“Three Rivers” comes out this fall and is about organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at a leading transplant hospital. Although I’m also a fan of some of the other cast members, the one who catches my fancy is Daniel Henney, who recently made his Hollywood debut in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” (Although I didn’t like this X-Men movie, I did enjoy the eye candy in the forms of Daniel and Hugh Jackman.)
In “Three Rivers,” Daniel plays Dr. David Lee, “a womanizing surgical resident who’s broken as many hearts as he’s replaced.” Hopefully, this means lots of hot, steamy bedroom scenes with Daniel!
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It was announced by Ronald Takaki’s family that famous Asian American historian committed suicide after a twenty year struggle with multiple sclerosis. You can read the obituary from the LA Times here.
Ron Takaki was a hero of mine when I first started taking Asian American studies in 1993, having read his famous textbook Strangers from a Different Shore, one of the first widely distributed textbooks on Asian American history. I also used the text myself when I taught my own course in Asian American history at San Francisco State in 2000/2001. I also met him a few years ago at Eastwind Books in Berkeley when he was promoting his book Double Victory about the triumph of multiculturalism after World War II, and his humility and passion for learning about the oft-neglected histories of people of color inspired me.
Ron Takaki blazed a trail for many Asian Americanists and other people interested in American ethnic studies, teaching the first black history course in UCLA in the late 1960s. After he was dismissed by UCLA in the early 1970s, he moved to UC Berkeley where he wrote many books on Asian Americans, history and ethnic studies. He also helped establish the first graduate and doctoral program in American ethnic studies in the United States at Cal, where many personal friends graduated and are now teaching all over the United States.
Unfortunately, a number of other pioneers in Asian American studies and culture have also passed away this past month, including Al Robles, a beloved San Francisco-based Filipino American poet best known for his book, Rappin’ with 10,000 Carabaos in the Dark; Richard Aoki, a Japanese American charter member of the Black Panthers in the 1960s; and Him Mark Lai, an engineer turned historian who was instrumental in writing the first pieces on Chinese American history in the United States. While these people were not as well known on a national or international level as Takaki, all of them contributed immensely to the beginning and development of Asian American studies as a legitimate field of study who left us with an amazing legacy of activism in academia.
Maybe you’ve seen the video of a border collie doing squats alongside a Japanese guy. No?
Is this a fluke? No! Check them out– outdoors work out!
Even though you’ll see this video out there “from” other sources, these videos were originally uploaded by Japanese YouTube user sararingosaki and this dog is crazy awesome! Check out the videos of the doggie agility runs, doggie balance ball routine, and of course, doing doggie squats sans Japanese sidekick.
I don’t know about you, but I’m totally subscribing to this.
*Statistics could be a little off
Local broadcast times (PBS / KQED): Sun, May 31, 2009 — 7:00 pm, Mon, Jun 1, 2009 — 1:00 am, Thu, Jun 4, 2009 — 8:00 am, Thu, Jun 4, 2009 — 11:00 am
Earlier this Spring, I had briefly plugged the documentary Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority when it was going to premiere at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Next week you will be able to catch the documentary in your living rooms for free on PBS. Here is a brief description from KQED’s website:
“This program explores the life and times of the late US Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink (1927-2002), the first woman of color in Congress and the driving force behind Title IX, the landmark legislation that mandated gender equity in education. While Mink was considered a controversial figure at times, the film aims to provide a balanced view of her politics and actions. More importantly, her life offers a unique window onto the larger story of Hawaii and America in the 20th century, focusing on the nation’s shifting attitudes towards gender, race and politics.”
I cannot say enough great things about this documentary. Prior to screening the documentary, I literally knew nothing about Patsy Mink; as someone who follows and volunteers in politics and government, I was truly inspired and amazed at all the barriers that Mink faced as well as the barriers she broke. In college, Mink studied to become a doctor, but most medical schools she applied to at the time did not admit women. She later went on to the University of Chicago Law school and became a lawyer, and in 1965 became the first woman of color to be elected to Congress.
Mink is best known for being the primary author of Title IX, which was enacted in 1972 and states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Title IX was later renamed in Mink’s honor as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
Although Title IX is now mostly known its effects on collegiate athletics, Title IX had a profound effect on providing equal education opportunities for women. Today, woman make up over 50% of undergraduates at American colleges & universities and men and women are equally represented in both medical and law schools. Having been born in the 1970’s, I find it mind blowing that only decades ago, there was such rampant and blatant discrimination based on sex — and for that matter, race. If you have any interest in politics, fighting discrimination, breaking barriers or Asian Americans who made a difference, I highly, highly recommend you catching this documentary.
