Tag Archives: awards

The 2015 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

You can read a better introduction at the beginning of last year’s awards, but I can quickly fill in for any new readers out there that I began reading at a fairly young age and continued on to study literature in college. That being said reading and literature have been a part of my life for about as far back as I can remember.

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This second installment of the Evan Yeong Literary Awards seeks to once again call attention to the artistic medium that I love most, taking note of the books I read in the past year and [at least this time around, solely] praising the standouts. A lot of pages were put away in 2015, and it was actually a challenge this year to keep the number of winners to just under a dozen.

In 2015 I once again resolved to read 52 books and this time met my goal; sweet success. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.


anansiboys

book that most helps “the cause/mission”

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Published 2005

The former as used by the hosts of the podcast Black Men Can’t Jump and the latter being the name of Joseph Philip Illidge’s column on Comic Book Resources, both terms are ultimately defined as work that progresses diversity. To that effect, White British author Gaiman is one of its truest champions, crafting a fantastical novel that lets its characters fall under the default race of reader’s assumptions only to have that torn away, much to even [or especially] my chagrin, in later pages. Fantasy as a genre is not often populated by men and women of colour, at least in Western fiction, and to have this novel exist, as well as be supported by such an unshakable talent, is a wonderful thing.

catcherintherye

novel that doesn’t, and then does, live up to the hype

The Catcher in the Rye in J. D. Salinger
Published in 1951

The only thing I knew about this [in]famous work of fiction prior to reading it is that the murderer of one of The Beatles was obsessed with it and that it has been a frequently banned book, so I was not at all expecting the tale of a teenager who just wanted to drink some drinks and go on some dates and figure out what adolescence is really about. On that same note, I also didn’t think I would be exposed to some of the most raw and honest writing about what it’s like to be a dumb, lost kid. I still don’t fully understand what all the hubbub was about, but I also see why so many dating profiles have it featured as their favourite book.  Continue reading

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The 2014 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

My mom taught me how to read when I was 4-years-old, which WebMD, a reliable source if there ever was one, says is about two years younger than average. According to Iowa Tests [American standardized tests that I ended up taking at an American school] I was reading at a 12th Grade reading level when I was only ten. When I inevitably ended up majoring in both English and Writing at a Christian liberal arts college I was, to put it directly, horrifyingly average.

evanyeongliteraryawards2014I write all of that not to share that I was some sort of prodigy [I wasn’t], but that I was good at reading because I loved it. The written word continues to be my favourite artistic medium, and my appreciation for the literary has not faded. Today I start what I hope to be an annual tradition, a review of what was read in the past year to acknowledge the standouts [for better and for worse]. These are the 2014 Evan Yeong Literary Awards.

In 2014 I resolved to read 52 books, and while I only ended up stopping just four short of my goal, I do believe it was an overall success. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link. Continue reading

Fame Day: Slightly Better Representation at the Oscars

goodjoboscarsLast year around this time I wrote a scathing article for my school paper about Seth Macfarlane’s attempt at hosting the Oscars in which I primarily focused on how his “We Saw Your Boobs” song basically undermined any hope for women to be taken seriously in Hollywood. In light of that I felt like this year I should balance out my review of the Oscars and acknowledge some of the good things they did this time around.  Continue reading

Shame Day: Hollywood and the VFX Industry

Let me begin this by saying that I did not watch the Oscars on Sunday night. I made a little joke on Facebook about how I didn’t have to because everyone else was doing it for me, and 14 people liked it, so I’m pretty funny. Anyway, let’s move this along.

Ang Lee’s adaptation of the Yann Martel novel Life of Pi won the award for best VFX [visual effects], which I can only imagine was deserved because, well, I have not seen it. Bill Westenhofer, the VFX supervisor for Rhythm and Hues Studios, was giving his acceptance speech when he was cut off by music, as pointed out by Variety’s David S. Cohen:

Word on the street is that this is because of what he was about to talk about. See, it would be wonderful for Rhythm and Hues that they received so much promotion due to winning an Academy Award if they weren’t bankrupt. Westenhofer had planned on addressing the crisis within the industry during his speech, and was thankfully able to voice his thoughts afterwards to writer Bill Desowitz for his blog, where he said:

At a time when visual effects movies are dominating the box office, that visual effects companies are struggling.  And I wanted to point out that we aren’t technicians.  Visual effects is not just a commodity that’s being done by people pushing buttons.  We’re artists, and if we don’t find a way to fix the business model, we start to loses the artistry.  If anything, Life of Pi shows that we’re artists and not just technicians.

During his acceptance speech for best director Ang Lee forgot to thank his VFX collaborators at Rhythm and Hues, which prompted a letter from Phillip Broste, the lead compositor at Zoic Studios. It’s quite long, but I feel like quoting two of the last few paragraphs, because they really say quite a lot:

Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man. And a gifted filmmaker.  But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through.  Our employers scramble to chase illegal film subsidies across the globe at the behest of the film studios.  Those same subsidies raise overhead, distort the market, and cause wage stagnation in what are already trying economic times.  Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be.  It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.

By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect.  Much like Zoic Studios, the fabulous company that I am proud to work for.  But I am beginning to wonder if these examples of decency will be able to survive in such a hostile environment.  Or if the horror stories of unpaid overtime and illegal employment practices will become the norm, all because you and your fellow filmmakers “would like it to be cheaper.”

It’s no mystery that most summer blockbusters these days are built on the backs of animators, artists who spend hours upon hours trying to perfect the texture of wood grain or the way light reflects off of the ocean. Rhythm and Hues won two awards for Life of Pi, both the Academy Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects; they won both awards in 2007-2008 for The Golden Compass. This studio going bankrupt is like . . . . well . . . . an award-winning studio running out of money because they weren’t getting paid enough.

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People who work in VFX are just as much artists as painters, musicians, and photographers, and all have the right to be fairly compensated for their work. Good art takes time and effort, and if Hollywood refuses to give those in VFX the respect and money that they deserve then we need to let them know how wrong they are. Tell people about what’s happening, tweet with the hashtag #VFXprotest, check out VFX Solidarity International, and don’t be okay with Samuel L. Jackson talking over Robert Downey Jr. just because you like the guy as an actor: