A few weeks into their stay on “Big Brother” (the CBS summer reality show where 16 hopefuls live in a house with cameras and mics recording their every move and try to avoid weekly evictions to win $500,000), Natalie Negrotti, a cute, ex-NFL cheerleader, told fellow contestants that when choosing a boyfriend, she never considers looks, just personality.
Yeah, I thought, I’ve heard that before. Would you give someone like good ol’ James Huling (a Korean American from South Carolina) here a chance? In fact, with comedic timing, James said he felt he had a great personality and would throw himself into the ring.
Well, wonder of wonders, they soon began flirting, often tickling each other in bed. On the July 10 show, the 26-year-old told diary room cameras that James (32) was definitely someone she’d date in the real world.
But on the July 21 broadcast, he almost blew it: While in the kitchen, Natalie asked a houseguest to ask James (who was outside) if he’d like her to make him some slop. James hollered back that he’s a grown man, and he can make his own food. In the diary room, Natalie (who’s originally from Caracas, Venezuela, but now based in New York) said, “That’s not nice! I think we’ve just had our first argument.”
Talking with James in private in their room, Natalie tells him how she feels. “I should’ve not started liking you. You’re free to cuddle with whoever you want now.”
James, who continues to look at the ceiling, says, “Honestly, I apologize for your [sic]comment.”
Natalie: “Yeah, well, you hurt my feelings bad.”
James: “I didn’t know how you felt towards me at all.”
N: “How do you not know?! I’m always hanging out with you. I always try to make food or try to do something nice for you… It’s so obvious! (smiling) America knows who I like!”
J: “I really do like you.”
N: “I like you too.”
J (finally looking at her): “Like, all giggles aside.”
N (laughs): “Like I honestly have the best time with you.”
They stand and happily hug each other.
In the diary room, Natalie says, “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And James, I’m glad you admitted it and apologized. And you’re out of the doghouse! Guess what, America? I guess James and I are BB official!”
Back in the room, Natalie’s been tearing up. “My nose is running.”
J: “Ah! Boogers!” They laugh.
Later, while James tries to outlast his competitors to win the Head of Household contest, Natalie tells him she’ll give him a kiss if he wins. When he does, she plants one on him.
Awww! I’ve watched “Big Brother” every year they had an Asian American contestant. And I can’t recall an Asian man ever getting romantically involved with someone on the show. At most, it’s a nice guy who’s “the best friend” of one of the women, but no sparks ever fly. In fact, last year, James had the hots for the adorable, blonde Meg, but she didn’t see him as romantic material. All I can say is, it’s about time.
On the other hand, the other Asian (half Filipino) in the house, Bridgette Dunning, is an embarrassment. She got close to Frank, one of the four returning players. When Bridgette wanted to control the nominations as that week’s Head of Household, he secretly nominated her best friend Bronte for eviction. Furious, she said in the diary room that she’d go after whoever did that. Soon after when they’re cuddling in bed, Frank admits to Bridgette that he put Bronte up and that he also secretly nominated Bridgette the first week.
Instead of asking, “Wait, what?!” she smiles and THANKS HIM! On the July 14 show, in the diary room, she says, smiling, “Frank really knows best!”
Then the House turns on the domineering Frank, and instead of voting out the annoying Tiffany evicts Bronte just because she’s on his team! If that’s not enough, the bumbling Frank, in trying to playfully body-slam his crush, actually puts her on crutches! None of this bothers Bridgette, who comes off as an Asian war bride who welcomes the white soldier even though he just murdered everyone in her village. Pathetic.
In the last Head of Household competition, James made a deal with Bridgette to let him win; in return, he promised not to put up her or Frank. But afterwards, everyone told James they wanted those two out (that’s how isolated they are, yet she sticks with him). So for the second year in a row, James went against his word and put up a couple (last year he nominated Shelli and Clay, who both soon went home).
We’ll find out if he suffers any fallout for it, but Thursday night, Frank was evicted unanimously 8 to 0.
“Big Brother” airs Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday nights on CBS.
Carbon Copies Department: When I heard that Justin Lin would be directing the latest Star Trek film and another Asian American, Doug Jung, co-writing it, I had hopes that they’d allow Sulu (John Cho) to shine more than in the last movie, where all I remember him doing was sitting in the captain’s seat staring down the commander of an alien ship.
(Slight spoilers ahead.) Sulu has some nice moments in “Star Trek Beyond,” displaying a commanding presence when praising engineer Scotty for getting the ship back up to power in time to escape imminent doom. But the writers waste the opportunity to allow each of the crew members to shine when they’re separated on a planet. Sulu doesn’t really get to do anything memorable. Of course, all of this was overshadowed by news that he is now gay.
The only hint of this is when the Enterprise crew lands in Yorktown, a base for Starfleet officers, where his young daughter runs to hug him and is followed by an Asian man (Jung). As they turn to walk away, Sulu puts his arm around his waist. That’s it (reportedly, a kissing scene between the two was cut).
Let me be concise: I can remember the plot of every one of the six films featuring the original cast. I cannot say the same of the three rebooted “Star Trek” films, which began in 2009. Why? Maybe because the stories are secondary to bombarding audience members with loud destruction, split-second special effects, and a cast that, while often mimicking well the character traits of our beloved heroes, can’t hold a candle to the original actors (and in “Beyond,” Spock’s hair is terribly done: his bowl cut is uneven and his sides too long).
It was strange (though satisfying) seeing Leonard Nimoy, the original Mr. Spock, in the last two movies alongside the new, younger cast. But toward the end of this film, it was jarring seeing a portrait of the original cast, including Wiliam Shatner, Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, George Takei, et al. from their last feature together, 1991’s glorious “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” It reminded me that what we’d just seen in this latest attempt was merely a carbon copy of what worked better before.
Into the Mailbag! Department: I received some nice responses to my last column, where I asserted The Rafu has gotten so used to running press releases and wire stories that they’ve failed to dig deeper and do their own investigations into stories affecting our community, whether it’s the trial of Paul Tanaka or JA leaders who were recently been pushed out of their positions.
Mat Matsunaga wrote: “Good article today. Oddly enough, I emailed Rafu last week noting that there’s a lot lacking. If the paper is to survive, there should be some information pertinent to millennials and those younger than 65.
“Some East Coast reporting would be refreshing since not every subscriber is in the West (I’m stuck in central Pennsylvania) or something that is on topic, not just stuff about Obon and J-Town. I miss California and The Rafu doesn’t make it any better with West-centric information.
“I had to go back and read Wimpy’s column and read a few back issues. Since I’m a new subscriber, I haven’t followed a lot, to be honest. But when I read his and then your columns, I keep thinking ‘What the HELL?’ The English section of Rafu is almost as drab as plain rice. No soul. No real writing. Nothing. Not even a mouthpiece for the JACL. I’m dumbfounded by the lack of creativity, lack of real conversation and real news.
“I understand that some may not want to upset the sensitivities of the older generation (hell, I’m a Sansei at 45), but I would hope at least someone would think of doing a series or story that would pique the interest of the Pulitzer committee instead of being fit to line the bottom of a bird cage.”
And from George Takei: “By the way, I support your thought that The Rafu should cover meaningful stories that are specifically JA more in depth. That is the singular responsibility of an ethnic journal. You are the conscience of JA journalism.”
’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.