Pacific Media Expo typically takes place in November. The legacy of Pacific Media Expo began having j-rock bands like Psycho Le Cemu and lolita brands like Angelic Pretty headline the con. While Pacific Media Expo brought in a lot of Japanese pop culture aficionados, Asian American media is often sidelined in favor of what brings in the registration dollars. In the past, Pacific Media Expo highlighted Asian American actors such as Dante Basco, George Takei, and Daniel Dae Kim. While crowds for those panels drew a humble handful of fans, it’s only recently that PMX has taken notice to Asian American entertainment.
On July 17, 2021, Pacific Media Expo hosted charity livestream on Twitch raising funds for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. This free event had guests from East West Players, local artists and designers, etc provide programming. The programming was Asian American focused. I thought this was a unique approach to PMX because it has always been synonymous with international fashion trends. We had Cyril Lumboy, Nami Takagi Rodman, and Beari King talk about how they spent their pandemic days staying creative. Cyril highlighted her experience creating fashionable facemasks during the height of the pandemic. She even had a mask set up for auction. Proceeds would go to charity.
Much of the programming was provided by Asian American playwriters and players associated with the East West Players. We were graced by James Hong and Dee Dee Magno Hall for actor highlights. It was very nice to have conversations about Asian American representation in live theater and behind the scenes. This was a different vibe than the PMX I used to attend and to tell you the truth, I love it. I liked hearing the stories of playwrights finding their voice and finding their community. As an Asian American, it was very validating to listen to. Having top tier actors like James Hong and Dee Dee hearing them talk about their lives within theatre was a completely different take than what I’m used to listening in interviews. The conversations were very mature and insightful. Playwrights also had table reads throughout the live stream
This con was also educational! There was an hour of learning Korean and getting to know how AAPI folks are involved in the local government of the San Gabriel Valley. I do appreciate that PMX is trying something new. PMX in the past had a reputation as a “lobby con” where friends can ghost for a few hours and then leave. However, the direction PMX is going in promoting and providing spaces for AAPI to discuss these issues is important, especially in spaces where people come to celebrate Asian culture. As of this posting, only two anime cons on the west coast have done something to stand with the AAPI community.
My only critique for this convention is that I wished it was promoted much more. I hoped my consistent signal boosting on Saturday morning helped! I found out about this convention through the mailing list for PMX press. While I did have to run a few errands throughout the day, I wanted to still support this event and make sure that the speakers were being listened to. Even though I knew about things like the model minority and the need for more representation, hearing this conversations and being involved in them is empowering. If this is the direction that PMX is going towards, sign me up again.
PS: Also. support my buddy, Henry Zhang’s book documenting experiencing the pandemic as an Asian American. They can’t burn us all.