Hypin’ Da Hep: YouTube Comedians and the Manufacture of Bio-Fear

By Prof. Darrell Y. Hamamoto


Kaba Modern member (left), Youtube comedian HappySlip (middle) and KevJumba (right) Image Credit: goldsea.org

This paper discusses the way in which one novel expression of Asian American cultural politics has been harnessed by large-scale corporate interests to help manufacture a race-specific health panic and then profit from it by aggressively marketing dubious bio-medical treatment to the targeted population. The objective is threefold: 1) To demonstrate the efficacy of critical media studies in addressing matters of vital importance to the diverse Asian American communities, 2) To examine the complicity of Asian Americans themselves in contributing to the bio-panic, and 3) To warn of the dangers that Asian Americans face in submitting to a well-organized, heavily-funded, and manipulative corporate propaganda campaign. Finally, this essay concludes with observations that connect the current targeting of Asian American communities by the hepatitis B public relations campaign with the documented history of overseas and domestic “racial hygiene” programs mandated by the State, overseen by its agencies dedicated to “public health,” and delivered by for-profit medico-pharmaceutical corporations that enjoy a favorably close relationship with government regulatory bodies such as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).[1]

Supranational organizations, in particular the World Health Organization (WHO), promote a global vaccination agenda that at times has proven disastrous to large numbers of people. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, has backed financially mass polio virus vaccinations in India that has resulted in about 47,000 reported cases of paralysis.[2] Gates reportedly hired popular Bollywood actors to promote both the polio vaccine and genetically modified cotton seeds engineered by Monsanto, in which he has a large investment.

Broadcast Your Self

There is a wealth of literature that examines the near-exclusion of Asian Americans from corporate media, film and television in particular.[4] The advent of “new media,” however, held the promise that groups denied equal and fair representation on network television and in mainstream cinema could establish a presence that would help compensate for their subordinate social status. Moreover, tempered optimism has been expressed in some quarters that the Internet revolution might afford self-identified social minorities the opportunity for independent production and hence control of program content.[5] It is brutally clear today, however, that the early example (1993) of cyberutopianism touted by the likes of Howard Rheingold, has been proven way off the mark.[6] So too with “Whole Earth Catalog” guru Stewart Brand who today embraces all manner of “New Communalist” techno-fascism that stems from one branch of the 1960s counterculture.7 The control of the Internet by the national security establishment and its sprawling surveillance asset Google exemplify the worst-case dystopian outcome for a technology that had promised so much in the way of liberty, equality, and fraternity.[8] By contrast, the earlier and current work by cyber-culture theorist Lisa Nakamura and her professional associates have remained constant in their skepticism toward the fantasy of a race-free, egalitarian online peaceable kingdom proffered by a certain brand of sociopolitical visionary that tend to live among themselves in upper middle-class White enclaves within the San Francisco Bay area.[9]

That Jerry Yang (Yahoo!) and other Asian American IT entrepreneurs were instrumental in the development of the Internet for the non-specialist public fed the popular hope that the seemingly infinite demand for program material would at last break the monopoly held by the corporate media combines. Ethno-pride publications such as Asian Week and the website Goldsea.com contributed to the aspirations of the Asian American-identified general reader by publicizing the achievements of co-ethnic techies in feature articles, interviews, and self-flattering editorial commentary. Drawing from notorious behavioral science techniques pioneered at his alma mater Stanford University, self-described “chief evangelist” for Apple computers Guy Kawasaki inspired cult-like devotion among its early adopters in the Asian American-dominant Silicon Valley region before its faith came to encircle the globe.[10]

Into this confluence of historically transformative events where Asian Americans figured prominently came YouTube, cofounded by Steve Chen in 2005. Born in Taiwan, his family immigrated to the US when he was fifteen years old. Chen graduated with a degree in computer science (2002) from the University of Illinois and had been at PayPal with co-founders Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim before striking it rich with YouTube. It began as an informal means of sharing among a circle of friends and acquaintances low resolution video distributed over the Internet. The commercial application and revenue generating possibilities soon stoked the imagination of institutional investors looking for the “new new thing” in Silicon Valley innovation.[11] Beyond the involvement of Chen with its invention and astounding $1.6 billion sale to Google in 2006, YouTube has special relevance to the subject at hand: The deployment of Asian American ethnonationalist propaganda by the pharmaceutical-university postindustrial complex in dubious battle against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to which those of “Asian” genetic heritage are claimed to be highly susceptible. “Broadcast Yourself” reads the registered slogan below the YouTube corporate logo.

