A California band that likens itself to Led Zeppelin is being accused of releasing one of the most racist songs in recent memory, a song titled "Asian Girlz." Stephanie Chuang reports.
A model from San Jose dances in skimpy clothing and lingerie as five guys in a band serenade her from a bird cage. The music video for the song “Asian Girlz” has gone viral – but for all the wrong reasons. Why?
It could be the lyrics that include phrases like “slanted eyes.” The LA-based band Day Above Ground, which describes itself as a “brew” of groups like Led Zepplin, Linkin Park and The Doors, released the music video this week, posting it on YouTube. By Thursday afternoon, it had more than 325,000 views.
The video also is slammed with comments accusing the band of being racist and sexist, with sexually-violent lyrics.
"It comes from a good place. I'm sure it's hard for a lot of people to believe that, but we've all had close relationships with the Asian community, Asian people," said Joe Anselm, the band's lead singer. "There's guys in the band with Asian women. It's just, it's hard to believe we're getting this kind of backlash."
The backlash has also hit the female star of the video, Levy Tran. The model and San Jose native has more than 100,000 “likes” on her Facebook page. She took to Twitter to apologize and said the video was meant to be light-hearted and fun. She called the band members "sweet boys and not at all racist."
In an earlier tweet she wrote, “I sincerely apologize to all who feels [sic] that I set Asian women back 50 yrs. I know I lost respect from a lot of ppl. It wasn't my intention.”
Local advocates for the Asian American community said that's not enough.
"They said they want to push the boundaries, but by pushing the boundaries there are going to be thousands, if not more around the nation who are going to say it's okay for me to push the boundaries," said Rabiah Khalid, the advocacy manager for the Asian Americans for Community Involvement.
She added that women go to AACI who are afraid to speak out after falling victim to sexual attacks.
“People have groped them and it’s okay, because you’re an Asian women, we’ve been told this stuff,” Khalid said.
For Khalid, it’s time to unify Asian American voices to make sure the community doesn’t become the butt of jokes.
“It would have been different if it was another ethnic group,” she said. “I feel like media and everyone would have been on it right away.”
Day Above Ground was set to headline an Aug. 10 show at the House of Blues (Sunset Strip) in Los Angeles, but then came the social media storm.
People went to the House of Blues Facebook page and also started a Change.org petition asking the band get dropped -- a request fulfilled by the music venue by Thursday afternoon.
Anselm told NBC Bay Area the band will release a full statement soon and plans to remove the music video off of YouTube in two days.