Daniel Youngwon Lee 「If You Don’t Know, Now You Know: An Interview with Eddie Huang」

Posted on February 29, 2016 commentaires
Credit: Charlie Analog

Eddie Huang is a chef, writer, TV host, fashion designer, speaker, and producer based in New York City and Los Angeles, whose work is recognized for bridging food with music, culture, comedy, politics, and metropolitan life. He is widely known as the chef and owner of the popular Taiwanese restaurant Baohaus in New York City’s East Village and as an advocate for the young and cultured and experienced foodies alike.

Huang has created several projects under the moniker “Fresh Off the Boat,” beginning with his popular blog. The name then went to his ingenious travelogue series with VICE Media – a “genre-bending venture of subcultures through the lens of food,” which features Huang traveling domestically and abroad. He is currently executive producing the Season 3 of the series. He also adopted the Fresh Off the Boat name for his first book and memoir, released by publisher Spiegel and Grau, which became a『New York Times』Best Seller in its first week of release in 2013. 20th Century Fox optioned the memoir and brought Huang on board to produce a sitcom of the same name, which premiered in February 2015 to incredible ratings for ABC.

AAPR: I have a couple of quick questions to help get this conversation going. Last meal you ate?

EDDIE HUANG: I went to Peter Luger’s last night. I did the steak for four, creamed spinach, German hash, tomato onion salad, Hennessey XO... and a coffee. [laughs]

AAPR: Last book you read?

HUANG: Oh, and we had the bacon. I’m currently reading Charles Bukowski’s『Ham on Rye』.

AAPR: Last time you voted?

HUANG: 2012. I stopped voting for a reason. I know the more conscious thing, the better thing, is to vote, right? I just don’t think this system works. You have to trust these people to remain Jedi and not fall victim to Beltway politics, lobbyists, and all that. But they’ve all been bought. I don’t believe in this system because it makes it easier for people to control our democracy. If all you have to control is the representatives, that’s easy.

AAPR: Your favorite city?

HUANG: I just like New York. Favorite city? It’s so far New York that the close second is not even close. I would say a very distant second is, hmm... I’ll tell you that my favorite vacation was always Hawaii. I like fish, man. Fish don’t say shit. You could look at them all day and they don’t say shit. I like being underwater cause underwater seems like another planet. I would say Hawaii, Taipei, and Paris. Those are the three other places I really like to go.

AAPR: What do you think are some of the bigger issues facing the Asian American community?

HUANG: I don’t want to answer any questions that have “biggest” or “best” or whatever because I don’t believe in that. I’ll give you my opinion, that’s all. I think that’s important because certain people will ask me about Asian America, and they’ll want me to say objectively or cumulatively what things should be. But that’s not why I’m here. I’ll give my opinion, and I really hope other Asian Americans will speak up with their opinions.

But I will say this. Our community has done very well – done well economically and done well scholastically in America. Our achievements though have been entirely overblown. If you look at the Census, there’s a lot of Asian kids who are struggling with school. There are a lot of organizations trying to help illiterate Chinese kids who can’t even apply to college. There are some Asians who are very high achieving and they did that on their own merit, but people are always trying to connect this shit. It’s like when White people do something well, it’s never a result of their race or a result of their privilege. It’s always entirely merit based, that they did that themselves. When Asians do something well, it’s like, it must be green tea, it must be the antioxidants in green tea. It must be their upbringing.

AAPR: I imagine you have in mind the recent discussions on tiger parenting.

HUANG: Yeah, that tiger mom shit is ridiculous. It’s the idea that people are going to explain off Asian achievement in certain areas... that’s fucking ridiculous. People do it on their own. Nobody else takes the SAT for us. They take it on their fucking own. The other thing is, nobody asks these questions to White people. If you’re a minority, you have to be smart enough to not answer these fucking questions. Don’t allow them to frame this conversation. And another thing is, when people in the ‘80s and ‘90s noticed that African Americans were dominating professional sports, they thought they must have an extra ligament or extra tendon, they must have better hamstrings. Nah. People work, man. People work.

AAPR: In your memoir『Fresh Off the Boat』, you wrote that as a kid you hated having the expectation of being the representative or the statement of the Chinese people in your community.

HUANG: I don’t like it when you’re the only Asian person somewhere and inevitably everything that you do becomes the stereotype for all other Asian people. They impress all the expectations of Asian people on you. That is extremely unfair, and that’s the shittiest part about America. As the only one, everything you do becomes crystallized as a stereotype or a stigma, and everything that others have seen before, you have to do as well.

I don’t like being a token Asian. I don’t think anybody likes being a token anything. I definitely believe that I represent a part of Asian America, that there are a lot of kids like me out there. I really enjoy talking about it because when I was growing up, there weren’t other people who were. There weren’t other Asian people I could relate to. I think that it’s important that people talk – and not just accomplished people.

You go to school, you go to classes, you read novels in school, but there’s never one from an Asian writer. It’s, like, Maxine Hong Kingston and『The Joy Luck Club』, but much love to Maxine Hong Kingston. She’s the OG.

AAPR: Are you purposefully trying to fill a gap in Asian American representation in our culture?

HUANG: I never go out thinking, “Oh, I want to fill this gap, or there’s a market demand for that.” I’ve never done that. I just lived a very different life. I just want to tell people about the first time I saw mac and cheese and thought it looked fucking weird. I want to tell people about the first time people tried to explain my achievement or success with green tea, or my mom hitting me with a spatula, or my dad telling me to kneel with a rice bucket on my head. The time my mom got a restraining order against my dad because she wanted him to respect her mind. I have a very, very unique family that doesn’t fit in the Chinese/Taiwanese stereotype.

I really like to use my life in specific examples. We’re people. We’re humans. We’re not demographics. We’re not a race. At the end of the day, we’re people. I really get sick of people talking about us like numbers, demos, and test scores. It’s disgusting, man. People look at us like we’re these exotic, test-taking, fucking bean-counting, green tea-drinking motherfuckers. That’s not us, man.

AAPR: Do you find that certain progress has been achieved by the Asian American community?

HUANG: I think this is a conversation for Asian Americans to have amongst themselves. On a personal level, there are things that I’ve seen improved. But outwardly, it’s not productive for us to say, “Oh it’s getting better, let’s just stop.” There’s so much further to go, and we’ve been tricked numerous times. When you let down and you think things are better, oh we’re post-racial. We’re not, and it’s not even close. Until we’re equal, it doesn’t matter if things get better.

And I also think that it’s not productive for people to think in a silo just for their own community. “Oh, I fight for Black rights” or “Oh, I fight for Asian rights.” Man, I’m trying to use our Asian American experience for everybody because everybody can relate to this Asian experience. We all have to get better. If you used to hate on Asians and you watch my show or you read my book and now you like Asian people, well maybe you’ll feel the same way about Guyanese people. Maybe you’ll feel the same about gay people. We’re all ignorant about something. It’s all about trying to open your mind and allow things you’re uncomfortable with to teach you something.

I’ll tell you this. I never understood punk rock, or heavy metal, or hardcore. I never understood any of that music. But since I’ve started working at VICE, I’ve hung out with those kids and I party with those kids. You see fucking Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform. I actually like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I’d never seen them live. I would never go to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show. But I saw her last night. Ghostface Killah was there, Lil Wayne was there. Obviously, I was the most hyped for them to go on. But Karen O was the best performer of the night. Hands down. I would go to a Karen O show any day. And the thing is perspective. When you see it as “the other,” and when you see it as different and weird, when you feel like it’s not of you... but when you are welcomed into the crowd, and they accept you, and they make you part of their fucking shit, you enjoy it with them through their eyes. You start to understand it through your own perspective.

It takes people welcoming outsiders into their communities and being like, “Look, you may be fearful of this and you may not understand this, but I want you to see this. I want you to enjoy this with me.” It’s like wine and my boy Michael Madrigale, the wine sommelier. Wine is an intimidating thing. It’s stuffy, and it’s for old people. But I started drinking wine with him and he taught me about it, what to pay attention to. It’s not about how much it costs. It’s like, what do you like personally? I believe every culture is like this. There has to be a bridge, there has to be an ambassador of the group. There has to be somebody who reaches out and be like, “Yo, I want you to experience this with me on my terms.”

The problem is, a lot of our ambassadors, they are basic. They’re fucking mouth breathers. They think that if I want people to like it, I have to make my culture change so they can understand it. You can appease people’s fears, but they have to see it our way. Otherwise, it’s a gentrification, an appropriation, a co-optation. If you’re going to open a modern Chinese or Taiwanese or Korean restaurant, stop changing it, stop changing your culture to fit American tastes. The place where things really go wrong is when the ambassadors of our culture go out into dominant culture and they say, “How do you want it?” It’s not like Burger King. You know these motherfuckers are going to want it on bread with mayonnaise. But I found an intersection. They like bread. But the Taiwanese people also make the bao, and it’s authentic and it’s real and I didn’t have to change anything for that. That’s the beauty of it. Find something you share, that your cultures share, and use that as a gateway. Use that as a jumping-off point, but don’t change yourself so they like you more. They need to appreciate you for who you actually are. What’s the point if you have to change your essence?

