I just found out about an extravagant show “Zen Shaolin” that is being performed among the mountains of the Hunan Province in China that looks amazing. With its cast of 500 performers (wow!), locals and “city” performers, Shaolin Buddhist monks, acrobats, Peking opera singers, musicians, dancers and martial artists, they all meld together to create a unique setting for a theatrical show like no other.
The music for “Zen Shaolin” is written by Mr. Tan Dun (composer of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack as well as the Met Opera hit two years ago featuring Placido Domingo in The First Emperor), this show is reflective of China “redefining” its image — celebrating China’s rich history, beautiful natural settings, traditional art and music, and even religious roots as this show reflects Buddhist principles — thankfully recently blessed by the propaganda department in the Chinese government. A true Cirque du Soleil kind of show, I’d say, with extreme creativity, traditional arts meshed together with a modern sensibility with a hint of Hollywood, I would love to see this show. Apparently, so does a lot of other people, more than 300,000 people have seen it in the last 16 months. After investing $15 million on the theater itself, nestled among the mountains, with government and private funding… seriously, it’s amazing that this amazing gamble on such a show was even considered. If this was a Broadway show, no one produces a show with that kind of budget unless Disney is involved. And how jealous I am that China has the guts to actually fund theater productions — whereas in America, arts funding is highly limited so that investors are very risk-averse in making huge productions, resulting in Broadway producing mostly mediocre shows based on familiar Hollywood movies.
How cool does an actual rolling-stone orchestra sound?
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This week is the Republican National Convention, but given the conditions of Hurricane Gustav, it is questionable whether or not Governor of Louisiana, Indian-American Bobby Jindal, will speak. However, the New York Times does a brief Q&A with Jindal in “Questions for Bobby Jindal” this weekend. What surprised me the most was:
Q: You oppose abortion and stem-cell research, and just this month, you declined to renew a bill prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. Do you see yourself as an archconservative?
A: I am conservative. No doubt about it. But when you go back to what it means to be a conservative, I also think, as conservatives, we should believe in universal health care coverage.
I am shocked, just shocked, to hear that any Republican is for universal health care coverage and wonder what he exactly means in terms of implementation. I wonder how his fellow Republicans feel about this?
Although I don’t agree with most of Jindal’s policy positions, I am disappointed that he probably won’t be speaking at the RNC. I think it is a good thing when any “people of color” are highlighted at the highest levels of government, especially Asian Americans, which are often overlooked.
On Friday’s special episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert was reviewing the Democratic National Convention and Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday and noted the diversity of people on the stage with Obama once his speech was over – but he was looking for an “Asian Guy.” He eventually finds the token “Asian Guy” and proclaims that he needs an “Asian Guy.” That theme was played briefly throughout the episode. If anybody knows how I can be Stephen Colbert’s “Asian Guy” – let me know! 🙂
Thursday evening, I was in downtown San Francisco to attend a California Democratic Party fundraiser to watch Obama’s acceptance speech. One of my friends, a fellow Taiwanese-American, decided to join me since she was curious and had never been to a political fundraiser at all. San Francisco has the highest percentage of Asian Americans than any other major city in the United, where over 30% of its city dwellers being Asian.
Well, as my friend also observed, in the crowd of 400+, there was maybe at most 5% to 10%… I often ask myself – where are all the Asians? Come on – get active!
Speaking of Asian Americans and the Democratic National Convention, Angry Asian Man has a good synopsis of Asian American involvement with some “correspondents.” Here are some links to their coverage:
A few nights ago, I noticed the Daughter watching the latest Cheetah Girls movie from Disney. The movie made me remember the time she shouted in teenage frustration, “I want to be WASIAN!” I thought again about this outburst when John forwarded an article about a paper co-authored by Freakonomics author Steven Levitt. The paper claimed that bi-racial children of black and white parents are more prone to engage in risky adolescent behavior more than “single raced” children. The bi-racial kids’ one advantage, states the paper, is that interviewers rated them more attractive.
What is “wasian” you ask? It’s a slang term for being white and Asian (don’t worry, I had to ask also). The Daughter was frustrated over the fact that most of the boys in her class (a mostly Asian American class, I might add) were attracted to a particular girl whose father was Filipino and mother was white. She was also annoyed that her much lighter skinned brother was the object of many crushes by girls in his class.
Check out this Cheetah Girls video of the male love interests in the movie. They are light skinned, certainly more lighter skinned than perhaps most Indians. Heck, one of them isn’t even Indian. If you look at the movie web site, you can see that Gita, a female love interest, is also fairly light skinned.
