Linda Ge 「How ABC Is Trailblazing Path for Asians on TV With ‘Fresh Off the Boat,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘Quantico’」

Posted on September 29, 2015 commentaires
Randall Park, Constance Wu & Hudson Yang, 「Fresh Off the Boat」 (ABC)

The network will feature 18 Asian series regular characters this season and a record three shows with lead actors of Asian heritage

The success of ABC’s 「Fresh Off the Boat」 has paved the way for an explosion of actors of Asian heritage on the network — and across broadcast TV.

ABC will feature 18 Asian series regular characters during the 2015-16 season, according to findings by the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC). That number beats the previous record set by NBC in 2008, when the network featured 16 Asian characters across its shows.

ABC will also be the first network in history to have three shows featuring first-billed Asian leads on the air at the same time. In addition to 「Fresh Off the Boat」, the network is also debuting 「Dr. Ken」, a comedy featuring 「Hangover」 star Ken Jeong, while Sunday night saw the premiere of FBI thriller 「Quantico」, headlined by Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra.

“ABC has certainly stepped up the game,” APAMC co-chair Daniel Mayeda told『TheWrap』. “Everyone [across all the networks] is doing really well, but more importantly, it’s the nature of the roles... These are very significant roles we have now, rather than just being someone’s boss or someone’s sidekick or best friend or whatever, which is what’s happened in the past.”

Mayeda cites ABC’s concerted push for diversity, particularly last season season, as a major reason why Asians and other minorities are finding opportunities never available to them before.

In addition to 「Fresh Off the Boat」, the network also premiered 「black-ish」, a sitcom about a black family starring Anthony Anderson, and it’s also the network of Shonda Rhimes, whose 「Grey’s Anatomy」, 「Scandal」 and 「How to Get Away With Murder」 make up the unmissable and incredibly diverse TGIT Thursday night drama block.

“Across the board, there’s a lot of pressure for all of diversity,” ABC’s Executive Vice President of Comedy Development Samie Falvey, who oversaw the launch of 「Fresh Off the Boat」, told『TheWrap』. “We really felt like if neither 「black-ish」 or 「Fresh Off the Boat」 worked, the entire town would say, ‘You know what, we were right, it’s all about white people, those shows are niche.’ To have those shows work was incredibly gratifying.”

ABC is not the only network expanding the onscreen presence of actors of Asian heritage. CBS will have 13 Asian series regulars and 22 recurring on shows ranging from 「Hawaii Five-0」 to the new medical drama 「Code Black」, while The CW has six Asian series regulars, on shows like 「iZombie」 and new musical drama 「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」.

Fox currently has 10 series regulars and eight recurring guest stars, represented on such shows as 「Grandfathered」 and 「Minority Report」. Data on NBC shows were not immediately available, though Asian actors are series regulars on shows such as 「Heroes Reborn」 and 「Chicago Med」.

Grace Park & Daniel Dae Kim, 「Hawaii Five-0」 (CBS)


In the past, networks have tended to focus diversity efforts on African Americans and Latinos rather than Asians, who represent about 5 percent of the U.S. population.

Before the February launch of 「Fresh Off the Boat」, starring Randall Park and Constance Wu as Taiwanese immigrants in Miami, the last Asian family sitcom was 1994’s 「All American Girl」 starring Margaret Cho, which lasted just one season.

Following the success of 「Modern Family」, Falvey said network executives looked to explore an immigrant family show. “We knew it was a way to do a love letter to America from an outsider’s point of view,” she said.

She also noted that there’s been at least one show about an Asian family in development at ABC every year, for at least four to five years prior to 「Fresh Off the Boat」 finally making it to air.

The two imperatives came to together with 「Fresh Off the Boat」, which has managed to attract a diverse audience. According to APAMC, 60 percent of the show’s audience is white. And it is, of course, the No. 1 show among Asian-Americans.