AAPR: Drawing from your own experiences, what are some recommendations for the Asian American community to consider as they work toward creating that bridge and common understanding with others?

HUANG: Don’t compromise. And not like in a vigilant, aggressive way. If you have a point, if you have a reason, explain it. Make it heard. That’s it. Agreeing on something doesn’t necessarily mean compromising. You can agree to something and convince people without compromising your point of view. That’s just negotiation.

And there are so many things that we can do to benefit everybody, for all people of color, for all people that are weird and different. I think there’s a lot of power in solidarity. All people who are marginalized should really come together and think about what we have in common and how we can help each other out. And if we have differences, maybe these differences need to be addressed. If we’re all being marginalized in singular ways, we should have singular recourse. I just think that the dialogue needs to transcend just isolated communities and that we have to talk amongst ourselves. So much of America is being marginalized for like 1 percent of the world. I just think there’s so much work that needs to be done together. When they divide the barbarians, that’s when they win.

AAPR: What do you think of the recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, and how it has sparked diverse groups of people to come together for a particular cause?

HUANG: I hate to say it, but the way we protest is so outdated. Why doesn’t someone protest by fucking going to law school? Go volunteer at the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], go work at Legal Aid. I fucking volunteered at Teen Court as a kid. It was government mandated because I was on probation at the time, but I went to Teen Court and that really changed my life in a lot of ways because I saw social justice up close. I saw how I could affect it. OK, we’re teaching our kids how to march, that’s great. I think once or twice, great. You teach them how to march, how to protest, the historical roots of a social movement like that. What are we doing beyond the protest? Write articles, talk to people, force your schools to teach these things. We have to evolve our protest because it’s not working.

AAPR: Looking back on your memoir, is there something you wish you had done differently?

HUANG: If there’s a flaw in the book, I would say that it’s so in the moment. There are certain chapters where it’s so inconsistent. In the early chapters, I write like I’m my twelve-year-old self and then in high school, I try to write like my high school self. I didn’t transition it enough. I think there are times when I really nailed the childhood voice and when I really nailed the high school voice, but I should’ve been more cognizant that that’s what I was doing. I mean, I was cognizant that that’s what I was doing, but I need to show a growth and it should’ve been more of a crescendo.

The ability to change the voice right in those moments is pretty dope. But that’s about becoming a better writer. When your voice mirrors the growth of a character, that’s when you’re really dope.

AAPR: Did that realization come from personal reflection or from people you were collaborating with?

HUANG: It takes a while to see it yourself. It was really after I wrote my second book. When I go back and read my first book, I’m like, “Oh Eddie, you were so eager to say... ” It looks like it was written by a really genuine kid who was in a rush to say so many things because people silenced him for so long. And he fucked up a few times. [laughs]

I said I knew when I wrote it that it wouldn’t be perfect because I was really young. I’m still really young. But I wanted to write it when I was twenty-nine years old because if I waited ‘til I got older, my appearance would’ve changed, the way I felt would’ve changed. I was still really angry when I was twenty-nine, and I didn’t have as much respect as I have now. I think it’s important to write that because people need works from people in those ages and time periods to relate to. Books can’t always come from old people who’ve seen it all, done it all, and are all calm. I wanted to capture lightning in a bottle so people that age can read how I felt at that age in that time in that space.

AAPR: What do you think about your growing popularity?

HUANG: I don’t like it when I’ll be walking down the street and people grab me or touch me. That’s annoying. When people stop me for a photo, no lie, it’s always a really nice thing. People who want to take a photo with you and are excited because they like your work, that’s cool. I’m not famous. You only know me if you’ve been paying attention. My work is niche culture. And that’s great because I want people who stop me on the street for a photo that really read my work and paid attention.

There was an old mom from Texas that ran up into Peter Luger’s the other day. I was sitting there and eating and she ran over and she said, “I just have to tell you. I fucking love you, you’re fucking hilarious. I watch your shows, and I’m an old mom from Texas. I’m gonna leave you alone now. I just had to tell you.” I was like, that’s great. You can’t beat that. Old White woman from Texas. It just shows you that people from all sides want to talk to each other. And we’ve been kept away from each other too long.

AAPR: Do you have fears about your memoir being transformed into a network television series?

HUANG: My book is very raw and it’s very pure, and if the writers on the ABC show stick to the stories of the book and they do it justice, Asian Americans will be represented very, very well. But if they put their own personal stories into the show and disregard the stories of the book, you’ll basically be making a White show with yellow faces. And that would suck. That would be no better than yellowface, like Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese man in 「Breakfast in Tiffany’s」.

Yes, I have fears. Yes, I’m worried, but I’ve done what I can by writing this book that does not compromise and that’s not sutured. I’m under the impression that this show is going to be inspired by the book. In the end, I signed off because there’s none of us on fucking network television. I’m aware that there are potential pitfalls, but I do my best to fight and I do my best to speak up and I speak up every fucking time.

AAPR: What do you want people to know about your show?

HUANG: It won’t be perfect. This show will not be perfect, but somebody has to come first. There’s a lot of room for another kid to come after me, whether he’s Asian, Black, Latino, Arabic, gay, whatever. A person will come after me and say, “Eddie didn’t go as hard.” But they have to know that I didn’t write the show. Judge me by the book and how hard I fought [for] this show. I definitely am open to people questioning how hard I’m fighting and what I’m saying about it, but you have to understand that I have been handcuffed in a lot of ways. But I just want to say that there’s an opportunity for someone to come after us and do this bigger and badder and even more uncut, in terms of a sitcom. And that’s what people need to do.

We need representation. Asians have no representation in the culture of America. So don’t shoot the messenger, just be a better one. Push yourself and do it better cause people didn’t just hand it to me. I fought for this and I fought for it for all of us. I did this for all of us. I don’t need the money, I did this so that we would be represented, but I’m questioning it all the time, just like other Asian Americans. And I’m trying. If they don’t like it and if they think they’re being misrepresented, I hope they understand that I’m trying and I didn’t get full control of this thing. And that’s what scares me. I control the book and I control my restaurant. I control the VICE show. This is the one project I have that is in many ways outside of my control, unless the community supports it and I have the ammunition to go in there everyday and fight them on this fucking show.

AAPR: You were once an attorney. These days, you’re a writer, chef, television producer, fashion designer, and musician. Why engage in popular culture to push your causes and perspectives?

HUANG: It’s more powerful. When I was a kid, I went to Taiwan and I saw huge billboards for Britney Spears and Kobe Bryant. I just remembered thinking to myself, “Man, American culture is so powerful.” People who have never seen America or been to America, never smelled it, tasted it, or lived there, think it’s the greatest country in the world. The Chinese name for America is mei guo, which means beautiful country. America has the best marketing of all time!

But soft power is so incredible. I just started to realize that I could continue to be an attorney, go protest, and be a part of these groups or I could sell narratives that endear our communities and our values to other people. I’m a funny person. I know how to tell jokes. I use my humor to open people up, to get them into our world and start to see things from our eyes. “Yo, there’s good shit here, some good food, I got good stories. You wanna hear some stories? I got some funny stories about my family. But now I want you to understand our existence about how we feel and where we come from and what our perspective is. Be fam with us.”

AAPR: Any parting shots for our readership?

HUANG: I think they have a responsibility to do better than the rest of us. People at the Harvards and the Yales have a lot more resources and opportunities and come into contact with a lot more shit than the rest of us do, so I think there’s a duty to fucking do something with it. When I go speak at schools like UPenn or Northwestern, students there are constantly like, “My parents want me to get this job that makes a lot of money, but my heart’s not into it. What do I do?” I had the same pressure from my parents, and everybody has similar financial pressures, but the thing was I never questioned what I was going to do. You always have to end up doing what you really want to do and what you care about. You can’t leave this earth and not make a difference. You can’t go through it passively. Especially when you have so many opportunities.

I just genuinely think that people at these schools need to realize that it’s not just about what you need. Go to a third world country. Go to a fucking really shitty city in China. Go to Haiti. People who are born there, it was their dumb luck that they were born there. And it was their dumb luck that there’s nothing that they can save them. You will meet people there who will never get out, and they will tell you that themselves. Being born somewhere fucks you the rest of your life sometimes.

If you are in America and you get to go to a Harvard or you get to go to any other college like I did, you have a duty to do something with that. You can’t just be self-fulfilling. You have to do something outside or beyond yourself. That’s all I would say. You serve something bigger than yourself, man. Every time I say something, I risk something. I think a lot of our problems come from people who are too scared to think for people beside themselves.

This interview took place on 6 December 2014.

