I was fortunate enough to meet Ken Fong of the Ken Fong Project this year during the V3con digital media conference in Los Angeles on June 20-21, 2014. Ken was part of the panel titled “Secrets Online: Topics that are Taboo in Real Life”, where the panelists tackled the issue of writing about things one would not normally talk about in general conversation. Ken passed along an interesting piece of advice, to beware, that if you’re willing to talk about a taboo topic online, you may become the go to person and spokesperson for that issue.
Ken Fong is a moderate Baptist pastor and subject of the documentary “The Ken Fong Project”. The documentary covers his journey as he reconciles his beliefs with the way gays and lesbians are being treated by his community. He has compared the way gays and lesbians are treated with the way Jesus was treated by the hyper-religious Jews in biblical times.
Additional information about the documentary is relayed in the video below:
The initial round of funding for the documentary was completed through Indiegogo, but the documentary team will be looking for additional funding in the near future to help with costs of completing the film.
Ken was gracious enough to agree to an 8Questions interview on 8Asians, and the result is after the jump.
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With the tabling of SCA5, the Fisher vs University of Texas decision, and the lawsuit over admissions to New York’s selective high schools, non-race based alternatives to diversifying campuses are increasingly being discussed. Some of these discussions, like this one on the book “The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education Diversity after Fisher v. University of Texas”, this one on place as a better emphasis than race, and this paper on affirmative action alternatives, hardly mention Asian Americans. What are the effect of these affirmative action alternatives on Asian Americans? Better yet, how will Asian Americans react?
Season 3, Episode 5 (originally aired July 15): “Luck of the Half-Irish”?
Microsynopsis: NASCAR racer Brad Keselowski returns for a second guest-star appearance, winning his first race in months after sitting on a barstool in Sullivan & Son. The patrons (old and new) are convinced that the stool must be lucky, so Ok Cha begins charging people for the privilege of sitting upon it. Steve tries to convince everyone, to no avail, that there is no such thing as manipulating luck.
Good: There’s plenty of Melanie, who gets to wear a pair of Jimmy Choos. That’s about it.
Bad: While there’s not much about this episode that’s very good, there’s not much that’s very bad. I could do with fewer guest stars, but I’ve been complaining about that since last season.
Hapa moment: The title of this episode is its most hapa moment.
Overall: This episode is so forgettable that when I watched it the second time several days later, I remembered none of it from the first time except a joke Melanie makes about who gives her the expensive shoes.
Final grade, this episode: C minus.
I saw this video posted earlier this month on Facebook by someone by budding self-described actress, director, writer Anna Akana and recently saw that The Huffington Post had picked it up. Although I’m a guy, I liked the message that Akana is delivering – that beauty is both outside *and* inside. The YouTube video has over 1.4 million views now!
If you’re starting off in Hollywood (or entertainment in general), it definitely makes sense to develop an audience on YouTube and in social media. The still precocious musician Taylor Swift wrote had some interesting insights when she wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal recently on the future of the music industry, which I think is applicable to entertainment overall:
“A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”
She of course, has an IMDB, but not famous (or infamous) enough I guess to have a Wikipedia entry yet and it doesn’t look like she’s on LinkedIn. It’ll be interesting to see if she can achieve mainstream success through her social media efforts or make a living off of YouTube, like KevJumba, Ryan Higa and Michelle Phan. Although I live in Silicon Valley, I don’t make it to LA that often, but would be interesting to meet her in person one day (I’m sure the degrees of separation are small), especially now that she’s declared herself single. 🙂
YouTube sensations, the Fung Brothers, are at it again with a hilarious and heartwarming glimpse into the struggles of young Asians growing up in immigrant households. Four different scenarios (including one starring the Fung Bros, themselves) depict the battles young Asians face while pursuing what they love to do. The Fung Brothers hope its message can empower today’s Asian youth.
With catchy lyrics, the Fung Brothers new video makes a play on the acronym V.L.T. The recurring theme is that there is Very Little Time to pursue one’s passion. VLT also happens to stand for Vita Lemon Tea, a beverage from Vitasoy. The beverage maker is running a photo contest concurrently with the Fung Brothers video launch. Submit a photo that showcases your own VLT.
