UBC student Bard Suen takes on immigration and the green movement in his photoproject. Each picture looks like part of an ad campaign, presumably for a greener, healthier, integrated city, and reads a beaten-into-the-ground environmental catchphrase, while depicting Asian people dressed in archaic, traditional clothing, overlayed on a contemporary Vancouver scene. Sustainable Living! Certified Organic! Support Local!
The question here is who makes these standards? How sustainable is sustainable enough? Who decides what's organic? Are these catchphrases tools of a holistic and effective movement, or ways of keeping people's consciences satisfied with token green deeds? There was a time and a place before industrialized western society, when everything was organic, and this term would have been meaningless. In fact, this term that many of us take for granted is a product of industrialized societies as a whole, as is the need it describes!
Same goes for all the archival images photo-shopped onto the contemporary ones in each of Bard's other photos. The children pictured espousing the Prius as an eco-friendly car are also from another time, making the photos seem like spoofs of eco-friendly catchphrase movements designed to make us all complacently comfortable with making minor changes in our lives.
Maybe what Bard Suen is saying is that the ideals and norms we take for granted, such as the concepts of an eco-footprint, 'organic living', integrating immigrants into North American communities, and acting local, thinking global, are all very relative to conventions our lifestyles create. They deserve a closer look.
Since the green movement is also predominantly a white one in this country, as is noticeable in Vancouver, Bard's project points out for me that these are all comfortable white ways of looking at issues of sustainability and integration. 'Getting back to nature', for instance, is a concern a lot of other societies might not even have because they never went through the trouble of depending on machines so much.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | February 27, 2011 | Comments (0)
After attending a college lecture on acquitting domestically abused women who killed their abusers in self-defense, Becky Lee became interested in the issue of domestic violence, and has been working towards ending domestic and dating violence as an attorney, policy advisor and as an executive director of Becky's Fund.
Becky's Fund, heralded by Lee, aims to bring an end to domestic and dating violence through the means of self-empowerment workshops with adolescents, domestic violence college tours, and partnerships with various organizations including Asian Women's Centre and Centre for the Pacific Asian Family.
For the month of February, Becky's Fund partnered with the Jubilee Project (an organization that "makes videos for a good cause") to bring the video "You Are Beautiful." The video - where various men recall when their partners look the most beautiful - is both heartwarming and uplifting. Until the end of February, each view of the video will donate 7 cents to Becky's Fund. So take two minutes of your time to watch the video, and send it to those you love this week.
Posted by Jocelyn Gan | February 23, 2011
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It's the 1800's in New York, and doctors have just discovered a way to treat hysteria in women by inducing therapeutic paroxysms (orgasms) using a new medical instrument. Such was the creation of our good friend, the vibrator, and as they often say, the rest was history.
In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play explores the early beginnings of the popular sex toy. This comedic study of sexuality and gender relations comes to life on the Hong Kong stage thanks to Egyptian director Ahmed El-Alfy and Hong Kong amateur theatre group ACT.
While one may assume a play about sex toys will be vulgar and crude, El-Alfy assured NPR that "a lot of it happens under a sheet". What the audience will find is that The Vibrator Play is a compassionate and intimate exploration that reveals the darker side of marriage and domesticity.
Here's a clip from the Lincoln Center Theater's production:
Although written by an American playwright, Sarah Ruhl, and set in the United States, The Vibrator Play presents a universal theme that crosses cultural divides. Both El-Alfy and the Hong Kong cast felt strong connections with the characters and their situations. The topic of sex and sexuality remains taboo in many cultures, and El-Alfy believes plays like The Vibrator Play are necessary in order to open up discussion. He told CNN International that he chose to present the play in Hong Kong because "Hong Kong is an open society, but at the same time it's very conservative. "I feel like people here will not be open to this topic. But that's why we need to talk about it".
Revealing shocking truths of what happens when we fear to discuss topics like sex and intimacy, The Vibrator Play is a refreshing and much-needed wrench thrown into the often up-tight world of mainstream theatre. So, please, let the talking begin.Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | February 24, 2011 | Comments (0)
We've all been in dinner situations where our guests want a bevy of beverages. One wants Orange Pekoe. Another won't drink anything but Chamomile. What's a host to do?
Designer Ewa Sendecka may have the answer with her Yin & Yang glass teapot.
A barrier inside the sophisticated structure separates two different kinds of tea while spouts on either side double as handles.
This practical teapot is just one of Sendecka's designs. Studying in the department of industrial design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland, Sendecka has set her sights on everything from ceramics to furniture.
But when it comes to the art of serving tea for two, Sendecka's Yin & Yang glass teapot may be the steep investment every host is looking for.Posted by Manori Ravindran | February 22, 2011 | Comments (0)
How do you clean your earwax? The most common way for North Americans to remove excess wax build-up in one's ear is by using Q-tips. Some doctors may recommend using water to flush out wax or earwax removal drops. But you may be surprised to discover that an alternative method to remove this yellowy-orange substance is part of a stress-relieving service. In fact, the business of cleaning ears in Japan is steadily increasing.
In Tokyo, ear-cleaning is practiced in parlours where clients are greeted by women dressed in kimonos. The workers chat with clients over tea at the beginning of each session. Then, the client places his or her head on an ear cleaner's lap as ear wax is removed using a tool called a "mamikaki". As well, the ear cleaner may massage the client's ears, shoulders and head during the session. Once the process is finished, they again drink some more tea together. Each session is typically about 30 minutes long and costs $32 USD.
While many view these spa-like parlours as being luxurious and soothing, others would say otherwise. They deem ear cleaning parlours as places where intimate acts take place that should instead be performed only by one's spouse. Thus, wives are none too pleased upon discovery of their husbands' visits at these places.
In South Korea, ear cleaning is a common practice that mothers do for their children and is usually considered a necessary hygienic ritual. Many households have their own set of ear cleaning tools that are used to clean out wax believed to be caused by humid weather and heavy air pollution in Korea. As some mothers may not have received proper ear-cleaning training, their children may experience physical discomfort during cleanses.Posted by Kathy Ko | February 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
If you're a fan of StarCraft or World of Warcraft, you will definitely find joy in the theme park World Joyland. It's rumoured to be currently under construction in Changzhou, China.
The park seems to have obtained no licensing rights from Blizzard, the creator of the games. Photos of the proposed designs have leaked and the park looks like it's going to be visual stimulation overload.
I'm not going to lie--the whole thing looks pretty enticing. And I know next to nothing about these games!
For gamers, what a great reason to get off that computer chair! You might even meet a fellow gamer there, fall in love, and then have a StarCraft themed wedding at the park. Imagine the possibilities!
I personally would love to see an East meets West kind of thing going on there. Maybe they can sell dumplings as a theme park snack?
Posted by Vinnie Yuen | February 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
Having worked on both box office blockbuster Iron Man films and more recently, Black Swan, Matthew Libatique looks like the cinematographer with the golden touch. Born in Queens, New York, the 42-year old can now also add "Academy Award nominee" to his already impressive resume, after receiving the Oscar nomination nod in the upcoming 83rd Annual Academy Awards for his cinematography work on Black Swan.
As a young child, it was Libatique's father, an amateur photographer working at a film lab, who taught Libatique the fundamentals of photography. Despite starting him off on photography though, his parents weren't sure what to make of his career choice. "They didn't quite understand how I would make a living and that was a source of anxiety for them, but they never dissuaded me from it," Libatique told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Both of Libatique's parents immigrated from the Philippines to America before he was born. As with many second generation Asian Americans (and Canadians), Libatique can only understand his parents' native language but not speak it, although he does still consider himself Filipino.
Other big-name films Libatique has been involved in include Requiem for a Dream, Gothika, and the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig. But it looks like it will be Black Swan that will finally give him the recognition from the Academy, a dark psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as an obsessive ballerina and directed by Libatique's long-time collaborator Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky and Libatique have had worked together previously on films like Requiem for a Dream, Pi, and The Fountain. As the two of them gained more experience, their work has simultaneously progressed: "Our relationship has evolved naturally through age and experience. When we were starting out, we were extremely aggressive with what we were trying to accomplish... But now, I feel we are more focused and at ease, past the point of banging our heads against the walls trying to succeed."
Aside from Cowboys & Aliens, Libatique has another summer blockbuster movie coming up: the Wolverine film, with Hugh Jackman taking on the role of the X-Man once again. With the Oscar nomination and two huge movies on the go, this year looks to be a big year for Matthew, with even more definite successes on the way.Posted by Adrian Bailon | February 18, 2011 | Comments (0)
A Guinness Record press release reads: "25 year-old Annie Leung from California, USA, achieved the highest score on Guitar Hero 3 by a female gamer when she racked up 789,349 points playing 'Through the Fire and Flames' on the expert setting. Annie is featured in Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer's Edition out today".
According to this article on Annie "Ecstasy" Leung's website, her score of 789,349 points on Guitar Hero is unprecedented by any female gamer. 'Off the record, Leung says,"I've had to put in a lot of hard work into proving that I'm just as good as anybody out there. Ultimately I want to be known as a great gamer, not just a great female gamer."'
I'm surprised there are special standards for males and females in the gaming world. One would think that kind of arena is a pretty level playing field for both sexes, but maybe Guitar Hero requires an unfeminine amount of stamina and forearm strength. Leung says bah to such standards, which will probably earn her an all-time unisex championship in the near future. I'm rooting for her.
Check out the video below to see Leung in action.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | February 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
CNNGo, CNN's beta site that focuses on 6 Asian cities (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo), recently published a list of the world's 12 coolest nationalities. Some nations on the list include: Botswana (no. 8), Singapore (no. 2), Jamaica (no.3), and Brazil at the top spot.
On the one hand, it's neat to see a list of "cool" countries that isn't Eurocentric (Belgium and Spain are the only European countries that made the list, as opposed to the usual appearance of the French or the Italians when one thinks of "cool" or "fashionable" people) Given CNNGo's focus on Asian cities, it's no surprise that half of the nationalities on this list are Asian.
But overall, I'm not sure how I feel about this list. It starts off as a satirical piece bordering on problematic (Belgians and Turks are cool because of their broken English and funny names! Mongolians are cool because they wear fur everything!). The writer does try to balance out the problematic factor by condemning some of the more obvious mishaps, such as the Spanish soccer team's "slant-eyed 'tribute' to China in 2008." However, such efforts are counter-balanced by glib references to the high number of citizens living with AIDS as "uncool" in Botswana.
The list also grossly trivializes some of the political turmoil that happens in many of these locations. One commenter notes on Brazil's #1 cool status: "The majority of the people of our biggest city, São Paulo, (no, isn't Rio de Janeiro as many people think) work hard everyday an [sic] suffer from the summer floods."
Despite the problems, the list manages to spark a nice discussion around the question of what exactly does it mean to be "cool"? What I learned from this is that there is no singular idea of "cool." Brazillians are cool because they're good at soccer and have samba. But Singaporeans are cool because they're good at Internet-related things, and have a 10-year-old protégé who is very good at computer programming already. The Spaniards are cool because they're the life of the party. Maybe articles like this can and do have merit about diversifying the idea of what makes a country "cool" - I just wish it could be done a little more thoughtfully the next time.
You can check out the full list at cnngo.com.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | February 16, 2011 | Comments (0)
MTV: Real World is famous for its groundbreaking reality show about college partygoers and their wild shenanigans that subsequently paved the way for Big Brother and The Jersey Shore shows. Jamie Chung was cast in The Real World: San Diego after having been spotted by producers as she was waitressing part-time at a restaurant during her university days. Since then, Chung is now known as the most famous alum from The Real World series.
Soon after ending her reality show stint, Chung launched her career as an actress. The 27 year-old Korean-American has appeared in a number of television shows such as Days of Our Lives, ER and CSI: New York. These led to supporting roles in a number of high-profile films such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James), Sorority Row, Grown Ups (with Sandler again) and a main role in the upcoming film Sucker Punch. It was recently announced that Chung will act alongside Bradley Cooper in the much-anticipated followup to the 2009 blockbuster comedy The Hangover, aptly titled The Hangover Part II. The sequel is currently filming in Bangkok, Thailand.
Fanboys (and girls) may have drooled over steaming hot photos of Chung in Maxim and Stuff magazines. She is featured on the cover of the new February/March 2011 issue of Complex magazine, promoting Sucker Punch. Unbelievably, in an older interview with Complex, she mentioned that she had trouble meeting guys. Although she may be lacking in the relationship department, Chung certainly does not have a shortage of friends as her Facebook page shows that she is tight with Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, the Jonas Brothers and Ashley Greene. Soon, Chung may have difficulty fending off guys knocking on her door.Posted by Kathy Ko | February 16, 2011 | Comments (0)
Above: My Father and I on his birthday
I have never dated anyone on Valentine's Day.
Perhaps this has to do with the fact that I'm young and sweet and only seventeen (I may also be a tad bit of a dancing queen as well). Yes, my sense of humor borderlines corny (arbitrary fact) and maybe this is another factor contributing to my state of single-ness, but I doubt it. Dating season for me normally seems to start around March-October. I have a spotless mind during times of eternal sunshine, and sadly, as a Vancouverite, that time is limited when the rains fall down on our temperate rainforest region.
Growing up in North America, Valentine's Day always fell into the grey area. My Vietnamese parents came to Canada as boat refugees two decades ago. In Vietnam, the open expression of 'public displays of affection,' 'love,' and other similar things seem to be reserved only for personal family life. Even then, after seventeen years of living with my wonderful parents, they do not exchange kisses before parting for work, nor are they often found hugging or showering unexpected gifts upon each other. This could be viewed as a prudent manner of love. Frankly speaking, this did affect my outlook on love to some degree, seeing that it took me quite awhile to actually let a boy kiss me. Why?
I never saw displays of emotion in my household while growing up. It seemed as if kissing someone was such a sacred act. Furthermore, in films such as Titanic, The English Patient, The Notebook and even Pearl Habor, my parents had a rule that we had to close our eyes during the kissing bits. It didn't matter anyhow -- I always peeked. Curiosity never truly killed the cat.
Of course, I have since evolved and my family's thoughts regarding romance have also matured with age. My parents have loosened up, and since I hit high school, I've brought many a boyfriend home to meet my parents. It's a rule of mine: 'You must meet my parents', but only after we've been dating for three months. Somewhere along the way, we broke the traditional mould of the Vietnamese daughter not dating until her admission into university. However, long before the whole university admissions process began, my parents began to give me free reign on boys. I always wondered why.
While contemplating this matter, I recalled a moment in elementary school where I was merely sitting next to a classmate named Jason in the library. When my dear Mother came to pick me up from school, I received the scolding of a lifetime for the harmless act of sitting next to a boy. I reflect on those days and often try to pinpoint the exact breaking point when things changed. I believe it was simply when I decided that I was going to date and that I wanted my parents to be a part of my personal life. I gave them a choice to be a part of that aspect of my life by introducing them to the boy I was seeing then (who also happened to be three years older than me; potential nightmare for the Mother of a teenage girl!). Surprisingly, my parents took it quite well and were extremely amicable. They did not acknowledge that I was dating said boy at the time, but eventually, they accepted it.
Every February 14th, my parents do not wake up to breakfast in bed or a dozen roses, nor does my Father book a romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant with a waitlist that extends on for months. They wake up and go about their normal daily chores. When I was younger, my Mother often helped me with Valentine's Cards to send to my fellow classmates. I think I sent some of the best Valentine's Day Cards over my younger years. Of course, I always sent a special one to my secret crush and those 'Be Mine' candy hearts always culminated in a pile on my dresser. If you want to know who bought out the cinnamon hearts at the grocers this weekend - it was probably me.
Although my parents find no use for this day of 'celebration of love,' I believe that they feel this way because they do small things for each other all the time. We have no leaky faucets in the house, the toilet seat is always left down, and the garden flourishes in the spring. My Mother tends to the plants and my Father prunes the mini vineyard. She will buy him sweaters and he will buy her pragmatic things that she puts to use such as the lovely new oven and Kitchenaid mixer that now shine in our rustic kitchen.
My Father is the type of man who likes to spoil a woman, and if my Mother wanted diamonds or pearls, he would grant her every whim. Of course, this is never the case for a refugee-immigrant woman. I always bring home roses for my Mom each year, or a bottle of perfume, but I am always reprimanded for being fickle with my money.
"Michelle! Stop wasting your money buying flowers! I grow beautiful flowers in my garden already!" my Mother chides.
It is always a laugh-worthy moment. In my Mother's eyes, roses and perfume are unnecessary. She is an economic woman who saves so that her frivolous children can spend. I have learned to not buy my Mother anything overly expensive because I know that she will not use it if it's a material good.
Comparing my parents' perspective on dating to some of my past boyfriends' parents, I notice a stark contrast. One of my more recent boyfriends came from an Italian family. Italians are very comfortable with expressing emotion and 'going in for the kill.' There is no hesitation, and I find that this is due to the confidence that they have in their ability to 'woo,' 'love,' and 'express.' Growing up, Italian children are immersed in kisses, hugs and physical touch (gross generalization, but true). I noticed this when I lived with a family of 23 Italians in a lovely villa overlooking the oceanic town of Rosignano. I was the awkward duck that offered her hand to shake while all the aunts, uncles, children and mothers came around to give me a small peck on both cheeks. Yes, I blushed.
Traveling alone to Italy, Turkey and various other regions in between as a single woman also changed my perspective on relationships. On flights, I was always moved for children and mothers, but most often men and women would ask me: "Are you here alone? Where is your husband?" To be fair, most people thought I was much older since most sixteen and seventeen year-olds normally do not trek around the world alone. I always ended up next to couples, but this never compelled me to feel as if I needed to be in a relationship.
Many of my female friends share similar sentiments. There is a whole new movement existing in which women simply refuse to marry or give birth, as seen throughout the world in populations such as Japan and Italy where the birth rate is below replacement level. We have financial freedom, which means that we can afford our own personal freedom. I believe that this steady rate of financial growth in women's finances has contributed to sky-rocketing levels of divorce. If a man does not treat a woman right these days, she can leave him. In the past, he was the breadwinner, and if she left - she would have nothing. Times have changed.
So this Valentine's Day, I'm going to be wide awake at obscene hours doing work as usual, but I enjoy it. I love my work. Is there anything I want for Valentine's Day? I can't deny, after five years of delivering grams and roses in high schools as part of the student council, it would be refreshing to receive a fresh bouquet of flowers.
Happy Valentine's Day! Regardless of whether you are single, in a complicated situation, happily married or dating -- it doesn't matter. This is a day where you can indulge yourself; so do it!Posted by Michelle Pham | February 14, 2011 | Comments (0)
Photo credit: Ford Models Blog
Asian supermodels are hard to find within pages of a magazine, so it's especially refreshing to see Danica Magpantay crowned as the 2011 Ford Supermodel of the world. She is the first Filipino winner of this title.
Danica Magpantay is a 17-year-old Fine Arts student at the University of Philippines. Beauty runs in her family, as she is the daughter of former super model Lala Flores.
Magpantay has won a $250,000 contract with Ford Models and she will be staying in New York for Fashion Week. The contest showcases young fashion model entrants from over 50 countries in order to discover new talent for the fashion industry.
Her gorgeous bone structure and lengthy limbs will surely be a great addition to the world of high fashion.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | February 17, 2011 | Comments (0)
This promises to be the party of the season, with fashion shows by Dita von Teese's corsetiere, Melanie Talkington, music by DJs Riot, U-Tern and Jef Leppard, and live performances by MTV Youth's Eric Solomon and Tito Deville. Guests are invited ... nay, dared ... to display their inner provocateur. Also putting their collections on the runway are James Serino, Pure Magnolia's Patty Nayel, and students of the Art Institute 'showcasing their haute couture inspired gowns'.
Kei Baritugo is co-producing the event with fashion journalist Guy Babineau, and choreographer Jojo Zolina. In the press release, Jojo explains, "The theme of our party is very loud, colourful, and flamboyant, because we want to celebrate diversity and creative expression. We encourage our guests to wear the most outrageous outfits they can think of." If you want something more specific: think Lady Gaga meets Marie Antoinette.
The event will conclude with a vogue ball, a competition for the best runway walk and vogue--a highly stylized modern dance characterized by photo model-like poses integrated with angular and linear movements. Vogue balls originated in the 1970s from the African American gay scene of New York, and were first popularized by Madonna, with her hit song, Vogue. Now it is making a come back with pop stars like Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Rihanna.
"This party follows in the tradition of vogue balls thrown in New York, London, and Paris. Jojo Zolina's dance crew, The House of La Douche, will be opening the vogue ball with a bang and Princess Xtravaganza from New York's legendary House of Extravaganza, will be in attendance as my fellow judge for the ball," says Babineau.
Get your ticket for $40 at http://evolution2011.eventbrite.com. Performance Works has limited capacity, so buy them in advance! Schema will see you there.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | February 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
In partnership with DJ Lady Lane, Don't Lose Your Day Job, DJ Cherchez La Femme & NADATODO.COM, Templeton Secondary School presents a tribute to the Wu Tang Clan that will include a Soul Train dance-off. The event is in honour of Black History Month, and takes place on the 23rd of February at Fortune Sound Club (147 East Pender Street), from 9 PM to 2 AM. There will be two rooms, one featuring soul, funk, and R&B, and the other for Wu Tang homage.
Featured DJs include DJ Lady Lane, DJ SHE, and DJ Marlon J. English. 50% of the proceeds will go to Templeton Secondary School, which is attended by over 1000 students in East Van, and is in dire need of an instrument-makeover, with a one-year old jazz program. Full information is below:
Date & Time : Wednesday February 23, 9:00PM to 2:00AM Venue : Fortune Sound Club - 147 E. Pender Street, Vancouver Price & Admission : ($8 in advance) ($12 at the door) / 19+ Buy Tickets @ : 1. Vinyl Records (319 W. Hastings) www.vinylrecords.ca; 2. Zulu Records (1972 W. 4th Ave) www.zulurecords.ca; 3. Dandelion Records & Emporium (2442 Main St) www.dandelionemporium.blogspot.com; 4. Neptoon Records (3561 Main St) www.neptoon.com; 5. Redcat Records (4332 Main St) www.redcat.ca; 6. Highlife (1317 Commercial Dr) www.highlifeworld.com.
Phone : 604-568-0190
Email : email@example.com
Link : http://www.2mevents.com/event/templeton-secondary-school-music-progra...
A good cause, Black History Month, awesome music, and a dance off. Go. get. tickets. Now!Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | February 11, 2011 | Comments (0)
One day when you have children, you will tell them (just as we tell our youngsters now that people used to think smoking tobacco wasn't harmful to your body) Americans used to think that students who learn Mandarin will be converted into communists. This phenomenon is called "The Red Scare."
Like a bad virus, the red scare hysteria has been restored and affecting those most ignorant. Quite recently, the Chinese government has contributed $30,000 to Gahanna-Jefferson, a school in Columbus, Ohio, to their four-year-old program teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture to their 350 students. To run this initiative, the US government is paying another $1 million. Now, critics say that "the Chinese government's financial involvement puts American students at risk of being indoctrinated into communism" (From Good).
Right...except the Chinese government does not give any instructions as to how the program is taught.
In other news, China's President Hu Jintao recently visited the American White House and little darling Sasha Obama could not wait to practice her Mandarin skills with him. She understands that learning Mandarin will give her a major advantage in the future where China will definitely be a major player in the global economy.
I hope the other critics understand that learning a foreign language will only prove to be advantageous in the future and will not compromise their government ideologies.
Since when has learning English in China made the Chinese students into democrats?Posted by Angela Jung | February 15, 2011 | Comments (1)
Jamaican reggae artist Vybz Kartel has allegedly used a bleaching product to lighten his skin. This act has not been taken lightly by the public, and many have criticized the reggae artist's choice.
Kartel has responded, saying that using a cake product to bleach his skin is just as normal as "getting a sun tan." However, fellow reggae artist Bounty Killer, who is familiar with cake soap, believes that Kartel is using a stronger bleaching agent for his skin. Strong bleaching products are unlike tanning because they possess more harmful side effects, including stretch marks, acne, and even an increased likelihood of skin cancer.
So why would someone even consider bleaching their skin in the first place? The answer is the way North American society is structured. We live in a world that is strongly focused on Caucasians. Just look at fashion and you will notice that models of color are glaringly absent.
But this view is affecting the children of the world. As Dr. Glenda Simmons, the Executive Director of the Bureau of Women's Affairs, has said, "[Skin bleaching] is not only about black women and teenage girls and how they see themselves. Black children are also affected in very deep-seated psychological ways." Young African Americans are learning their own natural qualities are not as accepted as Caucasian qualities in North American society. Their biological characteristics do not fit in the norm - the status quo - and thus, many are bleaching their skin or straightening their hair to achieve what society prefers.
Being beautiful is fine, but it should not come at the cost of one's health or dignity - or both.
February is Black History Month in Canada and the U.S. While the history and struggles of African-Americans are much more widely known, African-Canadians do not receive as much attention or awareness as they should.
It is little known that slavery did exist in Canada at one point, and that many British Loyalists (who fled to the Maritimes after the War of Independence in the U.S.) were black. Later on, Canada became a haven for escaped slaves, as slavery was abolished by the Abolition Act in Upper Canada (1793), and the British Imperial Act (1833).
It was in 1995 that Canada's House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month, following the election of the first black woman elected in Parliament, the Hourable Jean Augustine. In March 2008, the first black senator Donald Oliver started a motion to have the Black History Month officially recognized by the Senate -- the motion was passed with unanimous approval.
But the work is not all finished. African-Canadians are still the most commonly targeted racial group for hate crimes, according to a Statistics Canada report in 2008. As recently as last year, the home of the only black man in a small community of Poplar Grove, NS, had a cross burned on its front yard. While Black History Month is a celebration of milestones, it should also be a sobering remembrance of the work that needs to be done to address the inequalities that still exist.
Here are my Canadian content recommendations on Black History Month:
Listen: Cadence Weapon's music is energetic, fun, and irreverent. He's remixed music for the likes of Lady Sovereign and Ciara, He is also the current Poet Laureate in Edmonton, and contributes hip-hop reviews to Pitchfork. Here's one of my favourite songs from Cadence Weapon, "Sharks".
Read: George & Rue by George Elliot Clarke is a novel inspired by true lives of George and Rufus Hamilton, two brothers who were hanged for the murder of a taxicab driver. Through lyrical prose, Clarke explores the destructive consequences of how subtle and overt racialism and racism around them drives the Hamilton brothers to internalized self-hate and ruin.
Watch: Sisters in the Struggle (1991) is a documentary about Black women activists by Canadian poet Dionne Brand. The women share their stories about growing up in different parts of Canada as black women, and the need for black women solidarity. You can watch the film directly on the National Film Board website atnfb.ca.
Donate: A Past, Denied: The Invisible History of Slavery in Canada is a documentary in progress about the forgotten history of slavery in Canada, by independent filmmaker Mike Barber. The film is still looking for more financial support -- donation information can be found here.
Tags: Black History Month
Chinese leg models are currently in high demand in China, selling pantyhose, short skirts, knee high boots and skincare products. These models are earning 600 RMB ($89 CAD) to a rumoured 20,000 RMB ($3000 CAD) per shoot. If you have the 'right' type of leg, the model can earn a very respectable annual salary.
Chinese photographers and magazines are particularly picky about models' legs. Ifeng says that:
Calves should be toned and equal in length with the round thighs. The legs should also be well-balanced in shape, beautiful in lines, fine and smooth without obvious scars, straight in the middle part and no extra fat in the hips.
This renewed popularity on women's legs is attributed to Kong Yansong who was initially spotted during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her unusually long legs measure 1.17 cm (3.8') while she is 1.77 cm tall (5.8'). Kong became known as the Queen of Long Legs and became a top search on the Internet by Chinese citizens. She was voted as having the "Most Beautiful Legs" in an online poll by Mop. Not only does she possess extremely long legs, she also has a twin sister named Kong Yanzhu who is even taller than Yansong. The twin sisters often pose together in ad campaigns and together, they are marketing gold.
Thankfully, a few years ago, China banned the practice of leg lengthening surgeries as they were in high demand for height-challenged people wishing to get hired for high salaried jobs. There is a belief that taller people are more often chosen by employers over those who are shorter. Hopefully this media exposure and focus on leggy models would not result in illegal leg lengthening surgeries.
How often do you see queer Asian Americans in the media? It's difficult to name many examples. The Visibility Project puts a face to people from communities we may not see often in mainstream media.
The Visibility Project aims to break down ethnic, gendered and sexual stereotypes through portraits of queer Asian Americans who currently or once identified themselves as female.
Participants dress in whatever they feel comfortable in when they come into the studio. They are asked questions such as "what is your ethnic background" and "how do you identify your sexual orientation".
Mia Nanako is the lead artist for this project, and she coordinates everything from logistics to lighting.
Aside from photographs, the project also includes video interviews with its participants. In these videos, we come to understand the participants' backgrounds and identities.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | February 8, 2011 | Comments (0)
Photos courtesy of Tim Meier
While browsing through various design blogs, I came across this provocative piece of design, which instantly caught my eye. Striking, bold, and daring, this hair clip, by Swedish designers Humans since 1982, creates the illusion that the wearer is covered in a niqab headdress when viewed from behind.
Titled "Hair Clip on Hair", each piece consists of a photograph on metal, and is carefully handcrafted and signed. Only 50 pieces have been made, and from the looks of the designer's website, the last of the batch have been reserved.
Upon first glance, I thought the hair clip was toying with the idea of having "eyes on the back of one's head". However, after realizing the clip is meant to create the imagery of a niqab, I wonder how Muslim women may react to this design. Will they accept it, as a form of compliment towards their culture, or will they reject it, as a frivolous fashion accessory created from something deeply rooted in their religion/culture?
What do you think?Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | February 10, 2011 | Comments (0)
A comic strip depicting the "Average Asian Aging Process" has been making the rounds online.
The image shows an Asian woman at various ages, ranging from 18 to 120 years old. Though she doesn't physically age from 18 to 50, she is virtually unrecognizable following menopause at age 60, having gained weight and changed her hair and wardrobe. By 120 (apparently Asian women live longer as well), she has shrunk in size by about three feet.
The comic was illustrated by artist and blogger Emiko Sawanobori. In an entry from September 3, 2010, Sawanobori introduces the comic: "My co-workers and I were talking about how oddly Asians age.
We're pretty much teenagers until we hit some kind of milestone and then the age really sneaks up on us."
The artist goes on to warn Asian women and their partners about the ageing process. "You can be like 'Ooh, no way man, not my girl,' or 'Nuh-uh, not me,' but you better get used to loving those coarse, tightly woven curls because you're gonna have to deal with it."
Since September, the comic has been circulating online. Two weeks ago, it ended up on Reddit where a colourful thread has since evolved.
Of course, not all people of Asian decent agree with the depiction of the aging process.
"I'm part East Asian. It's true, even though it's an easy caricature," says Reddit user waitloss. "Of course, the only 'unusual' thing about this is the fall-off-the-cliff effect. We all lose our visual appeal as age creeps upon us, some much sooner than others."
This commenter makes an interesting point: Are Asian women really so different from non-Asian women after they turn 60?
Readers from other ethnic groups don't seem to think so.
"...My experience of Italian women is that they suddenly turn into Italian Mama's, i.e. they shrink a few feet, become very fat but their cooking skills increase incredibly," says Reddit user smilingfreak.
It seems Sawanobori may have a point with the youthful appearance of Asian women well into their 30s and 40s, but when it comes to getting older after 60, perhaps a shifting physical appearance is common among all aging women, regardless of their ethnicity.Posted by Manori Ravindran | February 11, 2011 | Comments (0)
Recently, director Christopher Nolan announced the actors for the villains in his highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the third in his Batman trilogy. While much blogger ink was split on his selection of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (who I personally think would be a better Lois Lane or Vicki Vale) very little attention has been paid to the casting of Tom Hardy as Bane, who hails from the Caribbean. Many have claimed that this is another instance of 'air-bending' or choosing a White actor in the place of one with the character's original ethnic background.
As a comic book nerd, I have to point out that technically Bane is half-British in the comic books, so the casting selection is passable (but only just). However, this isn't the first time we've seen Nolan pull this trick on us either, as in 'Batman Begins', he casted Liam Neeson to play the half-Japanese Raj Al Ghul.
In his defence, Nolan is known for selecting his actors first and then writing the characters to suit them, so it makes sense that he wants to work with Hardy after the success of Inception. However, if this is the case why not just select a White villain? There are plenty to choose from in Batman's rogues gallery, many of whom fit Nolan's realistic setting of his Batman films.
Further, Adam Bane's ethnicity is not integral to his character; rather he is personified by his intelligence, strength, drug addiction and ruthlessness. This is certainly true, and compared to other characters (say Wonder Woman who needs to be Greek for her back story to work) Bane's Latin background isn't as important. Yet, with so much backlash towards the idea of a Black actor being cast in the role of Spiderman, why is there no online hullaballoo about this racial miss-matching? Oh I get it, it's because he's white.
Above graphic from UBC Alumni's 2011 Lunar New Year Luncheon invitation.
From all of us at Schema Magazine, may the Year of the Rabbit be one of good decisions, living to the fullest, calm reflection and personal growth!
Every year we make it a point to stress that Lunar New Year is a very multi-culturally celebrated event, despite it being popularly known as "Chinese New Year". It is in fact celebrated by Vietnamese and Korean communities—as Solnal, the Korean New Year, and Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. There is only one variation between the Vietnamese and the Chinese zodiacs, and that is Year of the Rabbit, which for the Vietnamese calendar is Year of the Cat. Lunar New Year also celebrated in Tibet, some parts of India and Mongolia.
In our Lunar New Year post for 2009, we brought together a collection of celebrations from around the world. While in 2007, we explained what the different Chinese food symbolized.
2010 was the Year of the Tiger. My year, actually. And wow, it lived up to its reputation of being unpredictable, courageous, and explosive. It a bold and brave year for me and especially for Schema! More new contributors, interns and journalism students than we've ever had. More impressions, and by far the best editorial and blog content we've ever had. We're finally producing video. We made it to the Huffington Post ... And we're about to launch the most courageous calls for submissions, ever!
Tiger saw the controversy that my post about the 2010 Winter Games opening ceremonies created (on Georgia Straight). Followed later in the year by the whole "Too Asian" and Tiger Mom backlash.
Year of the Rabbit is what I consider much needed equilibrium.
Although I'm kind of sad to see Tiger go, according to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit is "a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves." According to squidoo.com Year of the Rabbit "signifies calm, diplomacy, sensitivity and consideration for others."
The year hasn't start out calm on the international relations front, but perhaps it's something we can all aspire for. More self-reflection, more thoughtfulness, more compassion.
Rabbit is also supposed to be a very lucky year (lucky rabbit's foot?). Perhaps we don't give luck—that random and often undeserving gift from the universe—enough credit for our happiness and prosperity. In the control-freakish culture of North America, maybe we need to be reminded that really good things can and do just spontaneously happen.
I found this great post, 5 Facts About the Chinese Astrological Sign for 2011:
3. It promises a mellow year
Coming between the Year of the Tiger and the Year of the Dragon, which are both reputed for their global tumult, the Year of the Rabbit seems like it will be a piece of cake by comparison, or so claims Online Chinese Astrology:
Having trouble getting into that Rabbit frame of mind? Here's a video that might help.Posted by Alden | February 3, 2011 | Comments (1)
Photographs by Elizabeth Kim
On April 6, 2006, Binna Kim woke up in a pool of her own blood. It would later turn out that she would be the only survivor in a mass infanticide and matricide committed by her own father. After writing a suicide note to his church pastor, Sang In Kim shot his own family members with a .25-calibre semiautomatic, and took his own life afterwards. Kim survived the shooting because the bullet in her head had hit a thick bone right behind her ear instead of entering deeper into her brain. During her recovery, the whole story of her family's tragedy was kept from her in fear of hindering her recovery, only to be cruelly exposed to her by an investigating police officer.