“For a long time, it was just a sense that the contemporary American family was not on TV,” she said. “That’s because I have a super bizarro, how-do-these-people-know-each-other kind of family, so for a long that, that was kind of the drive and intent behind a lot of our development.

Diversity, network execs are discovering, is big business.

“It’s a culmination of years of advocacy,” Mayeda said. “There’s been a gradual increase in the number of Asian-Americans who are on television and the kind of roles we’ve been getting.”

And with the success of shows like 「Empire」 and 「Fresh Off the Boat」 and the Shondaland block, he noted, “Finally people figured out diversity is not just something you do to get community groups off your back, this is a way to make money. This is something we’ve been telling them for over a decade. The data is now bearing that out.”

The ability to tell an Asian story on screen and seeing Asian actors cast in roles that traditionally have been closed to them are two equally important aspects of representation for the rapidly growing minority group, according to Mayeda.

“You want to have the opportunity, as an Asian actor, to play any role that’s not ethnically specific,” he said. “At the same time, we also want roles that are a chance to tell all aspects of our background, and that’s one of the reasons 「Fresh Off the Boat」 has been such a joy to watch.”

「Dr. Ken」, unlike 「Fresh Off the Boat」, is about an American doctor and his family, who just happen to be Asian. The two shows would seem to satisfy both aspects of Asian representation, and the fact that they are on the air at the same time seems rather miraculous.

But of course, there’s still room for improvement.

Mayeda believes the next obstacle to tackle is growing diversity in feature films, while Falvey thinks there’s still inroads to be made in portraying interracial couples and blended families.

And yes, there is room on ABC for another Asian family comedy next year if both 「Fresh Off the Boat」 and 「Dr. Ken」 are successful enough to be renewed this season.

“The biggest message as we went around to the community this year when we started our development process in June was, please don’t think we’ve checked off diversity boxes and we are now done,” said Falvey. “We fully plan to pile in behind that, and we proved it with ‘Ken’ and ‘Uncle Buck’ and we’ll continue to buy and develop there. It’s always going to be about the voice and the talent first, and then we want to reflect America, that’s always been the goal.”

「Fresh Off the Boat」 airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET and 「Dr. Ken」 premieres Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Ken Jeong, 「Dr. Ken」 (ABC)


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Max Lin 「Gay and Asian and a New Zealander」

Posted on September 19, 2015 commentaires
I wrote the following piece which was published in New Zealand’s only LGBT-focused magazine,『Gay Express』, titled 「Gay and Asian and a New Zealander」.

Max Lin writes from his unique perspective as a gay Taiwanese migrant, on the issues the GLBT community must still address in order to become more inclusive.

Moving to New Zealand, at the age of six, was probably the single most life-changing moment in my life. People tend to underestimate the power that moving to a new country can transform someone. I cannot conceptualise who I would be. I probably wouldn’t be able to speak English, have the same opportunities, and I wonder if I would even be able to acknowledge that I am gay – to myself, my family, and to my friends. For this, I am grateful – one of the proudest moments is when I walked across the stage in the town hall and became a New Zealand citizen.

I love this country and I believe we can make it a better place.

Being ‘gay’ and ‘Asian’ while growing up in New Zealand has often required me to navigate the demands of multiple ‘identities.’ However, I struggled as I tried to capture to complexity behind what it even means for someone just to be ‘gay’ or ‘Asian’ in New Zealand. I want to believe that my experience is not merely the product of reductive notions of each community. I wondered in what ways self-identification is an intrinsic part of who we are, or simply an insidious process of unconsciously trying to perform the expectations of those identities.

It might be easy to come to the conclusion then, that labels are meaningless – that somehow we are all individuals and equal. I wanted to believe that labels are just fictional constructs; that I am free to be who I am – but I know this is not true.

Labels are a way we relate to the world. They might be illusionary, but their effects are nonetheless very real; they are externally imposed on you beyond your own control. It is more convenient to put people into discrete categories. All you have to do is look at the marriage equality debates when Asian or Indian MPs tried to claim that their constituents hold conservative family values and are against marriage equality, as if one could not be gay and Asian and a New Zealander.