Author: Daniel Youngwon Lee/Date: February 29, 2016/Source: http://www.hksaapr.com/2016/02/if-you-dont-know-now-you-know-an-interview-with-eddie-huang/

Asian American Policy Review
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Sebastian Castro 「Feel The Bern」

Posted on February 27, 2016 commentaires

Sebastian Castro 「Feel The Bern」 - posted on February 27, 2016.

thanks for watching. now, don’t bother paying. i would rather you download this new single online free and donate the money you would have spent to bernie sander’s grassroots campaign instead.

free download: soundcloud.com/seb_castro

this music video is not just an endorsement of bernie sanders. it is my loudest possible condemnation of trickle down economics and the neo-liberal policies they have espoused.

i see bernie as the american counter part to a greater world-wide progressive movement, one that holds wall street/corporate interests responsible for the boom and bust cycles plaguing our global economy, demands better enforced regulatory oversight, calls for campaign finance reform (along with immediate removal of Citizens United), denounces unfair corporate-created trade agreements (like NAFTA, TPP), fights for climate change, denounces the privatization of health care, education, for-profit prisons which have brutally disproportionately harmed blacks/minorities, fights for greater LGBT/womens’ rights, and one that calls BULL SHIT when pundits and faux-liberal think tanks claim social safety net programs (like education/healthcare/minimum wage/social security) are unaffordable.

if the mainstream media spent half as much time questioning our ability to fund corporate welfare and endless war as they do health care and education, they might still have an ounce of credibility.

this "feel the bern" music video may be provocative and unapologetic, but it does so to best relay one unsettling reality--YOU ARE GETTING SCREWED. we are all getting screwed, and the only way we will improve our circumstances is if we collectively increase our awareness and act.

i am not going to stand and here and claim the infallible bernie can do no wrong, but given his decades long track record against big money interests, he has proven his authenticity. our corrupt campaign finance system has given hillary every possible advantage, and yet by nothing short of a grassroots miracle, bernie has surged his way to national polls. WE DID THAT.

and now we need to go further. we are 3 days away from super tuesday, the day in which the largest number of state primaries will help determine the presidential nominee of the democratic party. now more than ever, we americans need to engage the political process. knock on doors. open apps. call old friends. and PHONE BANK, BRO. together, we can get a real progressive in that white house.

just another bernie supporter,

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Victor Liu 「Ray Yeung on Queer Identity, Representation, and Film」

Posted on February 26, 2016 commentaires
Chinese Culture Center Research Fellow, Victor Liu, had the unique opportunity to speak with Ray Yeung, the gay, Chinese filmmaker behind 「Front Cover」. Spoilers below.

What inspired 「Front Cover」?

I’m born in Hong Kong, I was sent to study in an English boarding school. I was the only Asian kid there amongst a white environment. Daily, people would say things like “chinky” or “Chinaman” as I was walking past. It was difficult. I was trying to fit in, so I was trying to act as white as possible. I used to lie to the kids, saying things like, “We don’t actually eat rice all the time, it’s a fallacy” – distancing myself from Chinese culture as much as possible, because that was the joke!

What’s more, later on, when I came out, in the gay scene, it was also very hard to be Asian because the classic male beauty is a white image, blonde hair, blue eyes, tall, handsome, like Michelangelo – that classical look. They never feature Asian men. As time went by, I still felt like an outsider.

I wanted to create a story based on a character, Ryan, with that kind of upbringing and attitude, someone distant from his culture and alienated from his heritage. What happens to him now when he meets Ning?

I felt like the character, Ryan, was a very pointed critique of a lot of the people in the gay Asian community. I was wondering what kinds of reaction you were hoping to get from people like Ryan and the gay Asian community in general in their seeing this movie.

A lot of gay Asians, they only date white men, not necessarily because they’re consciously racist, but because of internalized racism. Dating white guys seems to show that you’re more sophisticated, that you don’t hang out with the Asians in the paddy fields. You upgraded yourself, you belong to another class. Even in Hong Kong, it is this way, as it was formerly a British colony. There were – and still are – a lot of Asians that will only date expats as a way to climb the ladder. There’s this economical reason for it.

A lot of the audience came up to me after the movie and said, “Oh my god, when I was younger, I used to do exactly the same thing.” From relating to this movie, I hope that people can open their eyes a little bit and look at the issues.

Speaking about the takeaways of the audience in relation to this movie, I was wondering how the bittersweet ending, one of the most salient and interesting parts of the movie, played into the overall message and ideas that you want to convey to your audience.

I feel like it’s better to have an ending that makes the audience think a little bit. In this situation, one character decides to accept himself, and one character decides not to. The audience in the cinema can decide, “Oh, who do I want to be? Am I willing to sacrifice my family, my career, my social status to be myself?” If you tie it all up as a happily ever after, the audience will be satisfied but won’t reflect.

It’s also being loyal to the characters – we wrote different endings, and we thought it wouldn’t be truthful for Ning to just give up his career and stay in America or go back to China. In China and in Asia, if you want to be a public figure, if you want to play male romantic leads and action heroes – and you come out – it’s possibly going to ruin your career! For Ryan, although this particular relationship doesn’t work for him, it’s good that he learned something and is more prepared for his next relationship. In that way, it’s not a completely depressing ending.

I was wondering if you could speak a little about intraracial or intraethnic cultural clash, because there are so many moments of cultural clash in the movie. One of my favorite scenes is when Ryan’s Cantonese parents are awkwardly trying to communicate with the Putonghua-speaking Ning. There are so many movies that treat China as this homogenous place, despite there being a long history of internal conflicts.

A lot of Hong Kong people feel some loyalty to the British or that they’re more Westernized, viewing Chinese people as communist and less sophisticated. And for immigrants that have been in America for a long time, people who’ve grown up in Chinatown, versus those who’ve just arrived – I also think that contrast is very interesting. In Toronto, a lot of the older immigrants come from Hong Kong and are very assimilated and Canadian. But now, there are so many new immigrants to Canada from China.

This contrast between old immigrants and new immigrants is also what was the inspiration for writing this story. A friend of mine, an estate agent in New York, all his life, he’s been selling apartments on the Upper East Side to these rich people and thinking of himself as very glamorous. Now, a lot of his clients are from China, and they’re buying up all these penthouses. All his life, he’d been trying to detach from his Chinese culture and the Chinese people, and now he has to face them – not just face them, but serve them! He’s very sensitive to it, possibly because he sees things in them that remind him of his parents or grandparents – it becomes particularly annoying to him.

One of the other more interesting moments in the movie was the Tiananmen Square July 4 moment, when Ning talked positively about his father who served in the army. I was wondering if you could expand upon that part of the movie, which is interesting because you’re from Hong Kong and you have a different vantage point.

I remember once I was talking to a friend from China, and we talked about Tiananmen Square. He said he knew a little about it, but he didn’t know the whole truth, he said, “None of us were there, I don’t think any of us can come to a conclusion and make such a statement.” I was a little taken back! It seemed like he was denying it. But after we talked, I came to understand that he never really had that much information as he was growing up. And now, after he and others come to America, when people talk about the incident, it’s almost like an insult to his country. He’s never had all the information, so the only thing he can do is defend it.

I put it in the movie because I wanted to show that Ning, the character from China, has a very different opinion of the whole incident, particularly because his father was in the army.

In terms of the filmmaking process, production, circulation, display – processes behind the scene – because you’re making a film about a very underrepresented group of people, and because you’re a minority yourself, could you talk about the difficulties and discriminations you’ve faced in the industry side of things?

If you’re gay and you’re Asian in the West, you expect hurdles all along. Not just in terms of homophobia and racism in the industry. It has to do with your thinking – you’re what you make. Right off the bat, I’m not in sync with the mainstream industry. The industry is still very homophobic, and certainly, certainly, very racist. I won’t hold back on that. I want media to reflect the world we live in, but people don’t want to see the world as it is. Aren’t they bored, seeing middle-class, Caucasian stories over and over again?

I get these people who ask me, “Do you just want to make gay movies? Do you just want to make Asian movies?” So I say, “Do you ask Martin Scorcese, do you want to make Italian movies all your life? Why do you want to make heterosexual movies?” I just want to make movies about my point of view. If you want to pigeonhole me, so be it. It doesn’t stop me. I was never going to make romantic comedies about Julia Roberts falling in love.

With this, I think I’m very lucky to get distribution and that there are people who believe in us. Getting out there is hard because we just don’t have the publicity or the budget. It’s really very grassroots, reaching out with word of mouth or with social media.

Could you talk about the importance of representation in media, on-screen and behind-the-scenes, perhaps in relation to the Matt Damon controversy that’s happened recently?

Always the same arguments – that they can’t find an Asian actor who has the box office draw or the experience to play the lead. If you don’t give them enough work, how are they going to build a box office draw or have enough experience? And with regard to Matt Damon – can’t he just say no?

There was this one incident in the U.K., the Royal Shakespeare Company, they were doing this ancient Chinese play, but they cast all Caucasians to play the leads. When the actors complained, the Company said they couldn’t find talented Asian leads and said that the Asian actors were just sour grapes for not getting the part. The critics who wrote about this said the Company was in the right because the production was actually fabulous.

