Sunday, January 31, 2010

Asian American Movie Throwback: Saving Face

Rarely do I come across movies about Asian-Americans that I believe are actually entertaining and do the community justice.  In other words, the movie presents the lives of Asian-Americans as ordinary citizens who play legitimate roles, not ethnically demeaning ones.

It was quite serendipitous, but I recently saw one of my favorite films called Saving Face, a romantic comedy directed by Alice Wu. Surprisingly, not a lot of my AA friends knew about the flick when I recommended it even though it actually has a genuine plot coupled with well written script.  It has its hilarious moments and its times of empathy. If you haven't seen it, you should go rent and watch it since I'm not going to spoil it for you other than by saying its about a Chinese-American female doctor living in NYC who is trying to come to terms with her sexuality.  

I've probably seen this movie about four times now, but its still a delight to watch. All of the actors are tremendously talented which astonishes me that such great AA actors aren't given more mainstream attention. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that they don't kowtow to HollyWhite's demands of playing stereotypical submissive or fobby Asian roles. Well whatever the reason may be, the cast was given their time to shine in this film. What I like most about the movie though is its depth portrayed by the characters, the sense of realness, and the (just go watch it) scene.  

So if you haven't seen it, go rent and watch it already!!  

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mounting Friction Between China and the U.S.

Google isn't the only U.S. company creating friction between to the two nation-states. I've come across several articles now where this friction between Chinese and U.S. based businesses are mounting with not slowdown in sight. Are these early signs of protectionism and future trade wars to come?

As long as China continues to ascend its way to the top of world economies, there's no question investing and conducting business in China is going to be challenging for foreign companies.  If you don't believe me, here is a list of examples that have become public recently in chronological order,
China may be the beacon of light to a global economic recovery but it is also problematic to U.S. businesses and the latter's global hegemony.  The battle has begun.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Identity Crisis For An Asian-American

This is my last night here in Korea for at least several months before I proceed onward with the next chapter of my life in California.  Its been one hell of an experience being far and away from America for such an extended period of time.  When I thumb through those pages filed away in my memory of Korea there isn't a single one that I disregard with sheer contempt or regret.  Whether they were good, bad, happy, stressful, frustrating or even the saddest of times is interesting but irrelevant; the land I was once fairly distant and unfamiliar with has become my 2nd home.

While my experience in Asia has broadened my horizons in a multitude of ways, I feel awkward returning to America - the land where I was born and raised like most of you - to continue where I left off several years ago. To travel abroad and immerse myself in a different culture for a lengthy timeframe is a fascinating experience, but even more so when the land is of my own ancestry because I can identify with it for some inexplicable deja vu-like reason.  For once in my life I physically resemble the majority giving me the opportunity to seamlessly blend in with the crowd without much effort.

Some of you may have grown up in a densely populated Asian environment. If you're one of those individuals, frankly, I envy you a lot. I mean, A LOT. The racially motivated identity crises I experienced from childhood all the way on up to young adulthood always kept me in limbo.  A part of me wanted to be white in order to fit in better with the rest of my classmates.  This includes not falling victim to,
  • Slant-eyed taunts and gestures.
  • "Konnichiwa" or "Ching Chong" greetings.
  • "Me Chinese. Me play joke. Me put pee pee in your Coke" jokes.
  • Getting asked the proverbial question, "Are you guys brothers?" and again having to respond, "No. He is Chinese." "No. He is Vietnamese." "No. He is an alien from another planet."
  • The disreputable, "Go back to your own country" line.
  • (Surprisingly, I never heard small penis jokes until the latter half of my college years.)
On top of that, half of my K-12 crushes were white girls while the other half were Asian.  It wasn't until I entered college did I get a full blown Asian majority experience.  I found it hard to adjust to be around so many Asian people all of a sudden since it felt foreign to me.  During those days, I was chagrined to see all these "Asian Pride" groups roaming around campus.  It just seemed too narrow and ethnocentric.  Obviously, I didn't understand the socio-political implications behind the message since I was blind to the ongoing struggle rarely publicized by the mainstream.  In retrospect, I regret chastising and not actively participating in these social groups promoting Asian-American awareness.