Hep Hop You Can’t Stop

With the advent of YouTube, Asian Americans appeared to have circumvented the limiting if not exclusionary politics of the “old media” cartel that control and contain the TV networks and major cable channels, film production and distribution, book and periodical publishing, and allied communications that both feed and reinforce the integrated system of corporate-held media concerns. This perception of boundless opportunity afforded by YouTube was reinforced by the rise to prominence of three younger Asian American personalities, who on their respective channels exhibit comedic and acting talent on a level at least equal to that found in the average TV situation comedy or as seen in a typical Judd Apatow feature film that might include a few quirky standout scenes with the talented performer Charlyne Yi.

According to one of the first academic studies of YouTube, KevJumba (Kevin Wu), nigahiga (Ryan Higa), and HappySlip (Christine Gambito) were three of the top ten “most subscribed” channels as of February 2008.[12] The precipitous rise in notoriety of Wu, Higa, and Gambito was due in part to heavy use of the Internet among the Asian American youth population.[13] A significant subset of this captive demographic is overrepresented at institutions of higher learning, most of which boast military-industrial grade high-speed Internet service with universal connectivity from almost any spot on campus. Combined with the enforced leisure of the average non-employed middle-class Asian American student whose age cohort has all but effected the transition from old media to the Internet, the preponderance of Asian American YouTube celebrities is not so difficult to fathom.

In keeping with the politically engaged intellectual projects that emerged out of the Birmingham school of cultural studies during the Thatcher regime, a respectable number of independent journalists and scholars have written with deep insight into varied manifestations of contemporary Asian American youth culture. The list is growing, but such work includes the early contributions of Sunaina Maira to more recent expressions such as that by Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde.[14] Anthologies edited by Shilpa Davé, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren or Mimi Thi, Nguyen and Thuy Linh N. Tu provide even broader analyses of the post-1965 and post-1975 second-generation Asian American cohort.[15] Perhaps the most influential volume on the politics of youth subcultures is Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, by Jeff Chang.[16] This participant-observer socio-historical survey of contemporary pan-racial cultural politics gained wide exposure among the reading public thanks to high praise from reviewers.

The publishing establishment validated this 546-page volume on the hip-hop generation by honoring Chang with an American Book Award in 2005. With this outflow of creative and intellectual energy it would seem that Asian Americans were poised to attain social and cultural recognition commensurate to their above average income and higher level of education among the larger US population. Young Asian-America–steeped as it appears to be in the dominant corporate-sponsored “alternative” street culture encompassing music, sports, fashion, and customized automobiles while simultaneously attempting to forge a new composite social identity distinct from that of their immigrant or refugee parents–was ripe for the plucking by the advertising geniuses behind the hepatitis B marketing offensive.

B HERE or Be Square

Goldsea.com announced the launch of a campaign to “raise hepatitis B awareness among Asian American college students.”[17] With Asian Americans representing well over one-half of the student population at UC Irvine, it was selected as the starting point of a national effort to educate a racially defined population about the health problems associated with the HBV. The October 05, 2009 event featured “bigname Youtube stars” Christine “HappySlip” Gambito and Kevin “KevJumba” Wu along with the Kaba Modern “hiphop dance troupe.”

Formed by Filipino American students at UCI in 1992, the group appeared on America’s Best Dance Crew” in 2008. Although Kaba Modern did not make it to the final round, yet another predominantly Asian American crew called JabbWockeeZ did so. The group from San Diego, California (wearing eerie masks that hid their racial identity) danced a flawless routine and won the championship. Thanks to MTV executives that are well aware of the spending power of the Asian American youth demographic, it finally had become cool to identify as AZN.

After taking the B HERE extravaganza to the University of Houston following the UCI appearance, the caravan ended in Northern California on the campus of UC Davis. In an interview on “AggieTV,” Kevin Wu (who attended UCD) promotes HBV check ups for students. KevJumba sheepishly stumbles through an imperfectly memorized statement: “Hepatitis B is twenty times more prevalent [mispronounces word] among like, Asian Americans. And since my audience is very Asian Americans, I thought if I spread the word to my audience, they would get it more.”[18] Christine Gambito also is interviewed and similarly spouts the talking points she has been coached to spread among the highly suggestible audience: “I have a background in nursing and I used to give the hepatitis B vaccine,” she says. “It’s a silent killer,” she concludes. “It would be nice to spread awareness.” Alluding to the creative endeavor that landed her the job as a B HERE spokesperson, “YouTube has been the way that Asian Americans can express themselves.”

In a separate segment led by “AggieTV” reporter Rachel Agana, the three principals of Wong Fu Productions—Phillip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu—are on hand to wow impressionable fans at UCD. Like the others personalities on the B HERE tour, Wong Fu Productions came to fame via YouTube by uploading its pop music satires and short videos that deal with overdone topics like “interracial dating.”

