Isha Aran 「Why Steven Yeun’s『Entertainment Weekly』cover is such a huge deal」

Posted on October 27, 2016 commentaires

This week, in light of the brutal torture porn that was 「The Walking Dead」 season premiere,『Entertainment Weekly』is featuring Steven Yeun as its cover star. Makes sense – he has portrayed one of the show’s most beloved characters, and (SPOILER ALERT) it’s a pretty big deal that after six season’s he’s finally leaving the show. But his cover is a little groundbreaking in itself.

As far as as our research has turned up, Steven Yeun is one of three male Asian actors (and one of two living ones) to have an『Entertainment Weekly』cover all to himself since the magazine’s launch in 1990. As far as Asian actresses go, Mindy Kaling graced the cover back in 2013, as did 「Lost」’s Yunjin Kim in 2010. (We’ve reached out to EW for confirmation and will update with their response.)

Yeun has definitely appeared on EW covers before – and technically, he’s been featured on a cover by himself, as one of six different “collectible covers” of the same 「Walking Dead」 special issue, released in February of this year. The other five covers were of his 「Walking Dead」 costars.

Before that, a September 2014 「Walking Dead」 special multi-cover issue saw Yeun sharing one of four cast covers with costar Lauren Cohan. Needless to say, this week’s edition – a true solo cover, with no alternate versions in circulation – is a big step up.

From what we’ve seen, it looks like the last time an Asian actor had a solo cover (aside from 「Lost」’s Daniel Dae Kim’s special edition cover, an honor he shared with nine of his costars including Yunjin Kim) was back in 2007, when Masi Oka of 「Heroes」 graced the cover.

Before then, welp, we have to go all the way back to 1994, when Brandon Lee (son of Bruce, and star of cult fave 「The Crow」) was featured on the cover – a year after his tragic death.

As Asian actors continue to fight for access to roles, and actual Asian roles continue to be whitewashed (interestingly enough, Benedict Cumberbatch was featured on last week’s EW cover as Doctor Strange, a character that is essentially rooted in yellowface), it’s all the more important to recognize Asian talent and give these performers the space they deserve – a space white actors have always been able to access. Steve Yeun’s EW cover isn’t just a big deal because it pays homage to one of the most beloved characters in modern television – it’s a disruption, a declaration that your heroes can be Asian, too.

Brandon Lee Masi Oka
Daniel Dae Kim Steven Yeun

Author: Isha Aran/Date: October 27, 2016/Source: http://fusion.net/story/363078/steven-yeun-entertainment-weekly-cover/

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Tristesse Contemporaine 「Let's Go」

Posted on October 25, 2016 commentaires

Tristesse Contemporaine 「Let's Go」 - from『Stop and Start』released on October 25, 2016.

Directed by Dodi El Sherbini & Kevin Elamrani-Lince
Set design by Ida Dan
Stylism by Chloe Para
Make-up by Isis Moenne-Loccoz

Narumi Hérisson, Malik & Leo Hellden

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Far East Movement feat. TIFFANY 티파니 & King Chain 「Don’t Speak」

Posted on October 20, 2016 commentaires

Far East Movement feat. TIFFANY & King Chain 「Don’t Speak」 - from Identity released on October 20, 2016.

Ça lui va bien l’EDM à Tiff’ quand même... Avec FM, ça aurait pu être super, mais avec cette chanson pas terrible et le clip vraiment laid, c’est un peu décevant.

« Ta-daaa ! It's Tiffany bitch! »
« Ouh la vilaine ! Zou ! J'la cache !»
« Pon-pon-pon, on la cache ni vu ni connu !»


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Garrett Dee 「A Conversation with ‘Front Cover’’s James Chen and Jake Choi」

Posted on October 18, 2016 commentaires

「Front Cover」 is a film by Hong Kong director Ray Yeung which tells the story of a Chinese American stylist Ryan Fu (played by actor Jake Choi) and Beijing film star Ning (played by actor James Chen) who over the course of preparing for a major photo shoot develop a mutual attraction, forcing both of the men to confront their own buried feelings on race and sexuality at a personal cost. The following piece is based off of conversations New Bloom’s Garrett Dee had with the two lead actors about their experience making the film and the message they hope audiences will take away. The film will screen at the Taipei International Queer Film Festival on October 22 and 30, show times can be found here.

TWO ASIAN MEN falling in love may not be the first image that would pop into many audiences’ minds were they to think about the front cover of anything, but getting them to question why that’s not the case is exactly what the film 「Front Cover」 is hoping to do. Ahead of the film’s screening at the Taipei International Queer Film Festival, I spoke with director Ray Yeung and was able to learn more about his vision as well as the motivation behind this unique story. More recently, I had the opportunity to talk with lead actors Jake Choi, who plays Ryan, and James Chen, who plays Ning, about their views on race and sexual orientation in both Asia and the US, as well as their experiences in fleshing out these two characters and the message they hope audiences take away from the film.

Ironically, given the way their characters are portrayed in the film, one would think that it was Jake that was the more reserved one and James the more boisterous, but that was actually not the case. When I first spoke with James, I could almost immediately see that he was the kind of person that really put a lot of thought into being articulate. Jake, on the other hand, had a frank and expressive style that was refreshingly open; he wasn’t afraid to call out Hollywood studios on their blatant racism and at one point even referred to himself as having “beautiful Asian features”. However, despite his shoulder length hair and tattoos, Jake actually came off as quite humble during the conversation (when asked if he considered himself a sex symbol after this film, he laughed and said the audience will have to decide for themselves).

Though their style and manner of expressing themselves sets them apart at first glance, over the course of talking with both of them there was much commonality in the themes they were emphasizing, in particular the importance they placed upon doing justice to these two characters. For James in particular, this presented a challenge, as he was, as an American actor, stepping into the role of a person born and raised in Beijing. Accented Asian characters in American film fall into the realm of caricature more often than not, usually relegated to the category of aggressively asexual punchlines or flawless kung fu mystical types with almost nonexistent character development. James told me that he had spent time in China before and had watched a long list of Chinese cinema masterpieces, questioning deeply who this character was and where he comes from, as well what it would have been like to grow up in such an imposing country as China while having to live with a secret. Jake, too, drew upon his own life experiences growing up in an immigrant household as well as the experiences of gay people he had met during his three years working at a gay bar to make sure that Ryan’s onscreen struggle came across in a way that people would find something of themselves in.

After having spoken with director Ray Yeung about his own coming out and how much of this story was autobiographically rooted, I realized what a burden he had placed upon the lead actors in making both the characters and their relationship feel sincere. Both of the actors are straight, and yet when asked about how they went about preparing to fall in love with each other on screen, it was surprising to see how much of a non-issue it was to both of them. This might not have been the case as early as a decade ago, when many young heterosexual actors in the early stages of their career would have squirmed at the prospect of playing a gay character in an independent film. However, these two both really embraced their respective characters’ sexuality and spoke to me about how much of a priority it was for them to give gay audiences a portrayal of these two characters and their relationship that was authentic and respectful.

