E. Alex Jung 「In ‘Spa Night,’ the Sauna Plays an Integral Role in the Gay Korean-American Identity」

Posted on August 25, 2016 commentaires

For many Korean-Americans, the sauna is a familiar place. It’s where you first went with your parents, where you got hot in the jacuzzi and then cold in the cold bath, and felt the burn of the rough washcloth that sloughed off a layer of skin and that left you red, raw, and new again. In director Andrew Ahn’s 「Spa Night」, a coming-of-age tale of a gay Korean-American teenager in Los Angeles, that space takes on another meaning. The spa is also a place where, with just a glance, “moments can slide from cultural to erotic,” Ahn tells me over lunch. Cruising takes on an ephemeral, almost melancholic tone, with the showers saturated in soft, electric blues. “I’ve talked about the cruising sequences as ghost stories,” Ahn says. Men come in and out; you may see them again, but likely you won’t. “It’s what makes it kind of sexy. It’s also what makes it daring and adventurous.”

To watch 「Spa Night」, currently playing at the Metrograph theater in New York, is to be fully immersed in L.A.’s Koreatown. The film stars Joe Seo as David Cho, an 18-year-old Korean-American whose parents, played by Korean actors Youn Ho Cho and Haerry Kim, manage a small restaurant. David is a good kid, but in many ways he’s being set up to fail: at the SATs, at attending college, and within his place in the heterosexual family unit. And so too, are his parents: Their small family restaurant is floundering, and there’s intense parental guilt over not providing enough for their only child. David picks up the night shift at a Korean spa as a way to earn some money, but really as a way to explore his sexuality.

Theoretically, the spa is where David’s identities as both a gay man and a Korean-American can join together, but it’s also there that they conflict. He’s a part of both worlds – the gay, cruising one, and the familial Korean one – and neither. “If you go to a Korean spa, if you’re not Korean, people kind of assume that you’re gay and there to hook up,” says Ahn, who discovered that K-town saunas were used as cruising zones for gay men later in his adulthood. “But then if you are Korean, people assume that you’re not gay, so for David, who’s both gay and Korean, what is that experience like?”

In the end, David does hook up with someone: another Korean-American guy, a decision that Ahn says is a logical extension of the idea that what David is looking for is much more than just sex. “I decided that the guy that David ultimately hooks up with should be Korean because there’s something beyond just the physical attraction,” Ahn says. “David’s sexual exploration was ultimately going to lead to not just physical desire, but a gay identity, wanting to have a community.”

Remarkable to some, David’s desire is unconcerned with whiteness. “It’s really fascinating to me, especially with some gay press, people are asking, ’Oh, can you talk about how the gay community is racist towards gay Asian-Americans?’” Ahn says. “I can talk about that, but the movie doesn’t have anything to do with it and that to me is kind of the point.”

In an attempt to make the movie more conventionally legible, a potential producer suggested that Ahn write in a white surrogate. “They were just asking, will you write a [new] character? Could there be a white love interest? Any opportunity for a bigger actor?” Ahn says. “They wanted a vehicle. They wanted Piper [the white lead character in 「Orange Is the New Black」]. They wanted Ewan McGregor for Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis movie.” What Hollywood producers saw as a savvy business decision, Ahn didn’t see in his film, which he always intended would have an entirely Korean-American lead cast and dialogue in both English and Korean.

“It’s trying to define a true and authentic queer Korean-American identity without having to talk about whiteness,” says Ahn. “Is there a way to do that? For me, it’s a film like 「Spa Night」, it’s nights like Gameboi at Rage in West Hollywood. There’s an authentic Asian-American queer culture. I could have made a film that talks about what it means to be a gay Asian-American man in a very predominantly white gay culture, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.” Instead, what Ahn has created is another possibility for gay Korean-Americans: an origin story, one that, with some struggle, allows them to emerge renewed and rejuvenated. Just like at the spa.

Author: Emily Manning/Date: August 25, 2016/Source: http://www.vulture.com/2016/08/spa-night-and-the-gay-korean-american-identity.html

E. Alex Jung
Twitter: https://twitter.com/e_alexjung

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Joe Morgan 「‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’’s leading man Vincent Rodriguez III reveals he has a husband」

Posted on August 23, 2016 commentaires
Congratulations Vincent Rodriguez III!

「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」’s leading man Vincent Rodriguez III has revealed he has a husband.

Credited with pioneering romantic roles for Asian-American men on TV, he plays lead character Rebecca Bunch’s love interest Josh Chan on the show.

The 34-year-old actor took to Instagram to share a photo collage of himself and husband Gregory Wright celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary at Disneyland.

‘What better way to celebrate your one year wedding anniversary than going to Disneyland for the weekend?! Plus, we had to go back to the exact place I proposed to him, on Disney’s California Screamin’ ride. Love you babe!’ Vincent said.

A talented singer, dancer, and kung fu expert, Vincent has become a breakthrough star on 「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」.

And he’s not bad looking either. Take a look at a few of his best Instagram shots.

The CW show, a twisted musical romantic comedy about love and mental illness, won star Rachel Bloom a Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award earlier this year. It has been hailed for its portrayal of LGBTI characters and celebrated for the same-sex relationship between a bisexual guy and a gay man.

「Crazy Ex-Girlfriend」 season two will air on the CW on 21 August. Season one is available on Netflix and iTunes.

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Rich Juzwiak 「Scrubbing the Myth of the Asexual Gay Asian Man, Frame by Frame: Andrew Ahn on Spa Night」

Posted on August 19, 2016 commentaires

Culture is conflict in Andrew Ahn’s debut feature, 「Spa Night」. Protagonist David (Joe Seo), who, like Ahn himself, is the son of parents who emigrated from Korea, awakens sexually in the Korean spas in Los Angeles that he frequents with his family and friends. Meanwhile, his family’s expectation that he’ll settle down with a nice Korean girl (and furthermore, their financial dependency on him) pull him away from immediate acceptance of his sexuality. Ahn’s film is as muted and meditative as it is sexually frank – this movie is as much about tenuous family bonds as it is public cruising.

Not only is 「Spa Night」 well-acted and economically written, it strikes me as a crucial piece of gay culture for providing what is lacking: the depiction of a gay Asian man as a sexual being with desires and agency. Yesterday (as the professional world around me crumbled, as luck would have it), Ahn visited the Gawker office to discuss his film, the polarity of culture, and the politics of expressing gay sexuality in this context. I found him to be as frank and sharp as his film. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation is below.

Jezebel: I thought this movie was hot.

Andrew Ahn: Good, I’m glad.

That was part of the idea, right?

Yeah. I had made some shorts before that were very much about repressed Korean Americans and I kinda wanted to do something where I showed what being gay means, which a big part of that is wanting to have sex with men (laughs). I wanted to deal with that in a more explicit way.

Is that political for you?

