Eminent Person – Jimmy Wong

For the Eminent Person project, I have chosen YouTube musician and actor James Wong, better known as Jimmy Wong. Initially, I was considering doing other musicians, such as Thomas Bangalter (One half of the French techno-house group Daft Punk), or even his brother Freddie Wong, a filmmaker, actor, and special effects technician who also operates primarily on YouTube. But in the end, I decided on Jimmy.

YouTube musician and actor, Jimmy Wong

On his main account, Wong does covers of popular music, as well as some original songs. He plays guitar, bass, drums, piano, and can sing acapella, allowing him to record tracks separately and then layer them together, effectively becoming a one man band for his solo covers. A good example of his skill is this video of an acapella performance of the Super Mario theme.

I picked Jimmy Wong not only because of his talent, but also because of his fundamentals and morals. Last year, he responded to a racist UCLA student complaining about Aisans in an ironic, sarcastic love song going out to the all-American girl. Where many would have surged into self-righteous anger, Jimmy simply made a joke of it, not stooping to her level. In 2011, Wong addressed the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. At the end of several of his music  videos (most having several hundred thousand views), he encouraged anyone to donate money on the Mario Bros. video seen above, a song which he performed solely to raise awareness, and funds.  He is a supporter of the LGBT community, accepting of all races, and, unlike many YouTube stars, is accessible. Despite having over two hundred thousand subscribers, Wong responds to many, if not all comments on his videos. Having actually spoken to him online, I have selected partially because I am confident that I can secure an interview with him.

I feel that choosing Jimmy as my eminent person relates to my word, sonder, because often, when an indivual is famous enough, they seem to be almost another species, like some sort of super-human so high above you that they seem completely unaccessible. Jimmy Wong remains humble despite his online following, and responds to most comments. It can be hard to remember that celebrities are still human (even if some are more plastic than flesh), that they have their own lives, obstacles. With Jimmy, however, I feel sonder, because his real life is so visible, and his videos are a window into his life, which is shockingly more like mine, than I ever would have thought.

Over the course of the next month or so, I’m looking forward to the project, no matter what the grade 10’s say!

3 thoughts on “Eminent Person – Jimmy Wong

  1. Hey there, Lyle – nice work getting your post out early!

    It is great to see our cast of Eminent characters evolve to capture the shifting cultural landscape the Internet has brought us. In the last few years, we’ve had Jimmy Wales and Julian Assange, as well as Homestuck author Andrew Hussie, all of whom contributed to fields that almost didn’t exist ten or twenty years ago. I think that’s a tremendously cool aspect of what our Eminent Person Study accomplishes: shedding light on the world young people are growing up to inherit, and how our shrinking, digital world changes the very notion of eminence, itself.

    The web allows us to create increasingly niche-based communities, and within those communities, niche celebrities and people we might consider “eminent.” Beyond his following on Youtube, or supporting the LGBT community (how does he engage in this activism?), what do you consider to be Mr. Wong’s contribution to the world? In other words, what makes him eminent? What will he be remembered for? Will the world be significantly different for him having been in it?

    Looking forward to hearing more!

    Enjoy your weekend,

    Mr. J

  2. Hey Lyle, the name rung a bell in my head, but unfortunately when I googled him he wasn’t familiar. Maybe I was mixing up his name with someone else? Either way I think he’s a good choice for an eminent person from reading your blog post, but perhaps you could research a little deeper. Find out what he was like as a child and if something from his childhood contributed to his career choice or other choices he’s made. Perhaps something he heard about when he was younger caused him to respond to the racist girl the way he did?

    Mr. Jackson’s already asked what you think makes him eminent so rather than re-asking, I’ll ask you why you chose to research Jimmy rather than the others you mentioned? Do you feel a stronger connection to Jimmy, feel like he impacted society more or is it because you just genuinely find him the most interesting?


    • Hi Elle,
      It is possible that you have Jimmy confused with someone else. He’s experienced only a moderate amount of fame online, and with so many internet artists out there, it can be easy to mistake one name for another artist.

      I wanted to research deeper, but on his Wikipedia article his early life is only lightly covered at the college level, and he is pretty tight-lipped on his pre-YouTube days on videos.

      I think part of the reason why I chose Jimmy over his brother or Bangalter, is because both have reached a very high level of fame. Freddy Wong has several million subscribers online, and is now directing movies and TV Shows. Bangalter is known the world over, and makes Gold and Platinum sales on most of their albums and singles. I think I chose Jimmy because when you watch a video featuring him, he seems like someone you can genuinely relate to, since he has not reached such a high level of fame, he takes time to personalize videos and respond to most, making him more eminent, to me, even if, in regards to recognition, he is less eminent.


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