You might be wondering how do the desire to be “wasian,” an economics paper, and a Disney movie tie together. They are all examples of how colorism affects many countries and cultures, ranging from Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, India, and the US. Spike Lee talks about colorism in the African American community in his movie School Daze. Colorism usually expresses itself as a preference for lighter skin, as a sign of beauty and status. You can see colorism at work when if you watch TFC (The Filipino Channel). Look at who are typically the leads in Bollywood movies versus who are the servants. There are a variety of reasons for colorism, ranging from colonial mentalities to class differentiation, but I won’t go into those right now.
So are Asian American kids affected by colorism? In some cases yes, and in some cases no. I remember the Daughter’s classmates sneer at another girl saying “she’s so dark” in that mean way that teenage girls do. But something the Daughter didn’t consider was that the wasian girl had other things going for her, like being athletic, smart, and generally very pretty, and she also didn’t consider that the boys that most of the girls in her class liked were dark skinned. And eventually, boys started liking the Daughter, which might sound like a good thing, but to her father was very annoying. But that’s a story for another day…
“Love is a red red Rose”
Metaphors are wonderful for the fact that it attempts to explain the deepest and most profound theories & ideas in a few simple words. The fact that a rose has thorns, its beautiful fragrance and aesthetic prowess, or the chance that it may shrivel and die; all the aspects of a rose hold a connection to love that can explain the intricacies of that hormonal state we call love. Love is truly a red red rose.
But the problem with this metaphor, as well as with all metaphors, is that while they apply generally to all people, once you get to specific examples and conflicts of love it ceases to hold any relevance. Does the red red rose metaphor describe the a situation where you are married to a women, but since she was married before you have to see her ex-husband all the time? Or when you love someone but their whole family objects to it? The bottom line is that metaphors fail when you attempt to use them in situations that are individual-specific conflicts.
The right side of your brain uses feeling, is “big picture” oriented, where imagination rules, uses symbols and images, looks at present and future, consideres philosophy & religion, it believes, appreciates, has spatial perception, knows object function, is fantasy based, presents possibilities, is impetuous, and is risk taking.
In short the right side of the brain is what causes you to think in metaphorical terms.
The left side of your brain you ask? It uses uses logic, is detail oriented, facts rule, thinks in words and language, connects present and past, math and science, can comprehend, acknowledges, knows order/pattern perception, knows object name, is reality based, forms strategies, and is practical & safe
The reason for stating all this is to throw two more metaphors at you:
Now the question I pose, is should politicians deal in metaphors? Should politics in general emphasize metaphors? Am I wrong to reason that politics and government should deal in left-brain activities not the metaphoric nature of the right-side of the brain?
But politics and government are slowly becoming a huge, boring metaphor. Barack Obama is a prime example of that. His policies are thrown to the back burner while metaphorical ideas and his “All-American story” is spun every which way to cater to peoples of different backgrounds who are supposed to relate. Hell, you can even purchase his “All-American” Story.
Barack Obama is very much a right-side of the brain thinker as his eloquent speeches have shown. Obama is an individual that embraces the metaphor and a major faction of the American people, as well as the world, have embraced the metaphor that is Barack Obama. Obama’s metaphor has been interpreted through song and through art. Obama’s metaphor, for all intensive purposes, has swept the nation.
And while I will cast my vote for this metaphorical man (btw is voting a left-side brain activity or right-side brain activity) I refuse to believe or get caught up in any metaphor. Nor will I care about or indulge myself in the Democrat Nation Convention either. My life and its conflicts are NOT metaphors. And while metaphorical men have changed the nation and the world, a metaphorical man in modern day politics never has and never will. And also, while I pride myself in being a well informed citizen of the United States of America I don’t deal or care about politics. And to let everyone in on a secret: Barack Obama is a politician. He’s not Jesus.
So all this was just a foreword to say whats really on my mind:
Metaphorically speaking of course.
You’re probably not like me and didn’t watch the third day of the Democratic National Convention on television this evening, with some terrific speeches by Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, to name a few. Well, this evening, there was also a tribute video made to U.S. veterans.
One of those profile was my friend Sophia Yen’s brother, Baldwin Yen. I have mentioned Sophia several times in 8Asians that she is the most politically active person I know (Asian or otherwise). She’s blogged in the past for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Hillary ’08, and is currently at the Democratic National Convention, with her whole family. I also blogged about her mother, who used to be a senator in Taiwan and ran for re-election this past Spring. Now only if more Asian Americans were even a fraction as active as the Yen family…
I’ve met Baldwin a few times (most notably in 2004 when he had just gotten back from Iraq) and was just in awe. I don’t personally really know that many U.S. veterans, let alone that many active duty or reserve, and no Asian Americans serving in the military except for Baldwin. Talking with Baldwin back then, I recall how much more real the war was to me when hearing his impressions (the same with chatting with a tech executive I knew who was in the reserves flying cargo planes to Iraq on the weekends).