It’s political in that I’m trying to force an audience to understand a human being and see a perspective on race and class and sexuality that a lot of people don’t often see. So in that kind of human way, it is. In terms of any specific agenda, I wouldn’t say it’s super overt.

Diverse representation within gay pop culture is dire, but even the strides that have been made typically don’t include Asian men. There’s [an upcoming show that I think I signed an NDA for so I’m not going to spill here] that includes a clearly self-consciously diverse cast of gay men. An Asian is not among them. Your movie is an antidote to that.

We saw it with 「Looking」, too. That was kind of shocking to the gay Asian community because there are so many gay Asian boys in San Francisco. How could there not be one character? I think a lot of it has to do with this stereotype of “No Asians” on all the apps. There was that drag queen on 「RuPaul’s Drag Race」, Kim Chi, who said, “No fats, no fems, no Asians,” is something he’s heard a lot. With 「Spa Night」, I wanted to show desire, that this character has sexual wants and is not just an asexual or a sexual object. He can objectify men. I think that’s an agency.

Have you dealt with that racism from other gay men?

In strange ways. I’ve kind of protected myself by surrounding myself with a group of gay Asian friends. There was a night in West Hollywood called GAMeBoi that was really big in the formation of my gay identity. It was every Friday night, 18-and-up gay Asian boys – that really was great. I really have been in situations where I’ve gone out on dates with white guys and I’m always wondering am I being fetishized. You look at their dating history and you find out they’ve only dated Asian men and you feel like you’re not being liked for who you are, you’re being liked because you’re Asian.

That’s a fine line to negotiate, though. As a white guy, I realize it’s easy for me to say this, and a dating situation is different, but in a hook-up situation, you better fetishize me. You better appreciate and worship what I have and am.

I think it goes back a little bit to what I was saying before: [「Spa Night」 protagonist] David can objectify men. He has the power to objectify men. There’s something about sex that for me in some ways... if you get to know a human being, sometimes it’s too complex to have sex with him. It’s overwhelming, it’s intimidating. There’s this thing about anonymous hook-ups that because this person means nothing to you that makes it sexier and hotter. In some ways, in 「Spa Night」, that’s the safety David has, this anonymity, this not having to know people that allows him to slowly but surely explore his sexuality.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that you show David’s dick and that it’s a nice dick, too. Was that a pointed refutation of the stereotype of the small Asian penis?

Kind of. For me, it was like, it’s this question of getting to know your body. There was this moment while we were shooting that scene where it was like, “You’re gonna take this picture, you’re fluffing yourself – you want to look good.” It’s sexy, but also kind of hilarious to me because he zooms in on it to check it out and make it bigger [on the screen]. It wasn’t specifically like, “We need to show the biggest cock on an Asian guy,” it was more like, “We’re gonna show a cock on an Asian guy.” Whether it’s huge or small, it’s this guy getting to know his body and feeling good about it.

It’s bizarre to me that those kind of stereotypes exist. They come from pure ignorance. Having sex with Asian guys is all it takes to refute those stereotypes, just like that.

It’s an unknowing. I think it’s also easy in the game of love and sex to put down other people to make yourself feel better. If one person starts saying it, and it feels OK to say, then other people will start saying it. To combat that, it’s really just about drowning out that kind of negativity, that kind of dehumanizing sentiment.

The movie is rife with male nudity otherwise, and it didn’t have to be. Was that a pointed statement on your part as well?

Whenever I wanted to show the spa as a cultural space, I wanted to see a lot. It didn’t make sense to have an artfully placed shampoo bottle. It would look so dumb. But then I told myself that as the scenes got more erotic, you’d see less and less and less and it was more about this feeling of sexual tension as opposed to showing it, which can be really difficult. I remember watching 「Blue Is the Warmest Color」 and 「Stranger By the Lake」, and you see these very explicit sex scenes and it kind of throws you out of the movie. I knew for this we had to be really in David’s head, so I wanted to find the right visual strategy for those scenes. It is really interesting, though to me. The reason I was fascinated by Korean spas is because in one instance it would feel really normal, and then it would very easily slip into something that’s very sexual. It would be such a quick transition.

In your own experience?

In my own experience. It was fascinating seeing how nudity is played with in spas. There are certain spas in Korea Town that are known for their cruisiness, and the guys are actually often wearing towels. If you’re totally naked, the game is up. You’ve got to use your nudity as a strategy, and then you see the Korean dudes who are just there to bathe themselves and they’re just naked and it doesn’t matter. I realized very quickly that there was this culture and this strategy in gay cruising that was beyond, “We both happen to be here.” It was about things people planned on and wanted and looked for. That’s when I was like, “Oh, it’s a culture.” It fascinated me and made me want to make the movie even more.

Given the space spas occupy in Korean culture, it seems daring of you to portray this side of them.

Korean spas are super traditional cultural spaces. It’s very family-oriented. You often go with kids. I went with my dad when I was a kid. We’d go every New Year’s to get clean for the upcoming year, so to find out that it’s being used as a space for gay cruising was totally shocking to me. But even in Korea, it’s something that I know happens. Whenever you get naked men together, there’s bound to be something. Korean spas are social spaces. It’s going to slip into the sexual very easily. There’s something about David in the film where he’s allowed to be in that space because he’s Korean but when he finds out this is happening, he can be close to it. It’s not like a gay bathhouse where if you go, people know why you’re there.

And you are admitting to yourself...

...Why you’re there. You have to. If you go to a spa, you can have the cover of, “I’m just here to relax,” or, “I’m just here to get a scrub.” It’s a great place for closetedness. In some ways that’s what makes it riskier and sexier for some men.

Have you gotten any pushback from Koreans, though?

I’m waiting for it. I’ll say that so far we’ve screened in festivals and festival audiences are pretty generous. They’re there because they want to see the movie. But I’m expecting it and I feel like I’m prepared for it. The film is made in a way that I feel like even people who are homophobic could watch it and feel some sort of sympathy for that character. I dare someone to judge David in this movie for feeling conflicted.

Was your coming out process at all like David’s? I mean, I guess he doesn’t actually come out.

The most he does in the film is come out to himself. There’s a transition he makes from gay desire to gay identity and it’s kind of a small thing, but for me, it’s kind of like when he asks that guy at the end, “Are you Korean?” and then tries to kiss him. It becomes more than a physical exploit. Yeah, the first couple of times I hooked up with guys, I still wouldn’t have said out loud, “I’m gay.” There’s this kind of catch up that your brain has to do to your body. Your body moves first and then you follow. In that way, I felt really in line with David. And then with his family, too, it’s like, I remember thinking after I came out to myself, the first people I wanted to tell were my parents. I felt like I owed it to them, and I was afraid they’d hear some other way. That’s a lot of what’s going through David’s head, this consideration of his family in his gay identity. It’s a lot of pressure. I ultimately went to a coming-out support group. I found a group of gay friends and you kind of find your chosen family and then that gives you the confidence and ability to tell your family. It was a long process for me. I didn’t come out until I was 25.

