Rina Sawayama 「Where U Are」

Posted on January 28, 2016 commentaires

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

Directed and edited by Rina Sawayama and Alessandra Kurr, DOP Nick Morris.

Styling Lucy Upton-Prowse, Makeup Kristina Ralph Andrews

Originally produced by Hoost and Rina Sawayama

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Biju Belinky 「These Japanese dancers are fashion’s favourite power couple」

Posted on January 26, 2016 commentaires
AyaBambi have vogued for Hussein Chalayan and posed for Alexander Wang – this is what you need to know about them

Out of the line up of the misfit models stalking Alexander Wang’s AW15 campaign (including a wet-haired『Dazed』cover star Molly Bair), there were two faces you won’t have seen stomping down the runway – but might recognise from the depths of YouTube. Aya Sato and Bambi (together known as AyaBambi) are the Japanese dance duo and irl engaged couple who have become an internet sensation by mixing and matching the ancient and honourable New York-born art of Voguing with a collar-and-platforms Goth look that wouldn’t look out of place in an 80s London Industrial warehouse party or the darkest corners of Tokyo. We hit up the power couple and found out three things you need to know about them.

They vogued for Hussein Chalayan
As a part of the MOVEment project, created by『AnOther』Magazine in collaboration with Sadler's Wells, AyaBambi were featured in one of the fashion films directed by seven standout contemporary directors, and featuring seven bespoke created collections by leading fashion designers. Clad in head-to-toe Hussein Chalayan, the couple collaborated with FKA twigs’ choreographer Ryan Heffington to create fluid, hyper-synchronised shapes against a white background, soundtracked by straightforward electronic beats. “The clothes and the movie are both very simple and deep, which we love,” say the couple, arguing that you don’t need to be in gym gear to dance to your best ability – “sometimes the form of the clothes is more important than the freedom or beauty of the physical body.”

MOVEment: Chalayan x AyaBambi and Ryan Heffington

They met Alexander Wang thanks to Madonna
When featuring alongside Jeremy Scott and Beyoncé as the goth duo in Madonna’s latest star-studded party video, AyaBambi came across Alexander Wang – which led them to star in his heavy-metal inspired AW15 campaign. According to him, it was love at first sight: ”I’ve been watching Aya and Bambi for a while since I stumbled upon them online,” he told『WWD』. “Coincidentally, they had just been cast for Madonna and I met them at M’s party in Paris and fell in love. They all are such individuals yet they all fit the characters of this collection seamlessly.”

Alewander Wang Fall 2015 campaign

They are engaged – despite Japan’s anti-gay marriage laws
“We met by chance,” say the pair of their “inevitable” meeting, having just celebrated their two-and-a-half year anniversary. But although their PDAs (and very cute emoji use) are absolutely adored on Instagram, their happy engagement stands directly opposed to Japan’s anti-gay marriage politics, which are strongly conservative (only Tokyo issues “partnership” certificates). AyaBambi are going their own way as usual, and are on their way to be married – as well as recently celebrating gay marriage in a short film for『Vogue』.

Follow Biju Belinky on Twitter here @bijubelinky

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Vincent Ann 「Navigating Asian Masculinity Images and Stereotypes」

The opening scene of the iconic movie 「Breakfast at Tiffany」’s shows actor Mickey Rooney playing the role of the bumbling landlord, Mr. Yunioshi. In his character, a painful caricature of an Asian man is brought to life. Rooney wears a protruding buck-toothed mouthpiece, has artificially slanted (read: taped) eyes, and wears “yellowface” makeup. Mr. Yunioshi is heavily accented, foreign, perverted yet sexually impotent, and nerdy. He stumbles all over his apartment – squinting, making incomprehensible grunts, running into furniture – and is patronized and talked down to by the other characters throughout the movie. I can’t help but wince when I realize that this character helped shape stereotypes and images of Asian men for an entire generation.

Perhaps even more unsettling is the fact that racist depictions of Asians are still prevalent in today’s film and media, albeit in less offensive forms. Hollywood still consistently typecasts Asian-American men into one-dimensional roles – heavily accented foreigners, evil Oriental villains, awkward nerds, asexual sources of comic relief, and so on – that often emasculate and desexualize them. And when Asian actors won’t conform to these stereotypes, they are often denied roles altogether.

I wanted to see how these images and stereotypes have influenced my Asian – American peers, so I interviewed ten Asian – American men and ten Asian-American women at Wash U and asked them about their experiences with masculinity. From the men, I wanted to know how negative racial images and stereotypes have impacted their security in their masculinity, and from the women, how these stereotypes have affected their perceptions of Asian-American masculinity.

What Does It Mean to Be a Man?
To understand Asian-American men’s experiences with masculinity, we first have to understand the mainstream definition of masculinity. This is what society – through media, expectations, and stereotypes – has told us about what “being a man” means. This conception says that “men” are strong, confident, assertive, tough, muscular, physically attractive, emotionally reserved, and adept at interacting with women. These expectations are strongly perpetuated in outlets like action films, sports culture, and beer and cologne commercials.

When I asked the sample of Asian-Americans at Wash U how the expectations and stereotypes differed for Asian-American men, both the men and women picked up on several key stereotypes. First, that Asian-American men are expected to be more “quiet, timid, and passive” than other men and “won’t stand up for themselves.” Second, that Asian-American men are stereotyped to be short and skinny rather than to fit hegemonic expectations of being built and muscular. Third, that Asian- American men “lack confidence” and are of the “awkward, nerdy, study type.” Finally, they noted that Asian-American men “lack game” in the realm of dating and may even be stereotyped as unattractive and unromantic. “Asian men are told they’re not sexual creatures, said one respondent. “They can be smart, intelligent, [and] good at martial arts... but no movies ever portray us in a romantic or sexual light.” The strength of these stereotypes led another respondent to ask, “Is there even an expectation for Asian men to be masculine?”

We have to understand that degrading media images are not solely to blame for these stereotypes. From early laws that forbade Asians from marrying whites, to race riots, and to the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, America has had a long history of white hostility, discriminatory legal practices, violence, and negative attitudes towards Asian-Americans. Images in media have simply reflected, and continue to reflect, some of the lasting impacts of these attitudes.

Breaking Out of the Box
The stereotypes for Asian-American men affected respondents to varying degrees, but all respondents said that they have experienced some kind of distress from negotiating these stereotypes, either currently or at some point in the past. One respondent explained how stereotypes impacted his self-image: “One large insecurity is that I’m a small dude. I’m like 5’5”, 5’6”. It’s funny because no one else seems to notice I’m short, just me. But it’s definitely something I’ve internalized because of the stereotype of Asian men being weaker and less built.”

Interviewees cope with negative stereotypes, and the stress from those stereotypes, in different ways. One respondent mentioned how he avoided other Asian-Americans to avoid being typecast: “I don’t like the stereotypes for Asian men so I try to avoid Asian people.” Other respondents seemed to confirm this: “I know a lot of people who consciously or subconsciously avoid being heavily involved with other Asians for fear of being grouped into them and being written off as a ‘stereotypical Asian.’”

Other interviewees negotiated stereotypes by making active efforts to “perform” their identity differently. For example, many men talked about trying to break the stereotype of being quiet and timid: “Sometimes, I just feel like I’m trying way too hard by acting really boisterous and acting hard. Sometimes it’s a joke, but there are times where I act really hard when I know I’m soft as fuck.” In this sense, respondents are aware that they sometimes “put on an act” where they may try to be more outgoing or confident in order to distance themselves from stereotypes.

