be curious, buy it out of curiosity, but in general, his chances are going to be slim. Se7en sounds like he has a better chance. Too bad the timing is just never right.

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Hello javabeans,

What an astute observation of the situation! I really enjoyed reading the article :-) and yeah, I do agree with what you are saying.

Most Americans can't even tell us Asians apart. "Malaysians? Don't you live on trees." *rolls eyes*

I like that part where you said: "...Because the America I live in is one that likes kalbi and thinks Korean women are exotically hot and asks what kind of Chinese I speak."

As for Rain's dreams to conquer the world: Ambition and hard work is one thing, but then there are other uncontrollable factors that come into play such as luck and opportunity. Not everyone can have their cake and eat it too, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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javabeans, loved the last line! it really is too bad that it's hard for asians to have a real breakthrough in the united states, not to mention the fact that they're (we're?) hard to cast. i hope it changes though!
ps for some reason your last line reminded me of a guy whose idea of a pick up line was telling me he tried dog when he went to korea.

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I totally agree. Although I've never been much of a Rain fan, I still feel bad for the guy. There haven't been many successful Asian cross-over actors besides action movie stars from China.

And in America, being Asian usually automatically means you're "Chinese". Unless you live in the Bay Area at least, where people can actually differentiate between ethnicities.

What made me laugh the most is that whole bit about him having a dance-off with Justin Timberlake. Yeah, that'd earn him some attention, but is some 13-year old Laguna Beach-watching white girl going to want to see Rain dance around shirtless? I think not. Not to say white people, or any American for that matter, is racist - it's just that the Asian demographic in America is so used to American pop culture, dealing with something entirely new will be difficult.

Now that'd be a fun essay, not to mention time-consuming - comparing the pop cultures of ALL the Asian countries to American pop culture.

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hey, awesome post :). I totally love your commentary. And I do agree with most of the things you said here. And I also like rain, and wish him ALL the success in the world, because its obvious-- painfully obvious-- how hardworking he is. But I just do not think this will work out for him, and yes, his engrish is a huge problem, but even if he did speak english well, I'd have some serious doubts. It still seems like being asain in itself gets you pigeonholed into certain roles. In fact, the ONLY asian woman who I've seen playing the role of an integrated american stripped of all asian stereotypes is Sandra Oh in Grey's Anantomy and Sideways. Otherwise most asian stars, even the big ones like Lucy Liu-- are either cast in a martial arts role or as the "foreinger-who-barely-speaks-english" or as "the mean japanese businessman" or as an "asian american trying to stradle two different cultures" or something along those lines. It is practically impossible to land roles that transcend your asian identity; asian people hardly ever land roles in the United States that doesn't in one way or another point you out as asian. Not that there's anything wrong with acting in roles that deal with asian issues (there is definitely a problem with acting in roles that uphold asian stereotypes), but when thats practically the only roles avaialable to asian actors...its clearly a huge roadblock. So, yeah, english aside, I doubt Rain would be able to acheive nearly the amount of success he wants. Ha, my own rant there. CLosing my mouth now.

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Thanks for this post. An amusing entry. Loved it so much. It is all rounder, critical but in very objective way and most of all spice with witty rants. Did I ever say that I loved dramabeans, javabeans and all others beans so much:)

Indeed, as much as I like Bi for his acting tough all of it never did I finished it, yes he got some talent but I have to admit he can't speak English very well. Yet. I like the fact that you pointed out about his language barrier and comparison with se7en. It is a fair comparison and very precise to the real fact. I'm not a fan of both of them but in my opinon, se7en is fast learner in language and he can sing better than Bi even in English song. While he is winning in this aspect, Bi is winning in popularity and acting aspect that can be an advance in US market. But his most big constrain will be language. For an artist to be succes in US market has to at least speak English that is how US citizenship will judge the people. I didnt know much about history in US regarding Asian artists entering US market. I have once see Usher come to his performace and went to the stage and Bi gave him a jacket as a gift. Such a sweet man but he need a translator at that precious moment. If he can cater this language barrier well then he defintely got the wheel. The lucky wheel. Whatever it is good luck for Bi, but I hope se7en will making it too. Not a fan for both of them, but my money on se7en. Being ambitious and hardworking is good but has to be realistic too. Just wish both of them the best of luck.

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Applause all around for Dramabeans.