Most PBS stations will air tonight (May 27, 2009) a 90 minute showing of American Masters, titled Hollywood Chinese, produced in 2008. The film covers a century of Chinese involvement in Hollywood cinema. The film is produced, directed, written and edited by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong (former San Franciscan and current resident of Los Angeles).
A short description from the PBS website:
American feature films often portray the Chinese as exotic and devious characters – or simply the “other” – reflecting the entertainment industry’s inherent racial prejudices as well as its fascination with the Far East. Hollywood Chinese features candid interviews and back lot stories from artists in front of and behind the camera, including Joan Chen, James Hong, David Henry Hwang, Nancy Kwan, Ang Lee, Christopher Lee, Justin Lin, Luise Rainer, Amy Tan, Wayne Wang, and BD Wong.
The documentary chronicles the full gamut of Chinese representation in Hollywood. It brings to light the controversial yellowface casting of Luise Rainer in The Good Earth (1937) and the stereotyped caricatures played by Chinese American actors such as James Hong in Bloodsport 2 & 3 (1996 and 1996). It also addresses the eventual trend of Asian empowerment in films such as Flower Drum Song (1961) staring Nancy Kwan and the film-adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1993) directed by Wayne Wang.
This documentary has already received positive reviews, and should be well worth watching if you have an interest in Asians in cinema.
UPDATE: Our winners have been selected! Congrats to Sunny and Peter Wu! who correctly answered a) “Eat Drink Man Woman” was NOT on Roger Fan’s list of Top 5 Movies. Sunny will be seeing Big Man Japan and Peter will be receiving an 8Asians.com Prize Pack which includes an 8Asians.com t-shirt and other goodies. Thanks to everyone for playing!
A middle-aged slacker living in a rundown, graffiti-ridden slum, Daisato’s job involves being shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high who is entrusted with defending Japan from a host of bizarre monsters. But while his predecessors were national heroes, he is a pariah among the citizens he protects, who bitterly complain about the noise and destruction of property he causes.
And Daisato (director/co-writer Hitoshi Matsumoto, a popular Japanese stand-up comic) has his own problems—an agent insistent on branding him with sponsor advertisements, an Alzheimer-afflicted grandfather who transforms into a giant in dirty underwear, and a family who is embarrassed by his often cowardly exploits.
A wickedly deadpan spin on the giant Japanese superhero, BIG MAN JAPAN is an outrageous portrait of a pathetic but truly unique hero. (Japan, 2007). Official Selection at 2007 Austin Fantastic Fest, 2007 Cannes Director’s Fortnight, 2007 Toronto Midnight Madness. BIG MAN JAPAN was featured in the Festival Forum in the 2009 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
Big Man Japan is written by, directed by and starring Hitoshi Matsumoto (松本人志) and if you don’t recognize Matsumoto by name, then maybe you’ll recognize his face — he’s best known in the U.S. as half of the Japanese comedy duo “Downtown” or one of the guys from those “Silent Library” clips you’ve seen on YouTube. (I would embed, but these videos are constantly getting taken down for copyright infringement, but they’re there!) I think Matsumoto is really hilarious and I love it when I get my hands on something that he’s in which has subtitles (so I can understand it)!
BIG MAN JAPAN opens May 29, 2009 at Landmark Theatres Engagements at:
TICKET GIVEAWAY FOR SAN FRANCISCO OPENING OF BIG MAN JAPAN -OR- AN 8ASIANS.COM PRIZE PACK!
Courtesy of Landmark Theatres, 8Asians is giving away a free pair of tickets for Opening Night 5/29 in SF (Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinemas) or Berkeley (Landmark’s Shattuck Theatre)!
To have a chance of winning the tickets, all you have to do is answer this easy multiple choice question found on The Director’s Chair, a website celebrating Asian American cinema sponsored by the Toyota Matrix:
Roger Fan (Better Luck Tomorrow) was recently asked his Top 5 Movies. Which movie was NOT on his list?
a) EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN
b) A BETTER TOMORROW
c) THE REBEL
d) SHALL WE DANCE?
e) THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
To enter the contest, just comment to the blog post and state what you’d like to win — pair of tix to SF opening, pair of tix to Berkeley opening, or 8Asians.com Prize Pack! We will select TWO of the correct answers at random (one winner of tix, one winner of a prize pack)!