In fact, James spoke about one of 「Front Cover」’s greatest strengths being the fact that it works meticulously to break down stereotypes on several fronts, one of them being the constant invalidation of Asian male masculinity in the media. He was especially proud that his character came across as quite authoritative, something that US audiences haven’t been accustomed to seeing in an Asian character. In his portrayal of Ning, he rooted the character in this idea of him being decidedly masculine, of not letting anyone push him around, and didn’t let the fact that the character was an Asian gay man affect that. This idea that being gay or being Asian doesn’t automatically equate to femininity if that’s not inherent to that person, that the intersection of these two identities is something that can inform a character without defining him, is one of the core messages of this film.

What was also important to them was the issue of making sure it was a fully authentic gay Asian story that had a message that pushed the boundaries of what audiences are used to seeing in film. This year has been particularly difficult as far as visibility for Asian Americans in the media, with 「Ghost in the Shell」 and 「Doctor Strange」 both giving roles originally conceived of as Asian to white actors, Marvel failing to rectify its yellowfacing of 「The Iron Fist」, and most recently with the revelation that Disney had been flirting with the idea of giving Mulan a white male love interest in the live-action remake (an idea not unlike the shoehorning of Matt Damon into Chinese history in 「The Great Wall」). After speaking with James and Jake, it was clear that they are both quite talented actors, but like many actors of Asian descent in the United States, they hadn’t had the chance to portray truly three-dimensional characters because of their ethnicity. In speaking about his role as Ning, James described having the chance to play a Chinese man with depth and character development as a dream come true and the realization of his goal as an actor, but at the same time expressed frustration with the lack of these type of roles in his career up until this point.

Both of these actors brought a lot of themselves of themselves into these characters and it was clear how much they connected with the experience of this story as well as with the the importance of getting people to understand what it means to be Asian American in the United States. The lack of visible Asian male role models in the media caused them both a lot of internal struggle growing up and trying to assimilate into a mostly white culture. James shared with me some of the experiences he had with being harassed when he was a kid because of his race, which, like he says, “Only needs to happen once and you never forget.”

Much like the character of Ryan Fu in the film, both Jake and James grew up as the children of immigrants to the United States: Jake’s parents were Korean immigrants to the United States and James is Chinese American, his mother being overseas Chinese and his father having lived in Taiwan following the takeover of the Chinese Communist Party before moving to the US. The immigrant experience was something that director Ray Yeung had spoken at length about being something he really wanted to emphasize in this film. Similar to the first-generation American characters in celebrated Chinese American author Gene Yuen Lang’s celebrated graphic novel『American Born Chinese』, Jake told me that he had spent much of his life up until he was in college running away from his parents’ culture and hating his race, something that caused a lot of conflict in his household with his more traditional Korean parents.

The insecurity of immigrant parents in the United States, especially those coming from Asia, is something that most Americans have little conception of. James bemoaned to me the frustration that his parents had not spent more time educating him and his sister in their language and culture, but this is the norm rather than the exception amongst many children of immigrant parents. The harmful stereotypes of the “model minority” and the “tiger mother” are oft accentuated in the media and derogatorily played up as inherent to Asian culture, but rarely is the harsh reality of being an immigrant parent raising children in a foreign country with an unfamiliar language analyzed in depth from a fair perspective. In a scene that often came up in conversation with the actors and the director, Ryan’s mother, played by actress Elizabeth Sung, has a heartfelt moment of acceptance with the deeply closeted Ning. This challenges the damaging stereotype that Asian households are devoid of affection and gives a peek into the internal conflict these parents have to endure. James spoke about his wish that gay Asian Americans would see come away from this film with the understanding that though it may be difficult for their parents to express their emotions, that their love for their children is always there.

As Jake mentioned during the conversation, Ryan never feeling at home in his native country just because of his face is something that Asian Americans actually deal with in real life on a constant basis but that most Americans may not be aware of. When a FOX News reporter like James Waters feels that it’s acceptable to walk into a predominantly Asian neighbor and start asking purposefully demeaning questions to the residents in order to get them to caricature themselves, it’s clear that the “perpetual foreigner” myth is alive and well. Many people don’t know that Chinese immigrants were the group excluded from entering the US the most recently, and many still won’t realize how much the model minority myth damages Asian American’s perception by the mainstream media or, as Jake and James both mention, their own perceptions of themselves.

When Jake spoke about the microaggressions he constantly receives mostly from white people which are at times so small that they go over his head, I was reminded of a scene visible in the 「Front Cover」 trailer in which Ryan’s boss, played by Sonia Villani, after assigning him to work with up and coming Beijing film star Ning, is shocked that Ryan has never heard of him before. This idea that even Asian Americans who were born in the United States are constantly living one foot in the US and one foot across the Pacific Ocean creates a notion that they aren’t truly American, that they have to prove that they don’t have a divided loyalty.

This kind of internal struggle being something that has defined the Asian American experience was something that resonated strongly with both of the lead actors. On one hand, it seems that being accepted in American society as a person of Asian descent is challenging to the point of impossibility unless there are changes in today’s social and political climate. For the most part, American society still refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Asian American community in public life, and if it does at all, it is only as the butt of a joke, as evidenced by this year’s debacle at the Oscars in which young Asian American kids were unwittingly used as props for some distasteful humor about child labor.

On the other hand, the experience of discrimination and the struggle to find representation in your own society as an Asian American in the United States is something that both Jake and James told me that audiences in Asia may have trouble comprehending, and something they hope to convey through the film’s screenings here. Both actors had spent some time living in Asia in the past, and both praised the reception the film has had during its respective screenings in Hong Kong and Bangkok. However, Jake lamented the fact that audiences in Asia may not be able to empathize with Asian American outrage over things like whitewashing and misrepresentation, as Asians in Asia enjoy full representation in the media (James compared it to being white in the US). This notion of Asian Americans living in this kind of shameful no man’s land rejected by both their country of birth and their country of heritage shows up in Ryan’s contrast with Ning, whose bravado and presence comes as a result of his complete ease in his own culture, whereas Ryan has spent his life shunning anything remotely Asian and yet never feeling fully accepted by a predominately white society.

The film’s hallmark lies in the fact that every person significantly involved with its production has repeatedly professed their desire to challenge the prevailing notions on race and sexuality and portray gay Asian men as fully realized characters with their own courage and flaws. Just the fact that both main characters in this film are Asian men and that the only role white supporting actors serve is as background to the story is revolutionary enough in itself, and even more so to have two actors who have internalized the films’ message and have such a perspective on their own roles in a larger struggle for justice. Both of them expressed to me their desire to continue to play these kinds of characters either in the United States or in Asia. Let’s hope that we see more not just of these two but of more films like this one.