You know, if Rain's English is good enough to read this entry of yours (without looking at the dictionary's every 5 minutes), I guess not all hope is lost. And you've got it all, this guy doesn't know there's limit.

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Oh, Sarah... You rained on "Rain's" parade ... hee, hee. I have no desire to wish him or any other entertainer ill. I hope that he succeeds in the U.S. But, you're correct. Reality will set in...

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The problem here is not Rain nor his ambitions. It is the fact that U.S. media still consider Asians (and by that I mean all Asians) as outsiders, and it is rare, if not impossible, to find Asian actors (especially men) in prime time shows or even as leads in movies.

HOWEVER, this obvious marginalization of East Asians (they are all martial artists, right?) is not overtly evident outside of the United States, and it makes sense that Rain/Bi (and more importantly his managers) do not understand the extent of this discrimination (and how can they? They don't watch U.S. tv, music, or movies consistently to get a larger picture of how Asians are categorically ignored). Even U.S. populations do not know the extent of the discrimination.

What is disturbing about Dramabean's rant is her ACCEPTANCE of this state of affairs. Mocking Rain for his lack of English, saying that THIS is the America we live in (where all East Asians are Chinese and all of the women work in nail salons, are prostitutes, or are just plain erotic fantasies) is to bow down and be exactly the subservient fools that have allowed Asian communities to be marginalized in the U.S.

There are other minorities in the United States who have broken through the glass ceiling, and to do that, one needs to dream BIG and one needs the support of its community. For example, while the Jewish population in the U.S. is only 4% and while the vast majority immigrated during the turn of century (around the same time as the large influxes of East Asians), they have managed to become one of the most power-wielding "minority" in the U.S. Why? The cohesion and sense of its community, granted the cohesion is surreal and almost cult-like.

And in contrast, we have Asian Americans (about 2.5% of the population) who have lived here for generations, and yet have displayed no significant presence in popular culture. Asians are routinely mocked and dehumanized on TV, to no major outcry (if that level of humiliation was targeted at Blacks or Latinos, you'd hear the protests, loud and clear).

Dramabean's commentary is akin to the roll-over-and-take-the-status-quo that is the problem here.

Rain's "debacle" is not a debacle of his making. It is the lack of communal cohesiveness, the individual movement that allows one to bring voices from the margins to the forefront.

Dramabeans rant drips of self-hatred, and her stance is that of a defeatist.

I commend Rain for dreaming BIG. If he doesn't break through the glass ceiling, well fine. Maybe he will push at it enough so that someone else in the future, someone with similarly big dreams will make a crack, until the ceiling finally comes crashing down.

What I do know is that some Asian chick in the U.S. mocking "Engrish" ain't gonna be making any cracks in the ceiling. So whatever.

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I thought I was fairly clear in pointing out that the US's marginalization of Asians was to blame for the difficulties he will likely face. Rain is being naive, yes, but the culture of ignorance and the constant racial "othering" is a huge glass ceiling. I'd think that my use of the term glass ceiling should be proof enough where I place the burden of responsibility in this matter. But in case that was not clear, I apologize.

Like I said, I want him to succeed. But Rain's lack of English skills are a huge hindrance even were the glass ceiling a myth -- whether I point out his clear linguistic deficiency using sarcasm or without makes no change to his language barrier in the end.

Where have I said that nobody should try to make inroads in the uphill struggle? I've merely pointed out how Rain's put himself in a situation with inadequate preparation and unrealistic goals.

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Bravo sarahbeans bravo!~ (quoting from Bulhandang hahhaaha) this was an awesome post. Those facts are definitely real, true enough not everyone realizes that glass ceiling concept too. I agree with dee, that JYP couldve helped Rain with fluency issues and language wise. Also, like rocketfuel i dont think JYP really is that could of a manager I feel he has not all good intentions with a mix off tainted beliefs.
Nothing against Bi/Rain, I do some of his stuff and he was cute and all. But things is, American pop market is different and Bi/Rain's appeal to Koreans and Asian the whole sexy shirt of thing may work im not so sure elsewhere. Good luck to him though. But yeah reality hits, it hits hard.

I really think Se7en would work better in the US market, fluency, good looks, talented too. I love his songs, he dance and write music and YG people can definitely bring good stuff out. I hope he does persue his career there, and id love to see him do well. Maybe now isnt his time, but sure enough if it comes it would be good. But Im sure Se7en is the type who can be happy even with Asian success. I also hoped for Minwoo, cause i know that is his dream. He's talented not only singing wise but also writing/composing and choreography. That's a plus.