Also featured in the show is David Choi, a sensitive singer-songwriter poised on a stool with no more than a guitar and heartfelt emotion to touch the enraptured audience in Freeborn Hall. Rounding out the two days of performances sponsored by the UCD “Asian American Association” was Kaba Modern, who did a medley of dance numbers to rhythm tracks ranging from the familiar Michael Jackson “Thriller” and “Rock Steady” (The Whispers version) to obscure remixes heard only in clubs.[19]

None of the YouTube comedians with the B HERE road show identify the financial sponsor of the carnivaleseque gathering of Asian American youth. Overall, the program is a cleverly conceived and artfully executed blend of entertainment mixed in with a dose of supposedly objective information pertaining to the “silent” danger posed by HBV exposure. Unbeknownst to the performers or their audience, there is a highly professional hand at work in staging this series of events. In promotional ads for the concerts it is stated that admission is free but that attendees are required to walk through the exhibits put in place to help educate Asian American students on the nature and scope of the hepatitis B “problem” that bears the classic features of a staged fear-based crises intended to induce group compliance with a given state-mandated bio-agenda.

The hidden agenda of the event is unveiled, however, in an interview with “B HERE Campaign PR Specialist” Barbara Lee conducted by freelance media personality Nicki Sun for “AggieTV.” It is at this point where Sun breezily remarks that the sponsor is not the UCD Asian American Association alone, but Gilead Sciences as well. Lee says that two million people in the US have “caught” hepatitis B. Of this number two-thirds are of Asian descent. She points to a wall map that shows the prevalence of the virus globally as marked by the color red. Much of Asia and Africa and part of Latin America are marked in red although she does not mention this part of the world. Consistent with memes within disease discourse including such emotionally loaded terms as “silent” and “hidden,” Lee claims that hepatitis B goes “undetected.” She promotes a “simple blood test,” presumably on behalf of Gilead Sciences. “You can take the necessary shots to prevent yourself from the virus,” says Lee. “So there is hope.”

Unmentioned is that Gilead Sciences has developed a vaccine that purports to protect Asian Americans from acquiring HBV and suffering from life-threatening ailments that might result. As it happens, Barbara Lee works for the PLAN C Agency with on office on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The company, ostensibly Asian American owned and operated, also has an office in New York City.20 According to its own press release (2010) posted by the Reuters News Agency (which denies responsibility for its content), PLAN C Agency tells of its partnership with Awaken Interactive, an Irvine, California technology “think tank” that assisted in the “awareness campaign.”[21] Importantly, as in the case of the Egyptian revolution in 2010 that found Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim on site, “real social media in action” was instrumental in orchestrating the B HERE war of maneuver.[22]

Quoting Sid Ho, a partner at Awaken Interactive, the PLAN C press release revealed how it had taken the “Asian America” concept and turned it over for use by the corporatocracy: “In the major markets–New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco–there is an Asian American social scene that is quite active,” said Ho in Medical Marketing Media. “It’s almost like a big clique in terms of the 18-29 demographics, and PLAN C is an agency that lives and breathes this demographic. They have access to entertainers, performers and artists that Asian Americans follow very closely.”

The ethnic-specific public relations assault of the B HERE program is meant to undermine residual resistance to the dominant pharmacological regime being imposed upon a largely foreign-born immigrant and refugee population that might remain committed to indigenous health practices and folk remedies. An appreciable segment of this underdeveloped market might even be suspicious of “Western” medical practices that today have become almost synonymous with vaccines developed and marketed by the mammoth pharmaceutical industry.

It is here that second generation Asian American young people within the “18 to 29 demographic” are used as tools to educate their immigrant parents in matters of health, according to chief B HERE strategist Sid Ho. For many individuals within this college-educated cohort chafe at the “traditional” values and behavior of their immigrant or refugee parents while equating medical science and its drug-intensive practices with American modernity itself.

Moreover, a respectable number of Asian American students majoring in the life sciences make their way into the health professions. At medical school, students uncritically assimilate a curriculum and training regimen that reflects the influence of pharmaceutical combines that have become the centerpiece of the larger for-profit corporate healthcare and insurance system.[23] Should a career in laboratory research be desired, Asian Americans are well represented in the field. Not only are all three developers of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) with Gilead Sciences Asian American, for example, they are even represented in the executive ranks of the company.