What do your parents think of the movie?

It’s weird. They knew what it was about. I remember telling them about the film when I was writing the screenplay. My mom was really silent and she was just like, “You know, for your next movie, you can make an action film or a comedy...” She didn’t stop me, which I took as a positive sign. They came to see the film at Sundance, and I think they were pleasantly surprised in that I bet their worst nightmare was that it was going to be like a gay porn. But instead it’s this very tender portrait of this Korean immigrant family that they could connect to a lot. I think that the applause at Sundance and the reception of the film was so great that they felt comforted. It was funny, after the movie, my mom came up to me and she was just like, “You’re so lucky you found [lead actor] Joe. He’s so great.” And then she would be like, “Your producers were wonderful.” “It looks wonderful,” but she never said anything about me (laughs). And that’s fine. That’s good enough.

Given its subject matter and explicitness, did you have trouble finding distribution for 「Spa Night」?

I think we were really lucky for our domestic market. Marcus Hu at Strand is amazing and a champion for gay voices, Asian-American voices. He’s a queer man of color, himself. I felt really fortunate there. Internationally, we’ve had some awkwardness. We were told that a German distributor really loved the movie, but that he couldn’t buy it because German men don’t think Asian men are sexy. (Laughing) Literally, that was the statement. I was kind of shocked and so annoyed with it that I just kind of had to forget about it. It was trying to hide racism within business. “It’s not good for this market.” I find that 1) often untrue, and 2) really reductive.

And how are we supposed to combat racism, if not with examples that refute it?

That’s the thing about film, it’s this awkward balance between art and commerce. And feeling like if you only make decisions based on business that you’re not doing any justice to the art of the films and what they’re doing and what they can accomplish.

You’re just pandering.

You’re just pandering. You’re just making what you think people want. And then what happens is you’re only reacting. You’re never pushing, you’re never gonna be first. I think that’s an attitude that causes social stagnation. Things will always be the status quo. So if you want film to be this vehicle for social change, you need distribution companies, you need production companies, you need studios to believe in that and to go for it and to take risks. I knew that with 「Spa Night」 it was going to be difficult, but it’s exceeded expectations in many ways.

Do you feel pressure, being one of the lone gay Asian voices in American culture, now?

I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, but there is responsibility. I have friends and I know of other filmmakers and actors of color that say, “I just want to be able to make my work.” And I agree, that’s something I strive for, but where we are in society now, if you don’t try and push society, if you don’t have some sort of responsibility to the communities that you’re a part of, then you’re kind of letting us down. In my bio, I say, “Andrew Ahn is a gay Korean-American filmmaker.” And people were like, “Oh, just take that out. Just say you’re a filmmaker.” And I was like, “No, I’m gonna keep saying these things until I don’t have to.” But for now, I think it’s really important. People say, “Your movie’s not just a gay movie.” I’m like, “But it is a gay movie.” I want that to be clear. I want it to be on Netflix under “gay films,” because 1) it’s how people can find it, and 2) it can push the genre to mean more.

If I have the privilege to be out and gay, then I’m gonna be really out and gay about it. It’s kind of wanting to help our community do the work.

「Spa Night」 opens at New York’s Metrograph theater today.

Rich Juzwiak
@richjuz Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.

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Yuri 유리 × Seohyun 서현 「Secret」


Yuri × Seohyun 「Secret」 - released on August 19, 2016.

Yuri et Seohyun sont de corvée dance 😕
Ne soyez pas surpris de la ringardise du résultat, de l'abus de hair whips, de cette ambiance de publicité pour shampoing, car il s'agit bel et bien d'une collaboration avec Pantene ! Décidemment les SNSD sont des machines à contrats publicitaires. Pourquoi pas si c'est réussi (genre 「Find Your Soul」, la chanson pour le jeu 「Blade & Soul」, c'était bien ça), mais là, rien à faire, c'est loupé !

Seohyun & Yuri 「PANTENE × 少女時代」

LOL... On adore !

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Anna Menta 「Hayley Kiyoko On Her Hit ‘Girls Like Girls’ And Queer Representation In Music」

Posted on August 18, 2016 commentaires

Growing up, Hayley Kiyoko didn’t see anybody quite like herself in the music world.

So instead of trying to be somebody she’s not, she just started telling her own stories.

You might know the 25-year-old musician from her song 「Girls Like Girls」 off her EP『This Side of Paradise』.

The video, co-directed by Austin S. Winchell and Hayley herself, features two young girls who are clearly into each other and one straight guy who gets super abusive about it.

Spoiler: The dude ends up dead (or seriously injured, at least), and the girl gets the girl. It’s incredibly sweet, for a murder.

The video blew up on Tumblr and now has nearly 45 million views. It’s not every day young queer girls get to see themselves in a love story AND a revenge murder story, so it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular.

Recently, Hayley sat down for an interview with Elite Daily, and I asked her about that: Was there anyone she was able to see herself in, growing up?

She said not really, unfortunately. Hayley revealed,

I think the reason I’m just continuing to tell my story is because I didn’t really have that growing up. I never really had someone that I could 100 percent relate to. It was difficult, to never have that.

Hayley is not shy about her sexuality. Her newest music video starring herself, 「Gravel To Tempo」, is based on all the crushes she had on girls in high school.

She said,

In high school, if you have a crush on someone and they don’t like you back, you feel ugly. You don’t feel capable of being loved. I really wanted to pay this homage to this time in my life.

The LGBT community on Tumblr has so far been just as thrilled with this music video as they were with 「Girls Like Girls」.

“They call me the queen of the gays,” Hayley laughed. “I really didn’t expect myself to become that.”

But Hayley, who is half Japanese, assured me she is thrilled to be a role model for both queer and Asian fans.

She said,

There’s not a lot of Asian pop stars... I’m happy to brave and put my story out there, if I know that it will help younger generations. I hope that my music can help the younger generation gain confidence earlier on, so that they can enjoy their lives more.

This weekend, Hayley is taking her music career to the next level and performing at the Billboard Hot 100 Fest – her very first music festival.

As a longtime festival-goer herself, Hayley said she is extremely excited to finally be on the performing end. She said,

I’m honored to be a part of it... I was like OG Coachella. Now it’s normal for 13-year-olds to go to Coachella, but I went when I was 13 and it was still only one day. Coldplay was headlining.

She said it was an amazing experience that left a lasting impression on her, revealing,

I went eight years in a row, and then I stopped going. Now I think the next time I go, I have to be performing.

When I told her I thought she wasn’t far off from that goal, she laughed and said,

Thank you for the positive vibes.

Hayley Kiyoko performs at Billboard Hot 100 Fest this Saturday, August 20, at 5:45 pm. Tickets for the festival are available for purchase here.