With regard to whitewashing, Asians have a responsibility to make change. A lot of these Asians are very, very complacent. I talked to some actors and they say, “Well, it’s changing, it’s getting better.” Hello? This should have been done 20 years ago! Get angrier! East West Players, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Chinglish on Broadway – 75% of the audiences there are Caucasian. Where are the Asians? Who do you expect to support the work if not you?

All my co-producers on this film are Asian. As long as you keep on working, you are eventually going to be able to be in power so you can help other people make films about your own stories.

Besides the opportunity for the pun in the title, what do you think was the purpose of the New York City and fashion world backdrops?

New York is important because it’s so diverse. When you think about Harlem, Chinatown, and 5th Avenue, there really are two extremes. Ryan grew up in Chinatown and his parents run a nail salon, pretty much at the bottom of the social hierarchy. His dream is to work in fashion, which is the most glamorous and high-class industry.

Ryan’s job in the film is a fashion stylist – he actually changes your image to appear more acceptable to the world. Styling is such a bizarre thing, a very modern phenomenon. This parallels the story, which is about putting up fronts to make the world see you as acceptable. Ryan pretending that his parents are from a middle-class family, Ning pretending he’s straight.

With regards to your film and filmography, I was wondering if you had specific films and directors that you admire or are trying to invoke or are influenced by?

Well the one director that I always love is Pedro Almodóvar because his work is really interesting. The one movie that I like is 「Law of Desire」. There are all these bizarre characters, but you start to identify with them and relate to the emotions that they go through. There is always a humor to it and a way in which it’s heightened and melodramatic – at the end there’s even a murder – there’s so much of that gay sensibility.

「Cut Sleeve Boys」, my very first movie, was very much influenced by his work, like 「Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown」. The way that I shot it, the color, cross-dressing, the quirky, comedic elements with a melodramatic twist – the whole thing is like a circus or a funfair. With 「Front Cover」, I picked a slightly different approach. It’s not as heightened. Pedro Almodóvar’s works, as he got older, also became more and more subdued.

Author: Victour Liu/Date: August 26, 2016/Source: http://www.cccsf.us/blogs/interview-ray-yeung/

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Baauer feat. M.I.A. & G-Dragon 권지용 「Temple」

Posted on February 24, 2016 commentaires

Baauer feat. M.I.A. & G-Dragon 「Temple」 - released on February 24, 2016.

Enfin la release officielle de la déjà fameuse collab' Baauer-M.I.A.-G-Dragon découverte lors du défilé automne-hiver 2016 d'Alexander Wang !

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Xavier Allain 「La Chine censure une série romantique gay」


LE SCAN TÉLÉ/VIDÉO - La série 「Addicted」, uniquement diffusée sur Internet, et retraçant les affaires de cœur d’adolescents homosexuels chinois, a fait les frais des censeurs, au grand dam des nombreux fans.

Interruption de programme. Et pas de générique. La série romantique chinoise 「Addicted」, qui raconte les amours de plusieurs adolescents gays a été retirée par les censeurs des principales plateformes internet, a rapporté mercredi un média officiel, tandis que les fans du feuilleton laissaient exploser leur frustration sur les réseaux sociaux.

Cette web-série de 15 épisodes centrée sur la relation amoureuse compliquée de deux jeunes garçons, ne pouvait plus être regardée mercredi sur plusieurs plateformes internet et applications de smartphones, a constaté l’AFP sur place. Les deux personnages principaux, Bai Luo Yin, jeune garçon issu d’une famille pauvre, rencontre Gu Hai, fils d’un riche militaire. Le père de ce dernier épouse la mère du premier, faisant donc des deux ados, des frères.

La diffusion avait débuté fin janvier et douze épisodes avaient déjà été mis en ligne, quand l’ensemble de la série a été soudainement banni des principaux sites de vidéo en streaming, indiquait mercredi le quotidien『Global Times』. « Il n’y a aucune explication », se désolait l’auteur-producteur de 「Addicted」, connue sous son pseudonyme de Chaijidan, dans des propos rapportés par le portail iFeng. Les épisodes sont toutefois toujours visibles, pour le moment, sur Youtube, à travers le monde.

Pékin a dépénalisé l’homosexualité en 1997, mais les gays et lesbiennes chinois font encore l’objet d’une très forte pression familiale et sociale. Sur un internet très étroitement encadré, les censeurs suppriment sans état d’âme tout contenu jugé « immoral »... et les contenus gays sont souvent victimes de leurs ciseaux. L’an dernier, l’émouvant documentaire du réalisateur Fan Popo, 「Mama Rainbow」, où des mères chinoises racontaient leurs réactions face au coming-out de leur enfant, avait déjà été évincé des plateformes.

L’Administration d’État de la presse, de la publication, de la radio, du cinéma et de la télévision (SAPPRFT) n’a pas communiqué au sujet d’「Addicted」, mais pour les internautes, la série a évidemment été visée en raison de son thème – une bluette homosexuelle – et de dialogues très explicites. Certains pointaient aussi un battage promotionnel audacieux, ou encore l’ingénieuse combinaison des prénoms des personnages, qui formait le mot « héroïne » (la drogue)... jeu de mots peu susceptible d’amuser les autorités. La série est directement inspirée d’un roman,『Are You Addicted』(« Es-tu accro ?») de l’auteur Chai Jidan.

L’interdiction d’「Addicted」 était très largement dénoncée par les internautes. Dans un sondage en ligne du très officiel « Comité pour le bien-être de la jeunesse de la ville de Chengdu », 93% des 20.000 répondants désapprouvaient la censure. Chaijidan a cependant assuré que le tournage de la deuxième saison, qui doit débuter en mai, ne serait pas affecté.

Les histoires d’amours gays s’avèrent populaires auprès des jeunes internautes chinois, notamment des jeunes filles, au point de faire l’objet de sous-entendus délibérés dans nombre de séries et films grand public chinois. Une autre web-série, à thématique transgenre et au succès fulgurant, 「Go Princess Go」, a également récemment disparu de l’internet chinois. L’intrigue était audacieuse : le héros était un jeune homme contemporain se réveillant dans le corps d’une princesse de l’époque impériale, qui flirtait avec des jeunes filles avant de tomber amoureux d’un prince.

Facebook (Chinese): https://www.facebook.com/fengmangtw/
Facebook (English): https://www.facebook.com/Addicted.WebSeries/
Weibo: http://www.weibo.com/u/5707898149
Addicted Playlist on China Huace Film & TV Official Channel on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSIJismKOisE-y98UKhxSXJkM3dIml5wo

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Kero Kero Bonito 「Lipslap」

Posted on February 23, 2016 commentaires

Kero Kero Bonito 「Lipslap」 - released on February 23, 2016.

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Katherine Ragamat 「‘Scream Queens’ Actress Jeanna Han Talks Asian-LGBT Representation」


FOX’s new show, 「Scream Queens」, brought back campy, horror comedy to television, but more importantly it introduced us to new actress Jeanna Han, who plays Sam, the show’s resident Asian androgynous lesbian.

Written by Ryan Murphy (「Glee」, 「American Horror Story」), it centers around the mysterious serial killings surrounding the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority and Han is one of the sorority’s newest pledges. While the role is her first acting gig, she definitely knows her way around a camera. The 28-year-old Korean American graduated from California State University-Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in radio/television/film. It wasn’t until a friend approached with her with the role that she decided to give acting a chance.

“I was doing stagehand work in Vegas the past year, but a friend of mine who lived in California, worked for [the show’s] casting director and read a description of Sam,” Han said. “She was like, ‘Physically, you’re perfect for her! Please audition.’”

The role specifically called for an androgynous-lesbian Asian, similar to Japanese-American model Jenny Shimizu.

With no prior acting experience, Han sent in a her audition tape and landed the role of Sam, who Emma Roberts’s queen bee character scathingly refers to as “Predatory Lez.”

For the California native, acting as Sam has given her the opportunity show viewers a diverse character. She said she’s honored to represent the Asian community on a major network, especially since her appearance isn’t exactly conventional.

“The way that I look is a lot different from other Asian-American actors. I feel like a lot of people are seeing that for the first time,” Han said. “Opening their eyes to that is pretty neat.”

Not only does Han get the chance to represent Asian Americans, she also is able to give visibility to the LGBT community. Han feels that it’s not often that audiences see a lesbian character with an androgynous look.

“I feel like with, especially with the LGBT scene on TV, you either see hyper sexualized, very feminine women or you see the super butch type. I feel like I’m riding right on the androgynous line, like right in the middle,” Han said. “I like being that role model, I guess, for those that haven’t had representation on TV yet.”

While Asian and LGBT actors in Hollywood tend to typecast into typical roles, Han said she has no worries of her character playing into some stereotypes. She understands the show has a satirical edge to each of its characters.