(Contest will be closed at 12:00 NOON Pacific Time on Thursday, 5/28; comments will be hidden until winners are announced.)
More play dates/locations below!
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I was deeply shocked and saddened to read of late South Korean President, Roh Moo-Hyun’s suicide, but my shock and sadness wasn’t due to my respect or affections for the former president. I like to keep up with my news about Korea – mostly their pop culture – and I feel like I’m reading about suicides a lot more than I’d like to. There have been numerous celebrities who have decided to take their own lives. The reasons for suicides range from criticisms from internet trolls (a.k.a. antis who write hate messages on websites and such), to lack of work, depression, financial trouble, and to expose a dirty secret about Korea’s entertainment industry.
Suicide isn’t just for those who are high-profile; I’ve been reading more news articles about everyday-citizens taking their own lives: one shocking news story featured a fourth grader who took his own life because of bad grades. A high school student hung himself after receiving harsh corporal punishment from his teacher. Korea has also been hit with a rise in not only suicides, but suicide pacts — people meeting others online to make a pact to kill themselves together.
It’s unnerving and worrisome that suicide is on the rise in Korea. It worries me that with so many high-profile Koreans using suicide as a way to “fix-it” and that we’re going to see even a bigger rise in young and older everyday citizens following suit. Why are so many more Koreans choosing suicide over other means to overcome harsh times?
When did taking one’s own life become an option when life handed you a truck load of lemons? Why is it an option to use suicide as an escape route? Suicide is so tragic not only for the person who took his/her life, but for the people who are left behind to pick up the pieces. No matter who we are or what position we are in, we’ve all faced the harshness of life here or there. Yet, even with hard times and suffering, there are so many survivors. Then why do so many choose to give up?
Regarding former South Korean President Roh: guilty or not, he should have been an exemplary leader and faced the consequences. He took a very cowardly approach by taking his own life instead of fighting through the scandal. And Roh truly left a big mess for South Korea’s current president to clean up, since the Korean public is now defending him and criticizing Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office as well as the current South Korean Presindent Lee Myung-Bak; President Lee and Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office are being targeted as having caused Roh’s suicide.
(Flickr photo credit: Jens-Olaf)
But seriously, what’s more racist? The offensive slanty eye gesture that’s clearly not allowed, or the fact that they have the Asian girl eating her lunch with chopsticks?
Sometimes subtle racism is the worst funniest.
The newest ad campaign from Intel focuses less on their products — a microprocessor is always less sexy to market than an MP3 with shiny metallic surfaces and rounded corners anyway — and more on the engineers building their products. Take this latest global campaign with Ajay Bhatt, the creator of the USB port and current Intel Fellow and Chief Client Architect of their Mobile Platforms Group.
Except for one thing; that’s not Ajay Bhatt in their commercial; that’s an actor. And if you compare the engineer rock star to the real Ajay Bhatt, the actor looks — hmm, what’s the word we’re looking for, here? He looks more academic. And by academic, I mean “a stereotype of an Indian Engineer.”
According to Bhatt himself, he shrugs off not being part of the commercial due to “being busy,” but he’s an Intel Fellow, and he could be simply toeing the company line or agreeing to PR’s demands that a stereotypical Indian engineer should be playing the part. And if the actor who played him had classically good looks, Asian American blogs would rip the commercial apart for making him look like something he obviously isn’t. So what’s worse — that, or playing up to a stereotypical — and ultimately racialized — stereotype?
Back in my undergrad days, I once found some members of an Asian-American Students Association having noodles in one of the dorm kitchens. All of the guys were sitting down waiting to be served, while all of the women were working in the kitchen cooking. “Why aren’t you helping?” I asked the guys. “Ssh! They might hear you!” was their reply.
Some Asian-American men complain that many Asian-American women won’t have anything to do with them. They cite media stereotypes as a cause, and yes, I’d say those are definitely one cause. But another reason, not often admitted, is Asian-American men behaving badly. It can be like the opening example, or it can be during a date, such as this one reenacted by NDtitanLady.
