Tag Archives: diversity

2014’s Cultural Battleground – Evan’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

kissingbannerI chose to sort these posts in the order they were published, so we start things off on a very personal note, one which set the tone for many of the others I wrote in 2014. Our individual choices regarding how we approach physical intimacy can and should differ, and here I thought “out loud” with my fingertips, recording how exactly I got to where I am today.

My stance had its pros and cons weighed, both those other people may see and the ones that I do personally. In exploring them I covered how many other Christians view the act of kissing, used a number of really fantastic gifs, and even embedded a poll [the most responded to on the site] which asked readers which direction I should take from this point onward. No, it had no real effect my personal life choices. Yes, it actually is a dead even 50-50 split at the time of this writing.

2musicvideosbannerIf you had told me at any point during the year that I would be writing not one, but two analyses of music videos in the very same month I would not have believed you [here’s the other one]. I also would not have been able to guess that the one discussing both Ingrid Michaelson and Jennifer Lopez’s songs would be my personal favourite of 2014.

Sexism continues to be a problem, in popular music especially, and both artists sought to upend how men and women are normally portrayed in the medium of music videos. Unfortunately the results appear to merely perpetuate the status quo [in Lopez’s case] or miss the point entirely by resorting to cross dressing [in Michaelson’s] and likewise continuing to depict the female subjects much more sexily than the male ones. If it’s the thought that counts then consider both successful, but if we want to move anywhere beyond that they’re severely lacking.

posterchildwhiteprivilegebannerI know this post had to make my list because just thinking about it continues to make me angry. No, it’s not the clickbaity title of the original article, it’s the place from which the writer, Tal Fortgang, addresses all those who dare ask him to “check his privilege”.

My breakdown started before Fortgang’s own open letter, choosing to first pick apart the introduction written by The College Fix associate editor Jennifer Kabbany. It ended with a close analysis of his argument that being both White and male in the United States of America, born to Caucasian parents born to Caucasian parents, has afforded him no advantages in life [FUN FACT: it has].

The number of friends [and I use the term loosely] who I saw sharing this on Facebook drove me to write a counterpoint, and one that I only wish more people could have read. Being told to “check your privilege” should never result in a person writing 1,300 words about why they shouldn’t have to, it should lead them to ask themselves what they just did that was insensitive or wrong.

orderupbannerThis post isn’t the first one to open up with a short work of fiction to prove a point, and come the end of this year it isn’t even the first parable [a feature I may consider adding], but it is a genuine depiction of how Asian and Asian-American viewers feel when being presented with much of today’s pop culture.

Big Hero 6 was a film that should have, given the original source material, starred an all-Japanese cast. Instead we were presented with characters bearing a wide ethnic range not one of which was full-blooded Japanese. As Hollywood and much of the rest of the entertainment industry tunes in to their increasingly more diverse audience choices will be made, and some that will be made to, ostensibly, appeal to more people will instead disappoint those who it should have reached out to in the first place.

After seeing the film for myself I had more hard evidence to back up my original thoughts, but at the end of the day this was an animated children’s movie that could have shone a genuine, earnest light on an actual, single corner of the world and decided not to for the sake of what we’ll call “accessibility”.

johnchobannerHow we view ourselves has so much to do with what we see of ourselves in the media, and that’s just as true when it comes to thoughts of attractiveness as anything else. While pop culture’s depiction of women and how it has impacted the self-esteem of females both young and old the world over has taken centre stage in this particular discussion, and for good reason, what’s often skipped over is how racial minorities are in the exact same boat.

I trace my feelings of aesthetic inadequacy back to a conversation I had several years ago and draw it to the present, where my favourite new sitcom of 2014 a) stars an Asian-American male as the romantic lead and b) has been cancelled. The latter not withstanding, Selfie was more than just hilarious [and it was], it introduced on national TV the concept of Asian men actually being desirable, and it deserves all the credit in the world for that.


