Wes Anderson Exploits Asians in his Films, but…

The Indian fetishist brothers of The Darjeeling Limited, Filipino pirates in A Life Aquatic, and Margaret Yang as a Vietnamese Viet Cong Soldier in Rushmore

The Indian fetishist brothers of The Darjeeling Limited, Filipino pirates in A Life Aquatic, and Margaret Yang as a Vietnamese Viet Cong Soldier in Rushmore

I don’t care. I just don’t . I know a lot of people familiar with his work see the blatant exotifying (is that a word?) of Asians in his movies, from the Max Fischer and Margaret Yang relationship in Rushmore (she’s the smartest Chinese kid in public school!) to the “Filipino” speaking pirates that hijack Team Zissou’s ship, to the 2+ hours of South Asian culture worshipping in The Darjeeling Limited (not to mention Indian wife stealing). I can sit here and argue that Wes Anderson is from Houston and went to school at the University of Texas and doesn’t know any better… Or I can say he’s part of the new class of Hollywood young hipster directors (Spike Jonze, Sophia Coppola, and Jason Reitman come to mind) who live in Silverlake and probably has plenty of “Asian friends” (like an abnormally tall Asian dude or an unusually short Asian girl), so its okay. I can do all that, but the fact is his movies are highly stylized and mock all ethnicities, classes, and nationalities. The movies are “designed” from the shoes Team Zissou wears (Adidas), to the sets, to the claymation sequences, to the fonts of the credits, to the music (Portuguese David Bowie covers), to the way the actors portray robotic, self referential versions of themselves.

So Anderson is fully aware of what he’s doing. I know all this, but i just don’t care, cause I love his movies. Even though I KNOW he’s #10 on StuffWhitePeopleLike.com. I don’t F’N care! Probably the only director I can give free passes to. And I await everyone’s harsh responses, cause I don’t have two legs to stand on for this. But you gotta give the guy credit, cause he’s the only director that can put Kate Blanchett, Bill Murray, William Dafoe, Jeff Goldbloom and Seu Jorge in a submarine, deep underwater, looking for a claymation tiger shark.

Latemos

Latimos-Emotitus in its native habitat

Latinos-Emotionous (most commonly known as Latemos) in their native habitat

Latemo /La∙tee∙mo/ Noun, proper. Derives from the two terms, “Latino” and “emo”. Describes a person of Latino descent who is most influenced by the “emo” culture of softcore stylized artistic, musical, and fashionable senses. Typically wears black clothing and listens to sensitive rock bands. The Latemo scene was thrown into the international spotlight after several protests and anti-emo hate crimes occurred in Mexico in 2008 (led, surprisingly by two groups most commonly confused with emos: punks and rockabillies).

The term Latemo was coined by the legendary Steve N. in Los Angeles, California, home of the largest Latemo population outside of Mexico City, Mexico. Latemo bars and scenes in LA are commonly known as some of the most fun and safe places to go, if one can ignore the music, of course…

Quarter Life Crisis

aic-quarterlife20candle

I love talking to 22-year olds, cause they have no idea what’s coming. Their big dreams and life-long ambitions, all still fresh in their young, recent college graduate minds. They have no idea by the age of 24, they’ll be quitting their jobs, breaking up with partners, moving far away from home, and blowing the money they were saving for a house and wedding for booze and airfare instead. I tell them all this, and they all instantly deny it. “That’ll never happen to me” they say. I smile and continue with the long list of changes I foresee for them and their friends.

I can’t speak for all people between the ages of 23 and 29, but I can assure you that the epidemic that is so easily and succinctly termed as the “the quarter life crisis” is real. It affects 8 of 10 twentysomethings (the other 2 of 10 will inevitably go through a prolonged mid-life crisis, studies indicate). And it’s effects can either be catastrophically tragic or life-altering bliss.


What are the causes for this crisis? Nobody knows. But the signs are clear:

  • Broken up engagement with a fiancé, dumping a long term boyfriend or girlfriend, or worse: divorce.
  • Questioning the career your parents spent 4-6 years worth of college tuition to get you.
  • Realizing you’ve never been to Europe at the age of 25 and ending up raving at Ibiza, eating brownies in Amsterdam, drinking at pubs in Edinburgh, and sipping cafe au lait at Parisian cafes… all in one month.
  • Moving away from home. Far away. To a place you’ve always loved visiting, but never had the guts to move to because your partner would never agree to it.
  • Training for a marathon.
  • You JUST started eating sushi.
  • Selling or buying a car (if you’re a guy).
  • Drastically changing your hairstyle (if you’re a female)
  • Still in school? Sixth year Super Senior! Ambitious? You’re probably going back for that MBA. Ambitious and masochistic? Law School! Ambitious, masochistic, and still milking your parents for dough? JD/MBA!
  • Taking that engagement ring and house down payment money and blowing it on flights, mixed drinks, and new fits. Or a car. Or new hairdo. Or both if you’re metro.
  • The mere thought of a wedding or a newborn baby draws a look of puzzlement, bewilderment and fear. Those are troubles 30-year olds worry about!


