Lieutenant Ehren Watada is a dude with some guts. He's defied the last institution you'd ever want to piss off: the US military. He's done the thing they probably fear most of their troops: he's refused to go to Iraq. After he received his Iraq assignment, Watada tried to prepare himself as best as he could --by studying the history of the country and learning about why the US invaded (whoops, should I say "liberated"?). What he learned shocked and disturbed him. Finding the war immoral and illegal, he felt it was actually his duty to refuse the order.
I apologize in advance, because this blog posting was written in anger. I was so angry about this last night I started to cry --I'm so angry it's hard to get the words out. And I apologize, because this isn't a specifically Asian American story. But it's about the fight that we face, nonetheless. I work in documentary film production, for a very large film corporation that will sue me if they find out I've blogged about them, so it shall remain nameless.
Just got this press release and it sounds like a film I'd really like to see... If you're in DC, go watch it and report back! GROUNDBREAKING FILM EXPLORING TERRORISM DISCOURSE TO BE FEATURED AT DC FILM FESTIVAL Accused Terrorists, Government Officials and Policy Experts Confront Each Other WASHINGTON The powerful new documentary "What is Said About Arabs and Terrorism," shot in 11 countries, researched in 6 languages and including 125 interviewees, will be featured at the Arabian Sights DC Film Festival this Sunday evening.
This has been breaking all last week, but in case you haven't heard, Vietnamese immigrant and California congressional candidate Tan Nguyen has been linked to the 14,000 letters sent out to Spanish speakers, warning immigrants that they could be arrested if they tried to vote. Read Chronicle article here. Is it just me, or is this totally sick?
Project Runway winner Chloe Dao’s fashion career is taking off.
Photographer John C Liau
You’re chosen to compete on Project Runway, a fashion reality-TV show, against bitchy, backstabbing divas who declare they’ve won from the start. How do you compete?
So, suicide has been on my brain lately. Not me committing it personally, but it seems to be popping up a lot. I went last weekend to see "The Science of Sleep" with Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg. See it! It's great. But before we got to see Gael's handsome mug, came the trailers. And I saw a one that I will never forget, for the rest of my life. Warning: This blog entry has turned out to be extremely depressing. and don't hold your breath for a happy ending.
Rarely have I been to an exhibit where the museum guests were wearing the same article of clothing as was on display. (Well, usually i don't go to exhibits where the art is wearable, that's true, too.) But not so last weekend in San Jose, where I kept taking sneak peaks at the women and girls running around in ao dai (pronounced "ow yie" or "ow zie") --many of which were equally beautiful, if less ornate, than the pieces on show.
So often when you boil down a question, it becomes one of those perennial unaswerable ones: nature or nurture? heart or mind? chicken or fish? And it's so annoying, because we asked those questions in high school english and I already know that you're just in for endless debate with murky morality and rationalizations all around. Another one of those questions came up for me last night at, where else: the SF Asian American Film Festival.
Omigosh you'll never guess who I saw yesterday! It was after a screening of 'Conventioneers' at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the filmmaker, the gorgeous Mora Mi-Ok Stephens, was talking to a guy with cheekbones out to HERE.
An Asian American guy with a really bad haircut looks out from my TV screen. "All my life, I wanted to be an American," he says. "I'm sansei, that means I'm the third generation to be born in this country." I missed big chunks of the rest of the commercial because of the yelling. My yelling. Have you seen this spot? It's on PBS. The guy goes on to say that his family was interned during the war, and that he always wanted to be an American but never felt like one until he saw Ken Burn's Civil War documentary on PBS.
Our company throws lavish holiday parties every year. Last year there was a full-on carnival, with popcorn, booths, stuffed animals and spray-on tattoos. The buskers didn't care if you cheated and everything was free. It was a good time. But they've just announced the theme for this year's party: Exploring the Forbidden City. I got real nervous. My anxiety was only confirmed today, when a conversation started on our internal messages board about what to wear to the party. One person said they'd dress as Willie from the Temple of Doom, or perhaps Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill.
Oh my gosh I am sick of talking about stereotypes and issues of representation. We "ethnic media" people are sometimes viewed as whiny and unrelenting and one-track minded, and it's kind of true. Here I am, complaining again about the way my peeps are being represented. But we can't stop, because society at large has clearly not gotten the message. Look at this image! Just look at it! What do you think they were thinking when they came up with this?!!
I'm going to have to go to Madagascar now, to try Chinese Malagasy food. NYTimes ran this fascinating article yesterday on "hyphenated Chinese food." Interesting that the anthro expert insist that Chinese food be some formula of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and green onions. That feels like someone insisting that I have black hair, be docile and give good massages. I can think offhand of about a thousand Chinese dishes that don't require those ingredients, but hey, i didn't write the book or anything.