The 2014 Culture Wars were, for me, extremely personal. That’s never more apparent than when I picked apart my stance on locking lips, but it also cropped up in my criticism of one of my favourite musical artists. How every one of us chooses to process the world we live in is our own little foray into the conflict this blog takes its title from, and it’s often a conflict in more ways than one.

It falls to every one of us to field our intellectual and emotional reactions, whether it’s to a “Poster Child for White Privilege” or an animated children’s movie that we expected that much more from. This year I decided to let my feelings steer me towards the aspects of culture that directly affected my own life. Who I am as a male Christian Asian-Canadian now-24-year-old provides me with a perspective that you may not share, but my hope is that my observations resonate with you nonetheless.

This year I decided to voice how our culture was impacting me, and it’s an activity that I hope I, and every one of you, will do much more of in 2015.

-Evan.

The 50/50 Fallacy [Yes, It’s Another Big Hero 6 Post]

So, as I said I probably would, I did end up seeing Big Hero 6 this past Tuesday. While I ended up enjoying it a fair amount the problem, if I can call it that and which the post I just linked to addresses, was in the back of my head the entire time. To reiterate it here, the idea that both a city and almost the entire cast of superhero team had to be altered to make it more relatable, presumably to a Western [read: American] audience.

As mentioned I did like it, but during and after the film I was struck by the fact that a balance, if that’s what the creators were truly going for, was never really attained. To start with, San Fransokyo.

Based off of the name one would assume that this would be equal parts American and Japanese city, a blend that encapsulated the best of both worlds. The actual design approach is laid bare when considering the words co-director Don Hall used when describing the setting [emphasis added]:

an alternate version of San Francisco.

“I love the Painted ladies. We gave them a Japanese makeover; we put a cafe on the bottom of one. They live above a coffee shop.”

“Where Hiro lives, it feels like the Haight. When you get to the downtown area, that’s when you get the most Tokyo-fied, that pure, layered, dense kind of feeling of the commercial district there. When you get out of there, it becomes more San Francisco with the Japanese aesthetic.”

To put this in more musical terms, this isn’t so much a mashup as it is a remix. The former is a blend of two or more parts with both being displayed prominently, the latter is a modified version of something, the original of which is typically easily identifiable. Continue reading

John Cho is Hot on Selfie, and Why It Matters

Roughly six years ago I sat in a guest house in London, England, and complained to a Korean friend about not being attractive. It’s funny seeing it typed out now, and it wasn’t so starkly apparent at the time, but that’s exactly what I was worried about. We were studying abroad with a group of mostly White classmates from a predominantly White liberal arts college, and as an eighteen-year-old I had dating on the mind. That, and the beginnings of the idea that things might not be so easy for me given the colour of my skin.

And unlike John Cho and his suit, my skin does not peel away to reveal more equally-good-looking skin underneath.

My primary source was media and pop culture, and how interracial relationships weren’t showcased much, if at all [not much has changed, 2009!]. I suggested that this might create a life-imitating-art situation, where young non-hyphenated-American women might not be as open to the idea of getting together with an Asian guy due to never seeing it on screens small or large. He brought up that he’d had no problems in the past [being musical, and with that bone structure?], as well as the more damning evidence that neither had I. With that I left the topic of conversation alone, not entirely convinced or at peace with the whole thing.

Continue reading

Order Up: A Parable About Asian Viewers and Big Hero 6

INT. YOUR STEREOTYPICAL AMERICANA-STYLE DINER – DAY

Two young men sit at a booth, the same one they sit at each and every single day. On the left is EVAN, a Filipino-Chinese blogger extraordinaire. Facing him is someone we’re going to call CODY, a White acquaintance/peer/friend. Both enjoy sharing a meal in the diner together and each other’s company.

A WAITRESS approaches their booth to take their orders.

CODY
I’ll have the hamburger.

EVAN
The roast chicken for me, please.

Pan up to the clock on the wall. Fifteen minutes rapidly elapse and the WAITRESS returns and places their food in front of them.