Colonial Health Regime

The current effort to stigmatize and pathologize the Asian American population for purposes of political containment and control is not without precedent. Indeed, it has historical roots in the US colonial project overseas beginning with the conquest and occupation of The Philippines. Much of this owes to the singular influence of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., whose advisor in medical matters Dr. Alexis Carrel, like many prominent thinkers of the day, embraced the belief in social eugenics. He also was affiliated with like-minded individuals whose politics might be described as fascist.[24] Yet another Rockefeller family retainer by the name of Dr. Simon Flexner, who had recruited the French-born surgeon Carrel, was charged with the responsibility for evaluating medical schools across the country. Flexner dictated that all institutions be brought into conformance with what was Rockefeller advisors deemed to be sound professional standards and practices in allopathic medicine or be closed down.

Founded 1901, the Rockefeller Research Institute for Medical Research (RIMR) came to embody “a new faith in scientific method” combined with the uplift of the “social gospel movement” shared by an expanding White middle class.[25] Simon Flexner served as its first director (1901-1935). Through the massive infusion of money into the RIMR, medical orthodoxy was wed to the budding pharmaceutical industry in which Rockefeller was heavily invested despite his devotion to homeopathy to the end of his long life.

Not coincidentally, the professionalization of medical practice and its centralized institutional control by the federal government came at the historical moment when the US was extending its empire overseas into the Pacific region, Asia, and the Caribbean. Domestically, large number of immigrants from Asia, Southern Europe, and Central Europe were entering the US until restrictions were imposed during the 1920s. Internal migration of African Americans from the rural South to Northern and Midwestern industrial cities also was of concern to the Anglo-Saxon establishment. Mexican laborers that had migrated to the American Southwest to help meet the demand for agricultural labor were subjected to “quarantine” and “eugenic gatekeeping” systems maintained by the State.[26] Against this unsettling demographic revolution, its respected artists (e.g. F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby) and intelligentsia warned of the “rising tide of color” that threatened to swamp “White World-Supremacy.”[27]

The career of one, Victor G. Heiser, MD, is instructive in more fully understanding recent attempts to coax Asian Americans into submitting to HBV testing and vaccination via entertaining ethno-nationalist “public relations” (i.e. propaganda) blandishments. In examining his role as director of health in The Philippines from 1905 to 1915 and his later administrative involvement beginning in 1921 as Director For the East of the International Health Board (Rockefeller Foundation), it is seen that political pacification of Filipinos was linked to practical public sanitation projects, instruction in personal hygiene, water and food inspection, hookworm and malaria eradication efforts, improvement in housing conditions, and regular health checkups overseen by colonial health officers.[28]

While seemingly noble and altruistic in motivation, such bio-political medical interventions, implemented with military order by practitioners imbued with all the missionary fervor of the Social Gospel, at bottom served the larger geo-political interests of the nascent American empire in Asia. Many among the privileged leadership of Filipino nationalists, however, shared this progressive vision of political independence through comprehensive hygienic overhaul guided by advances in medical knowledge.

Observes Warwick Anderson: Rizal and others among the first generation of illustrados had linked science and medicine to militant nationalism: for them, to be scientific represented an authentic affiliation with modernity, and it indicated the capacity for independence of mind and therefore of polity.[29] Note the similarity in mind-set between the illustrado leadership class in The Philippines under colonial domination and that of US-born Asian American undergraduates headed for the professions: An abiding faith in laboratory science, advanced technology, and professional health systems; all of which is equated with American modernity.

Moreover, in the case of second generation Asian Americans, the appeal of the B HERE infotainment cavalcade of YouTube celebrities carries with it the implied benefit of what will be referred to here as “performative assimilation.” Finally, unlike illustrado leaders and professionals whose desire to improve the health of the average Filipino was linked to the political goal of national independence, the emphasis on the B Here campaign is on simple group belonging, image, and trendiness but with lip service paid to the notion of “awareness,” a key term often invoked in pseudo-social responsibility marketing.

In an interview with Jannelle So on Kababayan TV, PLAN C Agency founder and CEO Giancarlo Pacheco betrays little beyond the business goal of delivering the Asian American “demographic” to the major corporations that contract his specialized professional services for the sole intention of tapping into its substantial buying power.[30] For in late 2012 Nielsen reported that Asian Americans “represent an exciting growth opportunity for businesses, with a $718 billion in buying power that is expected to reach $1 trillion in just five years (equal to the 18th largest economy in the world).”[31]

Ethno-marketers Pacheco and So invoke the highly emotive sponge word “community” in selling its co-ethnic members on the benefits of “benevolent assimilation” to the corporatist system of command and control based upon strategies and techniques derived from the behavioral and social sciences. Research into rumor, crowd psychology, intra-ethnic conflict and intergenerational tension, for example, was conducted under controlled conditions in civilian concentration camps erected during World War II.[32]