Garrett Dee
Garrett is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin in history and international relations. He is currently studying at the International Chinese Language Program of National Taiwan University, and is focused on issues related to geopolitics, history, racial justice, and queer liberation.

Author: Garrett Dee/Date: October 18, 2016/Source: https://newbloommag.net/2016/10/18/front-cover-actors-interview/




Garrett Dee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/grrtt


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Michael Luo 迈克尔·罗 「‘Go Back to China’: Readers Respond to Racist Insults Shouted at a『New York Times』Editor」

Posted on October 10, 2016 commentaires
It certainly felt like something of a moment for Asian-Americans in this country: an article about racist insults flung at one of their own, featured prominently in『The New York Times』, shared, posted and commented on thousands upon thousands of times.

Admittedly, it was a little hard for me to tell, because I wrote the article and was in the middle of the torrent of responses to it, trying to do my day job as deputy Metro editor for『The Times』, while also managing my Facebook and Twitter feeds, which were blowing up.

What seemed indisputable to me, though, on Monday, was that my open letter published online on Sunday, addressed to the woman who had told my family to go back to China, tapped into a deep reservoir of emotions held by many Asian-Americans about the racial prejudice they have experienced and a hunger for it to be recognized more broadly.

Readers of all backgrounds, but especially Asian-Americans, responded in droves with recollections of their own encounters with racist taunts and with reflections on the nature of the supposed American melting pot.

Some comments have been edited for clarity.

Memories of Racist Attacks
Many Asian-American readers recalled their own painful experiences with racist attacks.

“When I was 7, my father had to explain the word ‘chink’ to me bc our neighbors had spray painted it on our front steps. (I am also Korean)”
@melaniekdu

“Uncle’s car vandalized ‘Go back to China’ while parked in his own driveway in Dallas. I was 8. I cried a lot.”
@larryluk

“My drill sergeants used to tell me in the US Army we are not white black brown or yellow, we are all Army green. Yet when a fellow soldier called me “Private Ching Chong” I had to fight tooth and nail to even convince my superiors that this was a racist comment. I was willing to fight and bleed for my country, was born and raised in this country, yet had to fight to convince them I was as American as they were.”
CeFaan Kim

“A Caucasian lady approached me while I was on my way to my car and said to me, ‘I hate to see your kind taking the jobs away from real Americans. Go back to your own country where you belong. We don’t need second rate teachers in America educating our youth. Your kind must go back or get shot in the head.’ Yep. That happened to me too. I am a US citizen and a certified teacher. Sad but true. Racism still does exist... and this election seems to somehow blow it out of proportion.”
Lui Yuri Lai

“This has also happened to me on the UES outside my own apartment building. A woman walked right up to me and told me to go back to my own country — a country I’ve lived in my entire life. I couldn’t even believe it and for people who say ‘they’re just words,’ guess what: Words hurt and I went home and cried that day even though I didn’t deserve to feel sad for being American.”
Rachael Moin

‘Where Are You Really From?’
Sometimes, the racism is more subtle, a question about where someone is really from, a backhanded compliment about a person’s English skills. The implication is that an Asian-American is somehow foreign and not quite American.

“Introduced myself to a neighbor and she asked, ‘what’s your real name?’ elizabeth is my real name.”
@curiousliz

“I met a celebrity a few years ago at a book signing. She is an actress, director, and producer. When my turn came up to have my book signed, she and I chatted. She asked me where I was from. I replied that I am from Queens. She responds, ‘No...I mean, where are you from? Where were you born?’ I said I was born in Manhattan. She continued on, ‘What is your nationality?’ I said I’m American. I sensed her frustration with me. She would not let it drop. ‘Where are your parents from?’ she continued. I replied, ‘They are from Shanghai and Xiamen.’ ‘Ahh....’ she replied to me, ‘so you are Chinese.’”
Lisa T, New York, N.Y.

“As an Asian-American physician, sad to say, I still get this in California: ‘No, really, where are you FROM?’ But at least no one asks me what I routinely got asked on the East Coast: ‘Where did you learn to speak such beautiful English?’ In the NY public schools, just like you. It is a continual reminder that despite being American, in many ways, we will always be ‘other.’ The nastiness of the current presidential election only serves to emphasize this difference and heighten our anxieties.”
GeriMD, California

“I’m a fourth-generation Chinese-American. My father and his father were born in the U.S. I grew up in Queens and have lived in a co-op on the Upper East Side for 16 years. Soon after our twins were born my wife, also Chinese-American, was in the elevator with our children one day and a woman asked her, ‘Oh, who in the building had twins?’ This woman assumed that my Ivy League lawyer wife was the nanny. A couple of times after picking up take-out food I have been admonished by people in my building for my taking the regular elevator instead of the service elevator — with the assumption that I am a delivery person, not a resident. We have a long way to go.”
Andrew Wong, New York, N.Y.

All Too Common
The obvious question about the incident that I experienced on Sunday was just how representative it was of the Asian-American experience. Readers made clear that it was all too common.

“Being Asian means putting up with ‘acceptable’ racism in America. I experience an incident a week.”
@hipguide

“Routinely asked ‘Where are you from?’ Screamed at, CHINK. Where’s best Chinese restaurant? Ni Hao, Konnichiwa.”
@marsdiane

“It happens to Asians on a daily basis, but we’re generally not outspoken and the population is relatively low, it’s often overlooked.”
Yi-Chen Lee

Political Climate
Many readers drew a direct line from the current political climate and, in particular, the harsh rhetoric of Donald J. Trump’s campaign, to what happened to me.

“Herein lies today’s tragedy. Donald Trump has touched a vein in a population mourning a world where their superiority (and entitlement) went unquestioned. His not-so-subtle coded message is one of ‘If you just put “those people” in their place, then all will be well again.’ And it’s just so much more easier to feel this way than to put in the sacrifice and hard work needed to actually improve your own situation.”
BLM, Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“While this type of overt racism you experienced was not invented by the current GOP nominee, his endorsement and validation of this sort of tribalism certainly validates it. The sad irony of this type of attitude is that it further isolates these types of people from different cultures and the benefits of globalization, which further reinforces their tribal attitudes!”
Jeff, New York, N.Y.

Michael Luo is deputy Metro editor and an editor on the Race/Related team at『The New York Times』. He can be reached on Twitter @MichaelLuo.

Adeel Hassan and Talya Minsberg contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on October 11, 2016, on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: 「Readers Respond to the Racist Insults Shouted at a Times Editor」.