Those are relatively mild examples of bad behavior. As a comparison, let’s look at Jon Gosselin, from Jon and Kate plus 8, the reality show on TLC about a couple and their eight kids. The tabloids have been all over him, accusing of him of having an affair with a third grade teacher. Here is a picture of him was some young college students in a bar whose parties he crashed. Jon doesn’t admit to cheating on his wife, but cites “bad judgment” on his part. Looks like Jon doesn’t have the problem of white girls not having anything to do with him, but he does seem to have the problem of turning red when he drinks.
Jon isn’t alone in cheating. I know a number of Asian husbands who have cheated on their wives. I have heard how a cheating husband infected his wife with diseases picked up on a tryst. In the Philippines, there is a tradition of men having mistresses and even maintaining separate households of those mistresses and their children.
One of my ex-girlfriends had to get a restraining order against her former Asian boyfriend. I know a fair amount of of Asian-American women who end up with white guys after getting treated like dirt by former Asian boyfriends. “I’ll never date an Asian again.” said The Daughter’s Asian friend. She went on to describe a bad date with an Asian guy. I wonder if it was one bad date that lead her to want to avoid Asian guys, or perhaps her father’s multiple infidelities that lead to her parents divorce that contributed to that statement.
While these examples do break the stereotype of meek, studious, traditional Asian-American that this woman in particular seems to like, it is not a positive development. I am not saying that all Asian-American males are scum either. I am saying that while we as Asian-American males may not have control over media stereotypes affecting how women look at us, one thing we can do that is in our control is to make sure we are not behaving badly.
Oh my god, if I hear or see the word “banana” used as a descriptor for Asians who have assimilated into “North American” culture, I am going to cry (like, actually.) And I don’t care if Asians are using the term themselves as a self-descriptor. It doesn’t make it any better; in fact, it’s probably worse. East Asians in North America are not off-shoots and variations of the norm (read: white). So when I came across Banana: A Chinese American Experience, an installation project about Chinese Americans by Claudia Chow, I was peeved and disappointed.
The project examined “the influences which shape the lives of Chinese American youths in the U.S.” through an installation at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum that reconstructed “the apartment of the fictional Lee family, second-generation Chinese Americans presently living in New York City.” The project is also online as an interactive web installation.
By clicking on various objects (including a violin and the Sanrio character Badtz-Maru) inside the interactive apartment, we are “taught” about various supposed Chinese American values and traditions. These values include the importance of family, food and education. We also learn about the difficulties of assimilating into the “American Way of Life” while maintaining Chinese traditions.
Claudia Chow’s artistic statements says that this installation is a snapshot of “one single Chinese American family.” I think what is really going on here is that she tried not to generalize by tossing in a half-hearted disclaimer, in hopes that it will be enough to cover her ass. Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Too bad when artists of colour center their work around issues of race, we are forced to take into account issues of representation and expectations that other artists (by which I mean white artists) don’t have to worry their little hearts over. Banana isn’t just about the Lee family; anyone who looks like a possible “Lee” is implicated in this installation.
Also, who is the intended audience? What is Claudia Chow trying to accomplish? It sure doesn’t seem like the project was created with Chinese Americans in mind. For one, the entire web installation is in English. Second, surely Chinese Americans have no need for such a project when they are the subjects of their own lives. Banana seems more like a “multicultural” anthropological study, intended to aid non-Chinese Americans in better understanding “the Chinese American experience.” Damn, nothing more disappointing and infuriating when people of colour in positions of authority tokenize and pigeon-hole themselves, which in turn, does the same for everyone else who looks like them.
And come on, these types of voyeuristic cultural glimpses are so tired. Doesn’t, like, everyone have a Chinese friend nowadays (and a black friend… and a gay friend, too)? No one needs a project like this to know how Chinese American families operate! They are everywhere! If you are worthy enough and your Chinese friend is kind enough, maybe you will be invited over for a first-hand taste of Chinese American struggles in the land of the free.
Did you guys know that the actor who voices Russell, the chubby kid in the highly anticipated Disney/Pixar movie Up is an adorable Asian boy named Jordan Nagai? This is Nagai’s first role; he was discovered in a casting call by Pixar.
From the previews alone, I was charmed by his adorable voice and wanted to eat up that cute, chubby boy up. And now to find out the actor behind the voice of the cute kid is not only adorable himself, but an adorable Asian boy, well, I just feel like a proud mom, auntie, or older sister. I was already looking forward to the movie, but learning this news just makes me way more excited! Okay, my squealing teenager moment is done.