Yet another example is the Human Terrain System (HTS) program developed by academic anthropologists for use during the Vietnam War. Psychological warfare techniques involved the manipulation of indigenous cultural patterns and behavior to achieve its ends.[33] Today, the political pacification process is far more subtle in execution: No longer is it overseen by the corpulent White colonial overlord sitting astride a straining carabao as in the memorable photo of William Howard Taft, former Governor-General (1901-1903) of The Philippines.[34] Instead, trendy/”trending” lifestyle fetishism fed through the closed feedback loop of “social” media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google/YouTube serve as key all-seeing panoptic technologies used by social engineers to predict and even guide behavior.[35]

Balm of Gilead

Beyond the potential monetary rewards to be reaped by successful ethnic marketing firms and its corporate clients are the well-documented health dangers associated with mass public vaccination initiatives promoted by government agencies, university research centers, and pharmaceutical companies.[36] For beneath the cynicism and opportunism reflected by of the perhaps unwitting facilitators, entertainers, and organizations involved with the B HERE spectacles lies a far more significant set of issues that strike at the health, vitality, and long-term viability of the diverse Asian American population. Had YouTube comedians Higa, Wu, and Gambito made even a token attempt at learning who was funding the national advertising drive, they would have discovered that they were being exploited as what Lenin called “useful idiots.” That is, used as disposable tools for a larger cause they do not understand.

In his penetrating study Seeds of Destruction, independent scholar F. William Engdahl reviews the dark history of Gilead Sciences, Inc. Based in Foster City, California at the northern edge of the Silicon Valley, the biotechnology firm with the corporate name that resonates with Biblical connotations was the beneficiary of growing alarm expressed by public health agencies over the H5N1 strain of avian flu that was found in humans for the first time beginning in 1997. According to Engdahl, Gilead Sciences maintained a close relationship to those at the highest level of the American government. Prior to being appointed Secretary of Defense by President George W. Bush in 2001, Donald H. Rumsfeld had been on the board of directors at Gilead since 1988 and once served as its chairman. Already a major stockholder in the company, Rumsfeld was reported to have purchased about $18 million in additional stock even after joining the Bush cabinet.[37] Similarly, Fortune magazine reported that former Secretary of State George Schultz and Gilead board member sold more than $7 million of its stock in 2005.[38]

Independent health practitioner Joseph Mercola in The Great Bird Flu Hoax makes it clear that the Tamiflu antiviral introduced to the market by Roche Pharmaceuticals in 1999 was ineffective as a medical treatment. He cites Canadian microbiologist and human rights activist Shiv Chopra, PhD; Nguyen Tuong, MD with the Center For Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, Viet Nam; respected British medical journal The Lancet, and the World Health Organization (WHO) in backing his assertion. Even the WHO, which consistently advocates mass vaccination campaigns, issued statements that Tamiflu was found not “widely successful in human patients.”[39]

Margaret Chan, MD, Director-General of the WHO since 2007, earned her way to the top position in global health from handling the H5N1 scare and SARS outbreak as Director of Health for the Hong Kong government. She is but one of the many white lab-coated Asian American faces put forth by the medico-pharmaceutical establishment to inspire public trust and confidence.

The pharmaceutical industry and top tier public relations firms have a history that date back to at least 1959 when US Senator Estes Kefauver held antitrust and monopoly hearings in Congress that “examined prices, drug testing, and advertising practices in the prescription drug industry.”[40] Owing to the financial clout it wields in the halls of Congress and the circulation of pharmaceutical company executives, lobbyists, and attorneys between federal agencies and industry, the situation today is much worse by many orders of magnitude.

The independent documentary Big Bucks Big Pharma narrated by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! cites the hefty sum of money devoted to “direct-to-consumer” advertising by the global corporations that dominate the $550 billion industry.[41] The B HERE public relations operation, or PSYOPS as it is known in military parlance, can be understood as the twisted realization of Asian American cultural identity politics put to the service of the National Pharmaceutical State.