“It is time we started actively questioning what the gay community is, how inclusive it is, and genuinely start talking about less ‘obvious’ harms in our community post-marriage equality. It is true an individual cannot fully discount their agency, but their experience is framed by the wider community and we must acknowledge the role we play in shaping individual decisions.”

So what happens when these identities intersect?

Many in the queer community have quite legitimately pointed to the fact that sexuality is fluid. We want to believe this idea that we are free and can be who we are, that we are somehow the masters of our own destiny. Nothing elucidates the constructed nature of this more than the process of coming out, which is a process of ‘discovering’ one’s identity; almost as if it there was an authentic self always there waiting to be uncovered. When one starts questioning their sexuality, the first person which a gay man comes out to is himself. With that process of discovery requires coming to terms not just of their attraction or gender identity but the association which the label carries. While no one really ‘chooses’ to be gay in the same way we cannot simply will ourselves into becoming a different person; in a way coming to terms with our sexuality is a choice. We welcome that process, not really thinking about what it means to opt-into a ‘gay’ culture and identity, or question how free we are within it. It is no coincidence that many who are gay first comes out as bisexual, or even say the contradicting statement that ‘I am not that gay,’ trying to disown an externally imposed set of norms. What is preventing many from coming out is not just homophobic people, but expectations of our community. It is important that we question the stereotypes we hold about others but also ourselves and delve into the societal reasons for individual choices. Labels and identities are at the end of the day, a produced obviousness.

The irony of the gay community, and sometimes this magazine is no exception, is that as a group we can lack a degree of self-awareness in our participation in producing a similar oppression on other groups of people.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to communicate this – pinpointing to individual accounts of inequality in our community can appear petty and even antagonising – but I ask that people try and look at the greater context. For example, the gay community tends to be active or complicit in the sanitisation of the role which characters of colour have played in its history, most recently in the Stonewall movie. In media, Asian males are consistently underrepresented or even absent in terms of the portrayal of beauty standards, in movies, music industry and advertisement – and this is no accident. These images are largely aspirational but play a significant role in the inclusiveness of the community.

There is also a significant lack of queer role models of colour – in politics or business. Furthermore, political capital is always fixed around marriage equality, and little attention is often shed on the transgender community; queer people are still over-represented in statistics on homeless, mental health and drug use, and this is not being addressed adequately. These are the most vulnerable without a voice, and after marriage equality many have lost the will to address this. Unequal laws such as the criminalisation and travel bans and discrimination for those with HIV tend to prevent their full participation in the community. Pride, which used to be a point of resistance against oppressive social structures, have been co-opted by big corporations. Corporations will never sponsor political change, they are not a progressive institution because they cannot afford to be controversial. This means if our ‘activism’ depends on corporate sponsorship we can never be pushing boundaries and be at the frontlines of social change and inclusiveness.

It is time we started actively questioning what the gay community is, how inclusive it is, and genuinely start talking about less ‘obvious’ harms in our community post-marriage equality. It is true an individual cannot fully discount their agency, but their experience is framed by the wider community and we must acknowledge the role we play in shaping individual decisions. It may be an unrealistic expectation that any community will ever be fully inclusive, but it is not an unreasonable expectation that we become aware of the consequences of our actions and take steps towards that goal.

Author: Max Lin/Date: September 19, 2015/Source: https://maxwelllin.com/2015/09/19/gay-and-asian-and-a-new-zealander/


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Richard Lord 「Hong Kong filmmaker Ray Yeung’s new film, Front Cover, is a story about fitting in and identity」

Posted on September 17, 2015 commentaires
A gay Chinese man who spent half his life overseas, Yeung understands what it means to be an outsider

When Ray Yeung is asked – and it happens often – why he “makes gay films”, the filmmaker and lawyer wants to shoot back with: “why do you make straight films?” But he’ll bite his tongue – his films do the talking.