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@ Dreamer: Well, i tend to agree in some points you stated here. Well to begin with i dislike prejudice, negative outlook and discrimination. It is totally unfair treatmeant for human being and we should treat human being all as the same. As sad as it be but it is the real world we have here. On the other hand, this post indeed not a negative insight yet to be practical in a way. But i loved your point that highlighted that if Rain can't break the ceiling he will crack it a bit and someone else in the future will crack it more bigger. He open the door. It is come from different persfective and point of view, while Sarah post is all about practicality on his career and realistic view of it, on the other hand your insight is a wise opinion of overwhole world issues. I like both.:)

Btw: Sarah, your english was extremely good. I always learn new vocabulary from your posts. Thanks a lot for that.

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I'm actually a big fan of his. I love his dramas, his songs, his dance moves, and from the little glimpses I've seen about him, he seems to be a pretty decent guy. However, I cannot help but pity him over his excessive ambition to conquer US. It IS great to be hardworking and ambitious, but just as you said, he is reaching for something so high and he's already been bragging about it too, yet he is not equipped and prepared with all the things he needs to have, namely: English (as much as I hate to have English as some sort of standardization, up till now, and especially to go to US, it is a standard), good management, and well, English. If he's not so gung ho about popularity and actually cares about his artistry, he would've cultivated his acting and singing skills, instead of resorting to all means and ends just to get into Hollywood.

Having said that, Bi's drive to break into US market has to be applauded, tho. His strong determination is what made him the star he is today. And while I do think that some things are just out of reach, I actually believe that his efforts would be rewarded, if not with huge success, then at least he'd gain a small US fanbase, no?

ETA: I'd like to say a couple of things about the business of Asian stars getting into US. I understand how Hollywood is THE IT in entertainment industry all over the world. To be recognized in Hollywood is metaphorical Nobel for entertainers. Thumbs up for those Asian who could succeed in US. However, I actually respect Asian stars who stay true to their roots, instead of trying to impress other culture. Jackie Chan is probably the most popular Asian stars in Hollywood. Yet he's still reduced to playing clowns, without improving his acting skills at all. Like Bi, Se7en, and Minwoo; they are all great performers. I just hope that they would not have to sink so low just to get that Hollywood recognition (Particularly, Minwoo, who I'm most familiar out of the three and as I'm just blown away by his talents-the guy is just a bundle of talents-. He's amazing)

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Both RAin and se7en are my favourite korean singer...I really hope that Rain will be successful in his upcomnig movie speed racer but i have a bad feeling that it won't happen. When i see the sneak peak of the movie i didn't get all excited about it and it seems like i won't be watching it cause i always watch movies that can make me interested in them. As for se7en, the progress of his upcoming US album is almost done and he done a lot of preparation in order to m ake his debut a success, and ppl are start to notice him in the US. PPl are coming up to him and asking him for autograft...Anyways, all the best in both of them!!!

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in spite of my concerns that bi/rain's big ass ego was getting in the way of his perceptions of reality & thereby commercial success.. secretly i'm fond of the guy & i for one would love to see a korean entertainer make a name for himself on an international level.. & although change is slow to come around in america in terms of ethnic & cultural sensitivity ("chinese, japanese, dirty knees" taunts from childhood still ring in my ears) it does seem that with the increasing diversity here people are becoming more aware of the asian presence in the US.. although he doesn't necessarily represent the identity of the asian american, i'm still rooting for him to succeed :) same goes for se7en.. show em what you got boys!

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Bi is an ambition addict. Nothing wrong with that in the least bit. You're right, Bi's comprehension of English is like my comprehension of Korean, very 1st grade at best, at least from my experience of speaking with him. I do wish him well and secretly hope (the fangirl in me) that he'll be the one to bust open the American entertainment industry doors for Asians as Ricky Martin did for Latin entertainers. And if not, I hope he's able to hold his head high at the attempt and not wallow in it's failure.

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ha ha ha ha ha!!!
That last punch was funny. But in everyway you are correct. Am not korean and I think it will be great if any asian will make it and fare better like Jacky Chan did.