Submission period is July 25 to August 22, 2014. You can enter multiple ways – through the myvltcontest.com website, facebook/myvltcontest, and via Instagram and Twitter with #myVLTcontest. All qualified entries are eligible to win two roundtrip air tickets to Hong Kong! After each week, the photo with the most votes wins a year’s supply of Vita Lemon Tea.
Editors Note: This is a sponsored post.
8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)
WHO: Artists at Play.
“Artists at Play is a theatre-producing collective of Asian American creative professionals in the Los Angeles area.”
WHAT: Indiegogo project: L.A. premiere of 99 Histories by playwright Julia Cho
This year we proudly present 99 Histories, a story about the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters. Written back in 2002, the first major play from acclaimed playwright Julia Cho revolves around Eunice, a Korean American former cello prodigy, who comes home pregnant and unmarried, and tries to mend her relationship with her mother. Haunted by violent memories, Eunice must confront her ghosts before she can move forward. In this riveting and poignant drama of memory, legacy and home, what is remembered might be made up, and the only homelands that seem to exist are imaginary.
WHEN: Deadline to contribute is TODAY, Friday, July 25, 2014 (11:59pm PT).
About the Indiegogo:
99 Histories will have a 3-week run at The Lounge Theater in September 2014. Our fundraising goal is $7,000, which will cover venue rental and rehearsal fees as well as stipends for artistic and technical personnel.
L.A. theatre colleagues have set forth a challenge to producers across the city to increase actors’ wages. Actors’ Equity, the union representing theatre actors, currently requires most companies to pay a minimum of $7 to $25 per performance. Yes, you read that right. This year, Artists at Play hopes to increase the stipends that we pay our actors as a show of appreciation for the work they do and to better value all that they give us onstage.
Artists at Play envisions a Los Angeles community where Asian Americans are recognized as both theatre-makers and theatre-goers. Our productions represent a new generation of voices in American theatre that transcend the label of “Asian American” or “minority.” Your support for 99 Histories and Artists at Play will help promote more diversity and inclusion of Asian American artists and stories in the local theatre landscape.
With our new show, we are proud to further contribute to the Los Angeles theatre community as we strive to create entertaining and challenging work that is accessible to anyone and everyone. Please note that through the fiscal sponsorship provided by Fractured Atlas, donations are tax-deductible.
Actor and activist George Takei was on The Daily Show the other day to promote the documentary, ‘To Be Takei,‘ about his life, about being an actor, activist from his early childhood to present day.
What captivated the host, Jon Stewart, the most was Takei’s experience as a child being forced with his family to be imprisoned into a Japanese internment camp during World War II – Takei was only 5 years old when that happened. Stewart emphasized that most Americans probably don’t know that much about this sad chapter in our country’s history. Takei emphasized the only thing that Japanese Americans were guilty of was looking like the people who had bombed Pearl Harbor.
As I had blogged before, I had the great opportunity earlier this year to meet George Takei, along with his husband Brad, at a fundraiser for Congressman Mike Honda (who was also imprisoned at a Japanese internment camp as a child). It was Takei and Honda’s shared experience of being internees and that shared ‘experience’ that formed the foundation of their friendship.
The documentary is available via DirecTV until August 5th and in select theaters and iTunes August 22nd.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see 8Asians’ previous coverage on the topic of anchor babies –Joz
I have covered quite a few stories about Chinese immigrants, and one of the biggest stories was the Chinese pregnant women going overseas to give birth so their babies can obtain a foreign citizenship, sometimes referred to as anchor babies.
America is one of the biggest markets for wealthy Chinese families who wants an America-born child. A couple of years ago, the controversy of these women and the local L.A. businesses that provided them housing and transportation had caused a big protest, following law enforcement cracking down some of the hotels. I recently talked to a Chinese mother who has two anchor children in Hong Kong and got a first personal glimpse of what life is like for them.