A compendium of emotional testimonials by Asian American young women, again found on YouTube, speaks of the guilt, shame, stigma, and remorse felt by individuals bearing the curse of HBV.[42] The twelve-minute piece is credited to HepBMoms.org and Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, sponsored in part by the US Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The same organizations produced a thirty-second “public service announcement” (PSA) that features adorable Asian American children (and one White girl) begging their parents to have them vaccinated against HBV.[43] The cuteness factor cleverly override findings reported in academic literature that document the deleterious health effects of HBV vaccines on children.[44]

Such heartfelt appeals by HepBMoms raise instinctual parental fear and panic, bypassing the rational mind and striking at deep human emotion. Such manipulation is a staple of the “propaganda” business, relabeled “public relations” by its founding father (and nephew of Sigmund Freud) Edward Bernays.[45] While harmful viruses do exist and vaccines might indeed be effective in certain circumstances, it serves to remind that “threat making is political, and what we are afraid of is the result of a complex web of ideology; politics; economics; and the social, cultural, and natural.”[46] At bottom, the B HERE circus is but one expression of a national effort to implement “universal vaccination” as the “cornerstone” of policies that guide the US public health system.[47]

Against the sustained effort by government, industry, and Wall Street to promote vaccination regimens without warning of its substantial health risks and side effects, independent media and websites have produced counterpropaganda to help educate the public about the possible connection between mercury found in vaccines and autism, auto-immune system damage, and shaken baby syndrome.[48]

Conclusion: Asian American Studies Pedagogy

The intervention of Asian American critical media studies is crucial to challenging the hegemonic medico-pharmaceutical orthodoxy on the college and university campus. It is a struggle against enormous odds: A great deal of funding for the life sciences comes from Big Pharma, private foundations such as that headed by Bill and Melinda Gates, and the US Department of Defense.

As alluded to above, whether majoring in the life sciences or not, a sizeable percentage or perhaps even a majority of Asian American students fully subscribe to the medical myths promulgated by television advertising, comprehensive bio-fear “awareness” campaigns, and sincere but ill-informed professors across all academic disciplines including Asian American Studies. Issues raised in the classroom relating to sexual health (HBV can be contracted via intimate contact) are inherently volatile and subject to administrative-level complaint by certain students made resentful for having to rethink their prejudices.

However, with anti-fascist figures like Julian Assange (WikiLeaks), Edward J. Snowden (NSA), and the late Aaron Swartz (Reddit) beginning to emerge within American youth culture, the Truth once more is becoming “cool.” Should “Generation Y” Asian American wannabe hipsters begin studying the work of Gramscian organic intellectuals such as Professor Griff (Richard Griffin) of Public Enemy, KRS-One (Lawrence Krisna Parker), or Immortal Technique (Felipe Andres Coronel) instead of affecting the style (“nigahiga”) and music (hip hop) of “urban” culture appropriated and debased by corporatist media, this could spark a renaissance in counterhegemonic cultural politics not seen since the days of Yellow Pearl or the Yardbird Reader.[49]

Finally, cultural producers and knowledge workers within academia must remain alert to seemingly “progressive” and “community” based initiatives such as the B Here YouTube Asian American celebrity hype-fest. As discussed above, historical knowledge and research unique to Asian American critical media studies often reveal a deeper and darker political agenda at work. To be sure, there is risk of retaliation from university administrators that do not welcome inquiry into the nature of the institution itself; dependent as it is on the life sciences industry (and close relative IT), private foundations, and the DOD for its continued existence.

Nor does it help that such a high percentage of Asian American students are on a career track leading to the life sciences economy. This does not make for a naturally receptive audience for classroom lectures that might cause consternation among students or even fundamental doubt concerning their mission in life. But by allowing students to draw the connection between their own physical or psychological debilities that might be caused the promiscuous prescription of drugs aimed at college students—women in particular—the relationship between Big Pharma and social control begins to come into focus.

Despite the retaliatory risks associated with engaged intellectual activity, widening, deepening, and intensifying research into the military-pharmaceutical-university complex remains a pedagogical imperative in Asian American Studies. As demonstrated in this critical review of the bio-pharmaceutical hegemon funded by elite families such as Rockefeller and Gates, the health, vitality, and survival of humanity depends upon examining the ideological origins of eugenics science that underlies their worldview.50 Only then can steps be taken to oppose the looming “posthuman” technocratic global order that has been set in motion by self-appointed masters of the universe that seek to control our lives by means of faked humanitarian public health projects.[51]

As seen in earlier historical turning points, the first glimmers of conscious opposition to oppressive regimes begin at the level of cultural expression. It is hoped that the present analytical essay offers the historical perspective necessary to realizing an Asian American cultural politics that speaks to the needs of the human soul with intelligence, grace, humor, and passion while supporting the freedom of the sovereign individual against institutional tyranny. Political freedom begins with respecting the integrity of the human body and keeping it inviolate from the “biopower” (Foucault) predations of the State.


[1] Gary Matsumoto, Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That’s Killing Our Soldiers and Why GI’s Are Only the First Victims (New York: Basic Books, 2004).

[2] PF Louis, “Untested Vaccines Causing New Wave of Polio-Like Paralysis Across India.” Natural News.com 20 Apr. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/035627_polio_vaccines_paralysis_India.html.

