My Wedding Reception/A Superspreader Event: A Culture War Report

A black-and-white photograph of smiling guests at a formal event, including the writer of this blog post.

Of those visible and pictured here, roughly 1/3 have since tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. (That’s me on the right holding the beer.) Photo credit: Josiah Bilagot (@jbilagot)

Long-time readers of the site will be familiar with this feature as the rare recounting of a hands-on lived experience. Over the years my co-writers and I have shared our personal encounters attending such events as a LARP-ing session, major esports finals, and even an “Extreme Midget Wrestling” match. While each was a brief glimpse into an occasion the general public may never stumble across, what I’m sharing today is much more personal and, unfortunately, much more likely.

This past Saturday, July 23rd, my spouse and I hosted a reception at the very lovely Bluma & Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library to celebrate one year of marriage with our friends and family. It was a far cry from our actual wedding in July of 2021, when the backyard ceremony was comprised of the two of us, our pastor, my parents, my grandfather, and our photographer. Had we all seven gone inside afterward to share a meal in an enclosed room we would have flagrantly broken the provincial COVID guidelines at the time. In contrast the reception included roughly one hundred guests from dozens of households, interacting unmasked, dancing, and even enjoying a Indian vegetarian-vegan buffet-style dinner. It was one of the first pure, unbridled moments of joy I’ve felt in quite a long time. Continue reading

The Christian Decision to Rejoice or Weep Over the Past Weekend

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans of his day has been described as an “all-encompassing…[summary] of the Christian faith,” at least by the Devotional Study Bible I’ve held on to since I was a child. As a result it contains a number of passages that will be all too familiar to the present and former church-goers among you. Romans 10:9, for example, is a pithy primer on salvation for the would-be evangelist, whereas 8:28 is a verse that’s often brought to bear in tough or uncertain times. A particular section that’s been weighing on me is more broad in its usage: Romans 12:15.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Photograph kindly shared by Erin Latimer. Photo credit: Christopher Katsarovluna (@catsarov)

Photograph kindly shared by Erin Latimer. Photo credit: Christopher Katsarovluna (@catsarov)

It brought to mind an event from several years ago, in the hazy span of time between my tween years and my early twenties. My family was all together for a summer in Toronto, and it was the weekend of the city’s Pride Parade. I remember it raining that Sunday, and hearing my mother muse aloud that it was a good thing the weather had taken a turn for the worse as it would undoubtedly put a damper on the festivities. She intimated that for her this was a time of great sadness.

I couldn’t help wondering if she felt the same way at the beginning of this week.

Continue reading

The Importance of the Asian Himbo

I haven’t explicitly blogged about the Asian-American experience in three years, last touching on the topic back in 2019 when I interviewed Bachelor contestant Revian Chang about her experience on the reality dating show. With May being Asian Heritage Month up here in Canada and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month south of the border, I thought it would be appropriate to return to a subject I’ve explored so often since this blog’s inception. What I didn’t expect was the immense weight that would accompany my decision.

Thinking over the interim in which this site lay dormant I’m reminded of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, a horrific incident that struck me so deeply that it wasn’t until an old coworker asked me how I was feeling that I realized I was angry. I think back on a time where it felt like with every passing day was a new story about yet another hate crime being enacted against Asian people, violence born out of xenophobia that studies have shown flourished with the former POTUS’s tweets about the global pandemic.

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Even now, during the month when we as Asian people living in North America should be keeping our heads high, acknowledging our past hardships and present triumphs, we’re reminded only four days in that distrust of Asian Americans has been steadily growing over the past year. 33% of Americans believe that Asian Americans are “more loyal to their country of origin than to the United States.” Countries that many have never even stepped foot in.

The increased difficulty surrounding my existence is directly tied into the dehumanization of my race. The man who shot and killed eight people (six of them being Asian women) was able to do so because he viewed them as temptations before he was able to consider them people. Opposite that mindset, the model minority stereotype that surrounds Asian Americans might seem positive, but it still reduces individuals down to qualities they might not even embody. It’s why a range of representation is so crucial, and the reason the Asian himbo is so important. Continue reading

Why Does the Billionaire Romance Hero (Still) Exist?