Michael Luo 迈克尔·罗 「“滚回中国”?时报读者讲述曾遭遇的种族攻击」


对这个国家的亚裔美国人而言,这无疑是个不同寻常的时刻:一篇有关他们中的一员遭到种族侮辱的文章醒目地刊登在《纽约时报》上,被成千上万次分享、张贴和评论。

诚然,这话让我来讲有点困难,因为文章是我写的,我正处在外界对它的反应的漩涡之中。我得尽力履行自己作为时报都市版副主编的职责,同时还要管理自己的Facebook和Twitter账户的动态,两个地方都已经炸开了锅。

不过,到了周一,对我来说似乎无可争辩的是,在给那位让我们一家滚回中国的女士写了一封公开信,并在周日发表在网上后,此事已经激起了许多经历过种族歧视的亚裔美国人郁结多年的情绪,也激发了他们想得到更广泛认可的渴望。

各个种族的读者纷纷做出回应,尤其是亚裔美国人。他们带来各自遭遇种族歧视的回忆,也带来了对所谓美国大熔炉本质的反思。

为便于阅读,以下一些评论经过编辑。

遭受种族歧视的回忆
许多亚裔美国读者回忆了自己遭遇种族歧视的痛苦经历。

“在我七岁的时候,我父亲跟我解释‘chink’(支那佬)是什么意思,因为邻居在我们门前用喷漆写了这个词。(而我是韩国人)”
@melaniekdu

“叔叔的车停在他的达拉斯家门口的车道上,被人涂上了‘滚回中国去’几个字。当时我八岁。经常哭。”
@larryluk

“我的教官跟我说过,在美国陆军没有白黑棕黄,我们都是陆军绿。可是当一个战友管我叫‘大兵清穷’(Private Ching Chong)的时候,单是让上级理解这个词的歧视含义就费了好大劲。我愿意为我的国家去战斗,去流血,我在这个国家出生、长大,但我还是必须奋力向他们说明,我是跟他们一样的美国人。”
CeFaan Kim

“在我去自己的车的路上,一名白人女子走到我跟前说,‘我讨厌看到你们这种人从真正的美国人手里抢工作。滚回属于你们自己的国家。我们不需要二流老师在美国教育我们的年轻人。你们这种人必须滚回去,否则就要挨枪子儿。’是的。我身上也发生过这种事。我是一名美国公民,是一名经过认证的老师。这一切令人心痛,但却是事实。种族歧视的确还存在……这一届选举似乎以某种方式将它不成比例地放大了。”
Lui Yuri Lai

“我也遇到过这种事情,就在上东区我住的公寓楼外面。一个女的径直走到我面前,让我滚回我自己的国家,但我一辈子都生活在这个国家。我甚至都无法相信。至于那些说‘他们就是说说而已’的人,猜猜怎么着:话也能伤人,那天回到家后我哭了,尽管我不应该为身为美国人而感到伤心。”
Rachael Moin

“你到底来自哪里?”
有时候种族歧视是很隐晦的,比如问一个人到底来自哪里,或是假惺惺地夸奖一个人的英语水平。这其中的隐含意思是亚裔美国人从某种程度上来说是外国人,不是真正的美国人。

“向一个邻居介绍我自己的时候,她问,‘你的真名叫什么?’伊丽莎白就是我的真名。”
@curiousliz

“几年前,我在一个图书签售活动上见到了一个名人。她是一名演员、导演和制片人。轮到给我的书签名时,她和我聊了起来。她问我是哪里人。我说我来自皇后区。她的反应是,不是…...我的意思是,你来自哪里?你出生在哪里?我说我出生在曼哈顿。她接着说,你是哪国人?我说我是美国人。我感觉到了她对我的不满。她就是死咬着这事不放。你父母是哪儿人?她接着说。我回答说,他们来自上海和厦门。‘噢…’她对我说,所以你是中国人。”
Lisa T,纽约州纽约市

“作为一名亚裔美国医生,很不幸地说,我在加州至今还会遇到这种事:‘说真的,你到底打哪儿来?’但在这里好歹不会像在东海岸那样,时不时就有人问:‘你英语这么棒,在哪里学的?’在纽约的公立学校,跟你一样。这不断在提醒我,尽管身为一个美国人,在很多方面,我们将永远是‘他者’。目前这场下三滥的总统竞选无非是突显了这种差异,加重了我们的忧虑。”
GeriMD,加利福尼亚州

“我是第四代华裔美国人。我的父亲和祖父均出生在美国,我在皇后区长大,在上东区一座合作公寓住了16年。在我们的双胞胎出生后,我妻子——也是华裔美国人——有一次和孩子们在电梯里,一个女人问她,‘噢,这楼里有人生了双胞胎?’此人以为我的这位藤校律师妻子是保姆。有几次我去拿外卖,公寓楼里的人会训斥我,说我应该搭货梯而不是客梯——他们假定我是送餐员,而不是住客。我们还有很长的路要走。”
安德鲁·黄,纽约州纽约市

太稀松平常了
对于我所经历的那件事,一个显而易见的地方是,它在亚裔当中具有大多的代表性。读者的反馈清晰表明:它太常见了。

“作为一名亚洲人,就意味着你得忍受美国社会中‘尚可以接受的’种族主义。我每周都会碰到一次这样的事情。”
@hipguide

“经常会被问,‘你从哪儿来?’被喊中国佬。那家中国餐馆最好?Ni Hao,Konnichiwa(日语你好)。”
@marsdiane

“这种事情每天都发生在亚裔身上,但我们通常比较缄默,人口数量相对较少,经常被忽视。”
李义晨(Yi-Chen Lee,音)

政治气候
很多读者认为当前的政治气候——尤其是特朗普的竞选——与他的经历之间有关联。

“这就是当今的悲剧所在。特朗普打动了一个群体的心弦,他们为失去了一个自己曾经拥有毋庸置疑的优越感(以及权利)的世界而难过。他的隐秘信息近乎直白,‘如果你让“那些人”各归其位,那么一切都会又好起来。’比起通过做出牺牲和勤奋工作来改善自己的处境,怨恨别人要省事得多。”
BLM, 纽约州纽约市尼亚加拉大瀑布城

“你所经历的这种赤裸裸的种族歧视,并非目前这位共和党提名候选人造成的,但他对这种部落意识的支持和认同,的确是起到了推波助澜的作用。具有悲讽意味的是,这种态度将把这种人进一步与不同的文化隔绝开来,使他们无法从全球化中受益,而这又反过来进一步强化他们的部落意识!”
Jeff, 纽约州纽约市

Michael Luo是《纽约时报》都市版副主编,也是种族相关议题的编辑。欢迎在Twitter上关注他@MichaelLuo

Adeel HassanTalya Minsberg对本文有报道贡献。


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BTS 방탄소년단 「Blood Sweat & Tears」

commentaires

BTS 「Blood Sweat & Tears」【피 땀 눈물】- from 「WINGS」 released on October 10, 2016.

Les BTS n’ont jamais été aussi lascifs, tant dans l’interprétation que dans le visuel, c’est troublant ! Le clip ambitieux est une narration somptueuse et cryptique.


Ci-dessous, une intéressante interprétation du DreamTeller :


DreamTeller 「[뮤비해석] BTS(방탄소년단) - 피 땀 눈물 : 뷔는 왜 진을 타락시켰나」 - posted on October 13, 2016.

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Michael Luo 迈克尔·罗 「An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China」

Posted on October 09, 2016 commentaires
Dear Madam:

Maybe I should have let it go. Turned the other cheek. We had just gotten out of church, and I was with my family and some friends on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We were going to lunch, trying to see if there was room in the Korean restaurant down the street. You were in a rush. It was raining. Our stroller and a gaggle of Asians were in your way.

But I was, honestly, stunned when you yelled at us from down the block, “Go back to China!”

I hesitated for a second and then sprinted to confront you. That must have startled you. You pulled out your iPhone in front of the Equinox and threatened to call the cops. It was comical, in retrospect. You might have been charged instead, especially after I walked away and you screamed, “Go back to your fucking country.”

“I was born in this country!” I yelled back.

It felt silly. But how else to prove I belonged?

This was not my first encounter, of course, with racist insults. Ask any Asian-American, and they’ll readily summon memories of schoolyard taunts, or disturbing encounters on the street or at the grocery store. When I posted on Twitter about what happened, an avalanche of people replied back to me with their own experiences.




But for some reason – and, yes, it probably has to do with the political climate right now – this time felt different.

Walking home later, a pang of sadness welled up inside me.

You had on a nice rain coat. Your iPhone was a 6 Plus. You could have been a fellow parent in one of my daughters’ schools. You seemed, well, normal. But you had these feelings in you, and, the reality is, so do a lot of people in this country right now.

Maybe you don’t know this, but the insults you hurled at my family get to the heart of the Asian-American experience. It’s this persistent sense of otherness that a lot of us struggle with every day. That no matter what we do, how successful we are, what friends we make, we don’t belong. We’re foreign. We’re not American. It’s one of the reasons that Fox News segment the other day on Chinatown by Jesse Watters, with the karate and nunchucks and broken English, generated so much outrage.

My parents fled mainland China for Taiwan ahead of the Communist takeover. They came to the United States for graduate school. They raised two children, both of whom went to Harvard. I work at『The New York Times』. Model minority, indeed.

Yet somehow I still often feel like an outsider.

And I wonder if that feeling will ever go away. Perhaps, more important, I wonder whether my two daughters who were with me today will always feel that way too.

Yes, the outpouring of support online was gratifying.


But, afterward, my 7-year-old, who witnessed the whole thing, kept asking my wife, “Why did she say, ‘Go back to China?’ We’re not from China.”

No, we’re not, my wife said, and she tried to explain why you might have said that and why people shouldn’t judge others.

We’re from America, she told my daughter. But sometimes people don’t understand that.

I hope you do now.

Sincerely,

Michael Luo

Michael Luo is deputy Metro editor and an editor on the Race/Related team at『The New York Times』. He can be reached on Twitter @MichaelLuo.

A version of this article appears in print on October 11, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: 「An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told Us: Go Back to China」.


Michael Luo 迈克尔·罗 「一封公开信,致那位让我们滚回中国的女士」


亲爱的女士:

也许我应该释怀,选择容忍。我们当时刚刚从教堂出来,我和家人以及一些朋友走在曼哈顿上东区。我们正找地方吃午餐,想要看看街边的那家韩国餐厅有没有位置。你行色匆匆。天空中飘着雨。我们的婴儿车以及一群叽里呱啦的亚裔挡了你的路。

你从不远处朝我们大声嚷嚷:“滚回中国去!”说老实话,当时我颇为震惊。

我迟疑了一下,随即冲到你面前。这个举动肯定把你吓到了。你在Equinox健身房前掏出iPhone,威胁说要叫警察。回想起来有些滑稽。应该是我叫警察才对吧,尤其是当我走开以后,你高叫“滚回你那该死的国家去”的时候。

“我生在这个国家!”我嚷了回去。

感觉挺蠢的。但还有什么办法能证明我属于这里呢。

当然了,这并不是我第一次遇到种族侮辱。问问任何一个亚裔美国人,他们都会立刻回忆起在校园里被嘲讽的情形,抑或在街上或杂货店里的恼人遭遇。我在Twitter上发帖讲了事情的经过,许多人在回帖中提到了自己的经历。

但出于某种原因——没错,或许是和当下的政治氛围有关吧——这一次的感觉有些异样。

后来走回家去的时候,一阵伤感涌上了我的心头。

你穿着一件很好的雨衣,你手上的iPhone是6 Plus。你或许已身为人母,你的孩子或许和我的女儿们同校就读。你看上去,怎么说呢,挺正常的。但你的内心却潜藏着这样的情绪,事实上,这个国家的很多人都是如此。

或许你并不知道,但你对我的家人的侮辱直指亚裔美国人日常经历的核心。我们许多人每天都在竭力应对这种无处不在的异已感。不论我们从事什么职业,有多么成功,和谁交朋友,我们都不属于这里。我们是外来者。我们不是美国人。福克斯新闻(Fox News)的杰西·沃特斯(Jesse Watters)前些天在唐人街进行实地采访的电视片段——涉及空手道、双节棍和蹩脚英语——之所以引发了那么多愤怒,也与此有关。

我的父母在共产党夺取政权前从中国大陆逃到台湾,又到美国念了研究生。他们养育了两个孩子。我们俩都毕业于哈佛。我在《纽约时报》工作。算是人们口中的模范少数族裔了。

可我依然常常觉得自己像个外人。

不知这种感觉会不会消失。或许更重要的是,不知今天被我带在身边的两个女儿会不会永远都有这种感觉。

没错,网上如潮的支持令人欣慰。

但我的一个女儿只有7岁,目睹了整件事的她后来不停地问我妻子,“她为什么要说‘滚回中国去’?我们不是从中国来的呀。”

是呀,我们不是从中国来的,我妻子回答。她竭力向女儿解释你这样说的可能原因,以及人们为什么不该随便评判他人。

我们来自美国,她告诉我女儿。但有时候人们并不理解这一点。

希望你现在理解了。

此致敬礼,

迈克尔·罗(Michael Luo)


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David C. 「Quand un asiatique sort du placard」

Posted on October 08, 2016 commentaires
Même si sortir du placard est l’une des étapes les plus importantes dans la vie d’un(e) homosexuel(le), ce n’est que le début d’un parcours semé d’embuches et de défis. Et si on intègre ce parcours dans un contexte asiatique, ouh boy !