As for performers, I can remember some asian americans hitting it big as part of a group act, not solo - the likes of: Fil-am's being part of the group Black eyed peas and Sugarbabes. There's the exemption of Enrique Iglesias, who I know has Filipino descent ( Mother's a Filipina) but he is born with a renowned father Julio Iglesias and with similarly enchanting voice and good package - talent/looks and management, thus the popularity.

If rain makes it, then I will feel good for him. I'm not his fan though. I appreciate his dance prowess and acting ability, for what I've seen so far. I like his speaking voice but am not particularly inclined to like his music though.

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I think he has a bigger chance in the music industry, maybe playing on the novelty of singing half-in english and half in korean. I think it'll be a lot harder for him to break into Hollywood without the English. A dance-off with JT would be fucking brilliant. BRILLIANT.

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Wow, javabeans, you've certainly ignited some heated discussions. Good for you, even if you had to do it at Rain's expense. I'm not one of his fans, but if he has a dream to conquer America, go for it. However, like you, I'm a realist, and it's kinda like Daniel and Goliath. I'm rooting for the underdog, but perhaps in 50 to 100 years from now we may see a more diverse U.S.A. I'm from Canada, and I'm familiar with everyone spouting how they respect diversity, but in truth, there's still a lot of racism and ignorance. If he's really sincere about furthering his music career in the west, he should show some respect and learn to speak english properly.

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Look guys - i adore RAIN - and i have him to thank (and FULL HOUSE) for beginning my better understanding of spoken Korean -
And I'd get a huge kick out of meeting him - he's got a great private personality..
BUT>>>>>>>
I am laughing because I know the agency and the people involved - so i guess more than anything I'm laughing at that - dramabeans knows what I'm talking about - i've spent a decade of my life working at one of the Big 5 agencies - and dramabeans is SPOT ON - in her shmockness!

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canyayasis, I did think that if anyone would appreciate that angle of the issue, it would be you. ;)

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What I'm wondering is when did the whole "Engrish-speaking" Asian become a staple in American media?

If you take a look at this James Shigeta clip which was back int eh 50s (?) I'm surprised they allowed his role to speak fluent English.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=aLw0D2CxcVI

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this column isn't nearly so much about Rain, as it is about Hollywood and in particular the Big 5 agencies - I've worked for one of the Big 5 for over a decade - and what dramabeans is commenting on is US - not U.S. - us, the ridiculous little backroom deal makers at agencies - her column was tame compared to the way the cutthroat agents will tear RAIN apart - and try to REBUILD him into something "American" - that's what makes this column funny and tragic ! !
Rain has as good chance as anyone - but at what cost?
He's a great performer - i adored him in FULL HOUSE - I'm a fan -
however, it's possibe that Rain's 15 minutes of fame has already come to him by way of Stephen Colbert's parody - remember IMITATION is the greatest form of flattery. Colbert was imitating Rain - translates intoColbert's flattery - NOT the other way around. He wasn't dissing him - he was giving him props ! It was a compliment to Rain. but when Hollywood's finished re-making him - we may not recognize the Rain that so many love and adore. That's Hollywood - he's a product in their hands now. Let's see how much fight Rain has in him to keep his idenity/persona in tact.

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I hate to admit it, but I think every doubter of Rain's American debut is absolutely founded in their doubts. I am kind of perplexed at how many "foreigners" think they can make it famous here. If something about Hollywood appears diverse... WAKE UP! because it totally isn't. The average American taste is pretty flat and close-minded (mind you, AVERAGE; I don't think everyone is like that obviously).

And I feel kind of SAD that Rain is trying to make it here, because I don't see a point. It's basically a set up for failure. The American music market has seen so much. Some bad, but there are also a lot of fluent English speakers that are great, so why would they want someone who speaks broken or accented English? I mean, Rain is good singer/dancer, but I wouldn't say he's out of this world.

I guess I just think that he should stay where he isn't above his head.

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@ rocketfuel : I got to agree at your point. JYP try to mole everyting and anyone
due to the fact whoever they think can be mold. But check this out. A new young man joined JYP agency. He is born and raised in US who can speak English fluently, can plays a piano as well and look like come from an educated family. Check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO_R2q1y9-Y. J
Just wondering why K Entertainment nowadays actively producing music involving young boys/girls. To be more precise the question is why everyone want to be celebs these day? Better focus with education first for me. Like Tablo or any other artist and produce a good music and a real one later. Or if capable do the same both at the same time.

