8 Asians

The day has finally arrived! M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender finally hits theaters this weekend and last night, the press was treated to a screening for the first reviews. I’m wondering now if Paramount is regretting this decision since almost immediately after the film, critics were quick to tear the live-action adaptation apart, thanks to Twitter! Rotten Tomatoes lists The Last Airbender with a 6% rating (ouch), The A.V. Club warranted it as a reason for a class-action lawsuit against Hollywood (oof) and Phil from Angry Asian Man said the film could boycott itself (oh snap).

Even esteemed reviewer Roger Ebert, who was one of the first people to openly criticize Shyamalan’s casting choices, wrote the most cutting critique of all.

“The Last Airbender” is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that…

Oooooooh, no you didn’t, Roger! Oh, yes he did. Apparently, critics agree that not only were the 3D effects atrocious, but the actors were equally as bad.

Shyamalan has failed. His first inexplicable mistake was to change the races of the leading characters; on television Aang was clearly Asian, and so were Katara and Sokka, with perhaps Mongolian and Inuit genes. Here they’re all whites. This casting makes no sense because (1) It’s a distraction for fans of the hugely popular TV series, and (2) all three actors are pretty bad. I don’t say they’re untalented, I say they’ve been poorly served by  Shyamalan and the script. They are bland, stiff, awkward and unconvincing.

Friends of mine who had seen the film last night had the same opinion: the acting was horrible, the 3D was worthless and the storyline was too complicated. Action sequences looked more like Tai Chi routines and the white-washed casting was even more noticeable among the Asian extras. Personally, I’m relieved that the early reviews are bashing Shyamalan’s latest work. He failed the fans before The Last Airbender began production and he failed even the most seasoned moviegoer with the final product. In a way, I’m also relieved that the main characters were cast by non-Asians (aside from Dev Patel). The bad reviews will further distance the API community in Hollywood from such a dismal project and we can now focus on better opportunities. (Though, I will admit that a little part of me is sad that the movie is already being panned by critics. The series had such a strong following, and I can imagine how crushing it must feel to see the live-action adaptation fall so short of expectations.)

The bigger question remains: how will the mainstream public treat the film? Critics may groan all they want over bad Hollywood movies, but Americans still pay good money to see horrible movies (i.e. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Avatar). Fans who don’t care about the racist casting will still check the movie out, and children will always be drawn to big budget fantasy films chock full of special effects. Will Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender still be a box office hit? With The Twilight Saga: Eclipse also opening in theaters this weekend, my fingers are crossed that this film will disappear like Lady in the Water and The Happening.

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I was channel surfing the other night when I came across a Chinese version of this McDonald’s commercial on the Bay Area’s local Chinese channel KTSF. I had wondered why a Korean American would be in a Chinese language commercial, but much to my delight, I was able to find the commercial in English. At first, I wasn’t too sure who that cute Chinese girl was (I just assumed she was Chinese since the commercial was in Chinese until I saw Michelle’s name).  I’m surprised I haven’t seen or heard of this commercial yet. I hope to bump into Michelle at a local McDonald’s near Stanford University one of these days!

How is it that Chun-Li hasn’t aged? Look, we’re in our early to mid-thirties and we’ve all been putting quarters on the Street Fighter II machines at the local 7-11s when we were in Junior High; clearly, the self-proclaimed “Strongest Woman in the World” should be at least forty by now.

And yet, she’s not. This Street Fighter II Chun-Li 1/8 Scale PVC Figure ($34.95) is right here in fighting form, ready to spinning bird kick the fuck out of the next manager who walks into your office cubicle. (Cheap-ass “let’s throw a sonic boom and then wait to sonic kick anyone who jumps over it” Guile figurine not included. Thankfully.)

Math Whizzes Help Find Obama’s, um, Foci

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In yet another example of inadvertently promoting stereotypes, six junior high math geniuses — most of whom happen to be Asian American — visited Obama in the White House to talk about math education. Apparently, the bulk of the visit was spent on finding the foci of the White House, thrilling Obama and annoying his aides. For all you people who’ve forgotten your algebra/calculus, the foci are what define a shape called an ellipse.

Personally, I’d love a chance to find Obama’s foci myself. I’m just sayin’.

(Flickr photo credit: The White House)

In 2009, Sam Yoon made a historic run to be mayor of Boston. Unfortunately, Yoon fell short in the Democratic primary and the incumbent mayor of 16 years, Tom Menino, easily defeated the other Democratic challenger in a run-off election. Menino went on to get re-elected, establishing himself to be the longest serving mayor of Boston, even though originally pledged to be a two-term, eight year mayor.