“It kind of goes with the show, you know what I mean? There’s so many different, cliché groups of people in college, so I was expecting the characters to kind of be that way,” she said. “[The writers] are doing it on purpose. They’re jabbing fun at all the different stereotypes.”

Despite being a shy person, Han said she hopes to further her career in Hollywood and represent both Asian Americans and LGBT people in media.

I would love to continue to act, whether it be modeling or commercials, but I wouldn’t mind going back to do production either,” Han said. “I mean, that was my first love. Both sides are a lot fun and I’m glad I can actually get to see that.”

While her character Sam is slated to develop through the upcoming episodes, Han was unable to comment on whether her character will be playing bigger part in the show’s storyline.

Tune into FOX on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST to see if Jeanna Han’s Sam will live to see the next season!

Author: E. Alex Jung/Date: February 03, 2017/Source: http://www.sparks-mag.com/scream-queens-actress-jeanna-han/

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Susan Cheng 「The Show That’s Subtly Changing The Way We See Asian-American Men On TV」


The love interest on 「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」 is a rarity on television: an Asian-American guy who’s hot and sociable – and he gets laid. BuzzFeed News spoke to actor Vincent Rodriguez III, who plays Josh Chan, and the show’s creators about the Asian-American dude next door.

「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」 begins with the end of a summer fling. In a flashback, 16-year-old Rebecca Bunch, the show’s titular character, walks hand-in-hand with her teenage boyfriend, Josh. With a backwards cap and an athletic build, he interrupts Rebecca – with her retainer-clad teeth and eager eyes – as she gushes on about her feelings for him. “I just think that we’re really different, you know?” he says hesitantly, his speech peppered with “like” and “um.” “You’re really dramatic and weird. I think maybe we should take a break.” Fast-forward 10 years, and Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) is miserable. Despite a recent promotion at her prestigious law firm, the New York–based lawyer decides on a whim to move to California, where Josh lives.

It’s from here that the show has broken down tropes of the “crazy ex-girlfriend.” However, simultaneously, it has also subtly dismantled the stereotypical portrayals of Asian men seen on American screens in the past. The ex in question, Josh Chan (played by Vincent Rodriguez III), is an unremarkable albeit attractive man who just so happens to be Filipino-American. It’s an unusual portrayal of an Asian-American as the dude next door, the guy who’s hot and sociable – and he gets laid.

Josh, who oozes with masculinity and charm, is introduced as a heartthrob from the very start – he’s a little dim-witted, but a heartthrob nonetheless. Not only is he the highly sought-after love interest of a woman who moves 3,000 miles across the country for him, but he also already has a girlfriend. Born and raised in sunny West Covina, California, he’s the guy from high school who never left home. Perpetually smiling, he has no concept of anxiety – or any sort of negativity, for that matter. A man of action, he hits the gym and plays a slew of sports, genuinely loves his massive Filipino family, and hangs out with his crew of like-minded homies. It’s a role that could’ve easily gone to a non-Asian star, but 「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」’s co-creators Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom intended for Josh to be an Asian man since the conception of the show.

“I grew up with a lot of Asian bros. That’s a type of person that I grew up with that I’ve never seen anywhere in the media,” Bloom, who also plays Rebecca, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview.

She and McKenna found their Josh in Rodriguez, who won the role in part because of a video he sent them, of him rapping and playing guitar to an acoustic rendition of 2Pac’s 「Thugz Mansion」. “I was rarely brought in for a role that I felt was right for me, specifically, and was so contemporary,” Rodriguez said. On the phone, he read Josh’s character description from his computer aloud: “‘Josh is an athletic-looking Asian bro in his late twenties.’ I’m like, first of all, who wrote this breakdown? I’ve never seen this before.”

Rodriguez, 33, who is of Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish ancestry, was raised in Daly City, a California town that’s not unlike West Covina, where the show is set; he, too, grew up around people like Josh. “They describe Josh’s mind as being uncomplicated from being brought up in an unremarkable suburb of loving parents,” Rodriguez said. “He’s kind of a simple dude, and he had a lot of support growing up. He doesn’t have the same problems as me, but I know who this person is. I grew up with Josh Chan, with Joshes in school.”

Warm, easygoing, and a little dumb, Josh initially seems like a mismatch to the slightly neurotic Ivy League–educated Rebecca, which was an intentional juxtaposition.

“We wanted to have a love story where the decision to move across the country for a boy would clearly be wrong. The opposite guy you would think for Rebecca would be a Southern California bro, someone who’s really happy-go-lucky,” Bloom elaborated. It’s rare to see an Asian-American portrayed as the epitome of romantic love on television, yet on the show, “Josh represents the kind of undying, unconditional love [Rebecca] never got from her own family, especially not from her mother,” explained Bloom.

As for Josh’s family, U.S. audiences have likely never seen a Filipino household depicted so accurately on television. Rodriguez grew up without seeing much in the way of Filipinos depicted onscreen, so the personal impact of this role was massive. When he first landed the role, 「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」 had been developed for Showtime, but “once it got to The CW, it was like, Oh, this is a network show, and there are 3 to 4 million viewers, and you’re the male lead. You’re the male love interest. You’re the object of her affection,” Rodriguez said. “So many things about it are, I daresay, first-timers on American television. And it’s not because this person never existed. It’s just [that] no one has thought to tell this story, and that’s what’s amazing about Rachel and Aline and their vision of their show.”

Over the years, Asian male characters have often been portrayed onscreen as some variation of Long Duk Dong from John Hughes’ 1984 film 「Sixteen Candles」 – emasculated, socially inept, unattractive, and foreign, the “very weird Chinese guy up in Mike’s room.” Think Ken Jeong as Ben Chang in 「Community」, Matthew Moy as Han Lee in 「2 Broke Girls」, and Bobby Lee as Kenneth Park on 「Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle」 as examples of these. There are also the depictions of chaste, desexualized martial arts fighters who, like Jet Li in 「Romeo Must Die」, never got the girl. And though 「Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt」 cast Korean-American actor Ki Hong Lee as the show’s love interest – a controversial character who is coincidentally also named Dong – his storyline plays up his foreignness, with jokes revolving around his ethnicity (Dong is good at math and delivers Chinese food for a living).

For Josh, who speaks with a slight California surfer’s drawl, his heritage doesn’t define his character. His ethnicity doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on his attractiveness or romances.

Josh exhibits sexual desire, and furthermore, he’s forthright about it. For example, in one episode, Josh goes to church and confesses to his priest that he feels attracted to Rebecca, despite already having a girlfriend. “So I think about Rebecca’s smile, you know, her hair, her boobs, her butt, her... boobs,” he babbles on. “I’ve had premarital sex. Lots of it. And sometimes I watch adult content, and I take care of myself – and I don’t mean in the vitamin/exercising kind of way.”

In the process of creating this brawny, laid-back guy, however, it wasn’t Bloom’s or McKenna’s conscious intention to break the stereotype of the foreign, innocent Asian man.

“We didn’t have an overarching agenda to alter certain depictions,” McKenna said in a phone interview. “It’s just an effort to portray the town and the community the way they actually are.”

“Rachel is really good at acknowledging the truth and what is common and exploring it deeper,” said Rodriguez. “Rebecca is not taking tropes off the bookshelf. She’s actually breaking them down – and part of that is Josh. [The question] shouldn’t be ‘Well, why is Josh Asian? Why is he the love interest? Why is he a bro?’ It’s more like, ‘Why not? Why hasn’t it been? Why did we wait so long?’ Finally, I’m seeing something on TV that mimics what I’ve seen in real life, like, legitimately.”

When viewers first meet Josh, he’s a perpetually happy stud who spent his entire life in a bubble, never encountering mental illnesses like depression, something Rebecca struggles with. Throughout the course of the show, however, Josh becomes more complex and grows in touch with his emotional side: That was part of McKenna and Bloom’s agenda.

“He’s going to evolve in many ways. [Rebecca], above all of the other characters, makes him question the status quo that he’s always known to be true,” said Bloom. “He’s not a stereotype, just like everyone has nuances. Everyone feels sad sometimes. Everyone has insecurities. He definitely has that journey.”

As for Rodriguez, who spent much of his early career auditioning for parts in musical ensembles or for shows that weren’t traditionally casting Asian males, he’s thrilled just to represent the Asian-American community.

“I just wanted to be seen as an Asian person playing a normal person,” he said. “When I saw this audition, it was like, well, it’s about time, but will I get it? And then it turned into me. I’m Josh Chan. It’s fucking awesome.”

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James Michael Nichols 「Get An Intimate Look At Queer Life In Japan」

Posted on February 20, 2016 commentaires
Graham Kolbeins

“The more I learned about these quietly revolutionary queer individuals in Japan, the more I wanted to share these stories with the world.”

「Queer Japan」, a powerful new documentary currently in production, examines queer art, culture and activism in the Asian island nation.

Because many of the images and ideas about queer culture that Americans are typically most familiar with tend to originate from a Western perspective, Graham Kolbeins and Anne Ishii want their film to provide an authentic representation of what it means to be queer in Japan.