quarterlife

 

Why do I think I know so much? Cause I’ve been caught in the vicious cycle above since I was 25. And my friends have been too. Between all of them, they’ve switched coasts, bought luxury cars, spent hundreds at a time on bar tabs, blown off engagements, danced till the early morning in Rio and Buenos Aires, ran the NYC marathon, hiked to Macchu Picchu, got tattoos, switched careers, eaten street food in Hong Kong, arranged cockfights in Bangkok, backpacked through the Sahara, drank and ate everything and anything in front of them, and snorted anything that could fit in a human nostril. And they’re now fat in debt. Or far from that house down payment. But the clearest indicator of the quarter life crisis is if all the above isn’t satisfying enough.

If all this travelling and spending and so-called “fun” doesn’t give you deep fulfillment, you’re in the crisis. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ups and just as many downs, but satisfaction comes to those who know what they want, and realize they have it. The gist of the crisis is the poor kid doesn’t know what he/she wants or doesn’t realize he/she already has it.

So why would anyone put themselves through this? Wouldn’t a house payment, paid-off car, beautiful wife and healthy kids at the age of 29 solve all this? Maybe. But maybe our generation is smart enough to resolve their issues one decade early. Skip the midlife crisis if you will. Maybe.

But who would want to give all this shit up for the construct that society has labeled as the ideal norm? Kids are cute, but the view of NYC at the Brooklyn promenade or the view of downtown District 1 in Sai Gon on a busy Saturday night is more beautiful. A partner would complete me, but the excitement of talking to a new person in a new city over drinks is more stimulating. A warm house that you own would be a great thing to come home too, but the freedom of not knowing what city you’ll be living in next month is far more intriguing.

So when in life does the crisis end? Again, nobody knows. But one thing is certain, someday you’ll be 66-years old, on a Sunday morning. Living in the house you own. It’ll be raining outside and you’ll want to stay in. Hopefully the wife or husband you’re with will be someone you’ll want to sip hot cocoa with next to the fire. And one thing will be certain. You’ll be talking about the moments you enjoyed during the ages of 23-29, and although you probably wouldn’t want to change a thing, you’ll wish you could live it all again… And hopefully Facebook will still be around with all those whacky pictures of the fun drunken times and random people you’ve met along the way…

Fuck You! I never said I was White!

I heard a fucked up conversation on the Muni Train the other day. I was on the K-Train on the way to Powell to do some Christmas shopping. At first it started off innocently enough, between an older Chicano lady and a younger Chicano male. She was saying how she was surprised he didn’t speak any Spanish (He was a 10th generation Mexican American). Then it got progressively worst:

Woman: You fucking sellout! How can you say you’re white! You’re CHICANO! How can you not speak Spanish or eat tamales for Christmas! I feel so sorry for you!

Man: I NEVER SAID I WAS WHITE. My family’s been here since the Civil War! We’re from San Antonio. What am I suppose to do if my mom never taught me Spanish? We eat tamales, just not every Christmas.

Woman: What do you do for a living?

Man: I’m a teacher.

Woman: OH! How fitting. Those kids have no idea their teacher is an idiot. What do you teach?

Man: Special Ed.

Woman: That’s why! Those kids are too stupid to know any better!

Man: What?!

Woman: Fuck you! You’re not fucking white!

Man: Fuck You! I never said I was white!

Woman: You fucking sell-out!

Man: You fucking bitch!

It wasn’t awkward sitting there at all. What I was intrigued about most was how she focused on how “ethnic” he was based solely on him not speaking Spanish or eating tamales for Christmas (which I incidentally had today during Christmas from my Mexican American uncle, and damn it tastes good on cold days like this). I got to wondering from my own experiences, and I think I understand her points of arguments, although I don’t agree that she’s completely right… But I think a lot of people base their judgment on how “American” vs. how “Ethnic” someone is on the following points, in order:

1. Language

2. Culture

3. Food

The problem from my own experience though, is that my ethnic identity has been questioned not by the above 3 points. But by stereotypes of what it is to be Vietnamese. Which are the following:

1. Gambling

2. Smoking (cigarettes, of course!)

3. Paying for (alcoholic) drinks

4. Accent

5. Having a prevalent amount of Vietnamese friends

6. Chilling at Vietnamese coffee houses
If it were based solely on the 6 points I just mentioned, then yes, I am completely Americanized. But seriously, in this day and age, when the term “American” is being debated and our president is, to use an aged old term used during the times of slavery: mulatto. Does it make sense to even judge people on these merits? We have people I consider as Americans who have been here for decades, who came over to the States illegally when they were infants who do not enjoy the freedoms native born citizens have (please check out the Dream Act portal and help it finally get passed) and people are still arguing over how “white washed” someone is for not eating tamales on Christmas Day (delicious!) or not gambling at Garden City Casino on a Tuesday night?