Anna Menta is a Entertainment Writer at Elite Daily. Previously she has been a BuzzFeed Editorial Fellow, and an annoying film student at Oberlin College. She apologizes if she says something weird to you. Follow her on Twitter @annalikestweets

Author: Anna Menta/Date: August 18, 2016/Source: http://elitedaily.com/entertainment/hayley-kiyoko-billboard-festival/1584875/

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Pauline Park 「‘Front Cover’ & gay Asian identity: a love story of a very different kind」

Posted on August 16, 2016 commentaires

「Front Cover」 Trailer 2 - posted on June 21, 2016.

「Front Cover」 is a love story of a very different kind. Depictions of complex LGBT or Asian characters in film is unusual and depictions of LGBT/queer Asians and Asian Americans is rare; even rarer is the depiction of a romantic relationship between two Asian men who are fully realized complex characters. Ray Yeung’s new film represents a real breakthrough, the most complex and compelling gay Asian love story that I’ve seen on the screen since Stephen Frears portrayed a torrid romance between a white working class Londoner and the son of Pakistani immigrants in 「My Beautiful Laundrette」. Rather like the 1985 Frears film, 「Front Cover」 looks at the complexities of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation; but unlike 「Laundrette」, which brings a white working class British bloke into the world of a prosperous Pakistani immigrant family, Yeung’s film depicts a romantic entanglement between two gay Asian men. Jake Choi is Ryan Fu, an out-and-proud gay Chinese American New Yorker who is deeply ashamed of his Chinese heritage; and James Chen plays Qi Xiao Ning, a closet queen from Beijing who is intensely proud of being Chinese; both actors effectively bring these complex characters vividly to life. Ryan is assigned to ‘style’ the famous Chinese actor for an important photo shoot by his neurotic, high-strung and culturally insensitive Italian boss, Francesca, played with aplomb by the Italian actress Sonia Villani. After an explosive confrontation between Ryan and Ning, they agree to try to work together on the photo shoot, in the course of which a blow-up with the racially insensitive photographer and his assistant bring Ning and Ryan together for the first time. Young then introduces Ryan’s immigrant Chinese parents: Elizabeth Sung as Ryan’s mother Yen gives the stand-out performance among the secondary characters; she and Ming Lee as Ba (Ryan’s father) are both the comic relief in 「Front Cover」 and the source of some of the most poignant moments in it. A sizzling sex scene follows the trip to see Ryan’s grandmother on Staten Island, succeeded by tender romantic moments that are the calm before the next storm, when Ning discovers that a Chinese magazine has published photos of Ryan and Ning together that could destroy his acting career in China unless Ryan publicly denies the very true report that the two are romantically involved. In less skilled hands, this scenario could easily have gone off the rails, but Ray Yeung’s superb script, plotting and direction lead to a realistic and credible resolution to the conflict which is as much an internal one for Ryan as an external one with Ning.

While 「Front Cover」 dramatizes what theorists might call ‘multiple oppressions’ through what is effectively an intersectional lens, the film is anything but a dry treatise on intersectionality or an exercise in preachy moralizing about racism or homophobia, as Ray Yeung brings this story alive, animating richly complex characters and conflicts with a nuance and subtlety rare in treatments of gay Asian lives. Part of the reason for the success of this film is that it is informed by Ray Yeung’s lived experience as an openly gay Chinese man from Hong Kong. To that extent, 「Front Cover」 stands in stark contrast with stereotypical depictions of Asian and Asian American men as buck-toothed coolies and subservient laundrymen or their latter-day successor, the dorky sexless Asian computer nerd who never gets the girl, much less the boy. In the course of the film, the proudly Chinese closet queen and the potato queen running away from his Chinese heritage both learn from each other what neither on his own had been able to figure out about himself or the world before their explosive encounter.

The Reel Affirmations film festival will screen 「Front Cover」 at tat the HRC Equality Center (1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW) in Washington, D.C. at 7 and 9 p.m. on August 19. For more info. about the film, go to FrontCoverthemovie.com.

This review was published by the『Washington Blade』as 「Unlikely gaysian romance」 (8.19.16).

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Gilles William Goldnadel 「Violence anti-asiatique : où sont passés les antiracistes ?」

Posted on August 15, 2016 commentaires
FIGAROVOX/HUMEUR - Dimanche 14 août à Aubervilliers, plusieurs milliers de personnes, dénonçant une violence anti-asiatique, ont rendu hommage à Zhang Chaolin, mort vendredi à la suite d'une agression dans la rue. Gilles-William Goldnadel s'étonne du silence des associations antiracistes.

Il est des dénis qui passent de plus en plus mal. Des dénis à présent difficiles à nier. Des dénis plus faciles à dénoncer. Et à démonter.

Il en est ainsi de la discrétion avec laquelle l'antiracisme subventionné traite le sort funeste de la communauté chinoise de Paris et de sa banlieue.

Il ne se passe plus un jour, sans que l'un de ses membres ne soit agressé par ce que l'on nomme génériquement « la racaille » lorsque la délinquance est issue de l'immigration.

La presse commence, enfin et un peu, à s'y intéresser. La chaîne de télévision M6 dans son excellent magazine 「66 minutes」 révèle qu'on recense chaque jour une vingtaine d'agressions de chinois dans la région parisienne.

Le 9 août,『le Parisien』consacrait un article dans lequel il était relaté qu'une bande de délinquants avait fait de ces attaques ciblées sa spécialité. L'un des courageux malfrats expliquait qu'il s'agissait « de cibles faciles »

Plus dramatique encore,『le Figaro』révélait le 13 août qu'un ouvrier chinois d'Aubervilliers âgé de 49 ans était mort cinq jours après avoir été violemment agressé par trois hommes dans une rue de cette ville de Seine-Saint-Denis.

Le maire communiste d'Aubervilliers reconnaissait un racisme ciblé.

Et pourtant, les organisations prétendument antiracistes subventionnées sont demeurées aux abonnés absents. Elles n'ont pas estimé devoir organiser de bruyants rassemblements. Aucun mouvement #Yellowlivesmatter à l'horizon lointain. Et le nom du cuisinier assassiné, Zeng Chaolin, demeurera quasi anonyme. Ni Traore, ni Oussekine.

La presse hexagonale n'en fait pas non plus bien grand cas. Un imam assassiné à des milliers de kilomètres aux États-Unis, pour des raisons encore inconnues l'intéresse davantage.

Pourtant, dans cette affaire, pas de spéculation intellectuelle à attendre ou à redouter. Il ne s'agissait pas d'un délinquant en délicatesse avec la police, fuyant un contrôle ou à l'intérieur d'une manifestation illégale et violente.

Rien de tout cela. Une agression délibérée. Ciblée et pour voler.

Comme je l'écrivais la semaine dernière : trop simple et indiscutable pour intéresser un monde médiatique idéologique précisément séduit par la spéculation polémique.

Il n'y aura pas non plus d'émeutes ou d'échauffourées. Pas le genre de notre communauté asiatique délibérément agressée. Une partie de l'explication de l'apathie médiatique habite sans doute dans cette non-violence qui passe à tort pour de la résignation.