Interestingly, it is unclear how effective these “acts” are. Interviews with Asian-American women illustrated the difficulty of breaking stereotypes. One female interviewee said, “When I see an Asian guy who is very confident 19 and very masculine, I wouldn’t say he’s being himself. I would say he’s confident and masculine because he’s whitewashed. I guess I subconsciously make the connection that being confident means being white.” This presents a troubling catch-22 where no matter what Asian-American men do, they cannot be seen as masculine. Other female respondents seemed to share this sentiment: “I think the thing about stereotypes is when you fit the stereotype, you reinforce it; but when you don’t, you’re seen as the exception.”

Altogether, the male respondents experienced significant amounts of distress and insecurity in their masculinity because of the negative stereotypes associated with Asian- Americans, although the degree of distress and insecurity varied. However, it is important to emphasize that I interviewed several individuals who were very comfortable and secure in their masculinity. They tended to judge their masculinity internally and cared little for others’ perceptions of them. One respondent articulated this well: “Honestly, I don’t care if I meet the societal expectations. As long as I fit what I think a man should be. Some of the criteria society has put on us... we don’t have to buy into it. Like the idea of being soft-spoken. I think you can definitely still be soft-spoken and masculine as long as you’re comfortable in who you are.” However, this level of comfort in one’s masculinity, while encouraging, was not characteristic of the majority of my respondents.

Moving Forward
At the end of every interview, I asked respondents what they thought members of the Wash U Asian-American community could do to help Asian-American men feel more secure in their masculinity. Some expressed confusion, others helplessness, because of the strength of existing stereotypes. Still others said that one’s self-conception of masculinity is an internal affair that needs to be worked out individually. I am inclined to reject this latter statement because it is clear, through existing literature and my interviews, that societal expectations and stereotypes have tangible effects on the identity, self-esteem, and psychological health of members of society; consequently, everyone should actively dispel negative expectations of masculinity. The consequences also extend beyond the psychological – recent studies have shown that “dominant” East Asians are “unwelcome and unwanted” in the workplace while “meek” East Asians are received favorably. Some respondents even alluded to this idea playing out in group work and extracurricular groups at Wash U. This unwillingness to accept Asian-American men who deviate from racial stereotypes creates a “bamboo ceiling,” often preventing Asian-American men from climbing workplace ladders.

I don’t know how to tackle this issue. It is clear that much of the problem comes from a lack of visibility and limiting roles in Hollywood and media. Currently, Asian-Americans occupy less than three percent of roles in film, television, and commercials – the lowest of any panethnic group. Furthermore, within film, television, and commercials, only 1.7 percent of lead actors are Asian-Americans. This means that the vast majority of Asian-Americans are playing minor or secondary roles, where they most likely are being asked to play stereotyped, one-dimensional characters.

This not only perpetuates existing stereotypes, but also can make Asian-Americans feel foreign in their own country. We all desire to see ourselves in film and media. We long to see ourselves portrayed in real and human ways, to see ourselves as sensitive and nuanced, as protagonists and as heroes. I am happy to say that shows like ABC Family’s 「Fresh Off the Boat」 and Fox’s 「The Mindy Project」 are helping to break down some of these barriers by casting Asian-Americans in expansive and varied lights. Another part of the problem seems to come from a societal definition of masculinity that is unnecessarily limiting. Surely, men can still be “men” even if they don’t fit expectations of being loud, confident, womanizing, and muscular. Surely, “men” should be allowed to be weak sometimes, quiet, have different body types, or be attracted to other men.

Again, I don’t know how to tackle the issue, nor do I think there’s an easy solution. But, I believe acknowledging the problem and starting conversations within our peer groups is a start. These conversations may be difficult. It’s not easy to talk about masculinity and it’s not easy to talk about insecurity. But it is clear that negative racial stereotypes are affecting Asian- American men and should be broken down. Hopefully, through dialogue, we can begin to do this, and also begin creating a more fluid definition of masculinity that is more accepting of different ethnic groups and characteristics.

Note: I used the term “Asian-American” loosely in this article, but Asian-Americans as a panethnic group are not a monolith and have diverse experiences. In this article, I only interviewed East Asians, who tend to experience different stereotypes of masculinity than, for example, South Asians. Also, this article focuses on conceptions of heterosexual masculinity and cannot be generalized to the experiences of gay Asian-American men, who experience different stereotypes and expectations.

Author: Vincent Ann/Date: January 16, 2016/Source: http://www.wupr.org/2016/01/26/navigating-asian-masculinity-images-and-stereotypes/

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Rachel Jump 「Guanyu Xu」

Posted on January 23, 2016 commentaires
徐冠宇 Guanyu Xu (b.1993 Beijing) is studying for BFA degree in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was the recipient of the Fred Endsley Memorial Fellowship and the finalist of Lucie Foundation Emerging Artist Scholarship.

His works have been exhibited internationally including the Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins; New York Photo Festival, New York; Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana; Embassy Tea Gallery, London; Ph21 Gallery, Budapest, and others. His works have been featured in numerous publications including『Aint-Bad』Magazine, ArtAscent and China Photographic Publishing House.

「A Good Asian Boy」, 2015

One Land to Another
My photographic works interrogate issues of homophobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and political ideology.

I was born and raised in a conservative family in Beijing. The prevailing cultural norms necessitated that my sexuality remain hidden. It was not until my arrival to the United States in the spring of 2014 that I could finally have courage to reveal this secret. The suppression of my identity and the viewing of American films planted an ‘American dream’ in my head during my teenage years. However, I have now come to realize that this perception was not entirely accurate. Due to the history of anti-Chinese sentiments, problematic stereotypes of Asians and the dominance of white, macho gay, I became an “undesirable alien” in this “land of freedom.”

I draw from personal narratives to create images with ambiguous content: The question of the murderer in the self-portraits of my death, the juxtaposition of hope and apathy in my landscapes, and the performative relationships in my portraits with other men. They interrogate the traditional representation.

The self-portraits of my death not only expresses the inequality of gay men in this world, but also reveals my self-denying and self-hating under the homophobic society, which includes both China and U.S. My photographs of people that I find through the online dating apps expose my current situation with other gay men in the States. I examine the racism and discrimination in the white-dominated gay world, the worship of masculine whiteness and the pervasive misogyny. My landscapes of America document paths to finding a utopian space further complicated by my changing of geographical location as well as psychological movement.

I offer my queerness, displacement, anxiety and longing for utopia to destabilize the traditional norms in terms of race, sexuality and ideology.

To view more of Guanyu’s photographs, please visit his website.

Author: Rachel Jump/Date: January 23, 2016/Source: https://www.aint-bad.com/article/2016/01/23/guanyu-xu/

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Amelia Abraham 「‘Chomp’ Magazine Offers a Queer Look at Japanese Street Culture」

Like the famous gay magazine『Butt』,『Chomp』places erotic photographs of dudes (but also skaters) alongside personal profiles and interviews.

If you really sat down and tried, you could turn a lot of pages in the space of 30 days. While we’ve spent over a decade providing you with about 120 of those pages every month, it turns out VICE isn’t the only magazine in the world. This series, Ink Spots, is a helpful guide to which zines, pamphlets, and publications you should be reading when you’re not reading ours.

All images courtesy of『Chomp』.