Based in Hong Kong, Yeung’s films have not only drew attention to the marginalisation of both overseas Chinese and the gay community, but also drew explicit parallels between characters coming to terms with their ethnic identities and their sexual ones, and show the ways in which marginalisation can lead to denial and self-loathing.


Ray Yeung 「Front Cover」 Trailer - released on 2015.

His second feature, 「Front Cover」, premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival in the summer and opens the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on September 19 at Festival Walk (Yeung is also the chairman of the latter), playing again on September 21 at AMC Pacific Place. The film concerns a gay Chinese-American stylist, Ryan (played by Jake Choi), who rejects his Chinese identity but is asked to style a patriotic mainland Chinese actor, Ning (James Chen), who only wants to work with a Chinese stylist, and who turns out to be gay but closeted. Sparks fly between them, but when a mainland magazine threatens to out Ning, Ryan has to choose whether to save the actor’s career by denying their relationship.

Educated in the UK from the age of 14, Yeung lived there for more than a decade before moving to New York to study at Columbia University. He returned to Hong Kong earlier this year after obtaining a master’s degree in filmmaking.

“The story is very much about fitting in,” he says. “We can all identify with pretending to be someone we are not, in order to fit in. My personal experience, being one of very few Chinese people at boarding school, was that in order to fit in I had to be as British as possible. What I’m trying to say is that everyone puts up a front – sometimes you just have to pretend. And everyone has a secret.”

Yeung knows a bit about trying to be something you’re not: while in the UK he studied for a law degree and spent two years working as a solicitor (he’s also worked as a freelance director of TV commercials).

“Of course, I didn’t like it. I only did it because my parents wanted me to do it. I didn’t want to be a lawyer; I just wanted to be fabulous. And I found that I didn’t believe in the system – the law was just a tool to be used by rich people.”


Ray Yeung 「Cut Sleeve Boys」 Trailer - released on 2006.

He released his first feature, 「Cut Sleeve Boys」, in 2006. A raucous comedy about the lives of two gay Chinese-British men, it delivers plenty of guffaws, and also examines class insecurity through the same prism as the prejudices suffered by gay people and by ethnic minorities.

He spent the next few years making short films, experimenting with genres other than comedy. He estimates each one, despite only lasting about 10 minutes each, took roughly half as much effort as his features.

“I wanted to do something more grounded, with a bit more character development,” he says; the result is 「Front Cover」, a title that’s a three-way pun on Ryan’s job, personal identity conflicts and the masks people put on. With less knockabout humour than 「Cut Sleeve Boys」, it’s a rather tender, touching tale about coming to terms with oneself, which avoids an implausible happy ending in favour of a nuanced notion of personal development.

The film is full of scenes in which Ryan, facing stereotypical assumptions from others, rejects his own Chinese identity. He takes it as a compliment when Ning tells him he doesn’t look Chinese, and is visibly revolted by Ning and his friends’ eating habits. Ning is a more subtle character than you might expect: his nationalism isn’t particularly bellicose (American actor Chen doesn’t overdo the mainland stereotype), and comes across as far more reasonable than Ryan’s violent preference for all things American.

Usually culture-clash films have protagonists that look different from each other, that are visually identifiable as coming from different cultural backgrounds. 「Front Cover」’s neat trick is to present a culture clash between two Chinese that covers their relationships not just to their ethnicity, but also to their sexuality. Culture clashes come from all angles in the film: Ryan’s Cantonese-speaking parents, for example, struggle to communicate with Putonghua-speaking Ning except in English.

“People ask the reason why I always deal with culture clashes,” says Yeung. “It’s not just because I’ve lived overseas for so long. I grew up in a British colony, like a guest in my own home, and so the concept of identity, and of being Chinese, is something I like to explore. Because I’ve always felt like an outsider, I’m really interested in ethnic minorities, and in not being part of the dominant culture.”