All I can say to you haters is Fuck You. You are no better than the opposite end of your argument, the English Only proponents. Do not eat pho, gamble at Bay 101, fuck a Vietnamese girl, drink ca phe sua da and call yourself more Vietnamese than me. To use a term I’m stealing from that Chicano American: “Fuck You! I never said I was white!”. I do not want to perpetuate stereotypes, whether it is the Eastside San Jose Vietnamese gangster or the well-to-do model minority. We have a Black President. All bets are off. We’re all Americans, whether you like it or not!

An Open Letter to the City Officials of Oakland

ihellaloveoakland-tshirt-youth2

Before I begin this letter, I must preface one thing, I hella *heart* Oakland. Always have, always will. (I have the shirt to prove it – see above)  I remember when my parents packed up our GMC truck and made the 2 day drive from white bread Chisholm, Minnesota to Oakland. It was April 1984. As an adorable child, I was oblivious as to what this city would have in store for me. I was unaware of the growing pains that it would cause me. I was incognizant as to amount of time I would have to spend defending it to southbay douchebags and SF elitists. But it all happened. I endured 2 teachers’ strikes during the course of my k-12 education, I witness Jerry Brown’s reign as the gentrification czar from 1999-2007, I watched my beautiful city rise to the number 5 most dangerous city in America in 2008. All the while, defending it to every Chuong, Dick, and VBeezy out there.

Now, I have earned my right to bitch. When you allowed Czar Brown to tear down all the shops along Jack London Square to build up all those luxury condos, which no real Oaktowner can afford, I said nothing. When you allowed the City of Fremont and Cisco Systems to fly into town and sweep our beloved Oakland A’s off their shaky playoff feet, I remained sidelined. When you kept pushing more money into the police department instead of funneling money into social services and preventative programs for youth to address the problems of crime and drugs in the city, I cried silently among friends. When I didn’t get callbacks for the two jobs that I applied for, I wasn’t bitter- I just went on to get a post graduate degree in hopes to impress you to get an even better job. But now that you’ve frivolously mismanaged public funds and practiced years of nepotism in your hiring process, and are currently $42+ million in debt, I may never get a chance to impress you.

But the reason I’m writing this letter today to the city leaders of Oakland (I use the term leaders loosely), is to address the controversy circulating around about the possibility of HBO using our dear city as the set of their new television series. The Hughes Brothers, yes love them or hate them, are back and have developed a new HBO series drawn out of their 2001 documentary “American Pimp.”  The premise of the storyline is based on a 35 year old pimp struggling to retire from his hoe-hagging profession, but finds himself in too deep to just get out. The new series titled “Gentlemen of Leisure,” will follow the footsteps of another HBO series, “The Wire.” Like The Wire, which uses Baltimore as its backdrop, Gentlemen of Leisure will use our beloved Oakland as the stomping grounds for the daily comings and goings of the show.

The show is slated to start shooting in 2009, but executives have been unable to attain city permits to allow them to set up shop. Why? Because City leaders don’t want a show about pimps and hoes dragging Oakland’s good name through the mud. Reality Check: we have no good name. When you’re listed as one of the top five most dangerous cities in America, when your homicide rate is well over a hundred every year, when you have city officials who practice nepotism and greed, you not only don’t have a good name to the outside world, but those who live in Oakland have grown weary of the City’s reputation and “good” name as well.