@ Liz : Haha.. Living on the tree, Gotto kidding me. I'm Malaysian too but born in US. Living on the tree? It will be only the monkeys and 'orang utan'..XD

@ canyayasis : Gotto loved your comments. Definitely true. Read between the lines and think out of the box. The 5 agencies just full of strategy, business and politic. We go to be really clear about that. I'm not fond of his take out shirt tough it is no doubt is hot but I believe he is a decent man in his private life (thanks to you for make it more believable). Just all the company strategy is just a pity to this decent man future but if he willing to take all the risk and joined the lines I just wished all the best. Omg, I dislike politics in business and taking advantage of others benefit but that is what real world are. Just wanna ask out of curiousity, the 5 is SM, YG and JYP is all I know. What is the other 2? Sorry, I'm newbie in K Music and all of it started with dramabeans.:)

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ginger vitality, we're talking Hollywood's Big 5:
CAA (Creative Artists), ICM (International Creative Mgmt), WMA (William Morris), UTA (United Talent), Endeavor.

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You cracked me up big time with the "..embarrasing hybrid of gangsta Engrishee.." part. You brutally honest and so witty in your article

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Thank you. I finally understand why there are Rain personality haters out there. It was only last week that I found the strength to watch Full House and Love to Kill. For his looks and meager talent, I have been surfing the net for more info on him. It is only now that I realize that his supposed worldwide popularity is but hype from his EAST Asian fans.

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I appreciate all the comments. What I was responding to, which one of the posters above me is crystallizing well, IS the fact that in the rant Rain's art was diminished to "embarrasing hybrid of gangsta Engrishee."

Many of you laughing, in my opinion, were laughing at Rain's expense and NOT at the systematic racism that pervades U.S. popular culture. What we should be raging against is the machine that makes a mockery of people with talent and that sees the other as a genuinely dehumanized other.

Furthermore, being fluent in English is not going make things any easier for Rain, so that argument is a specious. There are many "Asian" men with perfect English who have failed to "cross-over" to the U.S. market. But then there are many African and European actors and singers who have failed to cross over. But in the case of Asian men, the issue is more insidious. The reality of the matter is that ASIAN MEN have been and are marginalized in U.S. media, and if cast, are categorically represented as villains, buffoons, martial artists, etc. Worse, they are consistently emasculated.

BUT buying INTO this mindset is a problem, and I feel that the rant posted (and the following laughter that followed) demonstrates one buying into this enslaved mentality that Rain cannot make it big in the U.S. because his English is not good enough or that he is mock-gangsta. That puts the blame squarely on his shoulders, and we should instead be supporting him while railing against the real evil--the corporations that make and break people.

canyayasis, I too have worked at imprints of these "talent" agencies, and they create EVERY ONE. It won't be just Rain. That is what talent agencies do to everyone who walks through the door. That is not Rain's fault nor is it an indication of his naivety. Thus mocking him misses the point. The problem is with the system (Look, Gong Li's big break in the U.S. was in Miami Vice.)

I can tell you one thing--and maybe your experience was different--I rarely saw an Asian brother walk through those agency doors. The reality is that Asian men don't even GET to step inside these agencies. So the fact that Rain or anyone for that matter is signed by these big agencies is kudus to us, as a people.

I really appreciate this conversation, and especially javabeans for being gracious enough to engage with me and my points.

Anyway, if any of you is interested, please help out at http://www.aaja.org/news/mediawatch/ .
No, this is not a spam site. I hope it is okay to post this here. If not, feel free to delete it.

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I admire his ambition. The american music, television and movie industry is certainly tough. Especially since it is dominated by caucasians, however in recent years I've found that television and movie casting is more diverse than before. Although it is rare to see asian actors and actresses, muscians etc in leading roles. Which is a shame because there are plenty of talented people out there who would do an awesome job. I think america and other western countries thoughout europe, australia etc should be introduced to more asian television dramas etc so lots of people can see more than just some of the better and artistic films out of asia. Eg House of Flying Daggers etc. I myself came across korean dramas a few years ago purely by accident on youtube and I've been addicted ever since. Some of my friends found it strange at first, others didnt think much of it and surprise surprise I found out one of my friends had been watching them for years. But once I made all of them watch full house they have become fans of asian dramas and films ever since.