Screen diva Bai Ling on the politics and pleasures of Playboy.
Writer Jennifer Huang Photographer Le Dao
When I sat down with Bai Ling, she erupted into words before I had a chance to ask my first question. Problem was, I couldn't figure out what she was saying. I wanted to talk to her about the particular issues facing an Asian actor who has made her body an integral part of her career, including her summer release, The Beautiful Country and her June Playboy magazine spread. But she wanted to share more—in fact, her whole trite-yet-weird philosophy of the universe.
What is not to love about Ryan? Check out that hair! And the boy is one of 14 finalists on "So You Think You Can Dance" -the dancer's version of "American Idol." Not only is Ryan Asian American, he's one of just a few b-boys who have made it through the first eliminations.
I never quite understood exactly how it works between the native Americans and our government --casinos, reservations, census data? But at any rate, some Native Hawaiians are fighting to get similar status. Listen the the NPR story here. The argument is that Hawaii was a sovereign nation, until the U.S. government came and took it over --just like they did the rest of the country. Some people think Akaka's bill doesn't go far enough, and Hawaii should be totally free from US rule.
Back when I was an idealist, living in the boondocks of Japan, I wanted to share the world with my students. Most of them lived in very small towns; the nearest movie theater was 1-2 hours away. McDonalds had yet to arrive. Life is surprisingly traditional there; gender roles are well-defined, formal rituals observed.
Back when I was in a Duncan dance company (Isadora, that is,) we needed to raise $$ to go to Hungary. We had a couple garage sales, we put on a few performances, we were thousands short of our goal. Somehow our director was contacted by an independent film production company and before we knew it, we were "gypsy dancers" in a dream sequence of a film called --I can't remember. German title, South Asian American film.
Check this: a former assistant beauty editor at Ladies Home Journal was fired for blogging! Nadine Haobsh lost two jobs -the LHJ and an offer from Seventeen Magazine --because her blogging was considered "unprofessional." I know this isn't "Asian American" per se, but it's rather chilling to us bloggers --and who isn't a blogger these days? (Note: if you knock the last three letters off her name she could sound Chinese.
Admit it. You watch it. It's everywhere, and it's taken over America. Reality TV. It's okay, I watch it too. Even "SuperNanny" on the really slow nights. And I couldn't turn off the marathon of "Gastineau Girls." Like most viewers, probably, I enjoy feeling superior to the rest of America when I watch, even as I feel guilty and sort of disgusted with myself afterwards. There are a few exceptions. "30 Days," the new show from Morgan Spurlock of "Supersize Me" fame, is getting great reviews.
I've been meaning to blog this all week --but I still think it's an exciting story. MTV has noticed Asian Americans! As told in the NY Times article on "I Want My Hyphenated Identity" (cringe), MTV is going to be coming out with 3 new channels aimed at Asian Americans: MTV Desi (for South Asian Americans), MTV Chi (for Chinese Americans) and MTV K (for Korean Americans). According to the Times:
A survey of 2000 people of color (Asian, African American, Latino, Native American, Arab American) by New California Media found that 45% of respondents prefer to get their news through the ethnic media. They conclude that 13% of all adults in the US get most of their news through ethnic-specific outlets, and that 64 million adults have regular contact with ethnic media. We only need 1 million to subscribe to Hyphen. Heck, we'd be pretty happy with just a few hundred thousand.
The US Pan Asian American Chamber of Conference held the largest national business conference for AAs at the beginning of May. Guess what they called it? CelebrAsian 2005! This may not be the first or last time I'll complain about this, but people! Come on! Making -tion and -cion words into "blahblahAsian" is NOT clever! Not original! Not funny! In fact, I'll go so far as to say it makes us Asians look like big loser dorks. ImaginAsian? InnovAsian? Think a little harder please! Anyway, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor, was one of the speakers at the conference.
Did y'all see John Cho the other week on Grey's Anatomy? He plays a sick dude. A little sad for a guy who has starred in movie... But apparently is not quite a movie star. It got me to thinking, because last week I interviewed Damien Nguyen, star of The Beautiful Country. You haven't heard of him yet because all he's done is background gangster guys. The film will release July 7 (also starring Bai Ling, see Hyphen issue 7 for the interview) but Damien did a really great job.
The hidden dangers of hepatitis B.
Anthony Chiu had just enjoyed a dish of chicken curry when he was seized with a terrible stomachache. Indigestion, he thought. The pain subsided so Chiu dismissed the episode, visited the same Vietnamese restaurant a week later and ate an identical dish of curry.
Again, gripping pain shot through his abdomen, and was so persistent this time that Chiu went to the emergency room. The diagnosis: a tumor had taken over half of his liver. His oncologist initially diagnosed the cancer inoperable.