Mais les plus profondes causes sont ailleurs et commencent à émerger. Ainsi, SOS-Racisme préfère toujours traquer l'islamophobie... après les massacres islamistes. Et la Ligue des Droits de l'Homme débusquer en vain judiciairement du racisme sous le burkini.

Comprenez bien : les dénis oui-oui professionnels ne peuvent s'intéresser au racisme supposé – quand il n'est pas espéré – que lorsqu'il émane de l'homme occidental détesté. Le seul racisme qu'ils peuvent même concevoir dans leur esprit littéralement borné. Raison pourquoi, le racisme anti blanc ou anti-chrétien a été longtemps nié et l'antisémitisme violent d'origine islamique pendant des années, obstinément occulté. Il en sera donc de même pour ce racisme anti-asiatique très spécifique.

Dans un ordre d'idées très voisin, le même déni existe dans la manière dont le CIO – ou les médias – refuse de sévir lorsque des athlètes concourent voilées ou qu'un judoka islamique refuse de serrer la main de son adversaire judaïque à raison de sa nationalité et en violation flagrante de la lettre et de l'esprit des charte et règlement olympiques.

Il en est de même lorsque nos ministres de l'intérieur et du logement, dans un communiqué du 1er août révélée par le Figarovox occultent le caractère délibérément illégal de la présence forcée d'immigrants sans-papiers sur le territoire de la république et décident de l'organiser. Certes, cela ne changera strictement rien à la triste situation existante. Mais lorsque les thuriféraires vibrionnant de l'État de droit mythique descendent encore d'un barreau, l'échelle de la résignation et de la soumission, le déni de la loi n'est pas loin du délit.

C'est donc dans ce contexte de négation de la réalité, que notre France Culture, a posé le 13 du mois cette question inspirée : « la société française bascule-t-elle à l'extrême droite ?» J'ai évidemment trop de respect obséquieux pour notre radio nationale de service public pour oser lui demander si elle n'avait pas par hasard obliqué de la gauche vers son extrême. Il faut dire que cette thématique orientée de notre antenne radiophonique n'a fait que reprendre l'antienne socialiste que cette semaine a entonné désespérément M. Cambadélis.

Celui-ci a en effet reproché à Nicolas Sarkozy de « tutoyer » de plus en plus le Front National. De la part d'un ancien trotskiste à tu et à toi avec les communistes, en ce compris électoralement, la grosse ficelle est usée jusqu'à la corde avec laquelle les antifascistes et antiracistes d'opérette pourront bientôt se pendre.

Car oui, le dévoilement de la réalité est aujourd'hui tel, que les dénis oui -oui peuvent à présent être démasqués sans que ceux qui les démasquent se retrouvent expédiés dans un goulag moral.

N'en déplaise à tous les antiracistes subventionnés, à la gauche morale démoralisée et à toutes les radios actives cultivées.

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John Paul Stadler 「Critical Bottoming: Repositioning Male Effeminacy and its Racialization」

Nguyen Tan Hoang.『A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation』. Duke University Press, 2014. 287 pp.

The figure of the gay, Asian bottom is often misunderstood. His racial, gender, and sexual identities are typically conflated and maligned for being too submissive and effeminate. This, at least, is the opening contention of Nguyen Tan Hoang’s『A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation』. Opposite this caricature, Nguyen offers a recuperative reading of the figure of the gay Asian bottom1. In this monograph, part of Duke University Press’s Perverse Modernities series, Nguyen develops the idea of “critical bottoming” in order to upend the sedentary meaning of this figure’s markers. In the process, Nguyen’s book offers an intersectional approach to the complex relations of gender and race through the axes of sexual representation and practice.

In his first chapter, 「The Rise, and Fall, of a Gay Asian American Porn Star」, Nguyen presents a case study of the first gay Asian porn star in an American context, Brandon Lee2. Lee’s rise to fame, Nguyen argues, derives from his assimilationist presentation, ‘large endowment,’ and exclusive role as the top in his porn videos. Nguyen provocatively suggests that Lee’s fame was made possible because it rebuked the negative associations Asian men had accrued throughout the late twentieth century. However, the pornography Lee appears in also problematically presumes a viewing subject who is always interpellated as a white gay male. Nguyen’s essay version of this chapter resolved this interpellation by calling for a counterpornography to attend to the Asian immigrant as a desiring subject (252), but since then, Brandon Lee’s growing porn career has necessitated an expanded analysis. Not only has Lee come to bottom, but his newer films feature him as an egotistical diva and as villain, replete with exaggerated Asian dialect (practices that Nguyen calls “yellow yellowface”)3. Nguyen develops the concept of an “accented pornography” to understand what might otherwise be dismissed as racist gestures; in his account, accented pornography self-reflexively makes the gay Asian male immigrant-subject central to the pornographic fantasy scenarios (61- 69)4. Furthermore, accented pornography ironizes and critiques Asian stereotypes by exploiting power differentials, which, for Nguyen, results in an unsettling of their rigidity (69).

In 「Reflections on an Asian Bottom」, Nguyen turns to Hollywood and the pre-Stonewall film 「Reflections in a Golden Eye」 (1967) to unpack the associations between Asian and anus, and in the process, the desirability of effeminacy. This second chapter hinges upon the minor character Anacleto, an effeminate Filipino houseboy, whose affective bond with his lady of the house, over-the-top sissyness, and premature departure from the film have left him overlooked by most film criticism. However, Nguyen argues that it is precisely through coming to terms with Anacleto’s pronounced gender inversion that the protagonist, Penderton, fatefully decides to pursue his own homoerotic desire. In effect, Anacleto’s retreat from the film reorients the film’s trajectory. Chapter two broadens our understanding of the bottom beyond the sexual act and moves us into the realms of aesthetics, narratology, and affect. Additionally, Nguyen clarifies the stakes of his argument by way of Vito Russo’s seminal text 「The Celluloid Closet」, wherein Russo dismisses Anacleto as a regressive portrait of a gay man in the sexological tradition of the invert (73-74). The progressive post-Stonewall politics of gay liberation through greater visibility coincided with an intensification of butch masculinity, a masculinity Anacleto refused (79-80). Nguyen shows how once he disappears from the film, Anacleto’s affects haunt us through what he calls an “anal vision” that Penderton adopts. This form of vision offers an alternative to film theory’s notion of the male gaze that penetrates and masters objects but rather gives itself over to reflection and distraction. Aligning the titular “golden eye” to Anacleto, which then reflects upon Penderton, this “anal vision” names a passive way of seeing that honors desperation, hysteria, and vulnerability over modes of objectification more entrenched in stereotypical masculinity (104).