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Dreamer, I appreciate your comments, and thank you for remaining civil. At least in this post. You make valid points, especially in pointing out the particular difficulties Asian men face, which I completely agree with. But I've gotta balk at the flawed argument in saying:

"Furthermore, being fluent in English is not going make things any easier for Rain, so that argument is a specious. There are many “Asian” men with perfect English who have failed to “cross-over” to the U.S. market."

Failing to be fluent in English will ABSOLUTELY get in Rain's way. It's faulty logic to assume that because Asians with perfect English failed to cross over, English will not at all help in the equation. English isn't the only component but it is CRUCIAL when wanting to break into an English-speaking market. To say it won't affect his chances is an incredibly reductive argument. I completely disagree that believing Rain is shooting himself in the foot by launching into Hollywood with severely limited English skills is, as you called it, "enslaved mentality." It's common sense.

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On my side of the world it's way past bedtime -
but a note to DREAMER
- thank you, you've made my point for me -
they (the agencies mentioned and those not) make everyone - everyone.
I don't know what you would categorize as an "imprint"
CAA, ICM and WMA would be difficult to duplicate - it's not the numbers, it's not the address that i was referring to.
and as to your comment:
"The reality of the matter is that ASIAN MEN have been and are marginalized in U.S. media, and if cast, are categorically represented as villains, buffoons, martial artists, etc. Worse, they are consistently emasculated. "
I believe that the gentlemen Daniel Day Kim, beginning his 3rd (or is it 4th) season on the hit T.V. series LOST - might disagree with you.
And since Vancouver, B.C. is the 2nd largest location for U.S. productions and they cast 80 percent from Canadians - let's not forget to blame Canada too. and I guess blame England also.They started it all taxing our tea.
Good discussion and comments on this. I'm not trying to pick a fight.
Goodnight to all.

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Speed Racer's clip was crap, so I wasn't going to watch it. And frankly, if he really wants to come out into American film, I wish he'd gone for something less.... shitty.

As for the English, hopefully someone will give him a crash course in it that will make the "Engrish" go away. Don't hate me for saying it, because this is most often true, but nothing puts off an English speaking person more then when someone with quite a lot of scenes can't bloody well speak your language to the point where you have to either rewind or pay extra close attention to something that may or may not be plot worthy. You don't know how many times as a cashier, I had to stop other customers from being rude to someone just because of a language gap. (Frankly I feel if you can't speak the language yet in a different country, you can at least bring a friend that knows more then you along while shopping but that's my personal opinion)

It's like being in line in the grocery store watching a cashier have to decipher what an elderly lady wants because she can't speak English past "bag", "money", "What's this", "can't understand" and "thank you".

I tend to let that annoying factor go if, despite the language barrier, they can at least act well, but at times it's a trial of my patience. I'm not trying to be mean but if people are paying $20/movie (including food cost folks, I know tickets don't cost that much) the least they can do is make sure they can be understood. I would expect the same of an English speaking actor/singer going to Korea for a job. It's just rude to that nation if your audience has to decipher what you say every line.

Sorry for the rant, it's just my work ethic.

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Thinking again, i found a lot of new vocobulary in dreamer's comment and make my mind become more critical in a good way of course and a healthy way for exercising my mind. Thanks for sharing the tought here anyway. :) I think personally most of us is not 'mocking' per say. But more to critical in cynical method but supportive way of judgment. I think it is fair enough. lol. I don't know things so much yet I respect all ethnicity, religion and races. Due to the fact I just live in US for a while and come back to Malaysia is maybe make me ignorance in some points. What I can say is they is no definate answer or absolute possibilty in world entertainment. Despite all the assumption we make here some based on the fact another is merely an opinion, it is nothing but an objective view that lead to the conclusion we have to wait and see the result later.

We wish him all the best in anyway. I personally didn't sense any 'mocking' or 'negativity mindset' in this article. Yet, what I found here is some rare attitude in blogger's profile that make me respected and adored this site so much no to mention to the site owner as well. Despite the differences we shared, the civilized action on both parties is what we have to keep it up. Nonetheless, the fact that English is important nowdays is something that we can't denied either it is in Entertainment world or not. Or it may effected your career or not. US is the dominant country whether we like it or not. I didn't like US government per say but there is no doubt English is first world language these day. I hope the best for Rain. It is his life which he bravely take the risk either it will make him good or vice versa. Hopefully he can improve in learning the language or if not, wish him all the best in anyway. I really do wish him the very best. Good luck Rain.