Ce n’est pas une surprise de dire que la majorité des familles asiatiques est plutôt conservatrice et traditionnelle. Tout repose beaucoup sur le paraître, sur l’image sociale que l’on dégage. Alors avoir un petit homosexuel dans la famille, ça fait tâche. Le plus souvent (et si le sujet a été mis sur la table), on en parle une fois et on n’en reparle plus : inutile de l’ébruiter, il faut rester discret. Il y a bien sûr des exceptions à la règle. Depuis quelques années, mes parents ont toujours tenu à me faire comprendre qu’ils m’acceptaient quoiqu’il arrive, que mon bonheur était ce qui devait primer. Toutefois, il n’était pas nécessaire de le mentionner aux autres membres de la famille plus élargie. Et si au départ j’ai cru que c’était parce qu’ils ne voulaient pas l’assumer ou tout simplement que ça se sache, j’ai très vite compris que c’était leur façon de me protéger. J’ai également compris que cette période a été jusqu’à maintenant le plus beau moment où ils m’ont prouvé leur amour. Ils ont dépassé leurs idéaux et leur incompréhension, ils ont fait l’effort de m’écouter et de s’éduquer. Et avec le temps, tout devient naturel : il n’est plus question de faire un effort, mais de tout simplement m’accepter et me soutenir.

De là, un nouveau monde s’est ouvert à moi : la communauté gay, avec ses beautés, sa culture mais également ses contradictions. J’ai découvert qu’être asiatique dans un monde gay était une vraie remise en question identitaire. J’ai été à la fois rejeté et objet de « désir exotique ».

Dans les fameuses applications de rencontres (parce que quand tu ne sais pas par où commencer, tu fais appel à elles), j’ai été confronté à des profils clairement anti-asiatiques. Et quand je leur disais que c’était borderline raciste, on me disait que ce n’était qu’une question de préférences. Alors, certes, tous les goûts sont dans la nature mais des phrases du type « Asiatiques, s’abstenir de me parler », « No spices » ou encore « Asians Out » interpellent quand même. Et ces personnes sont donc persuadées qu’elles ne sont en aucun cas racistes. Je ne sais pas si ces gens sont stupides ou s’ils ne réalisent pas le poids de leurs mots.

Et que dire de la fameuse phrase : « T’es mignon pour un asiat.»?

BAM. Le compliment à double tranchant. Il fait plaisir mais tu n’es pas trop sûr que ça en est un en fait. Et tu restes planté là comme un con ne sachant pas quoi répondre. « Merci ?»


Qu’est-ce qui pourrait expliquer un tel phénomène ?

Encore une fois, tous les goûts sont dans la nature mais ces goûts sont quand même modelés par la société et les médias (on en revient toujours à eux). La représentation faite des asiatiques n’est jamais flatteuse. Ce n’est jamais le mec le plus viril, le plus intéressant. Surtout dans la communauté gay où l’image la plus répandue est celle du lady boy de Thaïlande. Va te battre contre ça !

Personnellement, ce rejet a eu un impact assez fort sur moi. La confiance en soi en prend un coup, et tu finis par croire que tu ne trouveras jamais quelqu’un et surtout que tu n’es pas assez bien pour plaire, dans une communauté où l’apparence prend de plus en plus de place. Sur plusieurs forums, beaucoup de jeunes asiatiques gay tiennent le même discours. Alors le moindre intérêt que l’on te porte est vu comme le Messie.

On tombe alors sur le phénomène opposé : des hommes d’un certain âge qui « adorent l’Asie » parce qu’ils ont fait pleins de voyages là-bas. Si les applications sont, à raison, vues comme une plateforme de shopping, moi j’étais un marché de niche.

Et plus je grandissais, plus j’en découvrais. J’ai appris qu’il y avait trois catégories (parce qu’on aime les boîtes) :
  • Rice Queen : lorsqu’un homme blanc (peu importe l’âge en fait) est uniquement intéressé et attiré par des hommes asiatiques
  • Potatoe Queen : lorsqu’un asiatique est uniquement intéressé et attiré par des hommes blancs
  • Sticky Rice : lorsqu’un asiatique ne fréquente exclusivement que d’autres asiatiques
Je me suis toujours demandé pourquoi je ne voyais que très peu de couples asiatiques gay en Occident. Je voyais majoritairement des couples blanc-asiatique. Encore une fois, la ligne est très mince entre le rejet et les préférences. Moi-même j’avoue avoir une préférence pour les hommes blancs. Et je me suis récemment posé la question : à savoir si je faisais un rejet ou si j’avais juste une préférence. Je me suis mis alors à m’ouvrir davantage.

Et finalement, j’ai rencontré, à mon grand soulagement, des gens qui ne s’arrêtaient pas à la couleur de peau et qui restaient ouverts à tous. Souvent, ces mêmes personnes étaient surprises lorsque je leur racontais ce par quoi je suis passé et ce que j’ai pu entendre et observer.

J’en suis arrivé à la conclusion qu’avoir des préférences est totalement légitime. Mais il existe une certaine façon de l’exprimer. Appelez ça du politiquement correct mais quand cela affecte la confiance d’un jeune gay sur sa perception de lui-même et sur sa capacité à trouver l’amour, je pense que nous avons tous la responsabilité de faire plus attention. Quant au racisme qui règne dans la communauté gay, une communauté qui prône l’acceptation et la tolérance, il est important de ne pas avoir peur de le dénoncer et d’ouvrir les yeux sur une réalité beaucoup trop tue.

Par David C.
Après avoir obtenu son diplôme d’école de commerce en France, David a débuté sa carrière à Chicago. Au bout de quelques années, il décide de prendre une année sabbatique pour se consacrer à sa passion : la musique. Vivant désormais à Montréal, il mène une vie remplie jonglant entre son travail en marketing et son implication dans une troupe Broadway.
Fier de ses origines vietnamiennes et cambodgiennes, il a à cœur de contribuer au débat sur la diversité en soulignant les succès mais surtout les défis des asiatiques en Occident.

Blog : http://davdoubleh.wix.com/entredeuxchaises


Author: David C./Date: October 08, 2016/Source: http://revue-ataye.com/?p=138


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Todd Crowell 「Why Japanese businesses are embracing the LGBT community」

Posted on October 03, 2016 commentaires
In faraway Toronto, an art exhibition titled 「The Third Gender – beautiful Youths in Japan」 is an eloquent statement on Japan’s attitude towards gender. Long before the term LGBT came into vogue, Japan went its own way...

In faraway Toronto, an art exhibition titled 「The Third Gender – beautiful Youths in Japan」 is an eloquent statement on Japan’s attitude towards gender. Long before the term LGBT came into vogue, Japan went its own way regarding gender definitions, as the exhibition shows. It harkens back to a more relaxed era, depicted in art as the “Floating World”, before the Meiji restoration in the 19th Century opened Japan to Western ideas and concepts, including a more Victorian attitude towards sex roles. That is changing rapidly in Japan, led by big business seeking to tap into the underappreciated market for lesbians, gays and transgender people estimated at US$50 billion.