Mitsu Sucks seems like a good alias for someone who runs a gay Japanese magazine called『Chomp』. A bookseller by day, Mistu (real name: Mitsuhiro Kawano), created the zine back in 2011 to fill a gap in the Japanese arts and culture market where cutting-edge, queer-friendly publications are few and far between. Like the famous gay magazine『Butt』,『Chomp』places erotic photographs of dudes alongside personal profiles and interviews, but also is sprinkled with beautiful, abstract illustrations. Plus, it’s funny.

A labor of love,『Chomp』only features the work of artists and photographers that Mitsu is passionate about, and he often includes diverse subjects you might be surprised to see in a queer magazine, such as macho skaters and straight boys. Though skate culture and queer culture might not appear to overlap on the surface, Mitsu believes things that “exist on the edges of society” share more than meets the eye. Constantly surprising and resolutely DIY,『Chomp』is now on its fourth issue.

We talked to Mitsu from his current home in New York about where the zine is headed next, what it tells us about queer subcultures in Japan, and where he finds the cute pictures of boys’ butts that are nestled between『Chomp』’s pages.

VICE: Where did the idea for『Chomp』come from?

Mitsu Sucks: As a gay guy, I always had trouble identifying with the mainstream gay scene in Japan. And I could never find a publication that spoke to me. Gay themes in Japan are very one-note and tend to fall into one of two categories: They’re either full-on porn or fashion-related. They also take themselves very seriously. I wanted to create something different and definitely more lighthearted.

What’s the zine scene like in Japan – are there a lot of people getting involved in DIY publishing? Are there other queer zines like『Chomp』around?

I feel like young people in Japan love zines, especially fashion-conscious young people. But then in Japan, most young people are fashion-conscious. It’s almost like zines are mainstream over there. Popular fashion and art magazines write about zines, and even give suggestions about how to make them. My friends in Tokyo all make zines and show them at zine fairs they organize, big and small. In terms of queer zines, however, I would go as far as to say there’s no such category as of yet. But based on the reaction to『Chomp』, the demand is definitely there.

How do you cast the faces and asses you shoot for the publication?

Interestingly, all the models I used for the sexy stuff so far have been straight. I usually rely on my female friends to hook me up. One let me shoot her younger brothers. Another introduced me to her fuck-buddy. For『Chomp』#4, I saw one of my friends post a picture with a guy whose look I liked. I asked her to persuade him to pose for me. Straight guys will do anything girls say.

The magazine takes a queer look at street culture including skateboarding. Is there much of a queer contingency among skater communities in Japan?

No, skateboarding is such a macho, boys-only club. It’s one of the places you’d least expect to find a queer presence. That’s what’s interesting to me, uniting the two. It’s almost like fantasy. But, at the same time, I believe queer and skateboarding cultures do have things in common. They both exist on the edges of society. They’re both often misunderstood.

What’s cruising culture like in Japan these days? To what extent have gay dating apps taken cruising off the street and online?

All cruising in Japan happens online now. Up until a few years ago, indoor “cruising spaces” called hattenba were the norm, and they catered to every possible fetish you could imagine. Hattenba for athletic guys under 30, hattenba for chubby guys, hattenba for guys with short hair and big dicks. People knew about them either through word of mouth or from online guides and message boards. You went, you paid the fee, got naked, and hooked up in the dark. They were all over the city and some were very selective. These days, it’s all apps. But what’s interesting is that Japan has its own apps, too. The most popular one is a Japanese one called 9 Monsters, followed by Jack’d, and then finally Grindr – but only guys who are into foreigners use Grindr.

The magazine features interviews with regular people about sexuality. What do you think this concept achieves?

How a person talks about sex says a lot about them. Answers vary so much from one person to another. You can gather a lot about what someone is like, even from a few questions. Basically, it’s the best way to get to know a person and what makes them unique in the shortest amount of time. Reading these interviews in『Chomp』, I hope people see the diversity within the queer community and beyond. Because even if you identify with a certain group, you’re still a unique individual. That’s a universal thing.

How has『Chomp』evolved over four issues? I feel like it’s become more graphic.

Some issues are more graphic than others, but there’s no strategy behind it. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting, in regards to both design and content, trying this and that. But I feel like『Chomp』is finally growing into its more stable, adult shape.

What’s next for the mag?

Issue #4 just came out. Issue #5 is on its way (I’ll hopefully finish it by fall). And I’m hoping to do a group exhibition soon, show work from all the artists I’ve featured in the zine so far. Ideally, I’ll be able to organize it both in Japan and outside, like in New York where I live now. I think that’d be pretty cool.

And finally – what does being queer mean to you?

It means being honest.

For more on『Chomp』visit the zine’s website here.

Follow Amelia on Twitter.

Official Website: http://www.chompzine.com/

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Sturb 「Gay asiatique : racisme dans la communauté gay」

Posted on January 18, 2016 commentaires
Un asiatique en a assez d’être ignoré par la « communauté Gay peinte en blanche »

Un homme asiatique s’attaque à ce qu’il appelle la « communauté Gay peinte en blanc », parce qu’il ne sait plus comment réagir face au rejet qu’il subit.

Rejeté par la communauté

À New York, Toronto, ou dans n’importe quelle ville où les homos blancs dominent, il se sent blessé en tant qu’homosexuel asiatique, a-t-il avoué au chroniqueur Dan Savage. La plupart des Gays blancs le rejettent à cause, dit-il, de sa race et personne ne veut admettre ce racisme sexuel.

Il poursuit : « Je comprends que l’attirance sexuelle dépend du subconscient pour beaucoup de personnes. Mais il est injuste pour un Gay asiatique comme moi d’être constamment marginalisé et rejeté ». Il passe ensuite en revue toutes les choses qu’il a en commun avec les autres homosexuels. « Je me bats aussi pour leurs droits, je crois en l’égalité. Je suis passé par toutes les souffrances qu’un homosexuel subit à l’école secondaire et les mêmes craintes lorsque je me suis affirmé. Pourquoi n’y a-t-il ni acceptation, ni espace, ni de bienvenue pour moi dans cette communauté Gay peinte en blanc ? ». « Je mesure 1,85 m et je pèse 73 kg, je suis en forme et beau », conclut-il. « Que puis-je faire ? Je pourrais tout aussi bien être un moine asexué ! ».

Bien sûr, ce n’est pas la première fois que des asiatiques se plaignent d’être victimes de discrimination au sein de la communauté Gay.

En 2012, le metteur en scène Justin Huang a publié un éditorial poignant dans lequel il a détaillé la façon dont il se sent constamment « esthétiquement marginalisé » par d’autres Gays. Et nous avons tous constaté les profils sur les sites Grindr et Scruff qui disent explicitement « pas d’asiatiques ».

Author: Sturb/Date: January 18, 2016/Source: https://sturb.com/blog/gay-asiatique-racisme-communaute-gay/
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Les P'tits Parisiens 「Portrait : Steve Tran」

Posted on January 16, 2016 commentaires

Steve Tran, artiste explosif à l’énergie soufflante, a accepté de rencontrer Les P’tits Parisiens. Passionné par l’art de la scène, il multiplie les projets passant ainsi de comédien à réalisateur en un tour de main. Zoom sur son parcours et ses projets.

Hello Steve ! Peux-tu te présenter en quelques mots ?