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In addition also, I strongly believe he can survive in either way. He is the man you know.:) Life is full of risk and it is definetly a learning lesson. Only hope that world view will change for good. Really!

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"and we should instead be supporting him while railing against the real evil–the corporations that make and break people.".... - Dreamer

It's a shame we can't just support our fellow asians without having to insult them...

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In response to all the commentary that's been floating around, I'd like to defend the fact that I don't consider Javabean's rant as representing a "defeatist" attitude. Th fact that she's being realistic doesn't necessarily mean she's being pessimistic over his hopeful cross-over. She even stated herself at the end of the blog that she hopes she'll be proven wrong.

Neither is it an attack on his character. Honestly, and I'm sure many can agree with me, he's being a bit overconfident with this whole campaign. Nothing wrong with being optimistic, but he can't expect to establish a strong American fan base if his English is limited. The national language of America is English. That's not being racist, that's just how it is. The only reason foreigners like, say Daniel Henney, are able to make it big in Korea without knowing Korean well is because of the allure of Westerners in Korea, as well as other Asian countries.

American culture doesn't necessarily show a specific preference of wanting all our actors to be home grown, but we expect them to be familiar with our social norms and cultural style.

@ Erica, I can understand if you find the article offensive, but it wasn't an insult to Rain at all if you think about it more in depth. Regardless of whether or not she's being sarcastic, she's just being honest.

And on a final note, just because you doubt someone doesn't necessarily mean you're expecting them to fail, or rooting for it to happen for that matter. Even if I hadn't read this blog, I'd still doubt Rain's possible cross-over, not because of the fact that he is ASIAN, but because of his unfamiliarity with American culture and the language itself. (His affiliation with American Hip Hop doesn't encompass an entire culture.)

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"Struggling no-name actors who play throwaway roles as That Dead Guy on CSI a week after he plays That Dead Guy on Cold Case on his way to playing That Dead Guy on Law & Order: Special Violent Homicidal Maniac Serial Killer Edition." &
"Unless he can win over America with his hip-hop dance moves and catapult himself into superstardom via a Zoolander-esque onscreen dance-off opposite Justin Timberlake, I’m not too hopeful."
HAHAHAHAHA!!!! BRAVISSIMA, Sarah!!! You kill me!!! I may need a second post like canyayasis for the non-stop laughing. I'm glad I didn't read this at work today. ;)

“Girl, which America do you live in? Because the one I live in is one that likes kalbi and thinks Korean women are exotically hot and asks what kind of Chinese I speak.”
~ That reminds me of when I was little, the other kids asked, "Are you Chinese or Japanese?"
Neither.
"Huh?"
That was in the pre-1988 Seoul Olympic days. It's gotten better since then.
Btw, what's with the 'Korean Girls in San Jose' ads by Google? That sounds creepy. I can just imagine the gross, sleezy men with Korean-girl fetishes (30 miles away!). Eeewwww...
Now that you've fixed your 'cuppa of joe' quantity options, should I be testing it out? ;)

How many years was Chow Yun Fat a HUGE star in Asia before he made it in Hollywood? He even had a huge cult following in the U.S. for many years before he was finally cast, as a villain(?), in a mainstream movie (I can't remember which one it was). Same thing with Jet Li.

Some may think that Lucy Liu has "made it" but she needs to learn how to act first. Daniel Dae Kim needs to learn how to speak Korean so that Koreans can actually understand him (I stopped watching Lost, but his American accent when trying to speak Korean in Season 1 was almost unbearable. He did improve a little in Season 2, though.) And John Cho is riding his fame on the comedic Asian stereotype roles (but he IS hella funny, I must admit).

Remember the Margaret Cho sitcom back in the 90's? How HORR-EE-BLE was that? And
I used to *cringe* at the non-Korean actors trying to speak indecipherable Korean in M.A.S.H. episodes. It is getting better for Asians, but there's still a LONG WAY to go.

I remember seeing or reading an interview with Thandie Newton once. She said that she had moved to the U.S. and tried breaking into Hollywood when she was younger but gave up because no one wanted to cast her with her accent. -- Beautiful and talented Thandie Newton???? With an English accent????? WTF????? Now, look at how many British actors have come to the U.S. (too many to count). It takes time, and it'll take a lot longer for Asians to make it, too. Maybe Rain will be one extra pebble added to the stack of pebbles, so that someday, the wall will eventually crumble under the sheer weight of them all.

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