Hence, the reason why I believe a trip to the motherland is imperative is for the sake of gaining a deeper, broader and more profound understanding of your Asian-American identity.  It will give you an appreciation of what your parents battled with to make it in a foreign country, using a foreign language and simultaneously raising you in the process. This is something that should not be dismissed nor taken for granted as some sort of trivial feat. Even if you're adopted, it'll still bring meaning to your life and sense of belonging. Lastly, instead of resorting to that feeling of wanting to be white, you can experience this majority privilege while maintaining your ethnicity, heritage and ultimately your self-respect.  In America, you may have always been known as that one Asian [insert specific ethnicity here] person, but in Asia. . .you're just a person.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Emasculation of Chinese men. Who is to blame?

America's compulsive disorder of emasculating Asian men in the media and entertainment is widely known and exasperatingly discussed. However, what is rarely discussed is how Asian men are emasculated in Asia. While it has accumulated a mountain of frustration for many Asian-American men living in the US, I don't know if what I came across today is even worse in nullifying the blips of progress Asian males have made to improve their image.
Now I'm neither of Chinese ethnicity nor residing in China, but if Sun Yunxiao has written a book in order to "Save the Boys" from turning them into girly men, then I definitely see this as becoming a major issue for not just Chinese, but for all Asian males worldwide.
In his book Sun claims that,
  • Chinese boys between the ages of 7 and 17 are 2.54 cm shorter than Japanese boys.
  • Chinese boys are getting physically weaker. 
  • Chinese boys are now emotionally more vulnerable than girls.
First of all, I'll assume that the three bullets aren't some outlandish claims Sun pulled out of his ass, and he actually did his due diligence in researching and gathering legitimate data.  With that, if all the stereotypes Asian men struggle with today aren't bad enough, then this definitely hammered the last nail in the coffin of a slow and painful death of the masculine Asian male image.
Sun argues what I have been griping about all along - Asians unhealthy overemphasis on education which stifles the growth in maturing from boys to men.  Yes, as laudable as studying 24/7 and earning high marks on exams may be, too much of anything can result in dire and unwanted consequences.
They say that in order to address and resolve an issue, you must admit that one indeed exists.  Fortunately, Sun along with many others including myself, recognize this cultural characteristic as a sociological, psychological and even physiological setback for Asian men,
"...traditional Chinese method of 'caged breeding' raises a child like a little emperor and doesn't encourage independence. Furthermore, “the frequent absence of a father figure and the overprotection of the mother is another factor that makes Chinese boys more feminine.”
I have seen instances of this in other Asian countries as well, though I think there is less of this in Korea due to a law requiring every Korean male citizen to enlist in the military for almost two years.  Sun argues the need for Chinese men to participate in sports as opposed to trying to imitate popular culture icons, since they "blur the man/woman divide".  He points to Li Yuchun as a primary example of who Chinese boys try to imitate.

This dudette above may be a good singer and have some ambiguously captivating flavor, but it leaves me confused.  At first glance, I actually thought Sun's reference to Li was illustrative of how guys in entertainment are beginning to reflect a girly behavioral display.  I was going to say Li is nowhere in close proximity to
Rain's level of masculinity and sex appeal or Jin's level of rawness until I found out...Li Yuchun is actually female!  I think I'm beginning to understand Sun's conjecture.

So who is to blame for this developing trend?  Is Sun's book a backlash against A) feminism in China, B) the lack of universally defined gender roles, C) Chinese boys stunted due to an overemphasis on smarts or D) all of the above?

My answer is D) all of the above.  Final answer.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avatar perpetuating a "White Messiah" myth?

The thought never occurred to me that James Cameron's Avatar was filled with racial undertones rendering the tiresome "White Knight In Shining Armor" cliche. Yes, I am attuned to racial-gender inequality in American society, particularly entertainment, but I didn't think anything of the like while watching it in twice in theaters; that is until last week. The NY Times ran an article from Columnist David Brooks who asserts that the era we live in produces a perpetual "White Messiah" fable.
Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable.
This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.

 He continues stating later on,
Yet of all the directors who have used versions of the White Messiah formula over the years, no one has done so with as much exuberance as James Cameron in “Avatar.”  “Avatar” is a racial fantasy par excellence.
This leaves me wondering though, did HollyWhite just slip another subliminal "White Is Right" artificial flavor into my movie drink? I tried my best to look at it from another perspective. Avatar is about taking a stand against corporations and saving the planet which our generation has contributed to polluting, right?

Yes, its a no brainer, but it is also conniving because as Brook argues the movie rests on the assumption that only White males are Alpha enough to lead their crusades. Additionally, only White males can pass the litmus test of acceptance into another ethnic group.  Brooks alludes to other movies which present similar themes: Fern Gully, Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai.  I'll add a couple of others to the list: The Last Airbender, 21, District 9, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (thankfully, Justin Lin was director who pushed for Sung Kang's role to stay juicy).