But this story does not end in tragedy. Binna, who was told by doctors she would never be able to walk again, is slowly conquering her limp. She's finishing up college with good grades. She even has found it in her heart to "forgive her father," as she tells KoreAm magazine.
Recently, South Korea has garnered some notoriety in Western media as a suicide capital of the developed world.Kim's tragedy was paired with 5 other cases of murder-suicides in Korean-American homes in southern California at the same time. Men who are faced with debt they cannot pay (or legal scrutiny, as was the case for the former president Roh Mu-Hyun) see suicide as an "honourable" option.
The brutality of Binna's story also highlights the differing cultural pressures, and the lack of support for first-generation immigrants, especially the men. Sang In Kim left the suicide note to his church pastor, but how intimate was this relationship? Could he confide in him about his money troubles? It seems unlikely he ever sought (or could seek) professional counselling, especially as someone who entered the U.S. with an illegally obtained visa. Health care is still a contentious issue for the U.S., and access to mental health resources remain scarce due to its often exorbitant costs. Places like the Korean American Family Service Centre exist to build the bridge between the newly arrived immigrant families and their new surroundings.
On top of that, seeking counselling is still seen as a sign of weakness in Korean society, where confessing to having troubles is seen as worse than taking one's own life. Binna Kim describes her father's attitude as often withdrawn and "constantly stressed."
There needs to be a culture change, where discussion - and seeking help where you need it most - is no longer stigmatized as weak, but as a necessary step for rebuilding one's roots in a foreign land. Binna's courage to tell her story should serve as a reminder, and the beginning of that change.
"It will not happen again and nor will it happen on your TV."
Vancouver's Theatre Replacement company have outdone themselves. I was in the crowd at Friday's premiere performance of 100% Vancouver at SFU Woodward's Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre and right from the start, we were told of the show's uniqueness.
Following in the footsteps of Berlin's Rimini Protokoll troupe, 100% Vancouver was a derivative of 100% Berlin and 100% Vienna productions. The audience was all juiced up after being told 100% Vancouver was one of three once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to witness Vancouver census data being lifted off paper and translated onto the theatre stage.
I was stoked.
The show lived up to my expectations, if not exceeding them. One by one, 100 Vancouverites walked onto the stage. They were not trained actors. They each introduced themselves to the crowd and shared with us a"special object" of their choice. A small child introduced his cosy, a middle-aged woman brought her skateboard, and a elderly woman lifted a bedside lamp that once belonged to her parents. Afterward, they sorted themselves by moving to different areas of the stage, standing under signposts that geographically represented different Vancouver neighbourhoods. Their own neighbourhood which they each called home.
100% Vancouver, described as a "statistical chain reaction" in the 2011 PuSH Festival program, can be more accurately described as a hybrid child of census statistics and performance art. A rare breed of statistics that invited its audience with a fun visual experience rather than boring them with 2D PowerPoint numbers and charts.
Each person on the stage represented 1% of Vancouver's population. With the signposts out of the way, they moved and divided themselves to questions like, "Who feels they are part of a minority?", "Who has experienced war?", "Who knows their neighbours?", and "Whose parents immigrated to Canada?"
Short narratives also broke up the statistical shuffle every now and then. One highlight of the evening was a white male named Jimmy who surprised the crowd with his native-level Mandarin while his biracial daughter translated his words into English. Nothing of a huge surprise in Vancouver, but it was more of a surprise to see families involved in the night's production.
100% Vancouver served as an entertaining and poetic production that not only hit statistics with the fun stick, but it also put the performers face-to-face with the very audience they were cast to represent. Seventy-five minutes of my life well spent.
While Egypt is in revolt, rich, educated Pakistanis fight their own battles...against the film censorship board. A Pakistani movie about the young, privileged and restless (or listless, if the title is anything to go by), is all set to hit select theaters in the country. Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors has ordered that cuts must be made before it gets anywhere near a cinema. The director, Hammad Khan, refuses. Fans and supporters (many of whom have not yet seen the movie) have expressed their outrage on Facebook and other public forums.
According to The Guardian the Board takes issue with the film mainly "because Slackistan contains the word "Taliban", the word "lesbian", swear words in English and Urdu, scenes showing characters drinking (fake alcohol for the filming, incidentally) and a joke about beards (as in, "my beard is longer than your beard") made between characters talking hypothetically about a fancy dress party."
While supporters are angry that Bollywood and Hollywood films containing more objectionable scenes are not banned in Pakistan, cynics suggest the film's producers are trying to capitalize on the ban for publicity's sake. Indeed, the Facebook fanpage routinely announces the latest on Slackistan's censorship-induced hardships and asks Facebook users to comment.
Supporters argue that when it comes down to it, Slackistan leaves a lot less to blush at than other movies from India and the States that have made it past the censorship board and on to Pakistan's big screens. Others object that the controversy has been blown out of proportion and the movie hasn't really been banned -- its producers merely have to okay some edits. Ergo, what's the big deal?
For the director and many fans, Slackistan is special. Khan is quoted on the guardian.co.uk:
...young Pakistanis saying words like 'Taliban' and 'lesbian' represent a more potent threat than the bullets and bombs that are finding increasing legitimacy in the country.
In other words, Slackistan has the power to disrupt Pakistanis' views of themselves and modern life in the nation. It suggests that a new liberalism is overriding the old, at least among the elite.
If the censorship board was looking to curb that outrageousness, surely it's shot itself in the foot by generating even wider controversy (which equals publicity) with the ban. Way to prove to the country that lesbians and beard jokes will not be stood for in Pakistan -- the public now clamors for them.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | February 4, 2011 | Comments (0)
Diane von Furstenberg is well-respected in the fashion industry and is an elegant lady. So, it was quite shocking when she uttered these words last month:
The Chinese people are very individual. I mean, they are not like the Japanese that are obedient. They're very -- they're like Jews, really, except that there is a lot more of them. And you know, I mean, try to think of governing a billion and a half Jews.
These remarks were addressed to Norman Pearlstine of Bloomberg at a Bloomberg Businessweek event held at 92nd Street Y. As these uncharacteristic words of von Furstenberg's made headlines, the public reacted negatively. Based on the comments left by people on the New York Times site (which quoted her), some speculated that she might have been a tad tipsy while others simply thought that she was being racist. Still others wonder if she had used racial stereotypes in order to make an analogy about the economy and the government.