Steve tran : Je m’appelle Steve Tran. Tran comme pas mal de viets, mais nous n’avons aucun lien de parenté, Tran c’est comme Martin, Diawara... Un nom répandu ! Je suis né dans le 78 et je vis à Marne La Vallée dans une ville qui s’appelle Lognes. C’est un peu le Springfield Français, il y a énormément d’asiatiques... Je suis comédien/réalisateur et j’ai 30 ans.

Ton père, ton frère aîné et tes neveux sont également dans le métier. Est-ce une raison pour laquelle tu t’es lancé, toi aussi, dans une carrière artistique ?

J’ai passé des castings très tôt, à l’âge de 6 ou 7 ans, poussé par mon grand frère Jean-Claude à qui je doit tout. Mon père était de son vivant un grand artiste d’opéra vietnamien, si ce n’est le plus grand, il est parti en 1997 et j’ai tourné mon premier film en 1999. C’est peut-être pour cela que je m’accroche comme ça depuis 17 ans maintenant... Et surtout pour rendre ma mère fière de moi. Quand j’ai tourné mon premier film, j’ai tout de suite eu envie de continuer derrière mais ma mère me répétait sans cesse « Trouve un vrai métier, ici, ce n’est pas notre pays, tu es viet c’est trop compliqué...». C’est aussi une des raisons de mon acharnement ! Je suis très fier de ma nièce Mélanie Tran et de son frère Florent Tran, ils tournent beaucoup et j’espère tourner avec tous les TRAN dans un film un jour ! Mes autres neveux sont aussi artistes, certains chantent, d’autres sont musiciens et le petit dernier est un futur grand photographe !

Comment a débuté ta carrière de comédien ? Raconte-nous tes débuts !

J’ai commencé en 1999 dans un téléfilm pour France 2 de Patrice Martineau 「Rends-moi mon nom」, produit par Serge Moati, dans lequel je tenais le rôle principal, puis j’ai tourné dans des courts métrages, séries TV, téléfilms et long-métrages. J’ai tout appris sur le tas. J’ai eu un agent très jeune, et j’ai vite changé au bout de quelques mois parce qu’il ne représentait que des asiatiques. J’ai vite voulu me démarquer des autres, je ne voulais pas que l’on me propose que des rôles clichés. J’ai ensuite été représenté par Stéphane Lefebvre à qui je dois énormément. Il a représenté une grande partie des acteurs français qui fonctionnent aujourd’hui (Oumar Diaw, Paco Boublard ou encore Johan Libéreau...). Il a le flair... Big Up Stéphane ! En 2008, j’ai eu la chance de tourner dans 「Neuilly sa mère !」 sur lequel j’ai rencontré Djamel Bensalah qui m’a offert par la suite un des rôles principaux de 「Beur sur la ville」 aux côtés de Booder et de Issa Doumbia. En 2011 j’ai enchaîné avec 「La Cité Rose」, 「Les saveurs du palais」, en 2012 「Cheba Louisa」, en 2014 「Prêt à tout」, 「Le Père Noël」, 「Une histoire banale」... Mais aussi deux émissions avec mon ami, Kamel Le Magicien pour Canal Plus, des émissions sur la magie à Los Angeles puis à Tokyo.

Acteur et réalisateur, tu as la double casquette, quand es-tu passé derrière la caméra et pourquoi ?

Je suis passé derrière la caméra en 2010. J’ai co-réalisé avec Sébastien Kong un court métrage 「BooM BooM ...」. Un muet musical avec Sabrina Ouazani, Issa Doumbia et pleins d’autres comédiens. J’espère pouvoir l’envoyer en festival très prochainement. C’est un film qui me tient à cœur car nous l’avons réalisé il y a quelques années avec pas grand chose, juste de la passion et de l’amour ! Je pense que j’ai voulu réaliser, parce que je ne tournais pas assez, pas assez de castings pour les acteurs asiatiques comme moi. Attention, ce n’est pas de la victimisation, juste un fait. Je me suis surtout dit qu’il fallait être force de propositions et faire ses propres projets. Je ne veux pas être un acteur qui meurt derrière son téléphone, le temps est précieux... Nous ne sommes pas bons que pour récupérer un médaillon sacré ou venger un frère, ni être « serveur 3 » dans un générique... Les jeunes asiatiques de France ne lisent pas tous que des mangas et ne sont pas tous passionnés uniquement par des films d’action. Nous avons le même humour et consommons la même culture que les autres français. En gros, les asiatiques de France ne sont clairement pas assez représentés dans nos films, ni à la télévision. Plus jeune, les seuls jaunes que je voyais à la télé c’était 「Les Simpsons」... Black, Blanc, Beur c’était en 98. La France est plus colorée que ça !

Tu sembles particulièrement actif sur les réseaux sociaux, comme les vidéos que tu postes régulièrement sur ta page Facebook ou ta chaine YouTube, peut-on dire que tu es un « youtubeur »?

J’ai commencé les vidéos sur YouTube en 2007 avec mes amis Djiby Badiane, Oumar Diaw, Fabrice Valsin, Samory Sakho et Hyacinthe Imayanga dans un programme court appelé 「LA CAGE」 dans lequel nous traitions des thèmes de l’actualité avec humour dans une cage d’escalier... Puis il y a eu ce buzz avec mon personnage Henri Tong de 「Beur sur la ville」 en 2011. Je m’amusais sur Facebook, j’improvisais des podcasts devant ma webcam et je balançais des vidéos tous les deux jours ! Certains étaient tombés dans le panneau en pensant que j’étais un vrai policier à la recherche de l’amour sur les réseaux sociaux. Je ne me sens pas forcément youtubeur, c’est juste un terrain de jeu immense le net ! Un moyen de m’amuser et de partager avec les gens qui me suivent.

En tout cas tu es un « buzz makeur »!

Je préfère DreamMaker et SmileMaker !

Le rire est-ce pour toi un domaine de prédilection ?

J’ai toujours été le plus petit à l’école et... dans la vie ! Je ne pouvais pas me battre contre les mecs méchants au collège, je pouvais juste vanner. En tant que comédien, j’aime vraiment tout jouer, ça ne veut pas dire que je sais tout jouer mais j’ai eu la chance d’interpréter des rôles vraiment différents à chaque fois.

L’une de tes vidéos qui nous a le plus marqués est sans conteste celle des « free bonne journée »/« free je vous aime ». On passe de l’humour à l’amour. Tu peux nous en dire plus ?

J’ai déjà fait une vidéo comme celle-là il y a deux ans. J’étais en tournage le dimanche qui a suivi les attentats... J’étais sur le plateau et je voyais des passants, déprimés, des visages fermés. J’avais envie de donner de l’amour et du rire, j’avais besoin de faire ça, c’était spontané. J’ai partagé la vidéo sur mon Instagram et ça a fait un « buzz ». Je ne m’y attendais pas et ce n’était surtout pas ce que je cherchais.

On se lance un peu dans la philosophie : amour et paris est-ce synonyme ou est-ce totalement antinomique ?

Je dirais synonyme ! Paris pour un mec de banlieue comme moi, c’est romantique de ouf !

Que représente Paris pour toi ?

Paris ? Une galère pour se garer en voiture ! C’est vraiment une belle ville. Je m’intéresse à l’architecture depuis peu, je lève la tête de mon smartphone et je m’émerveille devant nos beaux bâtiments comme un gosse !

Peux-tu nous parler des projets sur lesquels tu es en ce moment ?