In addition to the festivals in Seattle and Hong Kong, 「Front Cover」 is in competition at the forthcoming Chicago International Film Festival and part of the official selection at the Hawaii International Film Festival. It has also secured distribution deals in both Hong Kong and North America, with the possibility of a cinema release.

After that, his next goal – now that he’s based in Hong Kong – is to make his first Chinese-language film, at least partly set here. “Film can be segregated here,” he says. “There’s an audience that only watches Western movies, and I’d like to bridge that divide. I’ve made two films about being Asian in the West, and the culture clashes that result from that, and I’d like to make one about growing up in Hong Kong.”

However, he says the filmmaking is actually the easy part – the hard parts come before and after that – and it’s about money. “Like any [new] filmmaker in the world, it’s hard to get money, and you never know where the money is coming from,” he says. “But the hardest bit is when the film’s done and you’re trying to sell it. You take it around to distributors and festivals, and some like it and some don’t, and it’s no longer just about you, but about this thing you’ve created. It’s like you have a kid you love and you’re pushing it out into the world.”

For more information and tickets to the 「Front Cover」 screenings, visit hklgff.hk

Ray Yeung. Photo: Bruce Yan



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Leslie Kee 紀嘉良 「THE INDEPENDENTS」

Posted on September 12, 2015 commentaires

Leslie Kee 「THE INDEPENDENTS」 (a short film featuring Yohji Yamamoto 2015 A\W Collection) - released on September 12, 2015.

「THE INDEPENDENTS」 directed by Leslie Kee featuring Yohji Yamamoto - got nominated to enter Competition in Paris - for the 8th Edition of the Fashion Film Festival ASVOFF founded by Diane Pernet.
Screening as the last nominated film at Center Pompidou, and won the BEAUTY PRIZE AWARD, receiving from Jury Chairman for 2015 - Mr Jean Paul Gaultier.


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Red Velvet 레드벨벳 「Dumb Dumb」

Posted on September 09, 2015 commentaires

Red Velvet 「Dumb Dumb」 - from『The Red』released on September 09, 2015.



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Sarah Moroz 「Tianzhuo Chen is the new rebellious face of chinese art scene」

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We speak to the pop-culture obsessed artist about Cartman, Lana Del Rey and partying in Beijing.

“In terms of aesthetics, his is quite different from Chinese artists,” notes curator Khairuddin Bin Hori of Tianzhuo Chen’s work. That’s somewhat of an understatement: Chen’s response to pop culture and his integration of the familiar is a larger-than-life combination of the fantastical and nightmarish. For Chen, pop culture is a full-on belief system: the ethos of rap is treated like something sacred, and religious totems like Adaha (an androgynous symbol from Buddhism) mix with commercially made dragon bongs, freemason eyes and the innards of inflatable animals. At the artist’s show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris — his first solo exhibition in Europe — viewers can spot pendants that state “Jerk Off in Peace,” tread on an oversized Eric Cartman-shaped carpet fashioned out of New Zealand wool, watch midgets with fake tattoos and gold teeth lip synch to Cantonese rap, and witness performances and video collaborations with out-there collectives like House Of Drama as well as Chinese pop stars. After graduated from CSM Chen has forged his own path and his own aesthetic from the margins of the underground scene, not only portraying constant transformation but living it himself.

Curator Khairuddin Bin Hori told me you two met online. How much does the online community foster your art and relationships?

The internet seems to be the main arena for young artists my age worldwide. We are all influenced by the internet and its unique aesthetic — we make art out of it, and then show it on internet, like a circulatory system. Internet and social media are the most efficient way ever to spread art. This is also how the Europeans approach me; it’s how they come across my work.

Can you talk about your upbringing and how it influenced you?

My parents don’t practice any religion; they are like most Chinese people from their time. I grew up without religion. I think that is one of the reasons I have this longing to believe.