Baldwin was in Iraq for a year in 2004 and served the U.S. Army from 1998 – 2006. I personally was always against the war from the beginning, and remember Sophia’s concern for her brother. I can’t even imagine what’s it like to having a brother or relative serving overseas in a conflict zone, let alone in a pre-emptive war we didn’t need to go into. I remember in 2004 when Baldwin and the tech executive I knew were telling me things were a whole lot worse than what was being reported here in the United States. So it was with great sadness that I felt when Kerry lost to Bush in November 2004. In any case, I am proud to see that Baldwin has served his country proud and has helped put a face to all Asian Americans serving in the military.
I’m not so sure I’m in disagreement with this new 2009 policy on all golfers requiring to speak English at all. Apparently there are many foreign players in the LPGA; it just happens that forty five of those are from South Korea.
Seon Hwa Lee was one of them, and there’s a great story in the article on how she drove back 300 miles from her home after finding out that her tournament was not a 54-hole tournament but rather a 72-hole tournament due to a language barrier issue. She is now working with an English tutor so that this doesn’t happen again. But it’s definitely an interesting story.
Here’s the thing: while sports is more about the talent of playing the sport than speaking the language, it is also a business. And unless you happen to have a PR person that can do translations and such, I don’t believe that people can get away without knowing English, especially a more public figure. We are, after all, in a country that speaks English. And it just won’t do if someone sponsors your players but need to create a commercial. In a language that players can’t speak.
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s definitely worthwhile to see if this is the beginning of the tide turning on the United States having an official national language or if professional sports will also adopt this policy.
Tuesday was the second day of the Democratic National Convention, being held in Denver, Colorado. The highlight for the evening for most was Hillary Clinton’s speech, but for me, I was overjoyed to see both John Chiang, California State Comptroller (bio , speech – text) and
I have blogged a lot about both John Chiang and Mike Honda, and am proud to have met both of them on several occasions, and even prouder that as prominent Asian American politicans, they were able to speak at the convention. They also both make me proud that they represent me and my interests in California at the state and federal level. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the DNC this week.
Like most speeches at political conventions (both Democratic and Republican), Chiang and Honda didn’t say anything new or revolutionary. But putting Asian Americans faces to American dreams to me is very important, considering our low representation in public office.
Locally, ABC7 News did a segment on John Chiang and Mike Honda and Asian Americans being the “sleeping giant” in American politics (at least in California, where Asian Americans are 12% of the state’s voting population).
File another one in the “European companies with unfortunate branding” bin: My former co-worker Rabble pointed me to an image manipulation platform which does live previews of Word Documents, PDFs and MP3s on the web from Austrian company wollzelle.
Called ImageGeisha. Oy.
At this point, there isn’t anything I haven’t said before: racial caricatures are completely taboo subjects for Americans. In branding, especially — that’s why our software logos uses ridiculous swooshes and images of gears. Europeans, notsomuch. I’ll be honest; I was all ready to write an ZOMG SO ANGRY post a couple of days ago, and then softened my position when I noticed they modified their branding and read through some comments. Here’s why.
If there’s anything different between this situation and, say, the great Mister Wong fiasco of 2007, it would be that at the folks at ImageGeisha are cognizant of their international audience right off the bat, and there’s been an open, frank and immediate discussion between the folks at wollzelle and dissenting commenters. Each side makes their case, compromises can be made, and I can think of the mascot as an adorable figurine you can buy at a gift shop in J-Town that, say, a completely subservient female stereotype imposed by Western society upon all Asian people. My standpoint will probably not sit will with the more activist folk out there. So be it.
And if nothing else, they modified their original tagline: “ImageGeisha, at your service, polishing your assets.” As if the application would preview your PowerPoint presentation, and then give you a handjob afterwards.
Source: The New York Times
Well, after 2+ weeks of staying up late, the 2008 Beijing Olympics concluded this past evening with the Closing Ceremonies (all in glorious High Definition!). My only regret is that I didn’t make plans in advance to actually go to Beijing to be at the Olympics! (unlike one of our guest bloggers, who did). I was worried about the cost, hassle and difficulty of actually attending any events (or at least the popular ones). My only hope I think in my lifetime to see an Olympics in China is that maybe Shanghai will host an Olympics in the future? (Certainly, I don’t think Taipei will be bidding for or winning to host an Olympics).