Je joue cette année dans 「Le Passe-muraille」 avec Denis Podalydès pour Arte. Je vais également tourner cette année dans un film d’Audrey Estrougo pour Arte et prochainement dans un long métrage 「For Youv」 avec Oumar Diaw réalisé par Ibtissem Guerda et écrit par Oumar Diaw et Khalid Balfoul. Je co-écris mon premier Long métrage 「Minh」 avec Jimmy Laporal Trésor (l’un des auteurs de 「La Cité Rose」). C’est un film sur l’amour au temps de la science...

Quand tu n’es pas devant ou derrière la caméra, un spot sur Paris où boire un verre entre potes ou se faire une bonne bouffe ?

Je vais souvent boire des Bubble Tea dans le quartier japonais vers Pyramide. Pour la bouffe ? Dans le xiiième ! Pour retrouver des amis je vais souvent au Panam Art Café assister à des scènes ouvertes.

Steve, on veut venir te voir sur scène en 2016 : tu réalises notre rêve ?

Je suis en pleine écriture de mon premier spectacle ! J’espère pouvoir vous présenter quelque chose bientôt !

Propos recueillis par Les P’tits Parisiens
Pour suivre l’actualité de Steve Tran, c’est par ici !
Pour voir plus de photos et vidéos, c’est par  !

Author: Les P'tits Parisiens /Date: January 16, 2016/Source: http://lesptitsparisiens.com/portraits/portrait-de-la-semaine-steve-tran/

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Kevin Yee feat. Pandora Boxx 「I Fucked Your Dad」

Posted on January 13, 2016 commentaires

Kevin Yee feat. Pandora Boxx 「I Fucked Your Dad」 - posted on January 13, 2016.

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Dan Savage 「Savage Love: Gay, Asian, rejected」

As a queer man of colour – I’m Asian – I feel wounded whenever I am exposed to gay men in New York City, Toronto or any city where white gay men dominate. Gay men, mostly whites and Asians, reject me because of my race, and no one admits to their sexual racism. I understand that sexual attraction is subconscious for many people. But it is unfair for a gay Asian like myself to be constantly marginalized and rejected. I fight for gay rights, too. I believe in equality, too. I had the same pain of being gay in high school and the same fears when coming out. Why is there no acceptance, no space, no welcome for me in this white-painted gay community? I’m 6-foot-1, 160 pounds fit, and very good-looking. What can I do? I might as well be a sexless monk.

Enraged Dude Details Infuriating Experience

“I relate to a lot of what EDDIE is feeling here,” said Joel Kim Booster, a Brooklyn writer and comedian. “The double-edged sword of living in a city with a large gay community is that the community gets so large that we finally have the opportunity to marginalize people within it.”

Jeff Chu, a writer who also lives in Brooklyn, can relate: “Racism still thrives in the gay community, just as in broader society,” said Chu. “Many of us who are Asian American come out of the closet and walk into this weird bamboo cage, where we’re either fetishized or ignored. Many times I’d go into a gay bar and see guys playing out some gross interracial porno in their heads – with me playing the part of their Chinese pocket gay. Others (the ones I was interested in, to be candid) would act as if I were wearing an invisibility cheongsam.”

Chu feels there’s plenty of blame to go around for this sad state of affairs. “It’s the gay media,” said Chu. “It’s Hollywood. (Even with all the LGBT characters we have on TV now, what images do we have of Asian American ones?) It’s that LGBT-rights organizations still haven’t diversified enough, especially in their leadership. And it’s all of us, when we’re lazy and don’t confront our own prejudices.”

Booster and Chu are right: Racism is a problem in the gay community, some people within are unfairly and cruelly marginalized, and we all need to confront our own prejudices.

Even you, EDDIE. You cite your height (tall!), weight (slim!), and looks (VGL!) as proof you’ve faced sexual rejection based solely on your race. But short, heavy, average-looking/unconventionally attractive guys face rejection for not being tall, lean or conventionally hot, just as you’ve faced rejection for not being white. (The cultural baggage and biases that inform a preference for, say, tall guys is a lot less toxic than the cultural baggage and biases that inform a preference for white guys – duh, obviously.)

“As a stereotypically short Chinese guy, my first reaction to reading EDDIE’s letter? Damn, he’s 6-foot-1! I’m jealous,” said Chu. “And that’s also part of the problem. I, like many others, have internalized an ideal: tall, gym-perfected, blah blah blah – and, above all, white.”

Booster was also struck by your stats. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around any 6-foot-1, fit, VGL guy having trouble getting laid,” said Booster. “On paper, this is the gay ideal! I don’t really consider myself any of those things – and I have a perfectly respectable amount of sex.”

Booster, who somehow manages to have plenty of sex in New York’s “white-painted gay community,” had some practical tips for you. “EDDIE should stay away from the apps if the experience becomes too negative,” Booster said. “If logging on to a hookup app bums him out, take a break. Being a double minority can be isolating, but living in a big city can be great. There are meet-ups and clubs and activities for all stripes. Join a gay volleyball league – truly where gay Asian men thrive – or find one of the many gay Asian nights at one of the gay bars around the city. They’re out there.”

Chu has also managed to find romantic success in New York. “I’ve been where EDDIE is, except shorter, less fit and less good-looking, and somehow I found a husband,” said Chu. “The monastery wasn’t my calling, and I suspect it’s not EDDIE’s either.”

A quick word to gay white men: It’s fine to have “preferences. But we need to examine our preferences and give some thought to the cultural forces that may have shaped them. It’s a good idea to make sure your preferences are actually yours and not some limited and limiting racist crap pounded into your head by TV, movies and porn. But while preferences are allowed (and gay men of colour have them, too), there’s no excuse for littering Grindr or Tinder or Recon – or your conversations in bars – with dehumanizing garbage like “no Asians,” “no blacks,” “no femmes,” “no fatties,” etc.

And while racism is a problem in the gay community (sometimes thoughtless, sometimes malicious, always unacceptable), according to 2010 US Census data, as crunched by the Williams Institute at UCLA, same-sex couples are far likelier to be interracial (20.6 per cent) than opposite-sex couples (13.9 per cent). So there’s hope – and I don’t mean “hope that EDDIE will one day land a magic white boyfriend,” but hope for less racism in the gay community generally and fewer racist Grindr profiles specifically.

The last word goes to Booster: “A note to the rice queens who will undoubtedly write in about this man: We like that you like us. But liking us solely because of our race can be uncomfortable at best and creepy as hell at worst. In my experience, it’s perfectly okay to keep some of those preferences behind the curtain while you get to know us a bit as humans first.”

Jeff Chu is the author of『Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage In Search Of God In America』. Follow him on Twitter @jeffchu. Follow Joel Kim Booster on Twitter @ihatejoelkim.

Author: Dan Savage/Date: January 13, 2016/Source: https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/advice/savage-love-gay-asian-rejected/

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Ian Horner 「Benjamin Law: “Our communities aren’t just one colour”」

Posted on January 12, 2016 commentaires
Trystan Go, Fiona Choi, Anthony Brandon Wong, George Zhao, Karina Lee & Vivian Wei

A new SBS comedy series starting this week tells a family story like none seen before on Aussie screens.

Writer Benjamin Law was born into a big family raised on the Sunshine Coast following their parents’ move from Hong Kong.