What's interesting is that I seriously cannot recall a single movie where a foreigner, an Asian male at that, integrates with White America in a similar fashion, becomes the hero, and gets romantically involved with a White woman. The only movie that comes to mind is Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story which is based on real life events where you see what kind of overt racism Lee dealt with living in America.  Has much changed since then?  I'm not convinced that it has. Its as if only White men are capable of integrating with a foreign culture, yet we are not.
The media is the most powerful entity on Earth.  They have the power to make the guilty innocent and to make the innocent guilty, and that's power, because they control the minds of the masses.  -Malcom X
Is this the kind of massive manipulation the US entertainment-media complex is ingraining upon us where sites like Asian Male Revolutions are so critical of?  

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dude! Be Vociferous But Not Violent.

You know the interracial dating scene has become tremendously imbalanced when you read something like this
Brooklyn--Eight people were arrested after they allegedly beat and robbed a man for being in a Sunset Park bar with the wrong woman. The 21-year-old victim was inside Cafe Mix Bar on 61st Street with a 20-year-old Asian woman shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday when several men began badgering him for being with someone of that race, sources said. The gang attacked the couple outside, the sources said. Cops broke up the melee and arrested Jack Chan, 26, and seven others, said the sources.
Alright, let me get one thing straight.  By no means am I advocating that we use violent measures to tilt the dating landscape back to a healthier equilibrium.  Its one thing to be a militant minority and vociferously challenge the system, but its another to act with violence against a person simply out of spite of an ethnic mismatch that's not in our favor.

This is not Progress.  Its not Acting to better ourselves and its not Voicing to achieve social awareness. This is downright heinous and unacceptable.  I understand Jackie Chan was jealous, but its not the guy's fault you ended up having to play Mr. Miyagi's role in the new Karate Kid. I'm just kidding.

Seriously though, I completely understand if there's envy and resentment, but unless the guy instigated an alteracation first, there's no legitimate reason to beat and rob him just because he's with an Asian girl.  You don't see an IBM sales rep physically beating up an Oracle one because he lost an account. Let's not forget that Vincent Chin was also assaulted winding up dead because of envy.  I sure as hell don't want that shit happening to me when I'm at a bar with my non-Asian girlfriend.  That's not how we should play the Game and its definitely not my modus operandi of making Progress.

I'd rather spend that time and energy on a PUA workshop, sending a letter to Hollywood executives as to why we need more Asian American men in entertainment or organize a revolution.

Then again, maybe shit's just hit the fan and it was bound to happen after somebody had a terrible flashback while listening to a NaS track??  *shrugs*
"I shall - stay real, stay true, stay holdin figures
Never put a bitch over my niggaz
I shall never, cooperate with the law
Never snake me I always hold you down in war
If they take one of mine, I take one of theirs
I never break the oath to the death I swear."
-Smokin' -- NaS, 2001

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

UPDATED: YAAPP - Yet Another Asian PUA Post. One more for the critics.

I just read through several blog editorials on Pick Up Artists including all of the comments bashing or boasting it. One of the reviews is pretty critical of the Asian PUA movement so I wanted to shed some light on this dark topic of discussion.   Despite what critics may argue, the Asian PUA movement is a step in the right direction for Asian American men and I'll explain why.

As most institutions are formed in order to genuinely improve the lives of suffering individuals, the PUA movement is no different. Its analogous to religion. I can't think of a single religious leader whose sole intent was to boost his ego at the expense of corrupting the hearts and minds of helpless persons seeking out a higher Truth. They heard, they came, they saw and they followed. Unfortunately over time, most institutions either undergo some kind of mutation or branch off into modified wretched versions from its original thesis.  

Take Christianity for example. You have roughly 10,000 different sects stemming from the same founder. Is this what Jesus intended? I personally don't think so. I'll take it down a notch since religion is a touchy subject.  

Lets look at hip hop instead. Hip hop originated from the ghettos of NYC as an underground subculture consisting of 4 elements: Emceeing, B-Boying, DJing and Graffiti. It was a street culture that was mainly dominated by Blacks and Puerto Ricans to provide the urban youth an alternative to gang violence with the leadership of some mighty renegades: Afrika Bambaata, Rock Steady Crew, Kool Herc (he actually coined the term "hip hop"), etc.  