No one needs a billion dollars, no one person needs that much money, starts the viral TikTok song by Chaz Cardigan. It’s a fairly straightforward thesis, and even though the original video has since been taken down, the sound persists and has been used by countless other users, with videos like the one I linked to collectively garnering millions of views. Backing up that initial point, the lyrics continue:

A billion is a thousand million,
That’s twenty-one thousand years of work
At minimum wage to make that money
To hoard like you deserve it.
No one makes a billion dollars
Without exploiting workers.

Although this earworm acts as evidence that a platform predominantly skewed toward Gen Z is cool with vilifying the ultrawealthy, the sobering truth remains that as a culture we worship billionaires. It’s not just people who go far out of their way to simp for Elon Musk, either-

-it’s the constant media attention paid to those who make more in a single day than most of us are able to in an entire year. To be absurdly rich, at least in North America, is to achieve celebrity status, and the news cycle reacts accordingly. While the lavish praise heaped at the feet of such icons as Warren Buffett can often feel like it borders on infatuation, things truly cross that line when we consider the literary genre of billionaire romance. The name really says it all: the category exists to portray fictional billionaires as the desirable objects of our affections. Continue reading

The Greatest Loss in Online Christendom: RIP, The Babylon Bee

I’ve never been ashamed to openly admit that I’m a Christian (or that I was a virgin, for that matter, way back in 2011 when I still updated this blog on the reg). That being said, the truth is that I spend precious little time in faith-related spaces on the internet. I might pause mid-scroll when I spot an interesting thread from /r/christianity, but the majority of my engagement with religious writing online comes from Facebook, where a friend will share a link to a Relevant article or a rebuttal from a Professor of Theology at Wheaton College to a write-up on how his school has become too “woke.” But that wasn’t always the case. There was a point in time, almost exactly six years ago, when the faith-related internet content I read and enjoyed was of a decidedly different bent.

The Babylon Bee, March 17, 2016

The Babylon Bee was launched on March 1st, 2016, and by all accounts was something believers never even knew we wanted: a Christian version of The Onion. In its early days we were treated, and I write this with complete seriousness, to such satiric bangers as “Worship Leader Caught In Infinite Loop Between Bridge And Chorus” and “Witty Church Sign Sparks Revival.” These were articles clearly written with the kind of inside baseball that is so integral to comedy, deftly lampooning the life experiences of countless Christians. And, just like The Onion, The Babylon Bee was an immediate hit on platforms like Facebook, where the headline alone is enough to sell the joke.

As the years went by, however, I noticed that not only were fewer members of my various circles linking to the site, but those that were yielded stories that were less and less focused on (sorry about the alliteration) critiquing contemporary Christian culture and more and more focused on…politics.

Continue reading

Do People of Colour Belong in Middle-earth?

Bettenridge’s law of headlines dictates that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” In the case of whether or not J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a fantasy land that has space for people of colour, it’s unfortunately not that simple.

The full title for the television series taking place in the same universe as the critically acclaimed The Lord of the Rings was announced just this past month, with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power acting as a prequel set thousands of years before the original trilogy of films. Soon after followed 23 individual posters featuring the hands of different characters, a startling development for those who hadn’t been closely following casting news for the show.

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As briefly discussed in my first post this year, there’s nothing more emblematic of our present-day culture than division and polarization. With every announcement decisions must be made and opinions cemented, dictating what side of any particular issue you find yourself on. To say that the same is true for the existence of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, [and] People of Colour) in a historically lily-white franchise is putting it lightly. The following tweet made by the amusingly named (at the time of this writing) “guy online” highlights the conflict accordingly:

Knowing this is the case and having these camps laid out in such stark contrast makes it awkward for me to admit that I’ve found myself in a place where I’m also side-eyeing production for casting actors of colour in various roles, a sentiment that on the surface places me in some admittedly unpleasant company. Let me explain- Continue reading