The pair, who have been working together for years editing anthologies of gay and feminist manga, are focusing this new project on individuals like drag queen, artist, and film critic Vivienne Sato, gay manga master and art historian Gengoroh Tagame, and feminist manko (pussy) artist Rokudenashiko and her fight against obscenity charges for her work – just to name a few.

The Huffington Post talked with Kolbeins this week about 「Queer Japan」 and the project’s Kickstarter, as well as what he and Ishii are trying to accomplish with the film.

The Huffington Post: Why did you decide to do this project?

Graham Kolbeins: There’s an incredibly rich queer culture in Japan with fascinating histories behind it, but people outside of Japan (and within) rarely hear about it. My interest in the subject began when I was came across images of work by gay manga artists like Gengoroh Tagame and Jiraiya as a teenager. Their artwork opened worlds of possibility for me, providing depictions of homosexuality that I could relate to more than anything I’d seen in Western gay media at the time. Since 2012, Anne Ishii and I have had the privilege of working with those same artists to help spread their work in North America and around the world, through art shows, fashion collections, and manga anthologies (「The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame and Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It」).

The work Anne and I have been doing at MASSIVE GOODS has led us to explore gender and sexuality in Japan in a broader sense. Recently we’ve expanded beyond the gay manga genre to work with artists like Rokudenashiko, who is currently on trial for obscenity charges related to her 3D-printed vagina art. The more I learned about these quietly revolutionary queer individuals in Japan, the more I wanted to share these stories with the world, and that lead to the idea of doing a documentary on the subject.

Tell me more about the people you are highlighting in the film.

So far we’ve shot interviews with drag queen, film critic, “non-architect” and all-around renaissance woman Vivienne Sato; gay manga master and historian Gengoroh Tagame, along with his『G-men』magazine co-founder, community leader, and HIV activist Hiroshi Hasegawa; visual artist Nogi Sumiko; Atsushi Matsuda, a dancer in the Butoh group DAIRAKUDAKAN; controversial manko [pussy] artist Rokudenashiko; and countryside bar owner/queer theorist Masaki C. Matsumoto. We’d like to follow these peoples’ stories and continue expanding the film’s scope over a five month shoot to include as many queer people in Japan as possible.

What is unique about queer culture in Japan? How is it different from the rest of the world?

Global and local influences are deeply intertwined in Japan’s queer culture. If you look back to the Edo Period, an entire genre of literature and art based on male-male courtship flourished, called shudo (“The way of youth”). Hundreds of books, including the poet Saikaku’s bestselling 1687 short story collection,『The Great Mirror of Male Love』, were published and if you were a wealthy male, a member of the clergy, or a beautiful adolescent boy (bishonen), your homosexual relations were generally accepted by society. That all changed after Japan’s doors were forcibly opened to Western trade by America in the mid-19th century. The era of rapid modernization that followed did away with “uncivilized” things of the Japanese past including shudo, and soon medico-scientific models that pathologized queer sexualities were imported from Germany and elsewhere.

During the U.S. Occupation of Japan following the second World War, censorship and restrictions on the press were lifted and a new gay culture emerged. Dozens of gay bars opened up in the cities and the gei boi (gay boys) who worked there, often in drag, were widely reported on in the Japanese press, decades before the word “gay” was used widely in American discourse. Media representation and physical spaces for gay, lesbian, and transgender people continued to evolve over the 20th century, largely independent from Western influence. In the 1980s and 1990s, the gay rights movement went global in the wake of the AIDS crisis, and the Western terms like “LGBT” began to be used by homegrown Japanese gay rights groups like OCCUR, which was influenced by Act Up.

Today, queer culture is both incredibly robust and hidden just beneath the surface of Japanese public life. It’s rare to see public displays of affection (queer or otherwise) on the streets of Tokyo, so queer expressions aren’t exactly visible – but at the same time, gay entertainment district Shinjuku Ni-chome is home to over 120 small bars servicing all facets of the queer community. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that has so many establishments for LGBTQ+ people, and that’s just one neighborhood in Tokyo! In the Japanese mainstream media, queer issues are often ignored and representations are usually limited to comic relief. But within these microcosms of queer community, the culture is flourishing.

What do you want people to take away from this film?

Mainly, I would like to introduce viewers around the world to a variety of queer people in Japan who I think are doing really inspiring things. It’s important to me that this film is giving a voice to its subjects and tells their stories in a way that viewers can empathize with. I want to avoid getting too historical or theoretical in the film and focus on the reality of people’s lives. In the past few years there has been a deluge of English-language articles and documentaries sensationalizing “sex in Japan” and approaching the subject from an exoticizing perspective that I find problematic. As a white foreigner, I think it’s important for me to take a step back from judging Japanese sexual cultures and forcing them into a false dichotomy with the West. Instead, let’s celebrate them! There is no singular “queer Japan,” but in this film we hope to show a handful of the many dazzling forms gender and sexuality can take.

Head here to visit the 「Queer Japan」 Kickstarter.

Author: James Michael Nichols /Date: February 20, 2016/Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-queer-japan-project_us_56bcf9bae4b0b40245c5dcbf

Graham Kolbeins 「Queer Japan: Pre-Production Trailer」 - posted on January 25, 2016.

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Claire Wilson 「Chinese identity and Sydney’s gay party scene in the photographs of William Yang – in pictures」

Posted on February 19, 2016 commentaires
William Yang, 「Self portrait with light meter」, 1987, inkjet print, 38 x 24 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney.

Chinese Australian artist William Yang explores cultural identity through photography, text and performance.

As part of the celebrations of Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year, Stills Gallery, Sydney presents the solo exhibition 「William Yang: Stories of Love and Death」 from 18 February to 5 March 2016. The exhibition will also launch a new monograph of the same name from academics Helena Grehan and Edward Scheer.

William Yang is an Australian photographer and performance artist who often makes work that investigates his identity as a gay Chinese Australian. Working for over 40 years, Yang explores themes such as sexual expression and social politics, the emergence of Sydney’s gay community in the 1980s as well as investigates his Chinese heritage and family.

The exhibition 「Stories of Love and Death」 at Sydney’s Stills Gallery presents a collection of his photographs, ranging from works overlayed with written notes to portraits of celebrities such as Patrick White, Brett Whiteley and Cate Blanchett.

Yang’s first solo exhibition in 1977, which depicted the Sydney gay and party scene, attracted much attention for its frank portrayal. He was able to capture the wild mood of these events through his involvement in the community. As a result of this exhibition, Yang was recognised as a photographer to watch, and he hasn’t stopped since, exhibiting in solo and group shows across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

His work has been collected by a number of prestigious institutions, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery and Queensland Art Gallery, among others. In 2009 he was also a contributor to 「The China Project at the Gallery of Modern Art」 in Brisbane, an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art practice.

In an interview about his work, Yang explained:

I think my photography is extremely simple. I’m not looking for complex things…I just want people to reveal themselves in an intimate way […] the portraits themselves are not spectacular and, in fact, if I presented a single one of those images people might even think that […] they’re not glamorous enough but I think the strength is just trying to let the person show through, not me but the person.

From the late 1980s Yang also began to work with performance, integrating monologues with slide projections. It is perhaps not surprising that his work turned in this direction, given that he was involved in theatre early in his career. Whether it is through performance or photography, what drives Yang’s work is his capacity for telling stories.

In many of his photographic portraits, for example, he overlays the image with handwritten anecdotes that create an extra layer of meaning. It is a way for the artist to appear from behind the camera and talk directly to the audience through his own handwritten notes.

Another key aspect of Yang’s work is his investigation of his Chinese heritage. Yang’s grandparents migrated from China to Australia in the 1880s, but much of his family history had been overshadowed by the need to assimilate to Australian culture in North Queensland. In the 1980s Yang began to uncover this history, making trips to China and drawing inspiration from Chinese philosophy.

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「Interview with Lee Dong Ha about ‘Weekends’」

Posted on February 17, 2016 commentaires

TEDDY AWARD 「Interview with Lee Dong Ha about ‘Weekends’」 - posted on February 17, 2016.

Interview with Lee Dong Ha about his film 「Weekends」:
Every weekend the gay male choir G-Voice rehearses in Seoul – as they have been doing since 2003. The choir, being a kind of antidote to homophobic Korean society, makes the everyday lives of gay men its theme in an intelligent and humorous way. For their tenth anniversary, the members are planning to give their first big concert with ambitious arrangements, creative choreographies and many new pieces. This really puts these amateur singers to the test because the enthusiasm of some members outweighs their vocal abilities, whilst others work themselves into the ground as voluntary organisers. Besides preparing for their big day, G-Voice are also politically active, singing for equality and serenading against discrimination, and not just at LGBTQ demos. Director Lee Dong Ha succeeds, almost incidentally, in giving an insight into gay life in Korea. He also accompanies choir members and organisers after the rehearsals, when conversations become more personal over a meal. Filmed in the style of glossy music videos, G-Voice’s set-pieces provide a commentary, among other things, on the men’s experiences of Korean society, their conservative families and a gay joy of life.