Both EVAN and CODY
Thank you.

Sitting in front of CORY is a hamburger. EVAN stares down at his plate, which holds the exact same thing.

EVAN
(not angrily but wearily)
Every time, man. Every single time.

CODY
(with forced sympathy, as he’s heard this more than once before)
Aw, really, again?

EVAN
You were sitting right there when I ordered. I very, very clearly asked for roast chicken. I always order roast chicken.

CODY
Well, at least it’s good though, right?

EVAN picks up his hamburger and takes a bite. He chews it slowly.

EVAN
(sighing)
Yeah, it’s pretty good. I mean, it always is.

CODY
(brightly)
So let’s just enjoy this meal together, huh? Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #9: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel9I probably should have mentioned this in my review for the last issue, but the new story arc that started with Issue #8 is titled “Generation Why”, and this week’s installment brings us to the halfway point of that tale. It’s also a pretty fitting title, seeing as questions appearing almost faster than they can be answered.

Eesh. There is a lot to cover. Let me try to break things up a little-

What Happened On The “Universal” Level

Having Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans on the cover is a pretty good indicator that things are going to get a little bit bigger. After a fight that essentially leaves Kamala completely drained she’s whisked away by Lockjaw to New Attilan. These may seem like gibberish words to the less comic savvy, but the redheaded royal ruler explains to her that:

“Long ago, one of your human ancestors was genetically altered by the Kree — an alien race. The genetic legacy has been passed down through the generations– to you.

You’re Inhuman.”

That clears up where the Pakistani-American teen got her powers, and presents the yet another question of “Now what?” Medusa expects her to stay in her new home, but Kamala’s having none of it and once again escapes via teleporting canine. Inhuman physician Vinatos wishes her good-bye “For now,” meaning that she’s sure to rub shoulders with her superpowered kin in the near-ish future. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #8: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel8So ends the two-part Jake Wyatt-illustrated Wolverine-guest-starring arc of Ms. Marvel, not with a bang, but with our young heroine having learned a great deal from the world’s most famous Hulk combatant. The next storyline doesn’t begin with a bang, either, more like a FZZZT, or at least that’s what I imagine a gigantic teleporting bulldog sounds like.

Sent by Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, the royal pet has arrived in Jersey City to protect and train the fledgling crimefighter. His entrance is exactly the kind of thing you should expect from duo Wilson and Alphona [who is back, by the way], running up to her with a sign around his neck that reads “HELLO / MY NAME IS / LOCKJAW / I LIKE HUGS“. While her ammi and abu seem surprisingly accepting when it comes to letting her take in an animal with what appears to be a tuning fork sticking out of his head, she’ll need the Inhuman canine in her trials to come. Continue reading

Don’t Just Hire Minority Creators [Promote Hiring Them, Too]

It should be absolutely no secret to any and all of you that I’m an advocate for diversity. There are a myriad of different reasons for this, from the “it would be nice…” of seeing a little more colour in popular media to the more specific “think of the children” that pertains to White boys specifically [not White girls or Black boys and girls] having their self-esteem boosted by watching TV. What some people don’t realize is that the need need for diversity extends beyond actors and the characters they portray to the actual creators involved.

I’m not going to say that a White man cannot ever be involved in the creation of art that discusses or features minorities and their struggles- it’s a topic I touched on when discussing children’s author Rich Michelson and the books he’s written about the Civil Rights Movement. These stories can, and have been, and will continue to be valid, the question remains as to why we live in a world where a James Brown biopic can be created as a summer blockbuster and have “all the producers, writers, and the director [. . . be] white.” At what point should anyof these people stopped and thought to themselves, “Maybe a Black person would be able to provide a perspective on this that none of the rest of us could?” “Immediately” is the answer in case you were wondering.

This is all a lead-up to how, if this is definitely a problem in our current culture, we can change things. As history would dictate I am going to be coming at this from a distinctly comic-related perspective, but the issues therein can be paralleled across the board to TV and movies.  Continue reading