Taking things into perspective, one must know that the famed designer is Jewish and that her mother is a Holocaust survivor. 92nd Street Y in New York is a non-profit centre that was initially built for Jewish males and has now evolved into a place that embraces people from all racial, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds.
As Chanel, Dior and Prada have held fashion shows in China, Furstenberg is also keen to delve into the Chinese market: "I'd like to sell every Chinese a t-shirt," she says in another New York Times article. Come April, Furstenberg will be unveiling her retrospective called Journey of a Dress in Beijing.
If Maclean's magazine thinks readers will forget about its "Too Asian?" article in the new year, it's wrong.
The now infamous piece questioning the number of Asian students at Canadian post-secondary institutions was published on Nov. 10, 2010, angering Canadians from coast to coast. But unlike other problematic commentaries, the article has inspired a countrywide movement to combat racial stereotypes in the media. Several of the groups spearheading the movement stem from universities in Vancouver and Toronto, institutions specifically discussed in the article as being "too Asian."
Last week, UBC student Tetsuro Shigematsu posted a video and article on the Vancouver Observer detailing professor Ray Hsu's challenge to Shigematsu's writing class. Hsu asked his students to respond "creatively" to the Maclean's article. Upon Shigematsu's request, the class produced a cover of the1980s charity single "We Are the World."
"The lyrics were emailed the night before and the class was asked to show up with headphones, sunglasses and rock and roll outfits," Shigematsu writes.
Prof. Hsu, dressed as Michael Jackson, also participated in the five-minute music video that parodies the Maclean's article. The video, which superimposes Asian stereotypes onto various characters, has received over 6,000 hits on YouTube since it was posted on Jan. 23.
"There was recognition among students at UBC that this was a once in a generation opportunity to come together in solidarity over one of the defining issues of our time," Shigematsu says. The master of fine arts student adds that UBC professor Henry Yu, a historian who has been vocal about the "Too Asian?" article, called the video "a new kind of politics."
In the same week that Shigematsu's video was posted online, Toronto's Ryerson University held the event "Too Asian? Talk Back: Calling Media to Account," a panel discussion aimed at educating attendees about the media's role in perpetuating racial stereotypes.
"It's not enough for media to claim that the article is meant to be provocative," said panelist Roland Coloma, an academic with the department of sociology and equity studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). "If the media can offend us, we have the right to talk back."
Coloma said that although it has only been two months, the kind of coalitions that have taken place is thrilling. "Something like this has not been seen in Toronto or Canada for a long time. This coalition is a victory in many ways."
Lawyer Khurrum Awan, however, said that this wasn't the first time students had mobilized against an offensive Maclean's article. In law school, Awan had been part of a group that condemned 22 Maclean's articles that they believed to have anti-Muslim sentiments. "The national discourse is really controlled by these media organizations," he said.
Perhaps the most stunning information revealed in the Ryerson panel came from Irene Chu, an executive producer at OMNI TV. Chu said that the Maclean's article closely mirrors "Campus Giveaway," a 1979 television segment that was aired on CTV's W-5 program. Much like the "Too Asian?" piece, the premise of the segment was that Asian foreigners are taking the places of Canadian students at universities.
The program asked viewers how they would feel if their children had the marks to get into university but were unable to because of "foreign students," all the while showing visuals of Asian Canadians at university.
"Students were determined to fight racial discrimination...A committee was able to mobilize hundreds of volunteers and community leaders," Chu said.
Ultimately, a video rebuttal narrated by diplomat Stephen Lewis and produced by Chu was aired, later prompting CTV to apologize for "Campus Giveaway."
"The video was made 31 years ago, but the message it conveys is still relevant," Chu said. "There are many of us - thousands of us - who may not be in the forefront, but we are with you, behind you, for you, and will be beside you all the way."
If the activities at UBC and Ryerson are any indication, the "Too Asian?" movement is far from over. In fact, as the months pass, student activists across the country are becoming more creative in their efforts to fight discrimination in the media. These dialogues are not a guaranteed safeguard against offensive articles or broadcasts, but educating media consumers about racism is important in protecting ethnic groups against future misrepresentations.
Trends can work in strange ways. They can bring lesser-known concepts to the limelight, but also risk pulling it from its foundation. Such is the case with the art of turntablism. While DJs are springing up everywhere, from local clubs to local bedrooms, few DJs truly understand the foundations of their artform. Cue SKRATCHER 2: an open turntable session created to bring together turntable enthusiasts to learn, share and collaborate.
The first SKRATCHER event, organized by Creative Director Paul Belen aka DJ Pluskratch, brought together over 200 DJs, producers and music enthusiasts. The event was established with the vision to "provide an audience for upcoming and existing turntablists and to facilitate the resurgence of 'scratch DJs'". The second SKRATCHER edition will provide DJs with the chance to scratch alongside fellow enthusiasts, and will also provide new and beginner DJs with the opportunity to perform at the beginning of the night.
Words aren't quite enough to describe this particular artform. Check out footage from the first SKRATCHER event:
SKRATCHER 2, presented by Almighty, in conjunction with Stokyo, Fake Make, NWU, TheFarLeft, Just a Lil Hype, and Underfound, will take place on Sunday February 27th, 2011 at the Franklin Room (1612 Franklin Ave).
For more details, check out their website at, skratcher.tumblr.com.Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | February 2, 2011 | Comments (0)
Social networking site Twitter is now available in Korean! This comes as no surprise, as the site is already being used by over 2 million Koreans, and has seen exponential increases in popularity worldwide. Although Korean Twitter users were able to tweet in Hangul before, there is now a Korean language interface available to encourage even more Korean participation in the site.
During a press conference in Seoul, Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, had this to say: "The Korean-language tweets have grown even faster than tweets in general. We've seen over 3,400 percent growth of Korean language tweets from January 2010 through December."
According to the Joongang Daily, Williams also signed a partnership with Daum, one of South Korea's largest web portals, which will now feature Twitter posts on its home page.Posted by Justin Ko | February 1, 2011 | Comments (0)
Tags: Social Network