[3] Joe Samuel, “Bill Gates Polio Vaccine Program Caused 47,500 Cases of Paralysis Death.” NSNBC International 08 May 2013. Retrieved from http://nsnbc.me/2013/05/08/billgates- polio-vaccine-program-caused-47500-cases-of-paralysis-death/.

[4] Darrell Y. Hamamoto, Monitored Peril: Asian Americans and the Politics of TV Representation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1994). Peter X. Feng, ed., Screening Asian Americans (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002).

[5] Kent A. Ono and Vincent N. Pham, Asian Americans and the Media (Malden, Massachusetts: Polity Press, 2009).

[6] Howard Rheingold, 1993. The Virtual Community: Homesteading On the Electronic Frontier (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1993).

[7] Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

[8] Tim Shorrock, Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

[9] Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2002). Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White, eds., Race After the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2012).

[10] Guy Kawasaki. Selling the Dream: How to Promote Your Product, Company, or Ideas, and Make a Difference, Using Everyday Evangelism (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).

[11] Michael Lewis, The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000).

[12] Jean Burgess & Joshua Green, YouTube (Malden Massachusetts: Polity Press, 2009), 59.

[13] More recent (June 2013) YouTube subscription figures: nigahiga 9 million; KevJumba 2.9 million; and HappySlipProductions 660,000.

[14] Sunaina Maira, Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002). Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde, Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012).

[15] Shilpa Davé, LeiLani Nishime, and Tasha G. Oren, eds., East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2005). Mimi Thi Nguyen and Thuy Linh N. Tu, eds., Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2007).

[16] Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005).

[17] “Youtube Celebrities Spread Hepatitis B Awareness,” Goldsea 12 Oct. 2009. Retrieved from http://goldsea.com/Text/index.php?id=3003.

[18] Nicki Sun, AggieTV 28 Oct. 2009. Retreived from http://wn.com/KevJumba_Interview_at_UC_Davis.

[19] Kaba Modern at UC Davis Part1/2. YouTube 31 Oct. 2009. Retrieved from Http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=M_gR06FNAWU.

[20] PLAN C Agency website. http://www.plancagency.com/; “Man behind Asian-American Advertising Firm Plan C Agency.” YouTube 21 Feb. 2012. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjoYL2gceN4.

[21] “PLAN C Agency Promotes Hepatitis B Awareness Through ‘B HERE.’” Press release 10 Feb. 2010. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/02/11/idUS11900+11-Feb-2010+PRN20100211.

[22] Jose Antonio Vargas, “Spring Awakening: How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook.” New York Times
17 Feb. 2012. Http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/books/review/how-an-egyptian-revolution-beganon-

[23] Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All into Patients (New York: Nation Books, 2005).

[24] David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever (New York: Ecco, 2007).

[25] Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (New York: Vintage Books, 2004), 469.

[26] Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults & Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005), 57-81.

[27] Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921). Retrieved from http://www.archive.org/stream/risingtideofcolo00stoduoft#page/n7/mode/2up.

[28] John Farley, To Cast Out Disease: A History of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation (1913-1951) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[29] Warwick Anderson, Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2006).

[30] Jannelle So, “Man Behind Asian-American Advertising Firm Plan C Agency.” Kababayan TV 21 Feb. 2012. KSCI TV/DT, Long Beach, California. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjoYL2gceN4.

[31] “Asian-American Consumer Base: Has Tremendous Buying Power, Still Growing.” Nielsen 16 Nov. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2012/asianamerican-consumers-base-has-tremendous-buying-power-still-growing.html.

[32] Yuji Ichioka, ed. Views From Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, 1999).

[33] Roberto J. González, American Counterinsurgency: Human Science and the Human Terrain (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2009).

[34] “William Howard Taft.” Philippine History. http://www.philippinehistory.org/picture-old-manila28.htm.

[35] Ken Dilanian, “The NSA Is Watching. So Are Google and Facebook.” Chicago Tribune 30 Jun. 2013. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-naconsumer-tracking-20130701,0,5821351.story.

[36] Bonnie S. Dunbar, PhD. “Hepatitis B Vaccine Dangers.” Vaccination Liberation Information 12 Mar. 1999. Retrieved from http://www.vaclib.org/email/hepbdang.htm. Salynn Boyles, “Hepatitis B Vaccine May Be Linked to MS.” WebMD Health News 13 Sep. 2004. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/news/20040913/hepatitis-bvaccine-may-be- linked-to-ms.

[37] F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Global Research, 2007), 284.

[38] Nelson D. Schwartz, “Rumsfeld Profits From Bird Flu Scare.” Fortune 02 Nov. 2005. Retrieved from http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/november2005/021105rumsfeldprofits.htm.