I saw this blog posting on Facebook the other day by NPR, and their series on ‘Code Switch’, discussing race. This particular post discusses the one the earliest uses of ‘ching chong‘ as a racial slur against Asians (and specifically the Chinese):
“But “ching chong” hurled as an insult at Asian folks in the U.S. stretches back all the way to the 19th Century, where it shows up in children’s playground taunts. … A book by Henry Carrington Bolton from 1886 — The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children — tersely describes this rhyme:
“Under the influence of Chinese cheap labour on the Pacific coast, this rhyme is improved by boys brought up to believe the ‘Chinese must go,’ and the result is as follows: —
Ching, Chong, Chineeman,
How do you sell your fish?
Ching, Chong, Chineeman,
Six bits a dish.
Ching, Chong, Chineeman,
Oh! that is too dear!
Ching, Chong, Chineeman,
Clear right out of here.”
You have to admit, that’s pretty messed up when a children’s book casually uses a racial slur.
into his own viral video to inoculate the slur into a nice tune. The NPR goes on to document the amazing endurance of this ridiculous slur, but doesn’t really go into the actual origins. Nor does a Wikipedia entry. I guess there is no definitive first use of the term documented out there?
I personally thought it was funny and was not at all offended. As this Buzzfeed article points out, some Filipinos agree with me while others thought it was racist. The comments on the above video also divide along these lines.
A short documentary by Matthew Hashiguchi People Aren’t All Bad is a finalist for Smithsonian Magazine’s In Motion Video Contest.
This film reveals 89-year-old Yutaka Kobayashi’s experience as a Japanese American before and leading up to WWII.
There’s an Audience Choice Award that will be determined by votes. If you’d like Smithsonian Magazine to recognize an Asian American story, you can vote daily for People Aren’t All Bad is at the bottom under the “American Experience” category.
Winners will be announced on August 11, 2014.
Fans abound for the gritty, fast-paced, Chinatown-style street ball known as 9-man. In the 1930s, Chinese American men began playing 9-man, a street version of volleyball involving nine players (hence the game’s obvious if not well known name) compared to the six people playing on school and pro teams across the nation. It began as a game for laundry and restaurant workers in the streets and parking lots during an era when Chinese Americans were largely socially segregated from the rest of American society. The sport has roots in Toisan, China, where many early immigrants came from. Seeking a break from work, they created a community for themselves. Even as the Chinese American community expanded, nine-man remained popular and competitive. In the 1940s, Chinese Americans began organizing tournaments inviting teams from New York, Maryland, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and many other cities. The tournaments provided a forum for connection of geographically dispersed Chinese American communities. And as the Chinese American community continues to evolve, nine-man teams unite players from urban and suburban neighborhoods — preserving a certain kind of Chinese American tradition.
Today, Seward Park in New York’s Manhattan Chinatown is the only court with nine-man regulation lines painted on. And old-hands continue to recruit younger players. In a recent New York Times article, long-time player Bob Lee explained nine-man’s appeal for both players and audience: “The offense is more explosive and there is a lot more action. It’s more exciting to watch.”
One can’t write about 9-man without discussing its energy, but also one of its notable rules: the controversial “content rule.” Established in 1991, the rule states that two-thirds of the players must be “100% Chinese descent” and one-third do not need to be 100% but must be able to prove some East Asian descent. Some say the ruling means that the game won’t be run-over by super athletes and will help maintain the 9-man community’s culture and history. Others say its straight-up racist. A big factor in evolving discussions over the rule include focus on the next generations of players, their interests, backgrounds, etc. Just recently a smaller tournament in Newton, Massachusetts, “the Boston Spike-Off,” ditched the content rule and allowed non-Asian players to join the games. For major 9-man tournaments, the rule continues to apply.
This weekend (July 19 and 20), the New York Mini goes down. Ursula Liang concisely explained the spirit: “The most competitive of the teams with players in their 20s and 30s will be battling for a trophy, and the more community-oriented clubs…will be combining competition with some serious hanging out.” Meanwhile, throngs will set up their portable chairs and watch games played on hot summer pavement.
If you have a chance to see a tournament match, practice game, or a chance to see Ursula Liang’s new (ish) documentary “9-Man,” I highly recommend it.
Photo Credits: Andrew Huynh and NY Mini