Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tila Tequila: Sex and the Asian Female

Tila Tequila, the MySpace superstar, reality show diva, singer/model/actress, has created quite a career for herself, marketing her image (read: body) to a young, MTV-era audience intent on discovering sex, sexuality, and self-image. After watching a few episodes of "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila" (lest you judge me, I'd like to add a disclaimer that the show is as addictive as the proverbial train wreck!), I came to the conclusion that Tila Tequila perpetuates every possible stereotype regarding her race, gender, and sexuality. Hints of imperialism, sexism, submission, Asian fetishism, gender role stereotyping, and homophobia peppered each episode. My jaw was hanging open for much of the time I was watching. I know reality TV isn't, well, real, but Tila Tequila provides an interesting subject for social analysis.

Tila Tequila's Reality Show, "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila", offers straight male and lesbian female contestants to vie for Tila's affections. It is revealed during the first episode that Tila is bisexual, and thus, the spectacle begins. The men and women can be antagonistic toward each other; their attitudes are colored by stereotyping and intolerance. Tila stands in the middle of it all as a prize to be won. She emphasizes her exoticism, her tiny stature, and her intense sexuality at every chance, making the prize even more tantalizing for the contestants.

Asian female sexuality is typically relegated into two categories: the "Dragon Lady" and the "Geisha Girl". The first smacks a little of BDSM, and the second is all about submission. Tila falls into both of these categories, particularly during one episode in which she has the male contestants visit her in "Hell", where she is all leather-pain-and-pleasure, while the female contestants visit Tila in "Heaven", where all is gentle and fluffy and chaste. Tila tries to assume both roles, the dominatrix and the virgin, but by doing so, she reveals a confused identity. Many people speculate that Tila Tequila isn't actually bisexual. She chooses a male contestant at the end of the show. That's not my judgment to make, however. WHat I can say, though, is that Tila objectifies herself and her sexuality as something exotic. This self-reifying makes Tila seems like a living, breathing Bratz dolls -- those bobbleheaded, trussed-up , eerily sexualized dolls which are meant for little girls to play with, but seem far more dangerous than the Barbies of yore.

Tila Tequila is both fascinating and disgusting -- she has made herself into a brand, an object, a marketable commodity, and a sexual object. She is both white and non-white, dominatrix and virgin, self-empowered and submissive. Tila confesses that she has felt confused about her sexuality, but perhaps her confusion goes deeper -- who is Tila Tequila?

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