Emil Guillermo: Of Simu Liu’s Jeopardy, Jin Yut Lew’s jeopardy, and a good win for all of us
Jin Yut Lew is a 61-year-old in a coma requiring 24-hour care in Chicago.
He couldn’t watch anything on Sunday night. Not even Simu Liu.
Technically, Liu of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” fame (you know, that movie where a despicable character named Emil gets his ass kicked in a cage fight) is an AsCan, as in the land to our north. A Canuck among us.
Or maybe he’s the more inclusive, ANA, as in “Asian North American.” He’s just a little different from your typical AAPI, especially after Sunday when he won the first round of “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
We claim him!
“Jeopardy” is our national public IQ test, which we all play along at home and fudge the question/answers when not in the glare of the spotlight. We are always smarter. Mostly, because we’re at home.
But an ANA win on actual TV is a big deal culturally, especially when it is not a typical “model minority/leading from the start because I’m an Asian” kind of thing.
No, Simu came from behind, surprisingly.
He was not the world beater of Shang-Chi fame. It came down to Final Jeopardy, where they tell you the category (“Landlocked Countries”) and then you must show us all what you’re made of.
This being “Celebrity” Jeopardy, we are also in that unique realm of what passes in America as royalty, where the famous are better than everyone else. Which means they cannot win or make money for themselves in a show like “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
They must play for all of us.
And so there was the Conan O’Brien sidekick, Andy Richter, playing for the LA Food Bank, and SNL’s Ego Nwodim playing for God’s Love We Deliver.
But Simu? He played for Stop AAPI Hate, the organization that grew out of the pandemic scapegoating of one FPOTUS, (former President of the United States), the same guy with the classified document Mar-A-Lago problem, and the New York Attorney General problem, and the Jan. 6 insurrectionist instigator problem.
When FPOTUS used the term “Kung Flu,” he unleashed an epidemic of hate that has resulted in more than 11,000 transgressions against Asian Americans since 2020.
And one of them was Jin Yut Lew.
Lew immigrated from China in the 1980s to Chicago and became one of the leading Chinese restaurant chefs in the Chicagoland area.
Last April, he was the victim of a carjacking near Chicago’s Chinatown area and was found badly beaten on the streets.
He’s been in a coma ever since.
But then on Friday, Sept. 24, Chicago police announced the arrest of an 18-year-old charged with attempted murder and other felonies for the beating and carjacking of Lew. Other suspects are being pursued, police said.
When I watched Simu, I thought of Lew.
And I was rooting for them both.
The Final Jeopardy category, once again, was “Landlocked Countries.”
You mean like Asian America? A country within?
In Final Jeopardy, you have to make your bet before the clue–a blind bet, which only makes it more of a guess. And Simu did what any Asian immigrant of any stripe, who faces uncertain odds with a few bucks in his pocket, would do.
Simu had $11,600 in Jeopardy money, which isn’t real money. It’s just digits on a display.
You can’t go to Panda Express with it. So, of course, you bet it all.
And then came the clue.
“It’s the world’s smallest landlocked country in both area and population.”
Uh…My brain? What?
Fortunately, good Catholic that I am, remembering all those sleepless nights during Pope elections I have covered, waiting for the smoke to turn white from the rooftop, I knew the answer in the form of a question.
Yes, he did.
Richter said “Liechtenstein.”
Wrong. So very wrong.
Ego said Togo. Wrong again.
Ego went for broke and zeroed out. But not Richter, who had the lead with $21,100. He coyly bet just $2,200, playing defense, hoping that neither of his opponents would get it or bet it right.
But Simu did. “Vatican City!” The Filipino immigrant’s mecca! Of course, Vatican City! Simu doubled his total to $23,200 to best Richter’s safe $18,900. The immigrant’s wisdom!
Simu now goes on to the semi-finals and can win a million dollars for Stop AAPI Hate.
A million dollars. We’re still in the action for a million.
And then I thought of Jin Yut Lew still in a coma, and the more than 11,000 who have been targeted by racist hate during the pandemic.
Simu’s win was a feel-good moment for all of us.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.