The Constance Wu Controversy is Misogynistic

The notion that an actress should be grateful to have work rather than feel disappointed at having a more challenging project deferred is misogynistic.

Constance Wu

Photo by Ryan Miller/Shutterstock

ABC has responded to the controversy sparked by Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu after she tweeted her apparent dismay about the show's renewal.

The network's President, Karey Burke, said during a press conference: "No, there's been no talk of recasting Constance. We love what she does on the show and we love the show," Burke told reporters. "I did actually know that Constance had another opportunity that had Fresh Off the Boat not gone forward, she would've pursued."

She continued: "But we never really considered not bringing back Fresh Off the Boat." She said. "The show is just too strong for us and we love it."

"So I'm going to choose to believe Constance's most recent communication about the show that she is happy to return," Burke added. "The cast and crew is happy to have her back and we're thrilled to keep her on the show."

Last week, Constance Wu took to Twitter to express her anger after hearing the news of Fresh Off the Boat's renewal.

"So upset right now that I'm literally crying," wrote Wu. "Ugh. F—." Within the hour, she posted a second tweet: "F—ing hell."

One Twitter user wrote "Congrats on your renewal! Great news :)," to which the Crazy Rich Asians actress responded: "No it's not." (Her reply has since been deleted.)

She went on to respond to those who criticized her for her tweets: "That was not a rampage, it was just how I normally talk. I say f— a lot. I love the word," she wrote. "Y'all are making a lot of assumptions about what I was saying. And no, it's not what it's about. No it's not..what this is all about. Stop assuming."

Once her tweets started to spur national controversy and confusion, Wu backpedaled with a tweet on Friday, May 10th: "Todays tweets were on the heels of rough day&were ill-timed w/the news of the show. Plz know, Im so grateful for FOTB renewal. I love the cast&crew. Im proud to be a part of it. For all the fans support, thank u & for all who support my casual use of the word fuck-thank u too."

The next day, Wu released a lengthy apology note. "I love FOTB. I was temporarily upset yesterday not bc I hate the show but bc its renewal meant I had to give up another project that I was really passionate about. So my dismayed social media replies were more about that other project and not about FOTB," she said in a note posted on Twitter.

Many took issue with Wu's invocation of the tagline of the women's movement in the final sentence of the statement: "It's meaningful when you make the choice to believe women."

Some saw this as a conflation of the weighty #MeToo vernacular with the less gendered drama surrounding the show's renewal.

But the media's reaction to Wu's tweets is an issue of gender. The prevailing language of critics––calling Wu " ungrateful" or "arrogant"–– did seem charged in a similar way that language can be weaponized against female actresses and, in particular, women of color. This notion that an actress should be grateful to have work rather than feel disappointed at the deferral of a more challenging project is couched in misogyny.

Critics condescendingly referred to her tweets as a rampage, a tantrum, or a rant. It's hard not to question whether this kind of language would have been used if these tweets were sent by a man, who more often get applauded for ambition in similar situations. We say that we want women to feel validated in expressing their feelings and feel safe in voicing their contentions, but then accuse an actress of "raging" when she does just that.

Could Wu have vocalized her reaction to the show's renewal in a less negative way? Sure. But is the public outrage over the tweets warranted? Probably not.

It's a precarious time to be an actor in Hollywood––with many struggling to get work after their comedies are canceled or major networks competing with streaming platforms–– which makes it understandable that some people feel Wu should be happy to have another season on FOTB. However, that doesn't mean that we should encourage actresses to settle simply to maintain the optics of being "grateful."

Another point of contention for many is that FOTB is important for widening Asian American representation in television, so Wu ought to stay committed to that cause. Wu, who starred in Crazy Rich Asians, has been vocal about the importance of representation. But contrary to popular belief, Wu's vocalization of her disappointment does not equate to throwing the rest of the FOTB cast under the bus; It's possible to do your part and support the cause of representation while acknowledging that other projects may be more stimulating for an artistic career.