Chapter three, 「The Lover’s ‘Gorgeous Ass’」, develops an extended analysis of the 1992 film 「The Lover」, which tells the tale of a wealthy Chinese heir’s torrid romance with a young French girl in 1929 Saigon. Here Nguyen argues that “soft” masculinity is conferred upon and naturalized across Asian male sexual representation, queering even heterosexual men. In terms of production and filmic diegesis, this chapter moves outside of the explicit American idiom and into a French colonial era of Vietnam, but Nguyen reads its reception from within an American context to see how transnational circulations of Asian masculinity operate. Chapter three argues that the spectacularization of the male lead’s uncovered buttocks (that “gorgeous ass”) throughout the film operates as a fetish object for his unseen penis, but also as a site of vulnerability. Tracing the systemic logic of cinema’s emphasis on the male derriere, Nguyen parses distinctions in this substitution through a contrast with the fetishization of black men’s rear ends and penises (142-144). In contrast, the Asian men appear only to have butts. Chapter three compellingly interrogates interracial desire’s complicated relationship to colonial contexts and its navigation of racial and sexual shame, a concern Nguyen follows for the remainder of the monograph.

In the fourth chapter, 「The Politics of Starch」, Nguyen engages further into the politics of interracial desire by restaging a debate between two camps of filmmaking: Asian diasporic documentaries on the one hand and queer experimental videos on the other. In the first camp, Nguyen argues that, in response to pornographic representations of Asian men in the 1990s, many documentary films undertook a project of “reeducating” gay Asian men’s desire, advocating against the objectification of Asian men in interracial pairings by instead promoting “sticky rice” (Asian-Asian) relationships (155)5. He complicates this position by presenting a group of queer experimental videographers who foregrounded the subjugating pleasures of bottoming, which he reads as a rebuke to the disciplinary call to intra-Asian desire. These experimental queer videos also question the previous camp’s privileging of “sticky rice” by enumerating a vast array of determinants that also inform the politics of desire. Ultimately, Nguyen cautions against universalizing progress narratives that saturate minoritarian politics, specifically trajectories from “shame to pride, from femininity to masculinity, from bottomhood to topness” as though topness, masculinity, and pride were equivalent and redemptive (190). Rather, Nguyen makes space for the possibility of dwelling in abject bottomhood to promote its disidentificatory affinities and alliances. The refusal of progress narratives disrupts the typical impulse to transform abjection into empowerment, objects into subjects, or in this case, bottoms into tops; Nguyen’s project does not care for a future orientations as much as it dwells in and circles around the past, and in this regard, embraces Elizabeth Freeman’s queer approach to temporality, which may prove challenging to more future-oriented critical tendencies within Asian American Studies6.

The conclusion to『A View From the Bottom』moves us away from film and video and into the realm of cruising websites and mobile apps. The book’s primary intervention, which combats heteronormative protocols of strict gendered and racialized sexuality, here critiques the homogenizing violence of homonormativity. Citing from Juana Maria Rodriguez’s conceptualization of the “butch femme,” Nguyen “seek[s] to expand the boundaries of top-bottom to envelop multiple subject positions” (195). We move beyond the more static receptions of video and cinema and into the practices of everyday life. Here Nguyen reveals how gay Asian men navigate racism while cruising online with techniques like obfuscation, tactical masking, and self-satirizing screen names (198-203). These tactics lead Nguyen to conclude that “the Asian American male subject draws on the force of abjection and shame in his assumption of bottomhood; but he also productively harnesses the power of shaming mechanisms by performing to the hilt the ‘improper joy’ of Asian American male subjection” (204).

『A View From the Bottom』issues a major corrective to gay, white male criticism that dominated early queer theory, which becomes a fulcrum to the rest of Nguyen’s project7. In the introduction, Nguyen contends that queer theory reclaims the bottom position through a process of remasculinization, a process with which he takes issue8. To Nguyen, remasculinization plays into the protocols of heteronormativity by distancing or denouncing the effeminate resonances of the bottom position. Within this camp of early gay male theorists, Leo Bersani receives the most attention for his groundbreaking essay “Is the Rectum a Grave?” but Nguyen’s accusation that Bersani is remasculinizing elides some of the complexity of Bersani’s argument and its relationship to the AIDS crisis9. In fact, Bersani is less normative in his queer theory than Nguyen gives credit, although certainly the essay is not unproblematic. Where Nguyen’s argument could have found a stronger point of entry through this essay is in Bersani’s sometimes uncomfortable comparison of the racially-unspecified gay subject’s plight as more oppressed than the black subject’s, which would have provided a generative site to reconsider the assumptions of race and the bottom position.

『A View from the Bottom』compellingly argues for an intersectional analysis of sexuality, but Nguyen’s feminism also warrants attention, both for the manner in which it comes to arbitrate other fields, but also for how it fails to become a site of examination itself. In his introduction, Nguyen locates『A View from the Bottom』’s core discourses as “Asian American studies, queer studies, and film studies” (2), but to make many of his most noteworthy arguments, Nguyen relies upon feminist critiques. It is, after all, the notion of the “butch femme” that helps to make the case for bottoming as capacious and revelatory precisely for its vulnerability. It is also a feminist critique of Bersani’s essay “Is the Rectum a Grave?” that Nguyen harnesses to cast the earlier era of bottom theory as inadequate and remasculinizing. The mode of feminist thought invoked here appears to be “sex positive feminism,” that branch of feminism which famously fought the sex wars in the 1980s and which empowered women “on their backs” (61), but『A View from the Bottom』fails to name it as such. I begin to wonder how the gay Asian bottom might illuminate or indeed reeducate a feminist epistemology, a question that could have helped to ground a project that is otherwise exceptionally attentive.

Every chapter in『A View from the Bottom』offers a discrete media analysis, but not every chapter attends to its medium as attentively as the next. Chapters 1, 4, and the Conclusion argue thorough an emphasis on medium specificity, but Chapters 2 and 3, by nature of the close readings of individual films, strain to develop broader insights into cinematic discourses and media forms. This fluctuation might be understood as part of the book’s project, though. In his introduction, Nguyen notes, “the chapters of the book do not follow a chronological timeline in which feminizing bottom positioning is surmounted by masculine topness. Instead, they proceed on a messier, nonlinear course, one that is deliberately itinerant and meandering, thus refusing any neat and tidy evolutionary development from oppression to liberation, from marginalization to assimilation” (25). This position defends itself as low theory, deemed so for its eccentricity and emphasis on “low” cultural objects10. Such a designation also suggests affinities bind the figure of the top to high theory and the bottom to low theory in an illustration of the sexual valences of methodology and critique. The lasting intervention of『A View from the Bottom』, though, will be its illumination of the complexity of intersectional analysis and the revivification of thinking on race and gender alongside the category of sexuality without subsuming either thereunder. For that, Nguyen has expanded the kinds of conversations we can now have.『A View From the Bottom』offers us a new position from which to critique the ideologies of top/bottom and subject/object in sexual representation.