The online shopping mall operator Rakutan earlier this month announced that it would recognise same-sex relationships for spousal benefits. Under the new rule, employee couples of the same sex can receive the same benefits and treatment as married couples, including condolence leave and condolence payments.

“We are very proud to support and provide an inclusive work place with services and benefits that recognise same-sex partners,” said Akio Sugihara, managing executive.

Rakuten is known as a trend-setter in Japanese business circles. It made news earlier when it announced that it was demanding that all 13,000 employees learn to speak English for the company to work better in a global setting. But other more venerable Japan Inc. companies are following suit.

The massive electronics emporium Panasonic announced it too would recognise employees in same-sex relationships by conferring on them paid leave and other benefits. One motivation is the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo. It has a rule prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Panasonic aspires to be a prime sponsor.

Japan Airlines and its affiliate Trans Ocean Air Company together sponsor the Pink Dot festival on Okinawa, becoming the first Japanese airlines to sponsor a private LGBT event. Beginning this year, JAL will also allow officially certified same-sex couples to share their frequent flier miles as family members. Both JAL and Trans Ocean, based in Naha, rely heavily on tourism.

“We can see the ripple effect among numerous additional Japanese companies”, says Ayumu Yasutomi, a professor of social ecology at Tokyo University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Asia.

Like its counterpart in the United States, Tokyo Disneyland sponsors an LGBT Pride event. This includes a popular marriage hall, which performs a kind of symbolic marriage ceremony for same-sex couples. Nomura Securities, was one of the first major LGBT-friendly companies in Japan when in 2008 it bought the US investment bank Lehman Brothers and adopted its marriage equality policies.

Hakuhodo DY Holdings, a major Japanese advertising firm, this spring established a think tank, the LGBT Research Institute, to cater to Japanese firms that feel they need to learn more about sexual minorities and their buying habits. “The LGBT market is still largely uncharted territory,” declared institute chief Takahito Morinaga. His research shows that LGBT people tend to spend more on travel, art and pet goods, he says. “I believe there are tremendous big business opportunities,” he said.

Change is coming, albeit more slowly, in the public sector. The self-governing Shibuya district of Tokyo created quite a stir when in February 2015, it declared that it would begin issuing “Proof of Partnership” documents, providing same-sex couples with rights traditionally reserved for married couples, stopping just short of fully–fledged same-sex marriage certificates.

The Setagaya district quickly followed suit, but since that initial outburst, no other Tokyo district has done so, although the small city of Iga in Mie prefecture became the first government entity outside of Tokyo to issue Proof of Partnership documents for same-sex couples.

One might reasonably question that if these districts are issuing documents for same-sex couples that are practically marriage certificates, why not take the next logical step and fully legalise same-sex marriages. The answer has less to do with views on homosexuality, which are fairly relaxed in Japan, as it does to more practical concerns such as inheritance and the definition of the family under law.

In Japan, couples can go through any “marriage ceremony” they wish, from the most traditional Shinto wedding ceremony to marriage halls in Disneyland and Hawaii (combining the wedding with the honeymoon). But no one is actually and legally married until they go to the city hall and enter their names in the family register or koseki. For married couples only one family name must appear.

The koseki system performs by itself the roles taken on in other countries through several documents, including birth certificates, death certificates and of course marriage or adoption. So many conservatives are loath to tinker with it.

As a rule, then, Japanese don’t have much cultural hostility to LGBT people. Homosexuality has been legal in Japan since 1880. Neither of the two main religions, imported Buddhism and the native Shinto, has any position on sexuality. (The tiny Christian minority does not much exert influence.)

A law passed in 2002 allows transgender people to change their legal gender after obtaining sex re-assignment surgery. There are no laws governing which bathrooms to use. Indeed, there are occasional signs in front of public toilets saying this stall is gender free.

The current exhibition of Japanese wood-block prints running in Toronto is itself a fair indication of Japanese attitudes towards gender. In the kabuki theatre men play women’s roles, while in the Takarazuka review women play the men’s roles.

Japan’s politicians have been slow to react to LGBT issues. In the recent upper house election in July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s manifesto contained some vague language of support for LGBT issues but was placed towards the end of the document.

“The Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would probably try to get by without dealing with LGBT issues. Without outside pressure [the Olympics] things might not have gotten this far,” says Akiko Shimizu, associate professor of gender and sexual studies at Tokyo University. “But doing nothing looks bad.”

Japan’s constitution, written by occupying Americans in 1947, goes farther than even the US constitution in guaranteeing women’s rights and specifically places women on an equal plane with men in terms of consent and inheritance, but does not mention partners of the same sex.

For the first time since the war, the ruling LDP has enough votes in both houses of parliament to call a national referendum on amending the constitution, which has never been changed since it was first promulgated.

However, the LDP’s proposed amendments, which it published in 2012, contain no references to same-sex marriage, and indeed, proposes strengthening definitions of family. These proposed amendments can be changed, of course, but it doesn’t seem likely that the conservatives who now dominate the government will be willing to go down that road.

Todd Crowell has been a journalist in Asia for 30 years, in Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan


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Jason Ooi 「Andrew Ahn Talks ‘Spa Night,’ ‘Doctor Strange’ Whitewashing, Asian & Gay Representation On Screen」

Posted on October 02, 2016 commentaires
Joe Seo

Director Andrew Ahn came out to his parents as gay with a short film – after making them star in it. Since 「Dol (First Birthday)」 (which premiered at Sundance in 2012), he’s come a long way, with his first feature-length film 「Spa Night」 recently opening to critical acclaim. The film follows 18-year-old David (Joe Seo) coming to terms with his sexuality, his Asian-American ethnicity and his future, with the looming threat of college on the horizon, as he finds his desires at odds with those of his community and parents. Ahn tackles each subject with an immense and striking level of intimacy that makes it difficult not to connect with, or at least feel the weight of, each of the themes imposed on the main character. It is a confident, nuanced, and extremely personal film that marks the start of a promising career for Ahn.

What really struck me about the film at first was how personal it felt and how accurately it captured the insecurities of being young and Asian and gay.

The film might not be exactly autobiographical, but I do feel a kinship with the main character, David. He has these thoughts, feelings and fears in the film that I have felt in my life. Some of the specifics are really different – David is an only child, and he’s struggling academically; meanwhile, I went to college, and I have an older brother. But emotionally we’re very similar. I really think that personal film is interesting because you get a level of insight that you can only achieve by being that person.

How about the people in your family? How did they react to finding out you were gay?