More information at http://teddyaward.tv/en/program/?a-z=1&id_film=669

Still from 「Weekends」

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Jade Jackman 「The digi-pop singer turning her online insecurities into art」

Posted on February 16, 2016 commentaires
Rina Sawayama creates a new sound for internet struggles in this exclusive premiere of new video 「Where U Are」

Photography Agnes Lloyd-Platt

Most of us are addicted to the internet, but Rina Sawayama takes her digital obsessions a step further by making it central to her music. Flitting between being a model and a digi-pop powerhouse, Sawayama consistently confronts her online insecurities in new and unexpected ways, utilising fellow female creatives Arvida Byström and Alessandra Kurr (who have co-directed her videos) along the way.

Sawayama was born in Japan and, at times, a glimmer of Japanese pop seeps into her work, from her candy-coloured aesthetic to her uber-catchy, glittering melodies. However, her sound and style leans more towards early-00s R&B than J-Pop, and although she acknowledges the impact of the latter, she says she is ready for the media “to stop calling me a ‘Japanese singer from London’” adding: “just a ‘singer from London’ would be good.”

Her latest track and video 「Where U Are」 (premiered below) is love song with a twist. Her need to “feel your pulse” is not desire for her crush, but desire for the virtual world – a relationship which, by its very nature, is intensely dissatisfying. “Funny how together we’re alone, thought you were the one but I was wrong” she sings in a breathy falsetto over shimmering synth lines, her words recognising that however many likes and retweets you might amass, it will never feel enough. In the video, which was co-directed by herself and Alessandra Kurr, Sawayama sits alone, curled up on her silken sheets, completely enamoured with the glowing screen of her iphone. It’s a creation that poses a question: what is modern love in the digital age? We caught up with Sawayama to find out more.

Rina Sawayama 「Where U Are」 - released on January 28, 2016.

Your music is often preoccupied with the online world. Do you think you’re addicted to it?

Rina Sawayama: I definitely am dependent on the internet, but who isn’t? It’s like an acceptable addiction now, and like cigarettes or alcohol, I think it’ll take a while for people to understand the negative effects of it as we're mainly seeing it for the positive effects at the moment.

These days, musicians aren’t just musicians anymore. They also have to be curators of their online world. Do you think this allows more freedom or more pressure or both?

Rina Sawayama: It’s definitely more pressure, and if you’re not careful you end up spending less time doing music. Social media is like a full-time job, so you have to put the music first sometimes – otherwise you go crazy. That said, I’ve definitely had more creative freedom because people trust that I know how to “brand” myself through instagram – whatever that says about the music. It’s a double-edged sword, and I want to stand in the middle of it rather than be stabbed by it.

Your video for 「Where U Are」 totally reminds me of your Instagram account. Tell me a bit about creating it.

Rina Sawayama: Me and Ali Kurr (the director) got together for this video a couple of months after my track 「Tunnel Vision」 was out. I wanted to continue this theme of technology and feminine despair/awkwardness in the narrative, but make a more classic music video and explore a richer, darker colour palette. We’ve worked together before, and I knew that Ali would bring some awesome references and experience with editing that would be invaluable to helping the idea come to life.

We went through lots of different cool ideas – some we’ve shelved for future releases – but we had absolutely no budget to make it happen. Luckily, Ali’s friend had borrowed an incredible kit and kindly let us use it over the weekend. I quickly emailed everyone I knew, pulled a few favours, and got the production together within a week. The entire thing cost £200.

You worked with Ali Kurr for this video and artist Arvida Byström for the video for 「Tunnel Vision」. Do you think women produce different sorts of visuals?

Rina Sawayama: The majority of my team are women, and the men who I work with are feminists who understand the importance of fair representation in the music industry. In all aspects of work, women sometimes produce different things to men, and also sometimes they don’t. This idea, combined with the fact that the industry is still very male dominated, is why it’s so important to empower fellow female creatives.

What about the lyrics? Tell me about the ideas behind them.

Rina Sawayama: Well the song started life as a cover of Michael Jackson’s 1972 song 「I Wanna Be Where You Are」 – I really clicked with the rhythm of the lyrics and so I adapted it into a Garageband demo in 2013. I revisited the demo again in 2015 when I was obsessing over the idea of online life, so took the subject of longing and regret in the MJ chorus and started working on applying it to an original verse lyric. The lyrics went through several different iterations – I work a lot with vowel sounds, so the lyrics have to click in that respect. I really enjoyed reworking this and going over different drafts, although I drove Justin (Hoost, the producer) crazy as usual.

Do you ever feel like people have expected you to create certain styles of music due to your ethnicity/gender?

Rina Sawayama: Well there isn't really a precedent for a UK-based Japanese pop singer, which is lucky and unlucky. Maybe some people might get confused because I'm not rocking the whole “kawaii” thing and not singing sickly sweet “j-pop” as it is exported here. It’s like people are surprised by the fact that I speak really good English and that I’m quite outspoken about racism and sexism – all things that don’t fit into people’s Asian stereotypes. The truth is, I'm influenced by Japanese pop music, and that does come through sometimes, but with regards to music I’ve been lucky so far. My goal is for people to stop calling me a “Japanese singer from London” – just a “singer from London” would be good.

What does the rest of 2016 look like?

Rina Sawayama: I’m releasing my EP『Alone Together』soon. It’s not finished yet – I’d say it’s about 80% done, but it keeps going back and forth because I'm being a perfectionist. There will also be ,ore self-directed videos and hopefully my first show soon! I’m also looking for female backing band members, so hit me up if you want to join my band!

Follow Jade Jackman on Twitter here @JadeShamraeff

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Alice Newell-Hanson 「Pourquoi les hommes coréens sont les plus grands consommateurs de cosmétiques au monde ?」

Posted on February 04, 2016 commentaires
Chanyeol et Kai d'EXO dans une pub de Nature Republic

Le service militaire prolongé et les stars de la pop n’y sont pas pour rien.

En avril 2014, le Rouge Pur Couture NO.52 d’Yves Saint Laurent (un rouge à lèvres corail) s’est vendu dans pratiquement tous les pays du monde. Sur eBay, le tube à 35 $ est monté jusqu’à 90 $. Il y avait même une liste d’attente sur le e-shop d’Yves Saint Laurent. Pourquoi cet engouement planétaire ? Parce que plus tôt cette même année, Jeon Ji Hyun, la star de 「My Love From Another Star」, un sitcom coréen hyper populaire, portait cette teinte. Enfin disons plutôt, une rumeur a circulé sur le fait qu’elle l’aurait porté. Il n’en a pas fallu plus pour que le marché des cosmétiques en Corée du Sud s’affole.

Peu étonnant que le marché s’ouvre et s’adapte aux hommes. Si on s’en réfère à quelques statistiques, les hommes en Corée du Sud achètent plus de crème pour le visage et de produits pour la peau qu’ailleurs dans le monde et quatre fois plus que le second pays en liste, le Danemark. Les recettes de ce phénomène cosmétique ? Plus d’un milliard de dollars. Un chiffre qui devrait quadrupler en 5 ans. « Il existe une tendance au sensationnalisme » explique Charlotte Cho, co-directrice du site spécialisé dans les cosmétiques coréens SokoGlam.com. « Beaucoup d’hommes portent du maquillage en Corée du Sud et énormément de stars de la pop locale ne lésinent pas sur la mise en beauté. Ça ne veut pas dire que tous les mecs se baladent avec de l’eyeliner dans Seoul ». Elle me raconte que l’explosion des ventes de kits beauté à l’intention des hommes en Corée est intrinsèquement lié à la culture locale – la peau doit toujours être soignée et le visage apprêté.

Le mari de Charlotte, David Cho qui, d’après les dires de sa femme, passe beaucoup de temps à soigner sa peau le matin – propose une réponse différente. La plupart des hommes en Corée du Sud, m’explique-t-il, choisissent de rentrer dans l’armée à leur entrée à l’université. Ce qui veut dire qu’ils sont diplômés, en général, deux ans après leurs camarades femmes. Donc, qu’ils entrent plus tard sur le marché du travail : « La beauté entre en première ligne lorsqu’ils s’agit de trouver du travail. Lorsqu’ils cherchent un emploi, les hommes ont souvent moins d’expérience professionnelle derrière eux. Et la société coréenne trône en matière de hiérarchisation ».

Dans le monde du travail, la préférence est donnée à ceux que la nature a bien gâtés. Ou, par extension, à ceux qui possèdent un physique jeune, pétillant, juvénile. « La culture coréenne met la beauté au-dessus de tout » explique David. Ce n’est pas un hasard si la plupart des boites demandent systématiquement une photo aux candidats qui postulent pour un poste chez elles. « Il est normal pour un homme de porter un peu de fond de teint lors d’une interview à la télé, par exemple » ajoute Charlotte.