I understand the concerns of glorifying urban life in ways that irresponsibly promotes drugs, unsafe sex, and violence in our already deteriorating and blighted communities. But as a realist, I also understand the need to capitalize on opportunities to spur economic growth. Oakland continues to struggle financially. Perhaps stop over paying lazy city workers and unethical city administrators would be a start to rectifying the financial turmoil. But in the meantime, maybe allowing HBO to set up a production crew in the Town wouldn’ t be such a bad idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is going to start a world wind of economic growth for the City. I mean, I’m still not even sold on professional sports team being an economic stimulator for any city (but I love me some A’s and Warriors, so I won’t even go there). I do think it would serve to benefit the City of Oakland to have hundreds of people in the City who will patronize our local shops, sleep in our hotels, and pay us big bucks to film on our streets. I don’t see too much harm in our local landmarks making it to the small screen on a national scale. If the only reason that city leaders oppose the filming and use of Oakland for this show is because of the fear that it will give Oakland a bad name, well, shit, we already have one, so why not capitalize on it? Here are some all around benefits I see to filming “Gentlemen of Leisure” in Oakland:

1. Film production folks will eat in our restaurants, shops in our stores, and shit in our port-o-potties

2. Our local landmarks will get recognition on television, thus free publicity (ie. Hello Deli, Juniors, Katz, etc)

3. Oakland will become a recognized contender as a possible filming location for big movies

4. They are not developing anything fixed, like luxury condos, office buildings, or professional sports stadiums or practice facilities- again no diss on my bay area teams, so it’s not taking the place of any other economically beneficial infill development.

5. The possibility of me getting a walk on role, preferably a speaking role. (SAG card here I come. Hellz yea, cbruh!)

So as someone who loves Oakland more than the Podunk town that she currently resides in, I urge you, “leaders” of Oakland, let them film the show within your borders. Reap the benefits of the sales tax and transient occupancy tax and costs of filming permits that will come your way. Because if you don’t open your doors, some other crime-plagued city in southern California will.


Aw Hellz Yeayah!

It’s that magickal time of year. When your toes go all twinkly, your heart overflows with warm feelings toward fellow man, resolving to be a brighter, better YOU for the coming year — and most importantly — you renew your nudie beefcake calendar. Yes that’s right folks…the 2009 Asian Men Redefined calendar has arrived!

Surf's up. Scha-wing!

Surf's up. Scha-wing!

Aaaaooogah! Someone ring the hunk alarm, cuze I’se in luuuuurve!

This saucy calendar makes the perfect gift for your Ee-ma, your sticky rice gaysian, or your Asian pal who only dates the white boys (for now!). My roomate has the 08 calendar in his room and there’s been many a night he’s come home and flipped on the light to find me lurking in his room ogling Mr. April (mah bad Charlie! But you know – this would cease to be a problem if you got me my own copy. I’m just sayin’).

And talk about the gift that keeps on givin! Photographer Dannydan donates half the profits to the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center to fight HIV/AIDS in our communities.

And if you’re a real horndog, you can buy back calendars from 07 and 08 online. Hawt Dayum. For you AZN mens who fancy yourself the hot poop, you too can be drooled over by all of America! The 2010 calendar will be produced in Feb-May 09. If you meet the following criteria:

  • API
  • 18-35
  • HAWT
  • Able to travel to San Francisco for shoots
  • No modeling experience necessary!

Email info@asianmenredefined.com bicoastalbitchin@yahoo.com — and licensed fotagrafer Cbruh and certified baby oil slather-er Sdizza fuh Rizza will provide a profeshinul and discreet photo session in Cbruh’s parents’ basement. Offer includes a stack of hi-quality Xerox copies of your pics and our phone numbers. Do it!! BB can make you a STAR! Holla atcha bitches!

America, Please Meet Alexa Chung

 

Rockin the Twitch spectacles.

Rockin the Twitch spectacles.

 

Don’t judge UK media based solely on BBC America. There is way more to the movies, TV, and music scene there than Coldplay and Ricky Gervais one hour specials. One example, is Alexa Chung, ex-model and current TV host on Channel 4 in the UK. Aside from the fact that she’s smart (King’s College in London, gentlemen), has steeze, makes fair trade skull jewelry on the side, has a British Accent, is hilarious, she’s also half Chinese. And that half is a Chinese dad, the infamous and rare 7%. AND he’s a graphic designer.  Damn, she’s even got a cool dad?! So what is there not to like about her? Well she’s most famous in the States for F’N over Panic at the Disco in this interview (she corrects their grammar and implies that they’re gay*): 

 

 

And she’s currently dating the lead singer for the Arctic Monkeys. So nobody’s perfect. Wait a second, I forgot that I F’N HATE Panic at the Disco and F’N love Arctic Monkeys. So maybe she IS perfect and rumor has it she’s crossing the pond to start a new show for MTV… 

 

*Bonus: If you watched the interview with Panic at the Disco, you heard Alexa mention that she threw pee in a bottle at Daphne and Celeste. Why you might ask? They’re a UK pop group that made a song called “I Love Your Sushi,” 4 minutes of the most racist, stereotypical crap ever put on wax. With a Japanese rapper spitting in his native tongue. How bad is it? Its bad: