When the sitcom Friends aired on NBC from 1994-2004, it was one of the most popular shows on television. The idea was that the six-character cast was to represent life in New York City in the 90s. However, this concept itself is problematic as all of the main characters were white, middle class and heterosexual in a city as diverse as NYC. Xenophobia and misogyny aside, Friends had some distinctly homophobic and transphobic undertones in its script, which the audience didn't notice or ignored.
While it won a GLAAD award for being one of the first television shows to feature recurring LGBTQ characters, many of the jokes surrounding these characters were condescending. Video editor Tijana Mamula has seen every episode of show's' ten seasons run. She began to notice the amount of homophobic jokes in the episodes and compiled the clips into a 45-minute video called 'Homophobic Friends'. The video is an interesting montage that highlights the problematic 'gay jokes' repeatedly made in Friends.
In my opinion, the most homophobic story line involves the lesbian couple Carol and Susan. Carol, Ross' ex-wife, comes out as a lesbian and leaves Ross for Susan. Carol then finds out she is pregnant with Ross' child; however, she wants to marry Susan and raise the child with both Susan and Ross. Ross and the other characters, most often Joey, lament how dysfunctional the 'situation' is: meaning, it is unnatural that a child should have two parents of the same gender (or in this case, three parents). Lesbians are further stereotyped throughout the show as being 'butch' and Susan is repeatedly portrayed as being hyper-aggressive.
Another storyline between Chandler and his father, comes across as transphobic. Chandler doesn't invite his father, Charles, to his wedding to Monica because he is uncomfortable with his father being transgendered and living as a woman. He admits to being embarrassed by his father as a child because Charles used to attend Chandler's swim meets dressed as different Hollywood starlets. While Chandler and his father do reconcile, Charles' transgendered character is stereotyped as being a drag queen who has a drag show in Las Vegas and continually hits on straight men. Are all transgendered individuals flamboyant and dress as drag queens? Certainly not.
Videos like Mamula's provide a much-needed criticism of shows and films produced by Hollywood. These montages raise awareness among viewers of the problematic portrayal of certain groups. This is important because unless the audience demands that certain content, such as gay jokes, is not appropriate, then the status quo in the industry will remain homophobic.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | July 29, 2011 | Comments (0)
Race is rarely something we like to discuss when it comes to dating. We can often stress that our parents would like us to have a significant other of the same background, but that we don't care what race our partner is. But is it that simple?
A 2007 University of Lethbridge study shows that 92% of Canadians were in favour of marriage between whites and blacks, and that by 1990 78% of Canadians accepted inter-racial unions. These are great, positive numbers that we would all agree on, yet race still important when it comes to matters of the heart.
Take Elaine Dove, a half-Asian woman looking for a partner online. Dove made her own dating an experiment submitting three different personal ads on craigslist - one described her fully (race included), another did not mention race, and the third pointed out that she was non-white. The responses were just as varied. The first ad attracted people interested in Dove purely because of her race. The second got replies from interesting candidates who assumed Dove was of a different ethnicity, as many did not respond again after seeing her photo. The third geared the best results, with those who drew on common interests rather than racial or ethnic characteristics.
As much as we love to pat ourselves on the back for how far we've come in accepting diversity in our society, race and ethnicity are still grounds for creating opinions and assumptions. Naturally, and often automatically we all judge books by their covers, maybe we should accept that as a first step towards living with diversity.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | July 28, 2011 | Comments (0)
I had a chance to check out Kim's Convenience at the Toronto Fringe Festival last week, but getting a ticket was no easy feat. On Monday I made my first attempt to stand in line one hour before the show, which ultimately ended in utter disappointment. Tickets sold out about 90 people ahead of me. I left defeated, but determined to see the next show.
By Friday, I still had not been successful in my mission, and my hopes of seeing the play were quickly fading away. I arrived nearly three hours early to stand in the line that was already starting to form. Before I parked myself in a spot in the hot Toronto sun for the next three hours, I made my way over to the closest coffee shop to properly hydrate myself. I saw a familiar face sitting in the back. I've seen him before, but where? Then it hits me, it's Ins Choi, one of the actors from Kim's Convenience, who also happens to be the director, producer and playwright.
This is my moment. I timidly walk up to him, introduce myself, and for the next hour, he candidly chats with me about the play, its reviews and the wonderful reception its been getting. He describes the entire experience as humbling. "At the end of that first show, when the audience stood up applauding our curtain call, it felt like a homecoming. It still feels that way."
We then proceed to walk out of the coffee shop towards the iconic department store Honest Ed's where I join Choi on his search for the perfect notebook. This is when I ask him if he would consider becoming a playwright full-time after having so much success writing his first play. "Acting is still my bread and butter, but this play is my calling card. I feel I need to be out there both as a writer of colour and also as an actor of colour."
By the end of our conversation, Choi bestows upon me the last available media ticket of the show. I'm elated. The golden ticket is finally in my hands. Choi excuses himself to prepare for the show while I make my way over to the ticketholder line-up (which is still 100 person strong). Once inside the theatre, I glance around expecting to see and hear a sea of Koreans chatting away before the lights go down, but much to my surprise the audience is as diverse as the city of Toronto. I asked Ins about this after the show, and the reason he believes so many non-Koreans have connected with the play so well is because, "It's a common second generation story. I have had countless numbers of people, who were not Korean, come and tell me that they have actually had the same conversations with their parents that are in the play. Change the language and the colour, but it's the same conversations."
The play touches upon some deeply embedded assumptions of race and racism within the Korean community. This is a side you rarely see in public performances about Korean culture, and the last topic to ever be tackled by a Korean drama (which is often seen to truly represent Korea.) Choi explained that he wanted to "share both the beautiful and the ugly sides of my culture as a means of reaching out to other communities and inviting them into mine. I think that has been another reason why non-Koreans have connected to this play; they see their own community, good, bad and ugly, reflected in it."
While the strong writing set the foundation for a successful show, the talented actors casted for Kim's Convenience gracefully brought each of the characters to life moving me to tears on a number of occasions. The strong dialogue and raw passion ignited within me my own family narratives of the immigrant experience. Similar to the play's story, in my own upbringing, I grew up with a deep recognition of the sacrifices and struggles my parents endured, but never fully appreciated it until adulthood. The play for me evoked feelings of conflict, pride and unconditional love for not just my own parents but for the millions of immigrant families that have come to Canada in search for a better life for future generations.
The success of Kim's Convenience earned them seven new shows with nearly all advanced tickets already sold out. This is one play that everyone needs to see, as this story is quickly becoming the mainstream story of Canada.
Choi hopes to eventually take the story nationwide with stops in Vancouver (naturally) and an ideal stop being in California where the LA Riots took place. If given the opportunity to take the show on the road, the full production would include stories of how Koreans and African Americans worked together during the riots. For those of you in Toronto, beat the heat and get your advanced tickets online.
Julia Paek is an Asia Pacific strategist and intercultural specialist who focuses on education and community engagement. She is also a Masters of Asia Pacific Policy Studies Student at the Institute of Asian Research at UBC. Follow her on twitter @ecoseoul.Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 28, 2011 | Comments (0)
Part of Ciné-Asie's Korean Film Spotlight
Screened: July 17, 7:40pm and July 19, 3:00pm at J.A. de Sève Cinema
Male adolescence in South Korea is an especially challenging period. Not only are teens coping with the usual demons of peer pressure and burgeoning sexuality, but the additional pressure of academic success (many high school students spend an additional 5+ hours at "after-school" institutions well into late nights) and the emotionally reticent models of masculinity also add to the confusion of growing up.
First-time director Yoon Sung-Hyun, who also wrote the screenplay, masterfully explores the theme of bullying and adolescence from an unusual perspective that refuses to establish a clear victim or bully in Bleak Night (Korean title: Pasuggun, which can be closely translated as "lookout" or "guardian"). Fitting to the title, the film tackles perhaps 2 of the bleakest issues affecting Korea and worldwide: bullying and suicide.
Similar to Memento, the film's narrative is told from the end, starting with a high school student Ki-tae (Lee Je-hoon) 's suicide, and his father searching for clues that might have triggered his son's behaviour. What unravels as a result of the search is a heartbreaking story of teenage friendship that turns into abuse and to destruction.
The jumpy and non-chronological temporality, where one still jumps from one month to the next, is disorienting and perhaps ineffective in holding the suspense, as the viewer already knows the outcome of a conflict at the start. Yet, the jumbled time effectively mimics the mind that is working through trauma of loss of a loved one, where memories spring up out of nowhere and disturb the present without warning.
The actors all deftly portray the precarious nature of male friendship that can turn from harmless physical fun to devastating violence in just a flash, as well as the unspeakable layer of anger, sadness and guilt that consumes the characters throughout the film. In the simplest dialogues that mostly consist of short phrases typical of teenage lingo, or calling each other by unrepeatable foul names, the actors manage to breathe new complexity of emotion each time with the slight change of voice or looks, depending on the state of their friendship.
The sparse soundtrack - only audible toward the end of the film - helps to ground the film as a realistic (not sentimental) account of teenage life, where the hurtful words and violent actions stand alone to be judged by the viewer. The result is an amplified melancholia, as the silence after an explosive scene refuses to be quelled by musical reprieve. The hauntingly concrete surrounding of Korea's suburbs serves as a fitting metaphor for the emotionally hardened lives of teenage boys.
Unlike many bully narratives I've seen, I walked out of the theatre feeling confused about whom I should feel sorry for, and whom I should blame for the tragedy. Instead, the only thing I could blame was the societal pressures and norms that sacrifice innocence and sensitivity for the sake of hardened and emotionally repressed masculinity that tries to dominate each other.
Underwater Love (Onna no kappa) - Japan, 2011, 87 min
Screened: July 20, 10:00pm (Hall Theatre) and July 21, 11:55 pm (J.A. de Sève Cinema)
An inter-species love story between a Japanese folklore kappa monster and a village girl, which also contains charming objects like an "anal pearl" (yes, that is exactly what it sounds like): at first glance, Underwater Love sounds like a recipe for disaster. Yet, it somehow wins you over by toeing the line between perverse, eccentric, and adorable all at once.
Half-turtle and half-human, kappas are commonplace in Japanese folklore, and are most well-known for their trickster ways, their penchant for cucumber, as well as the need to keep their scalp moist at all times. They also boast powerful libido, even impregnating a few women in 18th-century folk tales.
Set in a quiet coastal village in Japan, Underwater Love tells the story of Asuka, a fishing factory worker approaching her mid-30s. She's set to marry the factory owner and settle into a quiet life of uncomplicated domesticity when she's visited by Aoki, her old classmate from high school who drowned and has been reincarnated as a kappa. Despite her engagement, Asuka can't help but feel drawn to Aoki's quirky nature as he begins to have a more regular presence in her life.
The budding love story between Asuka and Aoki is interjected by bursts of song and dance numbers with rather stream-of-consciousness lyrics, which include lines like "What's good is gluttony / I'll eat anything" to "You turn into a kappa / and play baseball forever," coupled with spontaneous dances. After the relatively choreographed rendition of the opening dance-song sequence, each dance sequence becomes less coordinated and more random as the film goes on. Yet they still manage to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the film, if not by the sheer exuberance in the actors and the truly awful dance moves (think of your uncles and aunts, drunk, at a wedding). And then there is sex. Indeed, there is a lot of sex, though it is neither very explicit nor very sensual. Most of it is played for comic effect, with exaggerated moans and makeout scenes with way too much tongue.
I have been trying to figure out what it is about this film that made the Fantasia crowd (including myself) guffaw, clap and whistle with pleasure throughout. There are plenty of things that are wrong about it: the haphazard monster costume, where we can see the actor's "real" mouth clearly under the turtle beak, the unappetizing sex scenes, and the borderline nonsensical songs. But the film does have two things thing going for it: a fun-loving attitude that refuses to take itself seriously, and a lot of heart that sees the good in its characters, monster or not.
As a result, the film manages to sell the genuineness of Asuka and Aoki's feelings for each other, and even leave the viewer with a warm feeling that true love can transcend many boundaries. Hey, that's infinitely better than most PG-rated romantic comedies I've seen in my lifetime.
Kill Me Please (Belgium, 2011, 95 min)
Screened: July 23, 7:30 pm and July 26, 5:10 pm at J.A. de Sève Theatre
Should people have the right to end their own lives? Belgian director Olias Barco's new film explores that controversial question in a surprisingly funny and biting way by depicting the story of an assisted suicide clinic in the Swiss Alps. Dr. Kruger (Aurelian Recoing), the founder of the clinic, believes in letting the violence out of suicide by giving people a dignified opportunity to end their lives (which apparently means letting them drink a lethal dose of barbiturates). He also does his best to dissuade those seeking death from actually obtaining their wish, presenting suicide as only the last option after a round of therapy sessions.
Of course, not everyone is okay with the clinic's practice. The Financial Squad has sent an investigator to the clinic to interview the patients (and hopefully dig up the dirt) on Dr. Kruger. Moreover, the villagers' hostility towards Dr. Kruger - which augments exponentially by the end of the film - brings about a change of tone from understated irony to full-out derangement.
The film never takes a decisive political stand on assisted suicide, as Barco maintains his ironic distance and never fully humanizes the characters seeking death. They can be described generously as eccentric misfits, and more honestly as mentally ill, displaying signs of narcissism, denial and delusion. And oddly enough, they're hilarious. I simultaneously winced and laughed at the has-been soprano singer's wishes to sing La Marseillaise to the villagers and the patients and the frantic attempt of a Canadian patient trying to recreate a mediocre meal he had in Paris during his honeymoon as his last wish. Another source of black humour can be found in the village protesters whose crusade to stop death comes out as grossly misguided and ineffective. The unthinking and cruel nature of them seems to be a dig at the pro-life movement that supposedly campaigns for life through violent measures.
Aurelian Recoing pulls off the role of Kruger perfectly, doing a complex dance between being sympathetic, logical and authoritative all at the same time. Another acting standout is Canadian Saul Rubinek (who appeared in Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm) playing the pushy North American with his butchered franglais. The black and white cinematography strips away any visual distraction of the surroundings to focus on the characters instead.
Kill Me Please is a provocative and unsettling reflection on mortality that will make you laugh, feel bad about laughing, then have a long discussion about death and privilege on the way home.
Why the "Proud" Edition you may ask? Because this week Vancouver is bursting with pride, of both the capital P and lowercase variety.
First up: Pride Week! Though most of the country (and the world) celebrated Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, and Queer Pride Month back in June, Vancouver's annual end-of-July Pride bonanza is well-timed this year, as it comes hot on the sparkly stiletto heels of a landmark decision by our neighbours to the southeast to license same-sex marriages. This week we get our chance to share in New York's celebration of equality and to celebrate the strength of our own LGBTQ community. And to get decked out head to toe in rainbows, of course! It is also the week to be proud of Vancouver's Japanese heritage at the 35th annual Powell Street Festival. And, as always, there are some cool concerts, and a wacky fundraiser for the Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
2nd GLISA North America Outgames Vancouver 2011
Monday, July 25th to Sunday, July 31st
Various times and locations
The Outgames are a chance to showcase the skill and achievements of LGBTQ athletes of all levels from all over North America, and to hear some wonderful and inspiring speakers from the LGBTQ community. They are also, naturally, a chance to party. Kick off Pride week right with the Outgames' opening night party at Five Sixty and follow up with a midweek showcase, again at Five Sixty, and a wrap-up bash at the Plaza of Nations.
Queer Arts Festival
Tuesday, July 26th to Saturday, August 13th, various times
Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
A series of sinful portraits by a lesbian photographer at odds with her Catholic faith. A one-man show about the experience of being black and gay with a title you could not utter in polite company. A Men's choir performance being billed as "karaoke with glitter." Angelina L. Cantada's "The 7 Deadly Sins" series, part of the Games People Play art display, nggrfg, directed by the late Denis Simpson, and the Big Gay Sing courtesy of the Vancouver Men's Chorus are just some of the amazing events on offer this year. Karaoke with glitter!
Wednesday, July 27th, 7:00 pm
Vancouver Art Gallery
What could be a more fitting venue than the VAG's current exhibit of Surrealist art for the surreal vocals of world-renowned throat singer Tanya Tagaq? Don't let her sweet demeanour fool you -- Tanya's sound is raw and terrifyingly beautiful. Here's a quick intro if you've never heard throat singing before, but be warned, this is not music for the faint-hearted!
Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy
Wednesday, July 27th, 8:00 pm
Ok, geeks, gamers, nerds, and fan-boys/girls, this one is for you: The music of Final Fantasy, played by live orchestra, with HD scenes and screen shots from Final Fantasies I through XIV projected on a giant screen. My work here is done. Stop salivating on your keyboard and go get yourself some tickets.
Mind Your Bid-ness Living and Silent Auction Party
Thursday, July 28th, 8:00 pm
Schema is all geared up for this ingenious and sure-to-be hilarious fundraiser event. Don't forget, you still have until midnight on July 26th to enter our giveaway and score free tickets to the mayhem!
35th Annual Powell Street Festival
Saturday, July 30th and Sunday, July 31st, 2011, 11:30am - 7:00pm
If you find yourself strolling down Powell Street this weekend, keep an eye out for the Schema team. We will surely be out in full force, chowing down on yakisoba, listening to the musical stylings of Goh Nakamura, Nikasaya, and many more, maybe even throwing down in the Sumo tournament! Ok, we might need a whole lot of sake to steel our nerves for that last one.
8th Annual Vancouver Dyke March
Saturday, July 30th, 11:30 am
Vancouver's 8th Annual Dyke March promises to be a rousing event full of proud out women and allies, music and dancing, and even a contingent of Dykes on Bikes leading the way!
Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival
Sunday, July 31st (Festival starts Monday, July 25th)
Various times and locations
Rainbows, glitter, mardi gras beads and high heels. Need I say more? Come out (literally or metaphorically!) and share your pride as a member or an ally of Vancouver's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community.Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
Tags: Aboriginal, Art, Asian, Asian Canadian, Community, Culture, Design, Diversity, Ethnic Cool, Events, Film, Fusion, International, Japan, Japanese Canadian, Martial Arts, Music, Pop Culture, Queer, Sports, Theatre
According to a recent study at the University of Iowa, women who are sexually active before age 16 are more likely to divorce. Up to 47 percent of women who lost their virginity during their teen years divorced within 10 years of getting married.
Researchers used the responses of 3,793 women who are married or have been married before from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth to conduct their study. They examined the relationship between the age at which they had their first sexual experience and the success of their first marriage.
Having sex early may not necessarily cause divorce, but there are third-party variables that contribute to this.
An important factor was whether sex was "wanted". The earlier women had their first sexual experience, the less likely the sex was actually wanted. Teens who have sex early are also more likely to become pregnant and have more sexual partners, which are also determinants of divorce.
In addition, people who are more permissive to sex outside of marriage may also be more okay with divorce.
The implied lesson for girls is make sure you're ready for sex when you first have it, or else your future marriage may be at risk. But what about the guys?
When asked by Huffington Post why men were excluded, lead researcher Anthony Paik answered it was a lack of funds. Also, historically, most divorce research has looked at women's responses. In fact, the National Survey of Family Growth didn't even collect responses from men regarding divorce until 2002.
This completely shocks and boggles me. Don't men make up half of all marriages? So why aren't they studied? A scientific study is never free of bias but this bias is huge! If only women are studied, then it seems like they are implied as the cause of divorce.
Nobody will know what factors men have that contribute to divorce. Maybe it's early sex in adolescence. Maybe It's pornography consumption and frequent objectification of women. Or maybe it's just scoring exceptionally high on the national psychological douchebaggery scale (there really should be one).Posted by Vinnie Yuen | July 27, 2011 | Comments (0)
Outside of Asia, it's not often that a Caucasian person is heard even attempting to speak an Asian language. As we all know, there are many instances where Asian-Americans talk about Caucasians in their own native tongue, sometimes right in front of them, assuming that they are unaware that they are the very subject of discussion. This isn't necessarily a critique of this state of affairs, it's simply an acknowledgment that there are very few non-Asian people who have learned an Asian language for everyday use.
Adam Sadler begs to differ. No, not the comedian. The one who calls himself Kim Jin Shim, or "True Heart" on his YouTube account. He's made a number of videos where he demonstrates his unique familiarity with the Korean language and Korean culture. After living in South Korea from 2004 to 2006, he became "immersed in Korean society" and learned a great deal about the language. Now he uses his videos to express his appreciation for Korean culture while also inducing a few laughs here and there with his scenarios. As someone who is not of Korean descent, I can't really speak to the accuracy of his videos but I certainly admire him for his effort and humor.
Check out one of his most popular videos below.Posted by Justin Ko | July 26, 2011 | Comments (0)
So, after the crazily busy and fun-filled weeks you've just had, our very thoughtful city has decided to give you the weekend off so you can relax and unwind. That is, of course, the nice way of saying there ain't much going down this weekend, so let's pray that at least we'll have good weather! Never fear though, because events-wise, this is the calm before the storm. So take in some music and cultural goodness this weekend, but make sure to store up your energy for the jam-packed weeks coming up!
KHATSAHLANO! The West 4th Music + Art Street Festival
West 4th Ave. between MacDonald and Burrard
July 23rd, 11:30 am - 5:00 pm
Although these days it seems like the sun got lost somewhere over Toronto while trying to make its way out west, we mustn't let a few clouds rain on our parade. This is Vancouver, after all, where we are made of hardier, more water-resistant stuff. And rain or shine, nothing says summer like a good old fashioned street party. This Saturday the section of West 4th that missed out on Greek Day a few weeks back is throwing its very own party, and inviting some very special guests. With five different stages between MacDonald and Burrard, you have your choice of Veda Hille or Yukon Blonde, Hot Panda or the VanDolls Burlesque, to name just a few of the acts that will be performing all day long. As well as music there will be a fashion show, the Biggest Garage Sale you've ever seen, and an all-are-welcome choreographed flash mob that you better start practicing for!
Your Kontinent: Richmond International Film and Media Arts Festival
Richmond Cultural Centre
July 21st - July 24th
This weekend Richmond is bringing the world to the community, and the community to the world, all through the magic of movies and media. Not only does the festival boast an impressive array of films from Canada, China, France, Japan, and beyond, Your Kontinent (a play on Urkontinent, the German name for the supercontinent Panagaea) also offers you the chance to get involved in the movie making and storytelling process. Attend Q&A's with animation directors form Japan and China, take part in hands-on filmmaking workshops happening throughout the weekend, and watch the story of Richmond unfold onscreen in the Community Digital Storytelling screening and the "Show & Tell" Youth Media screening. It's Richmond like you've never seen it before!Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
I'd never been to a funeral until I went to see Expect Theatre's production of AWAKE. Premiering as part of this summer's Fringe Festival in Toronto, the play - described as a "multimedia experience" - was set in the Walmer Baptist Church, where audiences sat in pews facing a closed casket. Jarring, yes, but for a production that aims to examine the lives affected by gang violence in the "at-risk" neighbourhood of Jamestown-Rexdale, the setting made perfect sense.
AWAKE is based on the experiences of residents of the West Toronto community. An interview with Nadia Beckles, in particular, resonated with directors Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley, who based AWAKE loosely around the mother. Nadia lost her son Amon to gang violence in 2005 when he was shot six times in the chest upon entering a church for a friend's funeral service. The circumstances of his death shook all of Toronto, where most people couldn't believe that what happened could transpire in a church.
The production takes us back to this sombre setting. The audience is told they're at a funeral for young men whose lives are taken by gang violence. There are nine cast members in total, each embodying a particular character and story, portions of which they reveal over the course of AWAKE. One actress tells the story of her deceased son embodies Nadia Beckles' experience, while another actor plays the role of a police officer coming to terms with his role in the troubled neighbourhood. Other characters include a youth worker, high school student and reverend, all who contribute various scenes that illuminate the issues plaguing Jamestown-Rexdale.
Although the play provides audiences with nuanced characters that we become invested in over time, the execution of their stories is confusing. Just when you become interested in one character, the play quickly switches to another. The constant shuffling back and forth presents a disjointed experience and interrupts the flow of their stories.
But what AWAKE looks to explain, or at the very least expose, it does exceedingly well.
"All we had was empty time," explains one of the Jamestown characters. "And empty time makes us do crime." Indeed, in areas like Jamestown-Rexdale, children of low-income families (where working parents can't afford to be home when they return from school) are often faced with long periods of time when the company of gangs becomes appealing. Others are drawn to the underground economy where money can be made much quicker than through a legitimate job. As another character adds, "When you're growing up in a war zone, you're going to grow up to be a soldier."
It's the stories of those soldiers who don't make it that AWAKE brings to light. Particularly, the stories of their friends and families who are left behind. Characters playing mothers of murdered men explain that they stopped being themselves the moment their sons died, and they can never really look at other community members the same way again.
The Fringe Festival has a history of featuring stage productions that raise awareness about social issues, but Expect's production of Awake goes a step further in presenting a site-specific play that unfailingly presents all dimensions of gang violence and its ability to transform a neighbourhood and its residents.Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
3D films have certainly come a long way since the 1950s, when the green-and-red plastic glasses where used to watch only parts of movies done in 3D. Another thing those 1950s flicks had was much tamer content. No one would dream of watching erotic films in 3D - and now you don't have to dream either, because the first erotic 3D film Sex and Zen is nearing its North American and UK release in August.
The film's opening in Hong Kong beat out the opening day grosses for Avatar and Titanic. This epic production, starring Japanese adult film idols, is based on the classical novel The Carnal Prayer Mat, depicting the sexual exploits of a young Ming Dynasty scholar. Sex and Zen is produced by China Lion Distribution, which has deals with major US cinemas for the distribution of Asian films in North America and is pioneering its expansion into the UK market.
It's interesting to see this film emerge among increasing talk of the need to have more ethnically diverse cinema available at a wider range to the mainstream market. This release is definitely a step forward in terms of reaching a wide mainstream audience. However, is it a step forward for the representation of visible minorities on the silver screen, considering the genre and nature of the film?
Personally I'm curious to see what types of excuses North American viewers, often prone to needing logical justifications of their actions, will have for going to watch this one. I can already hear some planning to watch it for 'ethnographical research' and others laughing it off as a joke.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | July 20, 2011 | Comments (0)
Photo credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times
Recently Time Out Hong Kong interviewed Tom Ford, an American fashion designer, at the expansion of his store in Hong Kong. Ford is openly gay, but compares his love of beautiful women to his love of sculptures. The interview took an interesting turn when the Time Out Hong Kong journalist decided to ask Ford some tough questions about beauty and the 'Asian' body which Ford dismissed as poignantly racist.
Ford was asked a litany of questions questioning his perceptions of Asian beauty. Ranging from if he understood the Asian body to if he chose the Asian models (Du Juan, Rinko and Liu Wen) featured in his latest collection because they were perceived to have a more 'Caucasian' appearance. Ford was taken aback by these questions and he then babbled about how growing up in the United States made him more tolerant of other races. Ford considers himself an 'international' designer with no ideal racial customer.
Later on in the interview, he unintentionally admitted to having an ideal customer size: very skinny and very tall. When the journalist said she tried on some of his clothes and they didn't fit right, he offered to hem and alter the dress to fit her. When she indicated that the dress was made with this Amazonian waif ideal in mind, Ford denied it. He then went on to say that Americans and Europeans are too fat and that he admired Asians for their slim physique. Then he finally conceded that his clothes are designed for someone with good taste-and 'who is probably thin, quite honestly.' So people who aren't thin have bad taste?
The journalist asked some sensationalist questions about race; however, some of her questions revealed the contradictions in Ford's answers. Ford claimed to not see race, yet he was repeatedly stereotyping his Asian clientele as short and slender with broad noses. Clearly, Ford does use the European standard of beauty as he defined Asian noses as wide (meaning 'normal European' noses are thin). He also claimed not to have an ideal client, and then indicated the opposite. This only further reveals the rampant sizeism in the fashion industry.
Perhaps these contradictions occurred because the journalist questioned Ford's answers. For a man who is never refused and takes commercial jet flights to 'awaken' himself from the coma that is his persona, this may have been more than what he could handle.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | July 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
In our lifetime, the term "dying language" may become a thing of the past. Launched by South Dakotan Biagio Arobba, LiveAndTell is a type of social networking website that aims to simplify the documenting and learning process of languages for us — especially with aboriginal languages.
LiveAndTell allows users to "audio tag" pictures with messages in Lakota, Irish, Swahili, Quechua — whatever language they speak — and share them on other websites too.
LiveAndTell has the potential to store and teach all existing languages, but what it may be most useful for is helping endangered languages survive. It isn't the first or last organization to promote language education, but what makes it unique is that it makes use of social media.
Any regular person — just like you or me — can log in and post. Social media is blind of race, gender, or class. With access to the internet, everyone can have the world as their audience. This is particularly helpful to LiveAndTell's mission as — generally speaking — the rarer a language is, the more isolated the language's speakers will be.
I remember reading Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street earlier this year. The main character of the novel has a neighbour named Mamacita. Mamacita has just recently immigrated, and her oldest son has worked very diligently to bring her and her baby son to North America.
Mamacita, however, has followed her son reluctantly, and because she has failed in convincing him to let her remain in her homeland, she instead stays in her house all day, refusing to integrate into American society. Perhaps the only English that Mamacita does know is what she constantly tells her youngest son: "No speak English." It is to her horror that he begins learning English through watching television — because her language is one of the few things of Mexico that she still possesses. Losing her language would almost mean losing her home.
But with LiveAndTell and other similar websites, people like Mamacita no longer have to worry constantly about their cultures being lost. Their languages, traditions, and stories can now be immortalized online.Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
Fantasia Film Festival, North America's most prominent genre film festival, kicked off its 2011 edition in Montreal on Thursday July 14th, and will continue its run until August 7th.
The festival has a knack for picking films that push the boundaries, and its varied international programming gained loyal fans and media attention over its 15-year run. Some of the films that debuted at Fantasia Festival include Bon Cop Bad Cop (world premiere), Inglorious Bastards (North American premiere), and The Blair Witch Project (Canadian premiere).
This year, I will be checking out the weird, gory and delightful array of films the festival has to offer, and posting reviews throughout next week. My initial picks include:
Underwater Love -- described as part musical comedy and part softcore porn -- this Japanese film depicts an unlikely love story between a fish processing plant worker and a reincarnation of her dead classmate, who is revived as a kappa monster. Kappas, a prominent folklore monster that is half-human and half-turtle, are known for playing tricks on humans (such as challenging them to sumo wrestling) as well as their libidos.
Between the dancing, the sexing, and the tricking, Kill me Please -- a bleak comedy that explores the theme of choice and mortality -- this Belgian film tells the story of a doctor who sets up an expensive medical facility up in the Swiss Alps that helps people end their lives when they want.
Petty Romance -- part of the 2nd Korean Film Spotlight hosted by Ciné-Asie -- this romantic comedy tells the story of Da-Rim, a sex columnist who just lost her job, and Jeong-Bae, a comic book artist whose storytelling skills need some work. Strapped for cash and ideas, they decide to enter an adults-only graphic novel contest together for the prize money, and develop an unlikely relationship.
For information on films and show times, please visit fantasiafestival.com.
Last week there were reports about a highly educated couple in Hubei, China who had trouble conceiving in their three year marriage. It wasn't due to any medical or biological reasons - it was simply because they didn't know how to make babies.
The couple thought that the woman would get pregnant just by sleeping on the same bed together. Prior to their marriage, they did not hold hands or kiss, for fear of pregnancy. When they sought professional help, the doctor was shocked to learn that they had never had sex. Ever. The husband holds a doctoral degree while the wife has a masters degree.
As a kid, I actually thought that all you had to do was roll around in a bed with someone. That's how it worked in movies. A man and a woman make out, get naked, roll around, pant a bit, and then a month later, a teary-eyed woman shows up and says, "I'm pregnant."
As a fifth grader watching this, I had no idea what was going on:
When I was in first grade, I begged my mom to tell me how babies were made but she said I would learn in school in grade five or six. When I finally learned, I was in disbelief. I always knew boys had penises. I just never knew that it was supposed to go inside anywhere, much less inside girls. I also remember being shocked that I supposedly had a third hole down there -- I was convinced I didn't really have one.
What's even more shocking is that my Chinese mom eventually did decide to talk to me about condoms for the first time. This was a few months ago. I am 24 years old this year. Come on, Mom. Seriously?
I would be clueless about sex if it wasn't for sex education in school, the internet and girly magazines.
So readers, who taught you about sex? Did your parents ever give you the awkward sex talk? What were your reactions? I'm super curious!Posted by Vinnie Yuen | July 19, 2011 | Comments (0)
When you're a child you often dream up different narratives to make your life more interesting. Mine was that I was going to be a princess when I grew up - I would wear pretty dresses, have amazing jewelry and live in a castle. As I grew up I realized I wasn't royalty and that my definition of what it meant to be a princess changed.
Real princess are not only beautiful on the outside, but are also strong and inspiring individuals dedicated to making the world a better, more positive place. A perfect example of such princesses, are the contestants in the Miss Hermosa y Protegida beauty pageant that takes place in Orange County. Aimed at transgendered Latinas, the purpose of the pageant is as much about highlighting outer beauty, as it is about raising awareness of the issue of HIV/AIDS in the Hispanic community. The contestants have to deliver a three-minute HIV/AIDS prevention message to a tough panel of healthcare professionals.
Accounting for 75 per cent of their total score, the message is a necessity in such a diverse and yet conservative part of the country. Recently, the pageant and its contestants have been featured in a documentary by Mun2.tv, raising much needed awareness about HIV/AIDS within the Hispanic community which represents 20 per cent of those affected with the disease.
Now these are princesses worth watching and listening to - nothing better than a powerful chica who can strut her stuff and educate her peers.
Screw garage sales, they're full of junk. Thrift stores, they're full of smellier junk. And department store basement sales - don't even think you can take on that grimly determined granny! So where does one go to get the best deals? It may just surprise you to find out that a film festival has pretty darn good ones!
On July 28, the ever spunky Vancouver Asian Film Festival is at it again with its feisty auction, MIND YOUR BIDNESS! A uniquely Vancouver concept, this auction/fundraiser offers deals on goods, services, performances, and yes, even people all in the name of supporting great Asian-Canadian and Asian-American cinema.
You can bet on anything here from hot new boots... to hot new booty. Tickets are only $5, but true deal hunters won't put up with that, so here's your chance to score tickets for FREE by telling us:
What would you be willing to bet on?
What could you offer others to bet on from you? (Keep it PG guys)
Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line "MIND MY BIDNESS Schema!"
Tweet us @schema_magazine
Leave a comment on our Facebook page!
Deadline to enter is 12pm PST, July 26, 2011. Good luck!Posted by Jordana Mah | July 18, 2011 | Comments (0)
As a kid in the 80's, there was no shortage of sci-fi cartoons with ordinary people using crazy robot technologies to battle evil. From Voltron to Robotech to Transformers to Inspector Gadget, my childhood visions of the future were heavily influenced by these cartoons (and comics), wherein we would have super powerful mecha droids that would help good people do good things. Flash-forward to 25 years later and my dream of giant robots enforcing the law still hasn't quite happened (and where is my flying car?) -- but we're getting close.
In what could only be described as life imitating art, an exoskeleton suit called the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) was designed in Japan to allow its wearer to carry up to 70kg with one arm. HAL is described most succinctly as "a cyborg-type robot that can expand and improve physical capability." If that doesn't perfectly describe Iron Man and at least a dozen other superheroes, I don't know what does.
Though perhaps not quite as glamourous and powerful as Tony Stark's Iron Man suit, HAL is just as impressive when you consider its practical purposes. The battery-powered HAL, which detects muscle impulses and anticipates supporting the user's body movements, is expected to be applied in various situations from rehabilitation and physical training support, support for the disabled, and rescue support at disaster sites.
HAL's first - and possibly ultimate - challenge is Seiji Uchida, a Japanese man who became paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident. Uchida will be carried by HAL's carer up to Mont Saint Michel, an abbey set atop a hill on a rocky inlet in Normandy. Having failed a similar attempt in 2006 when Uchida and a support team tried to use an earlier version of HAL to reach Switzerland's Breithorn Peak (4,164 metres high), Uchida and his team are hopeful they can conquer the steep and narrow trails of Mont Saint Michel. Uchida's goal is to "prove that it is possible for disabled people to visit the world's historic sites without relying on facilities like elevators."
While we don't have giant robots that can transform into giant robot dinosaurs in the event of a giant alien invasion (keyword: giant), I think I'm actually happier and more relieved to know that Robot Suit HAL is a reality, in spite of - or due to - its more down-to-earth practical uses.Posted by Adrian Bailon | July 15, 2011 | Comments (0)
The little lobby of Sabai Thai was an immediate escape from the bustle of my commute to West Vancouver. Candles cast a soft light over a smattering of art pieces and minimalist furniture from insets in the wall, all in earthy tones. I was already breathing easier. I had opted for the traditional Thai massage known as Nuad Boran and oh lord, I looked forward to it!
Three ladies in traditional Thai robes greeted me with smiles and Kai showed me around the corner to the first room down a hall painted in warm hues. I lay on a mattress wearing loose white robes and draw string pants, letting myself be enveloped by the candlelight, lavender and soft Thai music. The traditional massage is done on a mattress which provides a firm surface and lots of room for the yoga-like poses that is part of the treatment involve.
Kai told me a bit about the techniques she would employ. She asked me to breathe deeply and enter a state akin to meditation, while she began to press down on parts of my feet. In a traditional Thai massage, the masseuse behaves almost like a yoga puppet-master, bending your limbs at the joints and helping you stretch, while alternately 'palming' your muscles with just enough pressure that when she releases, you feel a sense of pure relief as blood flows back into the area with force. I was immediately more energetic and relaxed at the same time.
The purpose of this technique, Kai said, is to increase circulation and get richer oxygen flow to fatigued muscles. As a professional masseuse, trained specifically over some time in Thai massage, she joked that one of her clients calls it the 'lazy man's yoga'. Indeed, she was doing all the work, yet I felt invigorated as I heard my joints crack back into action and my muscles stretch. I'm not exactly geriatric, but hey, I'm a city-camel -- relief I sought, and full-body relaxation is what I received.
The hour was over too soon! I would advise checking out one of their longer treatments. The traditional massage is just one of a variety of types that can be opted for at 1 hour, 1.5 or 2. Also available are facials, moisture treatments, waxing, manicures, and pedicures. The spa sells a line of nail-polish, essential oils and ointments that are all vegan, which is awesome in my books! The philosophy underlying the treatments is geared towards health and maintaining traditional Thai service and values. I was offered ginger tea and a seat in a resting area to come to my senses after my massage. Bliss!
With locations in North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Coal Harbour, the spa's peaceful ambience offers a beautiful retreat. Check out the website at thaispa.ca for more information on available treatments. I came away feeling more in touch with my posture, breathing and limbs than I've been in months.
Read more about the origins and benefits of Thai massage at afootmag.com.Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | July 14, 2011 | Comments (0)
Last week in San Mateo, California, Hani Khan, a former Abercrombie & Fitch employee filed a lawsuit against the corporation in US Federal Court, citing that she was fired because she refused to remove her hijab at work. The case alleges that Abercrombie & Fitch violated federal and state civil rights and employment laws.
Apparently, when a store manager originally hired her, she was wearing her hijab and told she could wear it while on shift. However, a few months later, a district manager and human resources manager told her to remove her hijab at work. She was then suspended immediately and fired. Abercrombie & Fitch deny the charges, stating they don't tolerate discrimination and have a high level of diversity in their stores.
However, this is not the first time that the company has faced accusations of discrimination from former employees who are visible minorities.
At the heart of this case is Abercrombie & Fitch's 'look' policy that is supposed to represent the classic all-American: white, young, middle class, athletic and Christian.
However, what if one doesn't fit within this restrictive model? Are you expected to emulate this ideal and conform? In the case of Khan, she was asked to conform to the religious ideal of this policy, because clearly Muslim American women are unable to be the classic All-American girl while they are wearing a hijab. Khan refused to comply and stood by her religious convictions.
When I am shopping in a store, I never notice what the staff looks like unless they are all clearly white and middle class—then I start to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. I have never understood why but this always happens when I am in a room with only white people (even if I am often taken to belong to this category). Perhaps this is due to Vancouver's diversity. Either way, what I always remember about my retail experience is how the staff treated me. Were they rude and hovered over me like I would steal something? Or did they welcome me to the store and help me with my purchases? As a customer, the most integral part of interactions with store employees has nothing to do with a 'look' policy, but with their attitude towards the client.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | July 14, 2011 | Comments (0)
Growing up I remember my parents teaching me proper table manners from how to place my hands to when and how to use each of the utensils. At school there was also class etiquette - listening to the teacher was to be done sitting straight up with hands neatly folded on the desk. Even putting a hand up to answer or ask a question had to be done with the elbow placed on the desk. The hand shooting up perpendicular to the floor, the overzealous reaching for the ceiling got you no where.
The interesting question is whether these manners matter when cultures mix. Can a single cultures 'right way' of doing things be taught to another? And more importantly, can these manners be embraced by another culture as their own? As nerve-wracking as knowing the right thing to do in any social setting where cultures mix can be, these situations also give rise to unlimited possibilities for humour (especially for those on the sidelines watching the action unfold).
If you're looking for such entertainment, look no further than Mister French Taste - a new series by director Jennifer Thym. The series of three ten minute webisodes centres around a French etiquette coach trying to teach a Hong Kong man 'proper manners'. At the same time Mr. French Taste is dealing with his own etiquette dilemmas while trying to court a gorgeous Hong Kong fashion empire heiress.
Tune in soon to find out how the relationships unfold and whose 'proper' manners prevail when it comes to matters of the heart.
Related links on Schema
People to Watch: Osric Chau from Mister French Taste
Nothing says breaking gender stereotypes like the Chinese population's taste for consumer products. According to a Globe and Mail article, Chinese women buy more whiskey and fast cars than their western counterparts, while men purchase more face creams and designer bags.
In the article, Coach says men represent 45 per cent of the $1.7 billion (USD) Chinese market for luxury bags and accessories, compared with 15 per cent globally. As for skincare and haircare, L'Oreal sells more male grooming products in mainland China than in western Europe.
As for Chinese women, they're quickly increasing their spending on luxury goods twice as fast as men. Maserati reports 30 per cent of its Chinese customers are female, compared to 2 to 5 per cent in Europe and the United States. Chinese women also drink more whiskey than women in Western countries.
When I read this, all I can think about is this video:
But that aside, I think it's great that Chinese men and women are not limited to stereotypes when it comes to purchasing luxury things.
Unfortunately for those companies, I'm one of those Chinese (Canadian) women who won't buy designer bags, fast cars, expensive face creams or whiskey. I've never spent more than $40 on a handbag. I like driving my dad's Corolla. I hate whiskey. And I buy my skincare products from the Body Shop, usually on sale.
My parents raised me to be very frugal, not the type that buys expensive things.
Whenever my mom sees me wearing new clothes, she always asks me, "Vinnie. Is that new? How much?!" When I give her the price, she almost always cringes and tells me it's too much, and that it's cheaper in Hong Kong, even if it's a pair of $20 shoes.
"If you have so much money to waste, maybe you should give some to me."
Thanks Mom, for making me such a practical and frugal Asian.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | July 13, 2011 | Comments (0)
Being a teenager these days is tough. Not only do you have to worry about universal problems like peer pressure, the 21st century also poses pressure to possess the latest technological gadgets, and heaven forbid you should be the one left behind in the latest gossip or party invitations on Facebook or Twitter.
So what's a teenage girl to do when faced with the all too familiar problem of having your parents say no to your latest obsession? You could complain to your friends, or get a part-time job at a local restaurant or grocery store, hoping to make enough money in a few weeks or months. Or perhaps you could seek out another (possibly quicker) more dramatic approach: make a barter offer, with your virginity.
A mainland Chinese teenage girl offered her "valuable first night" to those who can provide her with a white 16G iPhone 4. The iPhone model costs about CNY 4,999 (Chinese Yuan) - approximately $799 Canadian dollars. The teenager, only identified by her first name "Wen," posted on Weibo (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter) that she had always wanted to own an iPhone but was banned by her parents from buying one. She included a photo of herself, along with her instant messenger information, specifying that only serious applicants should initiate contact.
Many sites are speculating whether the offer is sincere or not - some even hinting that it might be a malicious attack against the girl from a spammer. Prank or not, this is an interesting look into how far one might allegedly go for a piece of shiny equipment that is bound to go out of fashion in a year or so. If Wen's wishes are indeed sincere, what would she do when Apple launches their newest iPhone?
My, oh my, do you ever have a busy week ahead of you this week. It starts off slow and gentle with some movie screenings and literary discussions courtesy of the Indian Summer Festival, then come the weekend you will be up to your eyeballs in music, movies, food, and dance parties. There's no time for preamble, so let's get right to it:
Indian Summer Festival
July 7 - 17th, SFU Woodward's
It ain't over yet. Ever wanted to cook like Vikram Vij? Well, start saving your pennies, because the master chef of Vij's himself is offering a three-course meal, cooking demo, and lesson on the art of Indian cuisine, all for the bargain basement price of $100. Ok, so it's a bit pricey, but once you're equipped with Vij's trade secrets, you'll never have to wait in an endless line for his delicious food again! If your summer fun budget is a little more constrained, don't forget the top-notch selection of Bollywood films, panel discussions of Indian literature in the media, and, of course, a second round of (FREE) dance classes with Shiamak Davar.
I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
July 15, 8:45 pm, Vancity Theatre
July 16, 7:00 pm, Vancity Theatre
If you're looking for a more sobering but still spectacular cultural experience this weekend, be sure to see Vancity's screening of the 2009 Brazilian film I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You. I Travel... chronicles the journey of a geologist who embarks on a surveillance trip to northeastern Brazil only to find that his every encounter reminds him of the love he left behind. Through a combination of photographs, video-logs, and super-8, I Travel... reminds us how a broken heart sees its reflection in everything, even the plans for a canal route.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival
July 15 - 17 at Jericho Beach
Slap on your Birkenstocks and whip out your pocketbooks (incongruous, I know), because it's time again for Vancouver's annual hippy (or is it hipster?) haven. This year's line-up features indie-scene staples like Buck 65 and The Weakerthans, as well as a smorgasbord of musical acts from across the globe.
Vancouver South Asian Film Festival
July 15th - 17th, SFU Woodward's
This summer the second annual Vancouver South Asian Film Festival is teaming up with the Indian Summer Festival to bring a thrillingly eclectic selection of films with ties to South Asia. Check out the opening film West is West, a comedy of cultural errors about Sajid Khan, a mischievous Manchester teen whose father packs him off to Pakistan to teach him a lesson, or The Taqwacores, about the underground Muslim punk scene in New York. There are also two collections of short films, and a not-to-be-missed panel discussion on storytelling vs stereotyping. And really, with a poster like that, how can you resist?
To top it all off we have a giveaway happening in conjunction with VISAFF. The first 10 people who comment or "Like" our Facebook Page will automatically win tickets to a screening of a film at VISAFF!
3rd Annual eatART: Power the VAG
July 16th, 10 am - 6 pm, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Who says a raging dance party can't be emissions free? Not the intrepid eco-artists of eatART. This Saturday at the VAG, eatART is hosting a danceathon fundraiser complete with pedal-powered sound system for all your move-busting needs. Dance, donate, oggle their awe-inspiring zero emmission kinetic sculptures like Daisy the solar-powered tricycle, and Mondo Spider, the 1600 lb, 8 legged walking machine. Then pat yourself on the back for your eco-friendliness.
Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 12, 2011
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Surrey Fusion Festival
Jul 16th - 17th, Holland Park, Surrey
Surrey takes a lot of flack from Vancouverites and Lower Mainlanders in general, so let's try and even out the karma, shall we? When they are offering a community festival featuring cultural pavilions representing 35 different countries, musical acts like Bedouin Soundclash and Jay Sean, plus food, a traditional pow wow, and much more all for FREE, how can we complain?
Are Asians bad drivers? Definitely, says the common perception. Despite the fact that the driving habits of Asians throughout the world have never been empirically or statistically compared to those of other drivers from other races, Asians are universally derided as being the worst drivers on the road. Indeed the myth is so prevalent as to be almost self-fulfilling in a way.
Whenever we are witness to a bad driver on the road who happens to be Asian, we nod our heads knowingly and affirm the myth. And whenever we as Asians are driving, there is a lot of pressure on us to be safe drivers, lest we "confirm the stereotype."
Earlier this year for instance, I got into an accident on the road with a young Caucasian female driver who basically swerved into my lane completely out of the blue. Both parties agreed that I was not at fault, and in the end, the Caucasian driver kindly paid for my repair fees through her insurance company. Needless to say I was happy for the incident to be over and I never paid any more attention to it after the fact. It would be ridiculous for me to think that "white drivers" are all poorly skilled, just by one negative experience.
Yet this is clearly not the case for the majority of drivers, even fellow Asian drivers, who curse and decry the poor driving habits of a select few drivers who just happen to be Asian. Moreover, no attempt has been made to prove or verify that this popular conception is true. Until now, that is.
Bradd Libby, a blogger who has a PhD, has used the technology of Gapminder to formulate an insightful graph which shows and compares the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 people in eleven Asian countries to the numbers of other countries worldwide. Clearly, as you can see above, the majority of these countries, including incredibly high populated countries such as China, Japan, and Indonesia, are below the average.
Although we can nitpick at the statistics and say that Asian drivers are responsible for non-fatal accidents, the fact remains that in their very countries of origin, Asian drivers are involved in fewer fatal accidents per 100,000 people than most other countries in the world.Posted by Justin Ko | July 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
As a designer with strong left-leaning social tendencies, I'm always thinking about what a designer's social responsibilities are in the things we create. Working for an agency, for example, sometimes means taking on clients and projects we may not necessarily philosophically agree with. And then there's the larger question: are designers simply adding more and more disposable junk to the world that may look cool or feel great in the short term, but are quickly consumed and forgotten? How can we keep creating and innovating in a consumer-driven economy while still earning a living?
It's definitely a tough balance, so when I hear about a mega-corporation like Coca Cola partnering with the Japanese Red Cross to let consumers donate money directly through Coca Cola vending machines, it makes me think, yes, it may actually be possible to make positive contributions while still pushing consumer products to the public.
Here on Schema, we've featured many crazy kinds of vending machines in Asia before. From touch-screen vending machines in Japan, to vending machines selling live crabs in China, when it comes to Asian vending machines, it seems like anything is game.
Japan, having the highest concentration of vending machines per capita in the world, will soon be home to some vending machines with the option to donate 10yen or 100yen to the Japanese Red Cross. 100% of the donations collected through these vending machines will go to the Tohoku disaster relief until September, but the donation options will stay indefinitely to help collect donations for the Japanese Red Cross. All of the vending machines accepting donations are branded with the iconic Red Cross logo on the side, and are scheduled to be distributed across Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tochigi prefectures for now.
It's little things like adding a donation option on a vending machine that give me hope that positive social good can come about from creative thinking. I'm currently reading Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World that talks specifically about the topic of design professionals and their social responsibilities in persuading the public to fulfill invented needs. There's definitely a lot of food for thought in the book for those who are interested in socially conscious design. There's also an upcoming meet-up in Vancouver's The Network Hub, on Wednesday, July 27th, called Change Through Design, where the topic at hand will be about how design can be a force for positive change. I'm going to be attending and I hope many more motivated designers and idea-makers can make it out that night too.Posted by Adrian Bailon | July 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
If you plan on checking out the Toronto Fringe Festival and are interested in immigrant narratives, Kim's Convenience is a play that is a perfect match. Winner of the 2011 Toronto Fringe New Play Contest, portraying a Korean Canadian family who owns a convenience store in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood.
This story is especially poignant today, given the fact that the number of Korean grocers in America is dwindling, due to the fact that the second-generation Korean children (whose parents owned grocery stores) are unwilling to inherit the family store, instead deciding to pursue more white-collar jobs. Yet, as the New York Times pointed out, the grocery store is the sentimental site of hope and dreams for many.
In Kim's Convenience, the Korean Canadian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kim, live in a small 3-bedroom apartment above their convenience store with their 30-year-old daughter. Even though the couple always dreamed of passing on their store to one of their children one day, their vision is shaken up when Mr. Kim receives an offer to sell the store. Written by Soulpepper Theatre's playwright Ins Choi, the play also boasts renowned Korean American and Korean Canadian actors who are active in film, TV and theatre.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | July 4, 2011 | Comments (0)
Darth Vader's original costume design, in particular his helmet, was influenced by samurai armor of feudal Japan. While many hardcore Star Wars fans are aware of these origins, the similarities between the Sith Lord and a samurai warrior become apparent when looking at Yoshitoku's new Musha version of Darth Vader. The Japanese toy company has refashioned him into the traditional samurai outfit that served as the inspiration for his creation while maintaining Vader's trademark black helmet. The figurine, called Musha Vader, is 52 centimetres tall and is made from resin cast aluminum.
The pictures of this new version of Vader are quite impressive and showcase the skill of the craftsman. He wears a black and brown chest plate called a dou and leather arm pieces and gloves of a samurai. The most interesting part of his ensemble is definitely his helmet. The manufacturer kept the Star Wars helmet but extended the side part of the helmet and added a samurai emblem to his forehead.
This is a rare piece of Star Wars memorabilia indeed: there are only 30 available with no plans to produce more. Furthermore, his price is $1400 US dollars making him very expensive. If you are a huge Star Wars fan with a particular interest in Japanese samurai, this Vader may be worth the price tag. Musha Vader is available for order on Yoshitoku's website, which is in Japanese (so if you don't speak Japanese or don't have a Japanese-speaking friend, find one asap!)Posted by Jocelyn Gan | July 7, 2011 | Comments (1)
Ah, summer. That magical time of year when the sky is blue, the flowers are in bloom, and in Vancouver our sunshine-induced short-term memory loss kicks into high gear. Rain, you say? Grey skies? Sorry, we're too busy playing volleyball on the beach and biking around the seawall to remember such unpleasant things. And with the arrival of summer comes the arrival of festival season. July and August in Vancouver are always jam-packed with celebrations of music, dancing, theatre, sports, books, and food, and this year is no exception. What's even better about the festival season is that so many of these awesome activities are absolutely free! So without further ado, here are Schema's recommendations for fun this weekend:
Musical Nooners (weekdays at noon until August 26th at the CBC Plaza downtown)
Every weekday during the months of July and August treat yourself to a very special lunch hour at the CBC Plaza downtown. Each day brings a new (FREE) concert, from Brazilian beats to blues with Jim Byrnes. This week get your ears tuned for:
Ache Brasil on Monday
The Sojourners on Tuesday
The Matinee on Wednesday
Maria in the Shower on Thursday
T. Nile on Friday
Indian Summer Festival (July 7th to 17th at SFU Woodwards, various times)
Feeling left out because you weren't invited to the party in Toronto for the International Indian Film Awards? Do not fret, friends, because Vancouver's very own Indian Summer Festival is here to bring you all the bhangra, bollywood, and biryani your heart desires. The festival features film screenings, yoga workshops, cooking demos, (FREE) dance classes, readings, and musical performances.
Summer Live (July 8th - 10th, 12 pm - 11 pm at Brockton Point in Stanley Park)
In case you hadn't heard, our fair city is turning 125 this year, and looking pretty good for its age, I might add. So what better way is there to celebrate Vancouver's birthday than a big ol' (FREE) party in Stanley Park? Build a kite in the morning, get a team together for the soccer tournament in the afternoon, spend the evening chilling out on the grass to the sweet sounds of Neko Case and Dan Mangan, and so much more. There might even be cake!
All Over the Map Dance Festival (Last three Sundays in July and August, Ron Basford Park Granville island)
After getting your groove on with Bollywood legend Shiamak's dance classes at the Indian Summer Festival, why not sit back and let the pros entertain you? Shiamak Davar's dance troupe takes the stage at Ron Basford park on Granville island for the first Sunday of New Works' (FREE) All Over the Map Dance Festival. From Spanish Flamenco to Japanese Butoh, this festival will take you, well, all over the map through the art of dance.
Sunday Afternoon Salsa (3 pm - 7 pm at Robson Square)
Sorry to triple book you for today, but there are just so many great events around town this weekend. And if you don't make it to Salsa Vancouver's Sunday Afternoon Salsa this week, they are running the event every Sunday until the end of August. Arrive early for the (FREE) Salsa lesson, stay for the demonstrations at 5 pm, and show off your new skills during social dancing afterwards. Or just come down to listen to some hot rhythms and watch the dancers burn up the floor!Posted by Genie MacLeod | July 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
Book lovers, brace yourselves. The images you are about to see may make you drool a little bit.
Yes, the Shelf Pod is a book lover's dream come true. Designed by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio, the entire home contains bookshelves built into practically every nook and cranny imaginable. Even the staircase becomes a display for the owner's collection.
This unique home was built in order to house the client's extensive collection of books on Islamic history. Keeping the subject matter in mind, the architects found subtle ways to incorporate elements of Islamic architecture into this Japanese home, located in Osaka prefecture. They designed the various aspects of the space, such as the windows, stairs, and desk, with the scale of the bookshelves in mind, thus maintaining geometric harmony, an element often found in Islamic architecture. As well, the roof of the Shelf Pod covers the entire home, mimicking the domed roof structure of a Mosque.
If you are like me, you may have assumed a house designed to display a book lover's collection would be something cluttered and claustrophobic. I recall visiting my grandpa's home in Japan, with his stacks and stacks of dusty, old books of classic English literature. Cluttered and claustrophobic seem insufficient to describe the mess. So I am pleasantly surprised to find that neither of these words describe the Shelf Pod. The spaces are open and can breathe, as one room blends into the next. The architects describe moving through the room similar to "exploring a wooden jungle gym".
However, if you found yourself feeling slightly overwhelmed with the extensive book collection inside the home, simply step outside for a moment and take in the clean, modest elegance of the Shelf Pod's exterior. I love how the architects kept it simple outside, achieving balance between the Shelf Pod's interior and exterior.
Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | July 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
When Amon Beckles stepped out for a cigarette at a friend's funeral in 2005, he couldn't have known it was to be his final act. There to mourn the loss of Jamal Hemmings, a victim of gang violence in Toronto, Beckles was re-entering the church when he was shot six times in the chest. The 18-year-old, who thought he'd be safe in the confines of a church, joined his friend as another victim of the city's gang violence, making headlines and shaking the city to its core.
AWAKE, a new play premiering at the Toronto Fringe Festival this week, incorporates spoken word, hip hop, gospel music and docu-theatre to tell the stories of those affected by gun violence in Jamestown, an at-risk Toronto neighbourhood and the site of the Beckles murder.
In development since 2009, the play is based on hundreds of interviews with the residents of Jamestown and its surrounding areas, and takes place at the Walmer Road Baptist Church. Attendees will arrive as though they are coming to a funeral for all the young men who have lost their lives to gang violence.
AWAKE runs from July 6 to 17 at the Walmer Road Baptist Church (188 Lowther Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Tickets cost $11 at the door, and $10 in advance. Advance ticket sales are available online at FringeToronto.com, or by calling 416-966-1062.
The Metro Vancouver area is home to a great variety of ethnic communities; additionally, there is also a strong LGBTQ community. Rarely, however, have these two vibrant and unique communities been able to interact in a meaningful and informative manner. It would be fair to say that many ethnic communities lack exposure and access to LGBTQ issues and information, and there is an unspoken taboo that remains within many ethnic and immigrant groups regarding these issues.
To that end, Our City of Colors aims to change the trend of silence in the ethnic LGBTQ community by creating posters which feature LBGTQ members of the Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Punjabi communities, which are the top four ethnic groups in Metro Vancouver. They aim to put these posters up on street lamp posts in Coquitlam, Surrey, Burnaby, and North Van, and they will also been seen in coffee shops, community centers, libraries, and thrift stores. The ultimate goal for Our City of Colors is to put up these posters in every public space possible.
Currently they are looking for models to help be featured in their campaign. Members of the Chinese, Korean, Persian, or Punjabi communities who identify as gay, lesbian, or otherwise queer are welcome to contact Our City of Colors at email@example.com. More information is available at Our City of Colors Facebook page.Posted by Justin Ko | July 4, 2011 | Comments (0)