William Hung Responds to Jimmy O. Yang, Joe Rogan for Saying He ‘Set Back Asians’ and He’s ‘Mentally Challenged’
"I don’t believe in making other people feel small to make myself taller."
William Hung has responded to negative comments from Jimmy O. Yang and Joe Rogan, saying that he is open to having a constructive conversation about the matter.
In June, Yang sat for an interview on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” in which he shared about receiving an offer to star in a William Hung biopic.
While Yang said he’s “flattered” to be at a point in his career when he’s already getting scripts, reading Hung’s biopic made him “want to f*cking vomit.”
“I read all 115 pages of that script. I’ve never been so angry reading a script,” he told Rogan.
Hung rose to fame in 2004 after an unsuccessful audition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” in “American Idol.” He snagged a record deal and appeared in TV interviews, commercials and movies, gaining a cult-like following in the process.
Yang, however, believes that Hung “set us [Asians] back like 10 years.” He proposed that “a very nuanced way” to write the biopic would be to show why “American Idol” producers picked Hung out of the crowd just to make fun of him and why the rest of Americans laughed at him.
Meanwhile, Rogan, who mistook Hung for “the Virginia shooter” (Seung-Hui Cho), is convinced that “there’s something wrong with him.”
The conversation went on to fixate on Hung’s “mental problem” and why he, allegedly, was taken advantage of in the entertainment industry.
“You’re profiting off someone who’s clearly mentally handicapped in some way, shape or form. If there’s a spectrum of mental disability, he’s on that spectrum,” Rogan said. “That guy’s off. You know he’s off. But they’re like, ‘Perfect, run it!’”
After getting asked too often, Hung finally shared his thoughts in a video response last Friday. He claimed that he had never watched the interview until then, with one friend warning him against it.
Hung specifically addressed Rogan’s “mentally challenged” claim and Yang’s comment that he set back Asians in the entertainment industry for 10 years.
“Both of these statements, I strongly disagree with, and the part about me being ‘mentally challenged’ is 100% wrong,” he said.
The 37-year-old, now a motivational speaker, explained that despite his lack of talent in singing, he moved forward in the entertainment industry because people had been profiting from his popularity.
“Back in 2004, when FOX broadcasted my audition, I got hundreds of emails, and at the same time, I already saw people selling bobblehead dolls and T-shirts using my image and likeness without my permission. Also, one of my fans created a website called ‘williamhung.net’ that got over eight million hits,” Hung said.
Hung added that an article about him claimed that he had committed suicide through heroin overdose. Since he had no immediately-accessible platform to deny the news — and other malicious stories, presumably — he simply had to be seen.
“I know whoever wrote that article meant it as a hoax or a joke, but I don’t think it’s funny at all,” Hung said. “I felt that that article gave me the fire to stand up for myself because, back then, there’s no YouTube, there’s no Facebook. The only way for me to share my version of my story was to take on the entertainment business, to accept the record contract. That way, I get to show up for TV interviews, I get to share my voice with my audience.
“Do you still think I’m ‘mentally challenged?’”
Hung then addressed Yang’s 10-year setback remark, stressing that what he had done at the time was in fact the opposite.
“…you’re not the only person who believes I portray Asian stereotypes. But here’s the thing — I will never apologize for my ‘American Idol’ audition,” Hung said. “I believe everyone has a right to try something new without being judged or ridiculed.
“Imagine if everyone will only conform to society’s standards or our parents’ expectations to be engineers, doctors and lawyers. Would we be able to make the same progress today?
“Someone had to step up and fail [while moving] forward in order for us to make progress in all these wonderful new industries, whether it’s entertainment, gaming or other creative careers.”
Hung ended his statement with an open invitation for a constructive conversation.
“I’m saying everything with a lot of love, from a place of calm, and from a place of standing strong. I don’t believe in making other people feel small to make myself taller,” he added.
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