Works Cited

Bersani, Leo. 「Is the Rectum a Grave?」『Is the Rectum a Grave?: And Other Essays』. University Of Chicago Press, 2009. Print.

Dyer, Richard. 「Idol Thoughts: Orgasm and Self-Reflexivity in Gay Pornography」.『The Culture of Queers』. Psychology Press, 2002: 187-203. Print.

Freeman, Elizabeth.『Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories』. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010. Print.

Halberstam, Jack, and publisher Duke University Press.『The Queer Art of Failure』. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Print.

Merck, Mandy.『In Your Face: 9 Sexual Studies』. New York: New York University Press. 2000: 157. Print.

Modleski, Tania.『Feminism without Women: Culture and Criticism in a “Postfeminist” Age』. New York: Routledge. 1991: 149. Print.

Muñoz, José Esteban.『Disidentifications : Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics』. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Print.

Naficy, Hamid.『An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking』. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. Print.

Nguyen, Tan Hoang. 「The Resurrection of Brandon Lee: The Making of a Gay Asian American Porn Star」.『Porn Studies』. Ed. Linda Williams. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Print.

Rodriguez, Juana Maria. 「Gesture and Utterance: Fragments from a Butch-Femme Archive」.『A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies』. Eds. Haggerty, George E., and Molly McGarry. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007: 282-291. Print.

Tasker, Yvonne. 「Fists of Fury: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Martial Arts Cinema」.『Race and the Subject of Masculinities』. Ed. Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997: 315-336. Print.

Wang, Yiman. 2005. 「The Art of Screen Passing: Anna May Wong’s Yellow Yellowface Performance in the Art Deco Era」.『Camera Obscura』. 20:159-191. Print.

1 Nguyen sees his own reading as importantly not offering “redress and reparation” but rather granting the capacity to learn “to live with past and present danger, in particular, everyday injuries marked by gender, race, and sexuality, that cannot find relief or make amends through legitimate social or political means” (25). In this spirit, and as he invokes later, this book carries forward Jose Munoz’s project of disidentification developed in『Disidentifications : Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics』.

2 This chapter expands his earlier essay 「The Resurrection of Brandon Lee: The Making of a Gay Asian American Porn Star」, which appears in the influential collection『Porn Studies』(edited in 2004 by Linda Williams).

3 Nguyen utilizes this concept from Yiman Wang’s essay 「The Art of Screen Passing: Anna May Wong’s Yellow Yellowface Performance in the Art Deco Era」.

4 The idea of “accented pornography” pays homage to Hamid Naficy’s theory of an “accented cinema” in『An Accented Cinema: Exile and Diasporic Filmmaking』.

5 Nguyen makes use of “the reeducation of desire” from Richard Dyer’s essay 「Idol Thoughts: Orgasm and Self-Reflexivity in Gay Pornography」.

6 Here I refer to Elizabeth Freeman’s book『Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories』.

7 Nguyen names Guy Hocquenghem, Leo Bersani, D.A. Miller, Lee Edelman, and later Tim Dean and David Halperin within this camp (6 – 14).

8 Nguyen develops this term from Yvonne Tasker (1997), who introduces it to describe the manner in which martial arts star Bruce Lee (from whom the porn star Brandon Lee hopes to share allegiance with his nom de plume) stands in as a remasculinized figuration of Chinese national identity. Soft masculinity in essence transforms into hard masculinity through martial arts (33-35).

9 Nguyen cites feminist thinkers who have taken issue with Bersani’s essay, notably Mandy Merck and Tania Modleski, who find Bersani’s figuration men “behaving like a woman” as presenting a kind of powerlessness and masochism altogether different from what women experience (12-13). Whether this interpretation compellingly argues Bersani remasculinizes the bottom is unclear.

10 Nguyen places his book in the company of Jack Halberstam’s『The Queer Art of Failure』(7).

John Paul Stadler is completing his PhD in the Program in Literature at Duke University, with certificates in feminist studies and information science & information studies. His dissertation tracks gay pornography’s shifting regimes of representation over time and their historical interventions, and his prior publications can be found in『Jump Cut』and『Art and Documentation』. In 2017, he will co-edit a special issue of『Polygraph』titled 「Pleasure and Suspicion」.

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Enjoy Music Club 「Summer Magic」

Posted on August 13, 2016 commentaires

Enjoy Music Club 「Summer Magic」【夏の魔法】- from『Summer Magic』released on August 13, 2016.

Ce clip met en scène un couple gay interprété par Tomoyuki Natsume, membre du groupe de rock alternatif Siamese Cats, et le modèle Yoshihiko Kurihara, la photo est jolie, et ils sont très mignons ensemble !

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Garrett Dee 「Sulu’s husband in ‘Star Trek’ and the need for authentic Asian representation in Hollywood」

Posted on August 11, 2016 commentaires
THE ISSUE OF the misrepresentation of people of Asian descent in Hollywood came to even larger mainstream attention earlier this year as a result of the crude, stereotypical jokes utilized by hosts Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Despite the fact that this year’s Oscars had already come under intense criticism as a result of its lack of diversity (all of the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress this year were white actors), the presenters of the night thought it appropriate to use unwitting Asian children as human props in an effort to make a distasteful joke that stereotypically caricatured them as alternatively accountants or child laborers. The use of the “Asians-as-nerds” trope has been a running gag in Hollywood for years and has gone mostly unnoticed as a display of open racism in the American film industry; it would seem that most audiences seem to buy too much into the model minority myth to believe that Asian-American actors would be anything but “in on the joke” as well.

The poor taste of the humor was not lost on those members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Asian descent, two dozen of whom sent an open letter to the academy demanding an apology for the night’s events. Amongst those signatory to the letter were famed Taiwanese director Ang Lee (李安), himself a two time Academy Award winner, and Japanese-American actor and activist George Takei. Academy chief executive Dawn Hudson responded with an underwhelming, curt letter which sounded more like an automatically-generated response than a sincere apology for allowing such a blatantly racist comedic set to pass through the censors and make its way onto one of the most-viewed awards shows in the United States. The controversy over the #OscarsSoWhite debacle serves as a backdrop to make the slight even more egregious, as the entire night was already deeply shrouded by the institutionalized racism of the Hollywood film industry. The entire event sent a message that racism against persons of Asian descent is not yet collectively considered to be of the same severity as racism against other POC groups.