[39] Dr. Joseph Mercola with Pam Killeen, The Great Bird Flu Hoax: The Truth They Don’t Want You To Know About The “Next Big Pandemic” (Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2006), 109.

[40] Karen S. Miller, The Voice of Business: Hill & Knowlton and Postwar Public Relations (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 175.

[41] Ronit Ridberg, Sut Jhally, Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, Big Bucks Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs (Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2006).

[42] Aaron Kuo-Deemer, “HepBMoms: Testimonial (full).” YouTube 02 Dec. 2009. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5Nqkke7GMM.

[43] “HepBMoms: Kids PSA 2 (English)” YouTube 29 Oct. 2009. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElznIQX88nA.

[44] Melody Gallagher & Melody Goodman, “Hepatitis B triple series vaccine and developmental disability in US children aged 1-9 years.” Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry Vol. 90, Issue 5, 2008. Pp. 997-1008.

[45] Edward Bernays, Propaganda (Brooklyn, New York: Ig Press, 2005).

[46] Betsy Hartmann, Banu Subramaniam, and Charles Zerner, Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005), 248.

[47] Debbie Bookchin & Jim Schumacher, The Virus and the Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004), 280.

[48] Gary Null, Vaccine Nation (DVD) (Gary Null & Associates, 2008).

[49] Professor Griff, The Psychological Covert War on Hip Hop (Atlanta, Georgia: Heirz To The Shah, 2011). KRS-One, The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument (Brooklyn, NY: Powerhouse Books, 2009). Immortal Technique, The [R]evolution of Immortal Technique (DVD), Quarter Water Productions and Viper Records 2012.

[50] Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create A Master Race (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003).

[51] Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002).

The author wishes to thank Madeline Hsu at the Center for Asian American Studies and Madhavi Mallapragada with the Dept. of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin for inviting me to lecture—in the well-appointed Lady Bird Johnson Room—on this topic in 2012. Also, appreciation to UC Davis graduate Ejan Jihan for the invitation speak before a lively audience at California State University Monterey Bay.

Darrell Y. Hamamoto holds degrees in political science, popular culture, and sociology, and is a graduate of University of California at Irvine’s Comparative Cultures doctoral program. A Fullbright Scholar (Japan) Hamamoto is presently the senior ranking professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Davis. Throughout his 30 year academic career he has become a major figure in the study of media, race, and popular culture. Professor Hamamoto is the author of Servitors of Empire: Studies in the Dark Side of American Culture (TrineDay 2014), Monitored Peril: Asian Americans and the Politics of TV Representation (University of Minnesota Press, 1994) and Nervous Laughter: Television Situation Comedy and Liberal Democratic Ideology (Praeger, 1991). He may be reached at dyhamamoto@ucdavis.edu

4 thoughts on “Hypin’ Da Hep: YouTube Comedians and the Manufacture of Bio-Fear”

  1. Dear Professor Tracy,

    Thank you for posting Professor Hamamoto’s paper. I listened to an interview of Professor Hamamoto by Red Ice Radio last spring and that conversation was quite an “eye opener” as is this paper. I find it morbidly fascinating the way the PTB are manipulating all of us in ways that are sometimes unique to our “demographic”.

  2. This is essential reading for anyone interested in following the fraud which is endemic in our mega- medical/pharmaceutical industry.

    The piece was of particular fascination to me because I have a Japanese daughter-in-law. And long ago, my taste in decoration centered around the beauty of delicate Japanese art in ceramic tiles and other creative expressions.

    Dr. Hamamoto never fails through his scholarship to capture the essence of an issue–in this case more ongoing, demonstrated corporate-sponsored deception creating invented need for prescribed products.

    There is no end to this chicanery.

  3. Red Ice is another spot to brush up your current events to conform with reality and confront your skepticism regard the untruths.

    The Dr. Hamamoto interview was a show stopper in many respects,unveiling secrets Globalists keep under wraps
    in bundles of media-muzzled censorship. Most revealing is the way social engineers play mind games piggybacking on taboos and PC to manipulate blocs of marginalized groups such as ethnic or GLT communities.

    There is always an ‘X’ factor underneath each scam.
    be it money for health care or experimentation for experiment’s sake. Trans gender and sexual manipulation is taking center stage in this unholy war on human reproduction. Efforts of this type of cross pollination does produce some exotic fruit, seen by many to herald he end of natural processes and eventuary evolution.

    The NWO does not recognize the God Force behind
    human life on earth…they fancy themselves a cut above all others, playing a board game
    as Olympians from antiquity.

Comments are closed.