Viral ‘Coughing While Asian’ Video Shows How Irrational Coronavirus Fear Affects Asians Everywhere

Viral ‘Coughing While Asian’ Video Shows How Irrational Coronavirus Fear Affects Asians Everywhere
Bryan Ke
February 4, 2020
Actor Michael Tow and Emmy award-winning editor Teja Arboleda recently posted “Coughing While Asian,” a funny video that shows how the fear of novel coronavirus (or 2019-nCoV) affects Asian Americans.
Tow and his co-producer Arboleda immediately came up with the idea to shoot the video “Coughing While Asian” after news broke out about the first confirmed case in Washington.
“Once the coronavirus started to pick up and a few cases were found in the US, my co-producer, Teja Arboleda and I knew that it would have an affect on all Asians nationwide,” Tow told NextShark.
“When the story broke out of an Australian man who had a heart attack and died because bystanders wouldn’t give him CPR because they thought he had the coronavirus, we knew we had to do something.”
This type of fear would make all Asians a target regardless of whether or not they are connected to Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China where the virus had originated. With this in mind, Tow said he thought of his daughters and how this would affect them.
“I thought of my daughters and how they would be treated in school if they had a slight cough. I’m an adult. I’m used to handling this stuff but thought of the Asian kids across the country and how they would be made to feel.”
Many Asian people in Western countries are now being targeted by racism and discrimination, and some are even being targeted by schools by being suspended over the fear of the virus.
The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) recently caused outrage online after attributing xenophobia as a normal reaction to the novel coronavirus on campus. In Canada, a Pakistani doctor shared how her children got bullied in school for being half-Chinese.
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Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a female student from Sheffield University was verbally and physically assaulted by an unknown group.
“So like our other Tow-Arboleda Films projects, we wanted to turn the issue on its head,” Tow said. “We wanted to highlight how overblown and unwarranted the fear was to be afraid of any random Asian person. So we thought what if an Asian person used that fear to their advantage, what would that look like and that’s how it started.”
Creating “Coughing While Asian” was planned and executed in just a matter of days, Tow said.
“I’m a professional actor, Teja is an Emmy award winning editor and we’ve produced many videos quickly so we mapped it out Friday, cast it Friday night, filmed Saturday and Sunday, edited it and we released it Sunday night,” Tow explained.
“We wanted to get it out quick to show Asian Americans that if the fear-mongering happened to them they were not alone in this,” he added.
When it comes to first-hand experience with the discrimination and racism, Tow said he hadn’t encountered anything major, however, some of his Asian viewers have shared some of their personal encounters.
“I haven’t experienced anything major, but thousands of people after seeing our video have been commenting about it’s happened to them,” he said. “Others have expressed how they have felt some reclaiming power after watching it since they’ve been so nervous to cough or sneeze in public.”
Featured Image Screenshot via Tow-Arboleda Films
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