John Cho and Jay Chou are not actually the same person

Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 at 10:56 pm under movies.

Green Hormet IMDb

It'd be less obnoxious if Jay Chou's name weren't RIGHT THERE ON THE POSTER, two inches away.

FirstShowing tweeted today about an interesting error on IMDb’s Green Hornet page: Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s role as Kato has been credited to MILF-popularizing American actor John Cho. Uh, WTF?

In all fairness, yes, their names are very similar. Similar enough that anyone could easily get them confused. And it must be conceded that the two actors bear a passing resemblance. I am not saying this is (necessarily) motivated by racism, or that this would never ever happen to a white actor. Simply based on the amount of data that IMDb tracks, I’m sure this is far from the only error in there.

What I am saying is that Asian actors already have a pretty tough time in Hollywood, and things like this don’t help. While I have no reason to believe this is anything but an honest mistake, I can’t help but bristle because it reminds me of all the other times I’ve heard that Asian people “all look the same.” Or the way it seems like Hollywood can only handle a couple of famous Asian-Americans at a time, while a new crop of homogenous white starlets is rising every day. Or the fact that Americans still– still!– seem to have trouble understanding the difference between an Asian-American person and an Asian person from Asia. (Hint: when the Asian-American says she is “really from” California, she means it. She is as American as the asshat who is harassing her with stupid questions, and she is not “really from” Korea.)

Jay Chou is a very famous multitasker (“musician, singer, music and film producer, actor and director,” according to Wikipedia) in his native Taiwan. John Cho is an American actor whose biggest role to date is as Harold of Harold & Kumar. Similar names and bone structure aside, their histories and resumes couldn’t be more different. This incident, minor and accidental though it may be, denies Chou some portion of the credit and public recognition he deserves for his role in The Green Hornet, while reinforcing in some small way the notion that all Asian people are interchangeable.

I don’t want to blow this out of proportion. While it’s possible the misinformation was posted purposefully or maliciously, there is no evidence to indicate that it was. Personally, I’m inclined to believe it’s just your run-of-the-mill mistake. As someone who regularly has to pause to remember which one is Emma Thompson and which one is Emma Watson, I’m in no place to get all huffy because someone else got two similar names mixed up. As typos go, though, it is a pretty unfortunate one.

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  1. I saw that too. I agree it’s probably just an honest mistake but unfortunate considering Asian Americans are heavily marginalized in American cinema.

  2. I would say john cho’s biggest role would be Sulu in Star Trek.

  3. Hopefully just a mistake. But you’ve got to think their sources would have it right considering the record keeping that must go into getting all the credits straight.

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