It's a common trend for working actors and actresses to grow out of projects in the pursuit of more artistically fulfilling endeavors. Normally, this kind of opaque ambition would be lauded for its drive. But in Wu's case, critics were quick to dismiss her for expressing her anger in a public setting or doing it the wrong way. Some argue that Wu should not have shared her anger on social media but there are glaring hypocrisies in this logic. Artists and celebrities are pushed and even praised for oversharing online in an effort to appear "relatable" or "authentic," but then fall subject to condemnation for publicizing their feelings. Do audiences really want artists to be fully transparent and "real," or do they only want that when it's conveniently positive and uplifting?

It's unfortunate to see a culture that has supposedly been advocating for the validation of women's feelings to turn on an actress for expressing her ambition and genuine disappointment. In Wu's case, the message being received is that women are allowed to express themselves and their frustrations, but just not like that. The recent backlash to Wu's tweets might not explicitly have to do with the #MeToo movement, but it's worth considering the hypocrisy of the way the public reacts (or in this case, criticizes) a woman's expression of frustration.

Sara is a music and culture writer.

POP⚡DUST |

Why Alyssa Milano's "Sex Strike" Won't Work

Busy Philipps, and 9 Other Celebrities Who Are Open About Their Abortions

Has "Game Of Thrones" Lost Its Ability to Write Female Characters?


A Bitter Kind of Happiness: Vampire Weekend's New Album, Track by Track

Listening to Vampire Weekend's new album feels like taking a long, deep breath in the middle of Times Square.

In the heart of Times Square in midtown Manhattan, if you stand on top of a particular grate, you can hear a humming sound.

If you listen closely, it sounds like an Om, the ancient mantra used in meditation. That humming is actually an art piece, first installed by an artist named Max Neuhaus in the 1970s, created to see if anyone in Times Square would notice it.

In a way, that peaceful, persistent hum—in the midst of the violent brilliance of the modern wasteland that is midtown Manhattan—describes Vampire Weekend's newest album, Father of the Bride. It's an album that acknowledges the frantic distortions and surreality of our 21st-century existence, and embodies them sonically with erratic blends of instruments and shuffled rhythms, but also offers moments of almost surreal peacefulness and stillness.

Those moments wear many guises on the album. They're prevalent on its first track, "Hold You Now," which juxtaposes soft acoustic warbling with almost reverent, harmony-laden choruses, sung with the uncontained, innocent wildness of a children's choir. Danielle Haim's caramel-smooth vocals add a nice feeling of down-home country comfort to the song, but no track on this album remains within one genre for long. "This ain't the end of nothing much, it's just another round," Haim sings before the chorus swoops back in and lifts the whole thing into another place. It's a pure, kindhearted introduction to a complex treatise on the state of politics, love, and civilization at large.

"Hold You Now" moves to the more exuberant "Harmony Hall," then onto "Bambina," one of the moments where Vampire Weekend's genre-blending formula grows too chaotic for its own good. It alternates between angelic, reverential verses and frenetic, bouncy outbursts, creating a feeling of vertigo that feels as disorienting as a stroll through Times Square on a hot day. But maybe that's its purpose—to disorient the listener enough so that moments of peace and beauty feel extra vital amidst the neon and the noise.

The next few tracks, "This Life," "Big Blue," and "How Long?" continue to play with contrasts, balancing existential dread with detached, Zen-sounding observations. In traditional Vampire Weekend fashion, "This Life" touches on various cultural influences from around the world—it might even be referencing Buddhism's First Noble Truth, life is suffering (I've been cheating through this life, and all its suffering, Koening sings).

In between the creation of his last album and this one, Koening's son was born, and it's hard to imagine that this didn't have some influence on Father's content. The next track, "Big Blue," sounds oddly paternal, with its sunny strumming pattern and Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque solos. That's not to say that Ezra Koening has transitioned to dad rock—but there is something paternal about the whole album, something that screams, I love my son. With its warm background vocals and vaguely tropical peals of guitar, "Big Blue" is a veritable blanket of a song. "How Long" seems to be an expression of tender anxiety for the world's future, an intermingling of nostalgia for the irreverence of the past, existential musings, and a desire to escape the world at large and hide in the safe familiarity of one's family unit, despite impending disaster outside.