Adjustment to Queensland wasn’t easy for mum and dad. It was a culture shock, but mum Jenny especially was nothing if not pragmatic, and hilarious. She hung onto traditional values, expressed with non-traditional eloquence in a language she’d had to pick up late in life – murdering the language but tempering it with wonderful mixed metaphors and riotous images.

The family was also touched by all-too-common family trauma, such as the prospect of their parents’ protracted separations. The question of whether Dad would stay or go hung heavy in the air.

Then there was Benjamin’s looming coming out as a teenager.

But Jenny kept them on the rails. It wasn’t so much her way with words (that just kept them entertained) but her brutal honesty and love for her children.

And therein lies a great book. And now a TV series.

Same Same chatted to Ben as six-part half-hour comedy drama 「The Family Law」 debuts on SBS this Thursday.

Same Same: How closely does 「The Family Law」 series follow your book?

Benjamin Law: The book’s a hodge-podge of stories of my life and family, some from the 1970s when my parents came over from Hong Kong and some right up to the 2000s when I came out.

For the series we had to get to the heart of the story. We condensed the timeframe to one hot summer to focus on my parents’ breakup. In reality their split was very protracted but for the sake of the comedy and the drama we condensed it to one hot Queensland summer where nothing will ever be the same.

We wanted to get to the emotional truth of what it’s like when your parents break up when you’re a teenager and we had to be wildly promiscuous with what actually happened. But keep all the teenage humiliation, terror and hilarity.

In coastal Queensland we were one of just a handful of Chinese Australian families. We immediately became the focus of town gossip. For the show we wanted to nail the uniqueness of being a really big family.

And the audience knows Ben’s gay but Ben isn’t quite aware of it yet! In the trailer there’s a scene where Ben peers through a telescope and there’s every opportunity to perve on the hot sister but the telescope trails down to the hot son who’s doing weights in the garage. In terms of sexuality, the audience is ahead of Ben. More to come in series 2.

What was it like coming out as a Chinese Australian?

I came out at 17, which was quite old to come out. Most people have known for a long time by then. But acknowledging it and coming out are two very different things, right? Now I look back and actually 17 is still rather young. In Queensland we finish high school at 17 and I wanted my first year at university, when I’d be 18, to be the year I’d find a boyfriend! Or, you know, have sex! And that would involve being open and comfortable with my sexuality.

First I came out to my best friend Rebecca which gave me the courage to come out to mum who I wanted to come out to first because, one, I wanted her to know, and, two, if she doesn’t know things first she’ll demolish you!

I told my mum I had something to tell her and couldn’t even get the words out. I burst out into tears, and that’s really frightening for a mum. She had to play this horrible guessing game, What’s Wrong With My Son? Her first guess was “Are you on drugs?” And I said no, thinking we’re on the Sunshine Coast where it was really difficult to get drugs even if I’d wanted them.

The second question was “Have you got Rebecca pregnant?” And I was thinking no, definitely getting colder. And her third was “Are you gay?” And I nodded, afraid of whether she’d be angry, or blame herself, or be upset, or be shocked, you know, and her response was so hilarious. She said “Oh, don’t be silly, there’s nothing wrong with being gay! It just means something went wrong in the womb, that’s all!”

So, you know, in her way, she was totally accepting and acknowledging the fact that I’m completely deformed! [laughs]

Oh my God.

I was relieved because I knew my mum well enough. In her way, and in her language, and in her framework, it was just her saying, yeah, it’s like being left-handed. It was a confused way of saying it, it was a hilarious way of expressing it, but I totally knew what she was saying.

For a woman of her generation and background it was her way of telling me she had no problem whatsoever with me being gay. And she doesn’t! In fact, she likes my boyfriend better than she likes me!

Since then how have you found being gay and an Asian-Australian?

My boyfriend and I moved to Sydney a couple of years ago and it feels like the gay Asians run this town! [laughs] It’s a pretty great city to be Asian and gay.

But if I was single it’d be hard. I have single gay Asian friends and the online sexual racism is quite shocking and confronting. I think it reflects a sort of person who, one, hasn’t travelled very much and, two, well, gays, including myself, are not immune from being prejudiced. We forget that sometimes. Just because we’re part of a minority doesn’t mean we can’t be prejudiced ourselves. It’s something to acknowledge.

If there were more Asian Australians in Australian media prejudice would be rarer. What we find attractive or hot is regulated and mediated by the images of what’s presented to us as sexy.

Even gay magazines present a sea of white on their covers. When we aren’t shown images of people in all their diversity we’ve got a very narrow view of what’s attractive. One of the things I’m happy about 「The Family Law」 is we’ve got a majority Asian cast – very rare in Australian media.

You watch breakfast television – it’s a sea of white. Most of our drama in Australia – a sea of white. We don’t see our Arab Australians on screen. We don’t see our brown Australians, or our yellow Australians. It limits our scope in what we see as Australian. And attractive.

The commercial networks didn’t have the courage to do your show?

We knew it wasn’t a commercial product, not because of race but tone. I don’t think commercial stations would use an opening sequence of a woman monologuing about what happens to her vagina during childbirth, no matter what race she was! Hopefully, it’s changing. You know, Channel 9 has 「Love Child」 with Miranda Tapsell. That one of our biggest commercial TV drama stars is Aboriginal is huge. It should’ve happened a long time ago but I’m glad it’s happening now.

I think in the US especially, where we see African American female leads in 「Scandal」 [Kerry Washington] and 「How to Get Away with Murder」 [Viola Davis], they’re realising the commercial imperative of coloured faces on screen.

One of the biggest demographics of free-to-air TV in the States is African Americans. Other demographics are migrating to streaming services. There’s a commercial imperative to getting diversity on screen. Given that one in 10 Australians has Asian background you might want to consider us a valuable demographic too! [laughs]

But every Australian – gay, straight, queer, white, non-white, indigenous or otherwise, disabled or otherwise – people are wanting to see their workplaces, their communities, their friendship circles reflected back at them on screen, especially if you live in Australian cities. Our communities aren’t just one colour. We want to see that.

How did your family react to the show?

They’ve seen the trailer and rough cuts. We’re gonna watch the first ep together tonight. I’m flying up to Brisbane for it. I think they’re gonna laugh, they might cry.

Are they gonna hit you?

Probably. I’ll sedate them with alcohol and maybe barbiturates.

The million-dollar question: Is your mum as loud as you paint her?

OMG, she’s worse. In reality, she’s R-rated. The show is the prime-time version. Yes, we can get away with her describing her vagina during childbirth on SBS at 8.30pm but could we get away with how she talks about sex? I’m not too sure.

She’s pretty frank. When we were growing up she’d tell our sisters to make sure they washed thoroughly downstairs or they’d start to grow worms inside their vaginas!

How do you feel about your mum usurping your story as the main character?

LOL! It’s the way it should be. As in real life, Jenny gets all the best lines, because she’s the best mum.

「The Family Law」 debuts on SBS TV this Thursday 14 January at 8.30pm.

SBSAustralia 「The Family Law: Opening Scene」 - posted on January 28, 2016.

NB: Le bouquin,『The Family Law』, dont est issue la série, est publié en France par Les éditions Belfond sous le titre『Les Lois de la famille』:-/

「The Family Law」
Official Website: http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/the-family-law

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Benjamin & Michelle Law 「‘The Family Law’, Diversity On Aussie TV And #GiveAYellowAGo: A Chat With Benjamin And Michelle Law」

Posted on January 08, 2016 commentaires

Ahead of the premiere of SBS’ 「The Family Law」, we asked two of the titular Law siblings – writer, columnist and『The Family Law』author Benjamin; and fellow writer, co-author of『Shit Asian Mothers Say』and AWGIE award-winning screenwriter Michelle – to discuss their thoughts on the progress of diversity on Australian TV, the history of Asian representation (or lack thereof) on our screens, and how to cast a Cantonese-speaking family in a very white industry.

They came back at us with anecdotes about pooing in bookstores and eating turtle soup, so there you go.

MICHELLE LAW: We’re supposed to be talking about cultural diversity on Australian screens, but this is actually just a ploy for me to ask you all the intimate details about the show I wanted to ask but never could, so STRAP YOURSELF IN. Just kidding, we are here to talk about cultural diversity and the rest will be settled in court. (Remember when Borders stocked『The Family Law』, a memoir, in the Law section?)

BENJAMIN LAW: Oh I totally remember that. I like to think my book contributed to the downfall of that wretched empire. (It should be noted that Michelle and I have worked as booksellers for independent bookshops, so this conversation already has an agenda.) I do miss their insane magazine section though. Borders had a GREAT LGBTIQ magazine section. Cocks for days. Okay, we’ve already gotten off topic.

ML: Yeah, also a great place to lay down a massive turd when you couldn’t be arsed going to a public toilet. WAIT. SHUT UP. WE’VE GOT TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL CONVERSATION. Who were the first Asian Australian characters you remember seeing on television?

BL: I do remember the awesome Annette Shun Wah introducing movies on SBS, as well as hosting Eat Carpet. There was Elizabeth Chong – the precursor to Kylie Kwong – on 「Good Morning Australia」. Lots of people always talk about the Lim Family on 「Neighbours」 – the ones who were accused of eating the neighbourhood dog. And then there was the first Asian on 「Home & Away」! I remember this Asian dude arriving at Summer Bay – a Chinese immigrant or something – and I was like, “WHOA. Asians! On television!” In the end though, he was just a prop to teach Alf Flamin’ Stewart about cultural tolerance, and then he basically disappeared.

ML: Were you pretty aware of the Asian stereotypes you’d see on TV? I remember a little while ago Fiona Choi, who plays our mum in 「The Family Law」, was telling me about this character she’d played on 「Neighbours」 called Laura Wallace. Toadie had a crush on her, but she ended up dating someone else who dropped her because he couldn’t handle her being a stripper.

BL: Hahahahahaha. I mean, clearly that is based on Fiona’s real life as a stripper, which we should respect and honour. It’s funny: I’ve been talking to a lot of journalists about 「The Family Law」, and from the trailer, they do wonder whether I’ve created a whole new suite of stereotypes. Part of me wants to say, “WAIT, SO YOU’RE SAYING MY FAMILY ARE STEREOTYPES,” and wish they’d go into the bin.

ML: How dare they. *Quietly removes Instagram post of myself drinking bubble tea.*

BL: But I think for me, stereotypes are only stereotypes when they’re side characters, props and one-dimensional clichés. I’m sure even that stripper character Fiona played could’ve been complex and fascinating, if (1) the story was told from her perspective and not Toadie’s; (2), if she was developed into a central character whose stripper life was one element of many; and (3), if there were other Asian characters around her, so no one would need to bear the burden of being the representative of THEIR ENTIRE RACE.

I get mixed feelings. I mean, on one hand, you want visibility. On the other, visibility has historically been so shithouse.

ML: A lot of the time, stereotypes pop up when there is such limited representation of a group. And I think part of that stems from a lack of diverse writers and casting.

BL: There’s this great piece Jon Ronson wrote for『GQ』about Arab American actors who keep playing terrorists, because that’s the only role they get offered. I think the title was, 「You may know me from such roles as Terrorist #4」. [Diversity on screen is] about producers, directors, casting agents and writers [making the effort]. That’s something I think we’ve both learned in our limited time as TV and performance writers.

ML: Can we talk about Black Hermione Granger. Or, THE NOTORIOUS BHG.

BL: Black Hermione is SO INTERESTING. I am VERY interested in Black Hermione.

ML: Rowling did say that nothing in the Harry Potter books ever gave any indication of Hermione’s race. Why do we just assume characters are white?

BL: It’s because there’s what Tony Ayres – 「The Family Law」’s executive producer – calls a default to white. It’s there in Hollywood; it’s definitely there in Australian TV. Which is to say, we see “white” as neutral. We don’t see Caucasian as a race. Which is why when most Australians watch 「Sunrise」 or 「Today」 or 「The Block」 – shows that are whiter than a Klan rally at a yacht club – we don’t bat an eyelid. Despite the fact that over a quarter of us have parents who were born overseas.

ML: I read this cool Rebecca Solnit piece the other day about literature and gender/privilege, called 「Men Explain ‘Lolita’ To Me」. It speaks specifically to the reading experiences of men and women, but I think it also applies to cultural diversity in TV and film:

“The rest of us get used to the transgendering and cross-racialising of our identities as we invest in protagonists like Ishmael or Dirty Harry or Holden Caulfield. But straight white men don’t, so much. I coined a term a while ago, ‘privelobliviousness’, to try to describe the way that being the advantaged one, the represented one, often means being the one who doesn’t need to be aware and, often, isn’t. Which is a form of loss in its own way.”

Maybe there’s a fear that white audiences will not be able to relate to protagonists who come from a minority background? Which I think is silly and patronising. Silly because people from minority backgrounds have been relating to white characters their entire viewing lives. And patronising because I think white viewers are interested in seeing characters from different cultural backgrounds.



BL: I was listening to this great interview with Meryl Streep and Terry Gross on NPR, and Streep was saying that how whenever men tell her they’re a fan of her work, they always – always – cite the same favourite character of theirs. And it’s always Miranda Priestly from 「The Devil Wears Prada」. And she thought, “Huh.” Is this because Miranda’s a boss and in a position of great authority and power?

Her theory – and I think she’s right – is that a lot of white men aren’t as used to having to empathise with people who aren’t them. Whereas if you’re a woman, if you’re from an ethnic minority, you’re constantly watching other people’s stories and putting yourself in their shoes. I don’t have any idea what it’s like to be Indigenous or trans or disabled, for instance, but when I hang out with people from those backgrounds, I do have some in-built shorthand and understanding of being seen as “other”. And it bonds us. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most people who ask questions like, “Will you write books that AREN’T about black people?” or “Why should white people watch this show about Asians?” are often... well, white dudes.



BL: Will this thing on Junkee just basically be us screaming in caps or are you going to edit them out? It’s a lot of caps.


BL: I like what Matchbox Pictures are doing. Because Debbie Lee and Tony Ayres – two of the executives and creative heads there – are Chinese-Australian, they’re totally working an agenda. 「Nowhere Boys」 has an Asian main character. 「The Family Law」 and 「Maximum Choppage」 are super Asian. And poofs are all through their work, like in 「Glitch」. They’re also making the first Australian Muslim rom-com, 「Ali’s Wedding」. You do have to make a concerted effort, or it doesn’t actually change.

ML: Let’s talk a bit about AGENDAS. I know we both started screenwriting by accident, but now that you’re balls-deep in the profession do you now have some kind of sexy political agenda?

BL: My aim is to be balls-deep in every Australian household.