Overall, I thought the Olympics were fantastic. The opening and closing ceremonies were on a scale that only China (and some have commented and noted, a Communist authoritarian government) could have pulled off. There were some truly amazing competitions and victories, from Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals to Usain Bolt winning the 100- and 200-meter sprints, and the 400 relay were truly impressive and awe inspiring.
At 8Asians, our bloggers have blogged a lot about the Olympics – everything from the Beijing air quality (which turned out to be pretty decent, especially after it rained), the Olympic Torch relay in San Francisco, Taiwan’s participation in the Olympics, Chinese-American mixed feelings, and the U.S. Mint releasing gold coins to the actual games itself, with Asian Americans performing at the Olympics, the lip synching of Lin Miaoke to less-than-cute Yang Peiyi (according the the Chinese Communist Politburo), the racist Spanish men’s basketball team, Asian American reporters at the Olympics, the pressure Chinese athletes were under, etc…
I did want to blog about (but never got around) to the Chinese-American women’s volleyball coach, Lang “The Hammer” Ping and Shawn Johnson’s coach, Liang Chow – their stories are truly unique ones of former Chinese Olympians/athletes who went on to emmigrate to the United States and to coach for American Olympians, and much to the respect of the native countrymen.
Okay, so what’s the real count during these 08 Olympics? I’m not talking about the medal race between China & the US, or how many golds Michael Phelps has rack up. I’m talking about the count of human rights violations. As many people had suspected, the whole “officially sanctioned protest area” thing was a total sham. To date, not a single protest has taken place. The Chinese government has put up so many bureaucratic barriers, most Chinese citizens are deterred from even filing an application. Those who went ahead and persisted with their applications? Well, they were either sentenced to 1 year hard labor (like these two septuagenarian, nearly blind women) or pretty much just up and disappeared like Gao Chuancai. And for these lucky foreign protesters? They only get detained for 10 days with no trial or court hearing.
The 2008 Olympics official slogan should be redubbed from “One World, One Dream” to “One World, Countless Nightmares.” The world should have known it was in for a doozy of a human rights violation fest when the government began rounding up and imprisoning well known human rights advocates and dissidents prior the start of the games.
Shame on the IOC for complicitly sitting by while China makes a mockery of human rights, free speech, and free expression. So unwilling to admit they made a mistake when they selected China as the official host country 6 years ago, they are now turning a blind eye to the repeated offenses made by the Chinese government. Dude, you’re the f*cking International Olympics Committee – do or say something! I love how the IOC admitted just weeks prior to the start of the game that they knew China would not allow full internet access to the journalists and media traveling to Beijing. Who is going to hold the IOC accountable for sanctioning the Chinese governments human rights violations through their inaction?
The thing that is most incensing is that except for a few media outlets, everyone seems to be pandering to the PR machine created by the Chinese government. NBC’s coverage of the Olympics presents a shiny happy image of China that makes it look like the next eden. China is being portrayed as some sort of responsible global citizen. Does no one remember that just weeks prior to the start of the Olympics, China voted against UN sanctions against Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. And they continue to invest and sell small arms to the Sudanese government.
I realize I am now probably barred from ever entering China.
In the airport yesterday, I grabbed a copy of Future Anime. Amusingly, there was an Editor’s Note on the state of anime since mid-2006 and how downloads have been hurting the industry as the progression of broadband has changed the world of media. With U.S. distributors closing shop and selling off their rights to others such as Geneon, you seriously have to wonder if the fans even want to bother with supporting the people that make their entertainment.
This goes beyond the movie industry; in the U.S., the movie industry has been very vigilant in fighting anyone that pirates, regardless of where you stand in the game. However, the anime industry has long since allowed fansubs to exist, based on a little known decree that if the series happens to finally be published here (eg. where you live), that people would stop watching it and get it based on those ethics. Funny thing is that most current anime viewers that I’ve spoken to actually say this but don’t mean it. Why? They’re happy to watch whatever series online or downloaded from bittorrent, but the moment it gets released here, they shirk from paying for those series because they’ve seen it already or what not.
It’s a classic justification rap, and it sucks for those of us that actually purchase what we watch. Some Japanese publishers are now looking to release a paid for version online with subtitles — hopefully that has some more luck although I’m personally thinking that Stateside anime is looking bleaker by the minute. What’s ironic about all of this is that many of the hardcore otaku from years before have long since supported both imports and fansubs. They have actually lived by the code where they would buy U.S. distributed when they were actually distributed.
So those bittorrent anime watchers, I got news for ya: Regardless of what your excuse is for doing what you do, you’re busting up the industry and making it worse for all of us. Those voice actors like Vic Mignogna (Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist) depend on this support. This entire issue has been an ongoing problem for a couple years now, but it’s about time that people stood up and said enough is enough.