After challenging the establishment in Boston, Yoon has been seen as untouchable, having a challenging time finding a new job in the Boston area and has made the hard choice of leaving the Boston area:

“I got signals, mixed signals,’’ Yoon said, referring to his Boston job search. “To the extent that I was looking for a leadership position in the city, there were signals sent my way. It was subtle, but clear, that the fact I had run on a reform platform left some employers not willing to take a chance on me. . . . I knew there were risks involved for me in running against a 16-year incumbent, but I didn’t know the degree that it would pervade the important institutions … He declined to talk about where he applied or which potential employers feared he might be a risky hire.”

Yoon recently accepted a job in the D.C. area as the executive director of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations.  I guess Yoon’s wife will be happy since her parents live nearby, but it’s sad that Yoon’s promising political future has been temporarily set back. He’s seems pretty dejected and demoralized from being unemployed. Some note that had Yoon been more patience and waited, Yoon could have made further inroads within the Boston political establishment. While that may be true, we’ll never know and Yoon saw an opportunity, took a risk and tried his best.

http://vimeo.com/11501569

This video that spoofs Christian worship services has been popping up back on various Christian blogs, Facebook and Twitter, and cracks me up. Depending on where one is on the “contemporary-traditional” worship service spectrum, it may or may not be funny to you. I passed it on, of course, and got various reactions – some that surprised me because those who actually do like this kind of expression of Christianity laughed at it as much as those who think this is what gives Christianity its unappealing reputation. I heard from a couple of people who were mildly offended by it: I do cringe a little at the reality of it in many places.

Why post this on 8Asians? I especially enjoy the APA guy that showed up a little less than a minute into the trailer as a representative of one of the “leaders” or ministry staff. From what I remember in my time in various more Evangelical Christian circles, it’s pretty spot-on in terms of the cool-hipster APA that had an “in” with the white, male Christian leaders because he was funny or different. Still, I would take this guy over Joseph Prince any Sunday. I think.

Instant Ramen Cupmen from h concept

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The worst part about instant ramen is the wait–the horrid wait after you pour in the hot water, close the top and wait until the noodles and broth are ready. Thanks to Cupmen from h concept (840円 = $10), the instant noodle wait can be fun and colorful. These plastic men to hold the ramen lid down and also change color to let you know when it’s ready to eat. Now if someone could invent a way for these gadgets to physically feed me, then I’d be all set.

(Via: Spoon & Tamago)

Sumofish “Dog-zeki” T-Shirt

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East meets West in the delicious form of a hot dog Sumo wrestler, as depicted by this “Dog-zeki” shirt from Sumofish ($20). The SF-based t-shirt company is known for their designs that feature both Japanese and American pop culture, and that’s something we’re all about.

Melinda Mae “Flora” Clutch

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We’re kind of drooling all over our keyboard with handbag designer Melinda Mae’s ‘Flora’ clutch ($35). Not only are her bags handmade, but they also feature an array of sizes and colorful Asian-inspired patterns. We’re personally in love with this retro blue flower design, which would go perfectly for a summer barbecue. Or when you dress up to pretend to go to a barbecue because no one ever invites you to one in real life. *sad tear*

(Hat Tip: Patty)

Moogle Hat

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Final Fantasy cosplay: not just for gamer nerds at anime conventions! We prefer a more subtle approach to expressing our fandom, like this Moogle Hat ($27.99) from AnimeHot. Wear it to work, wear it when it snows or wear it to the gym. Other people will think it’s just an adorable kitty hat, but true geeks will know when a Moogle steps into the room.

(Hat tip: Min Jung)

You think the room is empty, but it’s really not. That’s how awesome ninjas are. Which is why you should enjoy this print by illustrator Parko Polo (£20 GBP = $30). Use it to decorate a wall or serve as a reminder that you are never, ever alone.

Asian Beatboxing: Daichi & Hikakin

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B74s4MgQ1rw

I am amazed at how people could even attempt to make the sounds they do through beatboxing. But just as Asians have started to dominate the bboy scene, it seems that they are starting to go crazy also with beatboxing. Daichi and Hikakin are the two most well known beatboxers from Japan, and both have done several television appearances.

Hikakin was the first one that my wife found out about when she was searching about Nintendo music and ran across his Super Mario beatbox. What’s really crazy is that most DJs use records and equipment to all the mixing and scratching, but these guys can do it straight from their throats with absolutely impressive beats.