ML: *kissing emoji*

BL: In the end, we just wanted to write a comedy about a marriage imploding, because of course that’s the funniest thing in the world for children. The specificities of their Chinese-ness is there (they eat congee, the dad manages a Chinese restaurant), but their Chinese-ness isn’t the plot. There’s a scene in Episode Six of 「The Family Law」 where a character’s race comes up, and it’s almost a shock because up until now, race hasn’t been an issue for anyone in the show, really. They talk about it, they joke about it, but it’s not a problem.

But you first. Do you have an MO? A secret mission statement? YOU CAN TELL YOUR BROTHER.

ML: Ummm. I guess I do! But it’s only an MO in that everything I do is an MO, because to be a young, Asian woman living in Australia is inherently political and that infiltrates my work.

BL: You are a Young Asian Woman In a World Gone Mad™. For me, I think I just want to do good work. And because I’m this Asian, gay minority-turducken, I just assume those sensibilities and perspectives will inform the work.

ML: That’s true. I think for me it’s often a conscious decision as well, though, because there’s a lack of female and minority protagonists. And I think about female-led creative teams a lot. (According to Screen Australia’s figures on women working in key creative roles in traditional film, women account for 32 percent of producers, 23 percent of writers and 16 percent of directors.)

BL: True, true. BE THE ASIAN SHONDA RHIMES YOU WERE BORN TO BE. 「The Family Law」 was proudly created by a team of women. The rest were card-carrying homosexuals. Tell me about the stuff you’re writing in 2016. And how much do you think they’re political when it comes to race?

ML: Mostly I’m going to be working on my play, 「Single Asian Female」. It’s a family drama about single, Asian women in the one family who are working in isolation from each other, and keeping secrets from each other. All of the leads will be Asian women, which I’m really excited about. What are you going to be focusing on?

BL: So 「The Family Law」 is going full steam ahead, obviously. We’re thinking about what another season would look like. And I’m working for Blackfella Films as a researcher on 「Deep Water」, a feature documentary for SBS about horrible gay hate crimes and murders that happened in Sydney between the ’70s and ’90s.

ML: SBS is making some good stuff. HAI, SBS!


ML: Do you feel that pressure to move overseas for screenwriting work? Also how do you feel about quotas?

BL: Nah, I actually feel we’re super lucky in Australia. For all the cultural cringe (which I find more embarrassing and tedious than anything to do with Australia’s actual culture), I think we’re making remarkable TV, plays, books and films. Although, Sharon Horgan – who co-created, co-stars and co-writes 「Catastrophe」 with Rob Delaney – did start following me on Instagram the other day, and I was like, “I LOVE YOU, SHARON, TAKE ME TO ENGLAND AND LET ME WRITE FOR YOU AND BE YOUR FRIEND FOREVER”. Quotas: all for them. Even if the concept gets people angry, then good. At least the discussion reminds them there’s a problem.

ML: Screen Australia recently launched their Gender Matters initiative for LADDEHS, and they’re launching their cultural diversity initiative soon. Part of the changes means that the gender and cultural diversity of a creative team is a consideration when applications are being assessed. Do you reckon it’s a good thing and do you think it’ll help?

BL: I am all for this. Obviously I’ve come into TV screenwriting in a really unusual way, but I do know that our screenwriting, directing and producing friends are often the only women or non-white people in the room. It’s fucking lonely! And as a viewer, it means show after show whose cast has no resemblance to my friendship group or a typical inner-city party. Canada, the US and UK have had diversity initiatives for years. It’s no accident that they’ve managed to represent their social make-up far more successfully than Australia has on TV and film.

ML: Why do you think Australia is so behind?

BL: Partly because Australia is actually so great at multiculturalism – by some measures, we’re even more multicultural than the US, UK and Canada – that our sense of fairness tips over to the point where we think quotas and diversity mechanisms aren’t needed. Which is to say, our egalitarianism can be our best and worst quality, sometimes. We’re not great at admitting there’s a problem, and we’re touchy about race.

The UK and US are different. Many UK broadcasters have targets for diversity, and if they don’t hit them, those executives don’t get a bonus. Many US networks have diversity officers, whose sole job it is to ensure practices like race-blind casting are in place. It’s why Anthony Brandon Wong – who plays our dad in 「The Family Law」 – finds himself auditioning for the same parts alongside Black, Hispanic and Caucasian actors in the US, something he says rarely happens here.

ML: Do you think somewhere down the pipeline in the writing and casting process, characters get white washed because there’s a fear there isn’t enough talented, culturally diverse actors? There’s a behind the scenes video of the casting agents for 「The Family Law」 discussing the challenge of casting a Chinese Australian family who spoke Cantonese, but THEY DID IT.

BL: I think people are lazy and scared of making the effort. We all knew from day one 「The Family Law」 was going to be insanely difficult to cast, but everyone was committed enough to think laterally to find these actors. And in the end, most of them had extensive acting training and experience already!

ML: The talent was there! We exist! #GiveAYellowAGo. That’s my latest catchphrase.

BL: You mean on Tinder?

ML: I think the tides are turning for both culturally diverse productions AND Tinder. Just yesterday I saw like EIGHT mixed race couples where the dude was Asian. That NEVER happens. And then you’ve got shows like 「Maximum Choppage」, 「Redfern Now」, 「Black Comedy」 and 「The Family Law」.

BL: I fucking LOVE Black Comedy so much.


BL: It is telling how we have to market shows like these, though. 「Black Comedy」’s tagline is, “A sketch comedy show by Blackfellas... for everyone”. Which should be self-evident. But I think if you don’t push that line, people will see it and think, “Well I’m not the audience for a show with a majority-Indigenous cast”.

And in discussing 「The Family Law」, as cool as it is that the cast is 90 percent Asian-Australian, I do find myself emphasising that it’s also for anyone who’s ever been embarrassed by their family, or anyone from a big family, or an inappropriate family, or anyone who’s experienced a marriage break-up. It’s silly, I know. I may as well say, “THIS IS A SHOW FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEGS. BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE LEGS, YOU’LL STILL GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT!”

ML: But it doesn’t give you the shits when people point out it’s got Asians in it, right? It’s very exciting! We’re not eating dogs in it! At least not in this season.

BL: You do know Dad ate a dog once in China, right?

ML: Yeah, but we’ve eaten turtle soup...

BL: Yep, Season Two kicks off with everyone eating dogs and being drug lords and prostitutes. It’s going to be very edgy.


BL: I don’t want to talk about the turtle today, Michelle.

「The Family Law」 premieres tonight from 5pm on Facebook, and at 8:30pm on Thursday, January 14 on SBS.

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter. He is the author of two books –『The Family Law』(2010) and『Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East』(2012) – and the co-author of the comedy book『Shit Asian Mothers Say』(2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to『Good Weekend』(『The Sydney Morning Herald』/『The Age』),『frankie』and『The Monthly』, and has also written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide.

Michelle Law is a Brisbane writer whose work has appeared in『Women of Letters』,『Growing up Asian in Australia』,『Destroying the Joint』and many Australian literary journals. She is an AWGIE award-winning screenwriter whose films have screened internationally and on the ABC. In 2014 she co-authored the comedy book『Shit Asian Mothers Say』. Michelle is currently working on her first stage play with La Boite Theatre, and is part of the Playwriting Australia Lotus First Draft group of playwrights, a program supporting Asian Australian writers.

Feature image by Tammy Law.

「The Family Law」
Official Website: http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/the-family-law

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