Now look what its become. A mainstream watered down, directionless, insipid, formulaic pop music culture associated with ballin', clubbin' and women dancing like video-hoes. This is not the hip hop that I remember and this definitely is not the hip hop that I love and pay homage to. But it has its pluses and minuses like PUAism. Hip hop is helping black people eat while contrastingly dumbing them down. I firmly believe the Asian PUA movement is no different.  

When Asian Playboy started his ABCs of Attraction, there was already a well-established PUA movement residing in Los Angeles. Before he discovered the world of pick up artistry, he had successfully achieved his goal of graduating from college and working as an engineer. However, he felt unfilled because something was missing from his life - women. This still plagues many 1st and 2nd generation Asian American men because Asian parents such as mine, chalk up this rosy fairy tale for us when we're younger. Just as women are told these "Knight in Shining Armor" or "Happily Ever After" fairy tales, here is the version I got,  

Go to a good school, get a good job and you'll find a good girl. [Updated]
Okay, well maybe it didn't go exactly like that, but it was something similar to that effect. The sad thing is, I never even went to a single high school dance. That's right. No Homecoming, no Winter Formal and no Prom. My family was too poor and my parents discouraged it. I had one of the cutest White girls in our class ask me to the Sr. Prom and even offered to pay for the tickets and I still said no. Of course now I regret it, however I had never been to a HS function before so I wasn't sure what the standard procedure was of taking out a girl to a formal dance. Had I been permitted to attend these functions beforehand, I would have said, "Fuck yeah!!".  

I had other limitations. Where was I going to get the money for a limo, tuxedo, flowers, etc? The previous week I just got my license so I was still apprehensive of driving.  Shit, I didn't even know how to slow dance! Very counterintuitive since I was one of the best b-boy/hip hop dancers back then at school. But most importantly, I had incredibly low self-esteem from being poor and socially inexperienced so part of me truly believed this girl just asked me out of pity.

My bad. I completely digressed.  

APB's adolescent experience may vastly differ from mine, but the point I'm trying to make is that he probably invested so much time on getting admitted into a good university and a respectable job that he completely neglected a key aspect of his life; his social life. Now I didn't want to endure the same kind of financial hardship like my parents did, so I only focused on school (and dancing which my parents discouraged too btw). But hey, my fairy tale of having that college education and high paying job would certainly lure the ladies to line up for me right? Uhhh...NOT. And why not? Because there are millions of other intelligent college graduates earning a decent or higher paying salary which makes me what? Average. Correction, average with underdeveloped social skills. [Updated Jan. 13th] Isn't this what the PUA movement was originally set out to address?  

There's no question that one of the primary objectives is to get laid. What man would not want to have sex with a beautiful women? (Besides a gay one). How can Asian PUAs be criticized of sexually objectifying women when you have guys like Rick Lee and Hung Lo who are performing the act on camera which is much more widely accessible via the web? The intent of both movements is to inspire and improve the masculine image of Asian American men by removing the sexual malware that has corrupted our hard drive. From my experience for instance, I've developed and improved much of my social skills by the actual application of PUA theory and its teachings. Yes, I've gotten laid from it as well, but it was not by using "brute force" techniques. Remember, its how to attract a woman.[End Update Jan. 13th]

Albeit, I never met APB but a cohort of mine attended his weekend bootcamp about 4 years ago and was mesmerized by his talent and ability in attracting women. He clearly had dedicated himself to this craft and wanted to share it with the Average (Asian) Frustrated Chump out there who probably concentrated too much on the fairy tale and not enough on the reality of social dynamics. APB believed and proved to himself that YES, things can be different. You can still play catch up and do a complete 180. You can exude confidence and pique a woman's interest by using certain gambits that are much more effective than a banal, "Hi. How are you doing?" or "I just thought I'd let you know I think you're very pretty." Women rarely respond to that kind of a conversation opener unless you're someone like Daniel Henney. And if your body language sucks, then you might as well throw in the towel before you even open your mouth. I don't think anyone is innately born as an Alpha male. We become Alpha. For some of us its through sports, entertainment or business. For others its by being outgoing and social.

[Updated: Jan. 14th]
I read somewhere that Tom Cruise said if people focused on improving other aspects of their life instead of pretending, then they wouldn't need this. No offense but its easy to claim this if you're a world renown celebrity such as Tom Cruise, The Last Samurai, whose role in the movie ironically reinforces the AF/WM image many of us detest so fervently. He is a deviation from the average Asian American male. Besides, if this is the only aspect of your life which needs improvement, then what makes it any different from improving the other aspects of your life?  

