Tag Archives: John Cho

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.

Advertisements

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

Abrams and Eve Address Your [My] Issues With Star Trek Into Darkness

Spoilers and such.
                                                                                                                                                                     

When I came across two articles on Spinoff Online that were interviews with J.J. Abrams and Alice Eve, respectively, I couldn’t believe my luck. I suppose this all had to do with the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness was released on DVD and Blu-Ray today and they had to keep its title in the news cycle, but I was pumped because they addressed a few . . . criticisms that myself and others had with it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Alice Eve

I’m going to start with the less spoilery one, which was helpfully titled “Alice Eve on ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ Carol Marcus & That Controversial Scene.” This was a great way of referring to something that most everyone knew about, and I used a similar method of titling in a post I wrote in June, “The Internet And That One Scene In Star Trek Into Darkness – You Know The One.” If you really don’t know what this is all about I can sum it up like this: Alice Eve’s character, Carol Marcus, was featured in a scene where she was standing in her bra and panties; this did not add to the story and made little sense given the context of the scene.  Continue reading

Missing: Non-White Actors

This past weekend I asked my friends over lunch who the new generation of actors are. Who are this decade’s Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks? Who are the actors who will be representative of these years?

We came to a few conclusions. Nostalgia is a powerful force, and that’s why our Bruce Willis is still Bruce Willis. Leonardo DiCaprio has been acting since Romeo + Juliet in the mid-90s and has continued to go strong with 2010’s Shutter Island and Inception. Newer stars such as Michael Fassbender and Sam Worthington have only really begun gaining recognition in the past five or so years. Name recognition is what matters, and they’re still earning theirs.

Having answered that question, I posed yet another one: Where are all the new non-white actors?

There are actors [using the gender-neutral version of the word] making a reputation for themselves, but they’re men and women like Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield [yes, the leads of this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man, I think in comic book movies, okay?]. But where are their non-white counterparts? The following are short lists I’ve made categorized by ethnicity-

AFRICAN-AMERICAN/BLACK
Donald Glover tops the list. NBC’s Community has done a lot to get him out there, and he’s beginning to become a household name. Idris Elba will be in this year’s sci-fi epic Prometheus and in Guillermo del Toro giant mech vs. alien action flick Pacific Rim. Anthony Mackie took a backseat to Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau, but will be starring in a number of films both this year and the next.

HISPANIC
Édgar Ramirez starred in 2008’s Ché, and will be in this summer’s Wrath of the Titans as the Greek god of war Ares. Javier Bardem has been in show business for quite a while, but will be the primary antagonist [okay, villain] of the next Bond film, Skyfall. Gael García Bernal starred opposite Will Ferrel in Casa de Mi Padre, and will be appearing alongside acting greats Pacino and Daniel Day Lewis in the upcoming years.

EAST INDIAN
Similar to Donald Glover television is where Aziz Ansarfi thrives and he’s gained the most recognition for his role on Parks and Recreation.  Russell Peters was in last year’s star-studded New Year’s Eve, and primarily works as a stand-up comedian. Kal Penn [Kumar, of Harold and Kumar fame] will be in the yet to-be-announced Bhopal: Prayer for Rain.

CHINESE, KOREAN, JAPANESE
Ken Jeong has been running around screaming ever since The Hangover; he’s going to keep finding work. John Cho  will be in the Star Trek sequel reprising his role as Hikaru Sulu. Daniel Dae Kim continues to be ridiculously good-looking on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0. Really, all of these actors are Korean.

As far as Asian actors go martial-arts movies are not as popular as they once were. In fact, the two most recent listed on Wikipedia are MMA [mixed martial arts] films, starring White leads. Actors of Asian descent must find work elsewhere, and normally this means in comedy movies.

In general non-white actors find themselves relegated to supporting roles, most lacking the clout in the industry that heavyweights like Will Smith have. There’s an immense multiethnic audience out there but few studios willing to cast actors of different ethnicities in roles where names mean everything.

Actors like Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Chow Yun-fat, and Jackie Chan aren’t getting any younger. These are all names that once were, and still are, recognizable by most. One day, however, they will inevitably retire, and once that happens who will be there to take their place?