Though it touches on many complex themes, Father of the Bride never dwells too long on a single topic. "Unbearably White" moves out from the domestic sphere into a self-aware examination of whiteness, a way of reflecting on the frequent criticisms of Vampire Weekend's tendency to capitalize on sounds and influences of other cultures. Instead of awkwardly apologizing, it veils its messages in obscure poetry; that doesn't excuse the band's tendency to steal and certainly doesn't excuse its members' white privilege, but luckily, the song doesn't try to do that at all. Instead, it luxuriates in its own ambiguity.

This ambiguity is one of Vampire Weekend's greatest strengths, alongside their ability to exercise restraint. Sometimes, with all the bells and chimes and shifting rhythms, you can feel the music straining at the bit, begging to burst into full-on chaos, but always there's a fall-back into a state of calm reflectiveness, an exhale just at the peak of the tension.

"Unbearably White" flows easily into "Rich Man," which sounds almost like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme, with its fairylike guitar fingerpicking and whimsical string sections. This instrumentation does a good job of framing its lyrics, which are rife with satirical critiques of the 1% billionaire class.

"Married in a Gold Rush" forges ahead in the satirical vein, moving further into politics—"something's wrong with this country," Koenig begins, before moving into a song that may or may not be poking fun at MAGA-esque nostalgia for old wealth and old glories. It's sometimes hard to know the extent to which they're being overtly satirical or pointed, and most likely, that ambiguity is intentional.

All humor falls away on "My Mistake," which serves as a beautiful centerpiece in the midst of all the catastrophes, political unrest, pointed satire, and existentialism. If anything, this is the album's heartbeat, its humming in the midst of its billboards and apocalyptic rumination. It's a mournful ballad that sounds almost like musical theatre; you can imagine Koenig singing it while slouching over a grand piano, an empty glass of whiskey in his fingertips, red roses blooming somewhere on the edge of the frame. When the horns come in, it all comes together to create a rare kind of stillness.

Vampire Weekend - My Mistake (Official Audio)

But then, of course, Koenig breaks the spell with "Sympathy," which he begins by saying, "I think I take myself too serious. It's not that serious," followed by a rumba undercut by Spanish guitar that moves into an upbeat, danceable track in the vein of "Diane Young." From there comes two tracks featuring Steve Lacy; the boisterous "Sunflower" and the psychedelic, nostalgic "Flower Moon." The latter sounds a bit like something out of Imogen Heap's catalog before blooming into a tropical-sounding blur of electric guitars and hand-claps.

"2021" looks to the future, working in the electronic influences proposed in "Flower Moon" and adding some attractively simple guitar lines to the mix. Danielle Haim returns on "We Belong Together," another pure love song that veers into saccharinity at times. Then "Stranger" returns to the innocence of "Big Blue" with its bouncy drums and cheery horns. Building on the self-awareness of "Sympathy," it almost feels almost like a laugh in the face of absurdity. "I used to look for an answer. I used to knock on every door," Koenig sings. "But you got the wave on, music playing, don't need to look anymore."

That's a comforting sentiment for anyone dismayed by the apparent lack of answers and clarity in all aspects of human existence. In his earlier work, Koenig's lyrics rigorously searched, questioning time and death and youth through many lenses—but on this album, for the first time, there's a sense that maybe motion for its own sake isn't worth the fight, that moments of stillness are just as important as the race to the finish line.

Vampire Weekend - 2021 (Official Audio)

On "Spring Snow," Koening's autotuned vocals align neatly with a shimmering electronic piano. It's an entirely synthetic and strangely pleasing little jewel of a song that feels like it ends too quickly.

Still, its beauty is totally overshadowed by the album's final track, which is one of its strongest. "Jerusalem, New York, Berlin" evokes Bob Dylan with its lyrical acuity. It's a mournful tribute to what could've been, to what the human race might've created if we hadn't been swallowed up by greed and "that genocidal feeling that beats in every heart," as Koenig sings.