To summarize it all, APB and other Asian PUAs intentions are to improve the social lives of Asian American men who lack even the most rudimentary skills to converse with both women and men in a diverse social setting. Everyone eventually has sex whether or not you're PUA. There will always be bad apples who abuse what the framers of the institution intended, but don't denounce an entire movement that is helping Asian American brothers overcome their approach anxieties with women. Especially when its countering the stereotype that we have zero Game and are considered the bottom of the barrel in the dating pool.  That ain't so Alpha.
[End Update Jan. 14th]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who Says Asian Guys Aren't Romantic? Not the TSA!

Chinese immigrant, Haisong Jiang, is apparently the culprit of the Newark Airport security breach fiasco. The New York Times reports the Rutgers University graduate student, here on a student visa, was arrested for trespassing by ducking past security when the TSA guard was away from his post.  The security video showed Jiang slipping by security to give his girlfriend a hug and a goodbye kiss like this, 

People close to Jiang say he is just a romantic and loves his girlfriend very much. Who says Asian guys aren't romantic?  Maybe he was watching too many romantic comedies or Asian TV dramas where a guy breaks through security to kiss and say goodbye to his girlfriend one last time before he leaves for war.  You know what they say, "Men have 2 heads but only enough blood to operate one at a time."  This may have been one of those times.  I don't think he knew what the ramifications were by trespassing, but Senator Frank Lautenberg of NJ did not find the incident innocuous. Lautenberg is hoping Jiang will face federal charges considering the trouble the security breach caused for the 1,600 travelers stranded at the airport and the flights unnecessarily delayed.  

Now is it just me or do you also find this quite laughable?  The guy may be getting his doctorate, but he obviously lacks common sense or an understanding of US culture. I think he should be heavily fined at least $1000 for causing the disruption. 

But...what about the TSA's lack of competence in handling the whole situation? Here are some interesting factoids. Even Lautenberg was shocked to find out that, 
  • Only ONE security guard was responsible for terminal exits.   
  • Security cameras used by the TSA weren't working properly so they had to scramble to obtain the footage from Continental Airlines.
  • The Port Authority who plays a critical role in maintaining safety at Newark was not notified of the breach until an hour later after the breakdown.
The guard who left his post should also be reprimanded.  Why was he away from his post and not replaced with another TSA personnel?  In addition, terrorists are not law abiding citizens for those who don't know already.  They will dodge such preventative measures such as security rope. Use some plexiglass with turnstiles or some other kind of lexan barriers.  Anything but the security rope you find at your local bank!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are Asian Women Easy For Non-Asian Men?

I sure think so.  With all the hoopla over Asian women in America these days it appears that our fellow Asian American sisters are getting a bad wrap, literally.  According to a study done by Boston University Professor, Hyeouk Chris Hahm, "Asian-American women were four times more likely to have a sexually transmitted disease over their male counterparts" which leads me to believe that they are considered easy, especially to non-Asian American males i.e. White guys.  Someone is obviously fuckin'.

Now maybe I'm supposed to be in complete shock and dismay, but its not all that surprising if you think about it.  Go ahead and yap all you want about the different statistical methods of slicing, dicing and presenting the data to bias the results, but before you disparage Hahm's findings save your breath and do three things for me first,
  1. Take a stroll down the block and count how many Asian Female/White Male couples there are as opposed to AM/WF couples (this works even better if you're in California or NYC by the way).
  2. Go to Craigslist and look under the Personals section and see how many SAFs are seeking out SWMs and vice versa.  I guarantee the scale is tipped more so in one direction.
  3. Take a trip to Japan, China or any Asian country for that matter and perform 1 & 2.  In this case, you can interchange White with Black as well.
Since traveling to Asia may be a limiting factor for most of you, just by completing the first 2 points, do you still find this hard to believe?

Hahm also discovered that "Asian American women had a higher prevalence of STDs than White women in both 1995 (10.4% vs. 7.7) and 2001 (13.5% vs. 8.3%).  The incidence of STDs (not diagnosed with STDs in 1995, but developed STIs in 2001) among Asian American women was also higher than that of White women."  I know all of you AFs out there aren't easy, but this is some damning evidence when compared with White women.  Incorporating these findings with AFs being 4x more likely to have an STD and it really begins to beg the question.   

I don't mean to lambast all of you AA ladies, but try practicing responsible, safer sex by wrapping it up and slowing it down before you either catch a reputation as being an easy lay or something even worse!