The red carpet was electric lime in 2019 as the stars of “Always Be My Maybe,” comedian Ali Wong and actor Randall Park, talked to reporters and posed for photos.
Both publications have since deleted their original tweets and replaced the photos. Yet their mistake provoked outrage, with people taking to Twitter to decry how the outlets got the #WrongAsian.
“Come on! Can we not ruin the news of Ali Wong’s divorce with Wrong Asian racism?” tweeted Phil Yu, a Korean American blogger and author.
Park is not the first Asian celebrity to be misidentified by the media. Last year, Letterboxd, a film review app, shared a photo of an actress it identified as Michelle Yeoh. It was actually Fala Chen, who also starred in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” In 2019, “Crazy Rich Asians” actor Ronny Chieng called out People magazine for confusing him and his wife, Hannah Pham, as Park and Jae W. Suh.
Twitter users shared their own stories of being misidentified. One Asian woman said she received the wrong diploma from her high school principal; an Asian man said he gets asked weekly if he “had just been in the night before or earlier that day.”
It’s those mix-ups that leave many people of color feeling interchangeable.
“It kind of makes you feel invisible, because they don’t know who you are even though you are putting in this hard work,” Nicholas Pilapil told The Washington Post in 2019 about getting misidentified by his co-workers.
On Wednesday, Parade apologized for the mistake.
“We understand how hurtful this photo mistake was and the impact it can have and we sincerely regret it,” the magazine posted on Twitter. “We would like to apologize to Ali Wong, Justin Hakuta, Randall Park and everyone who may have been hurt by our error. We will implement stronger measures going forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The anger over the blunder eclipsed the news of Wong’s separation — which reverberated deeply, considering the comedian has often gushed about her husband.
Wong met Hakuta in 2010 during a friend’s wedding reception. The two got married four years later and welcomed daughters Mari and Nikki in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Her journey through marriage and motherhood is often the inspiration for her jokes.
In her 2016 Netflix special, “Baby Cobra,” a heavily pregnant Wong — clad in her signature body-con mini dress — quipped that she hatched the plan to “trap” Hakuta after learning he was attending Harvard Business School. Two years later, in the “Hard Knock Wife” special, a once-again expecting Wong jested about the prenuptial agreement Hakuta’s parents insisted she sign. (The joke’s on them, she said, because she’s the family’s breadwinner.)
While Wong’s jokes can be sexually explicit and crude, they are laced with honesty about the difficulties of balancing a career with marriage and motherhood. Often, she has highlighted the unequal expectations that are placed on women.
“My husband occasionally changes diapers, and when people hear that [mimics explosion sound] — ‘Oh my god,’ confetti everywhere,” she said in “Hard Knock Wife.” “ ‘I cannot believe that your husband changes diapers. What a doting modern father. Lucky you!’ When my baby girl was first born, I would do skin-on-skin contact every day to bond with her. She [pooped] on my chest. Where’s my confetti at?”
During her latest Netflix installment, “Don Wong,” which premiered in February, the comedian opened the show by saying she thinks about cheating on Hakuta “every five minutes.” Later in the stand-up routine, focused on the concept of monogamy and the double standards within it, she said she was still very much in love with her husband.
Explaining that Hakuta is her type, she said: “I like dudes who look as close to Keanu Reeves as possible.”