It's a violent sentiment and a sad one. But the song itself is so beautiful that you can almost forget about its meaning; you can almost forget everything. It feels like taking a deep breath in the midst of all the noise and the lights, like stopping to stare at the waving leaves on a tree outside your window, like hearing a strange, low hum poking through the cries and sirens of a busy city.

Despite these moments of tranquility, Father of the Bride is more of a collage than a cohesive whole, and it takes a certain amount of energy to really listen to it and key into its sometimes scattered blend of emotions and sounds. It won't be for everyone, but Father of the Bride is valuable both as documentation of our historical moment and as a work of musical composition.

Existing somewhere in the middle of Californian irreverence and New Yorkers' existential panic, it's sometimes a lot to take in—but of course, those little moments of perfect beauty appear just when you feel you're losing your footing. And sometimes—in this life of teeming crowds and blaring horns and neon signs all competing for attention while the sun grows ever-hotter—that's all we can ask for.

Vampire Weekend - Jerusalem, New York, Berlin (Official Audio)

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

POP⚡DUST |

Car Astor Shares Her Secrets in Latest Single, "Hush"

Taylor Swift's BBMA "Mayochella" Performance Angered the Beyhive

Ezra Miller is In a Band?

Vampire Weekend

Can Nguyen/Shutterstock

Vampire Weekend released their disorienting video for "Sunflower" today.

Directed by Jonah Hill, and set in New York's iconic Zabar's, the video features lead singer Ezra Koenig and the Internet's Steve Lacy perusing the deli as they gently sing along to the track. As the camera twists and turns in a dizzying array, Jerry Seinfeld suddenly appears in a brief cameo, offering nothing more than a grimace. The band's last video for "Harmony Hall" also featured an appearance from Jonah Hill.

"Sunflower" is one of four songs shared from the band's upcoming album FOTB, which is set for release on May 3. The album is set to be 18 songs, with Koenig justifying the length by saying "At first, I wanted to make two 23-song albums on some human chromosome shit but then 23&me started doing Spotify playlists and I don't know...felt we'd been scooped." The band has kept their promise of doing 2-song drops every month since the announcement, with the last set of songs geared for release this April. Check out the trippy video, and please tell us why Seinfeld is so grumpy all the time, cause we honestly don't know.

Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.

POP⚡DUST |

I'm an Asian Woman on Tinder: An Analysis of My Inbox

Kings Spins Defiance Out of Darkness

Pheeyownah Releases New Euphoric Single: "Gold"


New Releases

Vampire Weekend Releases Two New Tracks

And there are...tree frogs?!?!?

In the same way that a vampire's bite would leave you with two holes in your neck, Vampire Weekend has released not one, but two new tracks.

"Harmony Hall" and "2021" mark the first new tracks from Vampire Weekend since their 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City, and the first ever tracks without original band member/producer/songwriter Rostam Batmanglij.

Both songs are very good and very different, which bodes well for their upcoming album, Father of the Bride.

"Harmony Hall" has a light, upbeat vibe with the kind of acoustic guitar strumming that wouldn't seem out of place in a Grateful Dead album. This stands in stark contrast to Ezra Koenig's introspective lyrics, dissecting the influence of money, power, and anger : "Anger wants a voice/Voices wanna sing/Singers harmonize/Till they can't hear anything." The result is a catchy, listenable tune that deepens upon subsequent listens.

"2021," on the other hand, is more ambient and dissonant, sampling Yellow Magic Orchestra's Haruomi Hosono. It's especially jarring to hear after "Harmony Hall," so it will be interesting to see where both songs are ultimately placed on the 18-track album.

Vampire Weekend - 2021 (Official Audio)

The release date for Father of the Bride is still unknown, but it's expected to come out later this year with four more songs releasing beforehand.

In the meantime, check out the official videos featuring up-close nature footage. For whatever reason, watching a treefrog blink to 2021 somehow enhances the experience.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at

POP⚡DUST |

Red Band Trailer for 'The Beach Bum' Looks Pretty Lit

The 'Sorry to Bother You' Oscar Snub Is a Fucking Travesty

Now in Theaters: New Movies for the Weekend of January 25