I was expecting the worst from my family. When I came out to my family here, they were actually very supportive. It wasn’t 100% great – and that wasn’t an issue. There were things we needed to talk about and things we continue to talk about. I made it worse in my head, and I think David does too: A lot of his worries – this paranoia, this uncertainty – only really exist in his head, and it’s amazing how this can create conflict and torture someone. In many ways in the film, you don’t have a great sense as to whether or not David’s parents would disown him, but you do get the sense that he doesn’t want to disappoint them, and that’s the real source of the drama.

David’s character really stood out to me as a silent protagonist. Did anything influence your decision to not really give him a voice?

In my development of that character, I was thinking a lot about someone who felt a little stunted – who was physically a man with sexual desires, but emotionally and mentally still young. It is that tension that really catches him off guard. He is interested in and drawn to the gay cruising that happens at the spa, but he doesn’t quite have the capability to process it. I made sure that he wouldn’t be super-articulate and extroverted, [that] there’d be something about him that’s self-guarded and withdrawn. I still do think he’s a very active character, and that he makes choices, even if he isn’t interested in talking about them. That felt especially true for the type of character that I was interested in.

I also feel like the film is kind of quiet as a whole, unsentimental, in spite of what the subject matter or the coming-of-age genre would lead someone to believe. What led you to pursue that route?

It’s pretty funny actually – I was really surprised at how much dialogue was in the movie. I think it’s the most dialogue I’ve ever written in one of my scripts. I think it might just be my style. There’s also no score in the film. I think there’s something about silence that draws people into a movie and forces you to listen, instead of blasting you out. I think because David’s such a quiet character, if I had score or a lot of dialogue, you would lose him. I knew that if I wanted to tell this story about this particular kind of protagonist, I would have to cinematically adjust to him.

We tried a score at one point: My editor wanted to at least experiment with it, and I thought it was a terrible idea and I hated what he did, so we scrapped it. What I did talk about a lot with my sound designer was how to draw out the musical moments in the film. There’s the drip of the sauna, the karaoke song, the song that the Dad sings when he walks through Koreatown drunk. There are these moments, they just aren’t anything like the standard movie score.

You worked as a high-school counselor. Can you tell me a bit about that job, and how it may have influenced your characters?

When I took that job, I had already written multiple drafts of 「Spa Night」. Still, it was nice for me to just be around people who were the age that my character is. What I noticed was that there were always those super-high-achieving, really outgoing kids, but you also had those kids that didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do, and didn’t seem very academically inclined. I observed that it didn’t mean that these students weren’t interesting people, it just meant that they had other positive attributes – if they were artistic, or empathetic. I think these were the things I really appreciated about my work at the academy, and I think it really helped me humanize David by helping me understand what it was like to be caught in the middle, and to focus on other characteristics that weren’t always obvious.

I’m very curious about the backlash to the film, too, because it does deal with some very controversial topics.

The film is controversial. I feel like I did make the film in such a way that someone who is homophobic could feel a little bit of empathy for David and his family. If they don’t and decide to still judge the character, then at least they’ve seen the movie and have been confronted with a different perspective. I haven’t received much backlash but I am prepared for it. It’s going to be interesting, but for me, controversy comes with the opportunity to change minds, be productive, and bring awareness.

Another thing that really surprised me about the film – and I think that you wouldn’t be able to do something like this in a studio-produced film – was the film’s willingness to show male nudity.

In my head, I strategized from very early on that there would be a lot of nudity in the Korean, cultural spa. But the more it transformed into an erotic space, the more I would minimize the nudity, because I didn’t want it to be about the nudity. I wanted it to be about the character’s experience. I think that really helped a lot of the actors and extras, because whenever the nudity would get really risqué, we would really just stay on body parts and on faces.

You talk about the spa as a cultural phenomena. What is that like?

For me, the Korean spa has alway been a place about Korean ritual and tradition. It’s a family space. I used to go to the spa with my Dad, especially for the new year – you would get clean and scrub yourself. There’s something about the spa itself that makes me feel very Korean. There’s usually Korean radio and television playing, and lots of other Korean bodies, including my own, especially with all of the clothes that make me American stripped away. There’s something about that space that feels overwhelmingly a part of my Korean identity, that made it sound very wrong when I found out that gay men used it to hook up. But at the same time, because I am gay, it sounded kind of sexy. And it’s that intersection that got me really thinking about the location as a potential setting for a film that deals with the formation of a gay Korean-American identity.

I know recently in news and culture the representation of Asians and Asian-Americans in cinema has been very controversial. How do you feel about that racial tension surrounding filmmaking?

There are so many ways that I can answer this question. The first thing for me is that so much of the media dedicated to this topic of Asian-American representation in film and television has been focused on big Hollywood movies – things like the whitewashing of 「Doctor Strange」 by the casting Tilda Swinton – and I understand why it’s valuable and why we’re doing that sort of reporting. But to me, it’s also avoiding the Asian-American media that does exist. For me, independent film is an awesome opportunity for us to get more representation out there because we don’t have to wait for studio executives to change their mind about anything or give us the opportunity. We can give ourselves the opportunity and push for the stories that we want to see on the screen. I would really love it if films that already do show Asian-American characters could get a bigger platform.

There’s also a built-in racism in making films in our current society. If I had made a film about a white family with a white main character, I probably could have seen a thousand actors for the part – I probably could have talked to a couple big actors who could’ve helped me finance my movie. With 「Spa Night」, because the character was Korean, I saw less than a hundred actors for the part.

Thank God one of them was Joe Seo, because if had he not been there, we may never have had the actor for the film. The reason that there aren’t many actors is because there aren’t many roles, so that actors give up and think that it’s not a viable career. It causes this weird feedback loop. For me, 「Spa Night」 was also an opportunity to break that cycle. Could I inspire Asian Americans who were interested in acting to continue to pursue acting, so that a filmmaker in a few years could tell an Asian-American story because that actor decided to continue to follow their passion? There are definitely obstacles in place, and I felt like I had to try and overcome these obstacles because I felt like there was the opportunity to do more.

The film seems very much focused on outsiders. If you could say one thing to all of those teenagers who may feel alienated because of their race or sexual orientation, what would it be?

I think everyone balances different identities. For David, it’s his gay identity, his Asian-American identity, his class, his spirituality – all these different aspects of who he is are interacting inside of him. It makes it very difficult and specific to him. I hope that when people watch the movie, they realize that they are not alone in their struggles to balance the different specifics of who we are, and that balance is a difficult thing to achieve. It’s okay to feel like things are going wrong because it means that you’re growing and figuring it out. I just really want audiences to know that it’s okay to be a little sad. There are so many coming-of-age films that are just positive and life-affirming that it becomes hard to connect to. It’s like listening to sad music because sometimes you need to know that someone else is going through similar things too. I feel like 「Spa Night」 accomplishes that.





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