« Le paradoxe culturel de ce pays tient en ce que la Corée du Sud reste extrêmement machiste et très conservatrice en matière de politique », pouvait-on lire dans un article récent de『The Economist』. Mais c’est lors de leur service militaire que la plupart des hommes commencent à se mettre aux produits de beauté. « Les coréens ont des standards de beauté très très élevés » commente David. Les kits de camouflage pour l’armée, au même titre que les crèmes solaires, sont à la pointe de la technologie en matière de composition.

En réponse à cette nouvelle loi de la demande, la marque de cosmétiques coréenne Innisfree a doublé sa ligne de produits à l’intention de la gent masculine en service militaire. On peut trouver, dans leurs rayons, des « masques pour finir une dure journée en beauté », vendus dans un packaging qui rappelle les motifs militaires. D'ailleurs, la marque vend également des palettes de maquillage dans les teints bruns et verts « C’est une bonne base pour la peau avant de s’appliquer de la peinture camouflage ».

D’autres enseignes comme Lab Series ou Biotherm ont commencé à se pencher sur la question de la mise en beauté masculine. Lors de son dernier trip en Corée du Sud, il y a trois mois, David a vu « beaucoup plus d’hommes porter de la BB ou de la CC Cream. Au départ, c’était un truc d’adolescent, mais maintenant, je vois des mecs de 30 ou 40 ans ». C’est la vague coréenne, communément appelée « hallyu wave » qui en est la principale responsable : la popularité grandissante de la pop coréenne, plus exactement. Cette nouvelle tendance a littéralement fait basculer les canons de beauté. David se souvient qu’avant « les hommes matures les “ajusshi”, ressemblaient à des papas dans les sitcoms coréens. Aujourd’hui, plus du tout : leur peau est lissée, déridée ». Et plus que jamais, le désir d’une peau parfaite conduit à une montée fulgurante des ventes de BB creams chez les hommes. « Les gens veulent ressembler à ceux qu’ils voient à la télé. Et leur peau est resplendissante ».

Park Tae Yun est un make-up artiste coréenne qui maquille la pop star Rain, les acteurs Chang Wook Ji et Byung Hun Lee – aucun d’entre eux, ne s’aventure dehors ou sous les projecteurs sans crème teintée. Et la plupart de ces hommes n’ont rien contre l’eye-liner. Pour Park Tae, les hommes sont à la recherche « d’un maquillage discret, qui ne les travestit pas mais qui les met en valeur ».

« Mais les pop-stars coréennes sont les plus grands modèles des adolescents, enchaine-t-il. Et après, les hommes ont peur de vieillir et veulent à tout prix rester dans le coup par tous les moyens. Ça ne m’étonnerait pas que cette tendance s’étende aux États-Unis ou à l’Europe ».

J’ai demandé à David, qui a servi l’armée américaine, de quel œil les soldats américains dans les casernes voyaient les coréens se tartiner de masques cosmétiques à la fin de leurs journées. « À part les remarques faussement candides comme le fameux “mais t’es une fille en fait ?” pas grand chose. C’était toujours familial et chaleureux. Ces soldats américaines qui vivent en Corée veulent s’acclimater, s’intégrer. Alors même s’ils ne suivaient pas notre routine à la lettre, ils n’ont pas hésité à nous piquer quelques trucs ».

Si on ne s’attend pas à ce que le rayon BB cream de Sephora soit dévalisé demain par une horde d’hommes, 2016 pourrait bien être l’année où le maquillage masculin a fait la première page des magazines. Si vous en doutez encore, sachez qu’en 2013, un sondage révélait que les hommes dépensaient jusqu’à deux fois plus que les femmes en cosmétiques.

Ci-dessous la version anglaise originale de l’article, un peu plus précis et avec un titre bien plus évocateur !

Alice Newell-Hanson 「How korea’s male beauty obsession is challenging gender norms」

The South Korean male beauty market is booming – thanks in part to the country's mandatory military service and cult TV dramas.

In April 2014, Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture No. 52 lipstick (a coral shade) sold out in stores around the world. On eBay, the $35 tube was going for upwards of $90. There was a waitlist of “unspecified” length on Yves Saint Laurent’s e-commerce site. Someone tried, unsuccessfully, to fill their suitcase with handfuls of the lipsticks at a Melbourne airport duty free store.

Why? Because earlier that year, Jeon Ji Hyun, the star of 「My Love From Another Star」, a popular South Korean TV drama, had worn the shade. Or rather, a rumor had circulated that she had. It was later disproved, but this is what the beauty market is like in South Korea – collective obsessions, overnight sellouts, and wild headlines.

But now that everyone in the US has heard about glass nails and snail slime face masks, media attention is turning to the male K-beauty market. Which is understandable when you see the stats. According to a July 2015 report, men in South Korea buy more cosmetics and skincare products that men in any other country around the world, and four times more than the next country on the list, Denmark, contributing to a grooming market worth $1 billion. The market is also expected to quadruple in size over the next five years.

“There’s a tendency to sensationalize, though,” says Charlotte Cho, the co-founder of the New York-based K-beauty site SokoGlam.com. “A lot of men do wear makeup in South Korea,” she tells me over the phone, “and a lot of K-pop stars wear a lot of makeup, but not every guy on the street in Seoul is wearing eyeliner.” She explains the boom in the sale of “cushion compacts” for men as being “part of a general culture in South Korea of people caring about their skin.”

Charlotte’s husband, David Cho – with whom she founded the site and who, she says, has a very elaborate skincare routine – has a slightly different answer though. Most men in South Korea, he explains, choose to complete the country’s mandatory military service during university. This means they’re graduating from college two years after their female classmates and entering the job market later.

“To me, how that relates to beauty is that it’s about getting the best jobs,” says David. When applying for their first positions, men who have served in the military have shorter professional resumes. “And Korea is very status-driven and hierarchical,” David explains.

David served in the military for eight years, and even within the same rank, he says, command would be determined by the year men graduated, and then by academic successes. In the job world, too, precedence is given to candidates according to the year they graduated and, it’s widely believed, according to your appearance. So a youthful appearance (sometimes thanks to products) is paramount. “Korean culture is so driven by how you look,” David says, that companies will often require candidates to include a photo of themselves on their job application. “It’s common for men to wear tinted moisturizer to interviews,” Charlotte adds.

“On the face of it, such preening is at odds with South Korea’s macho, socially conservative culture,” reads a recent piece in『The Economist』. But it’s during their military service that most men first get into beauty products. “Korean people have very high standards when it comes to what they put on their face,” says David. And the army-issue camouflage kits and sunscreens are made with “terrible ingredients.”

In response, Korean beauty brand Innisfree makes products specifically for men in the military. There are “extreme power military masks,” sold in camouflage packaging that come in different formulas for “after field work” and “before going on leave.” And the brand also sells a palette of brown and green makeup “that’s better for your skin when you’re applying camo,” says David.

Other brands like Lab Series and Biotherm have also begun to double down on their men’s lines, and not just to cater to the armed forces. On his last trip back to Korea, two months ago, David saw “a lot more men wearing BB or CC cream. It was always a millennial generation thing but now I’m seeing it with men in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s. It’s all intertwined with the hallyu wave.”

The “hallyu wave” is the meteoric rise in popularity of South Korean soap operas and music. And it’s radically changed conceptions of male beauty. David remembers that “back in the day, older male characters (known as ‘ajusshi’) looked like fathers in K-dramas, now they don’t: they have glowing, unwrinkled skin.” And now, a desire for flawless skin is driving up sales of BB creams, compacts, and tinted moisturizers among men: “women and men want to look like these people and they have perfect skin.”

Park Tae Yun is a South Korean makeup artist who works with the K-pop idol Rain, actors Chang Wook Ji and Byung Hun Lee, and the members of the pop group EXO – none of whom, he says, attend events without makeup. And most of whom are not afraid of eyeliner. Among the population at large though, he says, guys are mainly “seeking out natural looking coverage to even out their skin tone through products such as tinted moisturizers.” They’re not getting kohled-up.

“But K-pop stars are highly influential for Korean men in their 20s,” he says. “And I believe they are an even greater influence to Korean men past their 20s because they are concerned about aging and want to stay on top of the trends.” He adds finally, “It won’t be surprising to me if the US follows this trend.”

For a time, when David Cho was in the US military, he was stationed in South Korea. I ask him how the US soldiers in the barracks reacted to the Korean soliders’ use of facemasks and other beauty products. “Besides the friendly banter, like ‘are you a girl?’ nothing much. It was always friendly. These US soldiers living in Korea wanted to assimilate – even if they weren’t doing a ten-step routine, they did begin to try things.”

While it’s unlikely that men are going to be causing BB cream shortages across the US any time soon, 2016 could be the year makeup for men finally goes mainstream here, if our current K-beauty obsession continues. Watch 「The Sunday Styles」 section.

Author: Alice Newell-Hanson/Date: January 20, 2016/Source: https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/how-koreas-male-beauty-obsession-is-challenging-gender-norms

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