Performance in collaboration with Beio, House Of Drama and Grebnellaw


Pop culture is everywhere in your work: from Eric Cartman and Michael Jordan on a rug, to rap music symbols like gold chain and gold teeth. How would you describe your relationship to pop culture?

My work is based on my personal interests and experiences in those pop-culture or sub-culture scenes—both in urban China and in the UK, through all the events and parties I was involved in. I was keen on making my work reflect our generation’s life, and share the same experience with them. I took characters from cartoons or pop culture iconography that I liked, and absorbed them into my new cult symbol system. I’m trying to create a tension between pop culture and religion. For example, I used one of Lana Del Rey’s songs in my performance. I try to create another interpretation when I put it into the context of a religious story. When an upside-down crucified figure sings the song, it becomes like a sacrifice.

How do drugs infuse your work? There are the multicoloured bongs in your Pilot piece, and I heard you gave drugs to all the members in your audience in preparation for a performance.

I’m not encouraging the use of drugs. Some parts of my work are very personal, but at the same time there are audiences who share the same experience. There is social anxiety in my generation in China, where everything is so sick and poisonous — drugs are the antidote.

I guess you are referring to 「Tianzhuo’s Acid Club」, my solo show in 2013 — I turned the gallery space into a rave party. There were about 500 people that came, they smoked weed and took LSD there the whole night. That was very dope; one of the best parties in Beijing. But I didn’t give them drugs, I’m not a dealer or anything. I would never do that. It just happened like this. I’m glad that everyone enjoyed the party. The party itself is the most important piece of the show.

You make repeated references to freemasonry and Eastern religions. What does adding these belief systems and symbols into your work bring?

My fictional religion is a hybrid of various religions. I take ideas and symbols from many other religions, and generate more contemporary meanings in mine. It is very common; religions absorb each other, like how Buddhism took form from Hinduism.

You have worked with the fashion line, Sankuanz, which was shown in both China and the UK during fashion weeks. How does creating for the body differ from creating for a space?

I just collaborated with a fashion designer and made a few collections. I don’t see the fashion collection as something else; I still think that is part of my work. The prints on the clothes were taken from my work. It is an extension from sculptural space onto the human body.

Performance in collaboration with Beio, House Of Drama and Grebnellaw


You studied graphic design and fine arts, but are self-taught with your videos. How have your decisions about which media to use evolve over time?

I guess I just lose my passion too easily to keep doing the same thing. I need to switch between media to maintain my motivation. Performance is the main media I’m working on right now.

You’re part of a more underground scene in China, and haven’t had any censorship problems, but how much does this risk weigh on you?

I don’t know. I haven’t been concerned by this problem yet. How could I make work if I was concerned by this every day? I hope that it’s never going to be a problem.

There’s a very exaggerated quality to your work—in content, colour, scale. Yet you’re known as quite quiet in real life, well according to Khairuddin Bin Hori!

I’m not that quiet, I’m just a bit shy; Asian people are shy. I can be quite crazy when I’m partying. Khai never parties with me, ha.

Photography Zhuang Yan


The show is in collaboration with K11, which run malls in China. Where you see the line between art and consumerism, if you think there is one at all?

I think they are basically parasitic.

This solo exhibition is your first in Europe. Does location change your work?

I don’t think my work has strong geographical character or territorialism, so I don’t really consider that aspect. I didn’t change my work in different cities, though the reception from audiences can be very different.

Tianzhuo Chen is on view at Palais de Tokyo until September 13th, 2015.

Credits
Text Sarah Moroz
All images, courtesy the artist and Palais de Tokyo


Tianzhuo Chen 陈天灼
Official Website: http://tianzhuochen.com/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/tianzhuo
Instagram: https://instagram.com/asian_dope_boys/


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Peaches feat. Margaret Cho 조모란 「Dick In The Air」

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Peaches feat. Margaret Cho 「Dick In The Air」 - from『Rub』released on September 09, 2015.

A Collaboration by Peaches and Margaret Cho
Directed by: Peaches

Love the outfit!


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