New Faces Advocating for Better Representation of Asian Men and Women in Film

IN SPITE OF these sorts of setbacks, there does remain reason to hope that the prevailing notions governing these sorts of problematic film practices will start being chipped away. Famed for her portrayal of the matron of the Huang family in ABC’s sitcom 「Fresh Off The Boat」, based of the memoirs of Taiwanese-American author and TV personality Eddy Huang, Taiwanese-American actress Constance Wu has emerged as a strong advocate for better representation of people in Asian descent in Hollywood and an outspoken critic against the erasure of their stories. The actress has been quite up front and vocal in her criticisms of the way that Asian stories in mainstream entertainment are often pigeonholed to a limited collection of worn-out tropes. She bemoans the lack of opportunity that actors of Asian descent face in casting processes where the character is slated for a person with a white face, as well as the casting of white actors in roles that would have been more fittingly portrayed by a person of color. Following her excoriation of the exploration of CGI technology aimed at making actress Scarlett Johansson appear more Asian in the film reboot of the popular Japanese manga 「Ghost In The Shell」 as modern day yellowface, Wu recently posted a scathing opinion to her Twitter account of the casting of Matt Damon as a hero who saves China from invading dragons in the upcoming 「Great Wall」 film. In the case of that film, itself a joint Chinese-American production under the auspices of the Chinese Wanda group and not a Hollywood venture, this is an example of how pervasive these sorts of attitudes can be even in the Asian film world.

Wu is not the only one remarking about the ubiquity of casting white actors in these sorts of roles, though, and fans have put forth strong backlash against the decisions to cast white actors in roles originally written as Asian in 「Ghost In The Shell」 as well as other popular franchises such as 「Dr. Strange」 and 「Avatar: The Last Airbender」. In each case the rationale behind the casting was given as a belief that actors of Asian descent would not be able to draw as large of an audience as bigger name white actors. While there may be a kernel of truth to the idea that audiences will display a greater willingness to shell out their paychecks on movie tickets when the movie in question features a well-known international star, this is certainly not an infallible cinematic principle written in proverbial stone, as evidenced by last year’s major box office flop 「Gods Of Egypt」 in which the pantheon of Egyptian gods was reimagined as a cast of mostly white actors to dismal effect. As Wu herself point outs, even if their films turn out to be box offices crashes, actors of color should be given the same opportunity to crash as any other practitioner of the craft.

On the other hand, it seems that it doesn’t require direction from above to get audiences to notice the lack of actors of Asian descent in meaningful film and TV roles. A viral campaign styling itself #StarringJohnCho recently emerged centered around Korean-American actor John Cho, who is currently considered one of the most well-recognized Asian-American male actors in Hollywood (a similar campaign, #StarringConstanceWu, arose around Wu shortly after). The campaign, whose purpose was to point out the lack of Asian-American male leading roles (especially those involving a romantic partner), superimposed Cho’s face onto the body of the male lead on the posters of popular films in an effort to highlight the lack of such roles in the actual film industry.

Like Wu, Cho has spoken frankly about race and his struggle with discrimination as an actor of Asian descent in the US film industry, and his own difficulties with finding roles that portray his characters in a fully human light. Cho had already broken ground in his portrayal of the leading-man romantic role opposite a white leading actress in the prematurely-cancelled ABC series 「Selfie」, though he also admits that he experienced racism during the production of the series. Whereas Asian women on screen are often fetishized and portrayed in a dull, exaggeratedly-sexual context, Asian men face the opposite problem of being aggressively desexualized and made undesirable to the point where onscreen Asian male sexuality is viewed as almost taboo, particularly when the pairing is with a woman of a different race. One is reminded of the awkwardly platonic embrace between Jet Li and Aaliyah at the end of the 2000 action flick 「Romeo Must Die」, originally written as a kiss which was then removed when audiences expressed their discomfort at seeing an Asian male portrayed in a romantic capacity.

A common theme in both Wu and Cho’s takedowns of common Hollywood casting practices is the lack of character depth given to Asian roles in films meant for mainstream audiences. In lamenting that until recently, normally human experiences like doing taxes or picking out Halloween costumes have been considered as exclusively white experiences, Wu points out the ugly effects that essentialism has on storytelling techniques in Hollywood. While white characters are given meaningful, evocative roles that allow them to traverse the depths of the human experience on screen, actors of Asian descent are usually tied to stories considered to have some kind of essentially Asian theme to them, despite the fact that many of these stories are in fact based more on stereotype than on actual Asian-American narratives. The fact that Long Duk Dong of 「Sixteen Candles」 infamy or Ken Jeong’s turn as Mr. Chow in the 「Hangover」 series are among the most memorable Asian performances in popular US consciousness is testament to the dismal lack of authenticity in roles given to Asian-American actors.

Sulu’s Sexuality and Opening a Dialogue for the Future of Gay Asian Visibility

CHO REACHES peak visibility in his most recent turn as Commander Sulu in the popular film reboot of the much beloved 「Star Trek」 series, the latest installation of which, 「Star Trek: Beyond」, was released last month. The original TV show itself was know for being boundary-pushing on issues of race, casting an African-American actress and Japanese-American actor in lead roles at a time when US audiences were unaccustomed to viewing multiracial casts. Gene Roddenberry, creator of the original series, intentionally steered away from tokenism in the portrayal of Sulu’s character despite heavy misgivings at the time about casting an Asian actor in a lead role, and actor George Takei was known for heavily lobbying the writers on behalf of a more prominent role for his character. The end result of this effort culminated in an iconic Asian television character fondly remembered by fans for his fencing swordplay and sense of adventure whose role expanded steadily throughout the show’s decades-long run, at one point taking over command of the crew while William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s respective characters were indisposed.

It is the decision of the production team of the latest 「Star Trek」 movie to reimagine the newest iteration of the Sulu character has having a husband that has opened the door to a larger and more mainstream discussion on intersectionality and both Asian and LGBTQ visibility in popular cinema. The decision was made as a tribute to Takei, who portrayed the character as heterosexual whilst remaining a closeted actor during the production of the original series. The final decision was communicated to Cho directly from the film’s Taiwanese-American director Justin Lin (林詣彬), and early on in the production Cho specifically requested that the role of Sulu’s husband be portrayed by an Asian actor in a deliberate attempt to personify a romantic relationship between two Asian men, rarely acknowledged either on the silver screen or (as Cho duly notes) in the mainstream US LGBTQ community, in a film assured to reach a huge worldwide audience.

The feminization of Asian men in popular culture is particularly troublesome for gay men of Asian descent, who already deal with the heterosexist notion that gay men are inherently feminine and have little value in a society dominated by masculinity. Cho himself betrayed a bit of this style of thinking in his concern that his role would spark backlash in the Asian-American community as continuing the idea that Asian men are fundamentally effeminate, though he later stated that he had come to terms with these doubts and embraced the character’s sexuality.

In the same manner that a young John Cho growing up the son of a Korean immigrant in Houston was admittedly inspired to be an actor through seeing George Takei light up his TV screen, his work in this film has the potential to influence young gay men of Asian descent who currently lack much in the way of role models. Though films like Ang Lee’s 「The Wedding Banquet」 (喜宴), or the more recent Taiwanese-produced 「Baby Steps」 (滿月酒), which is set partially in the US, offer up a realistic take on their respective gay Asian characters, they still focus heavily on familial coming out issues and portray the Asian male lead as looking to white America for their ultimate source of self-acceptance. For those of Asian descent growing up gay in the United States like comedian Joel Kim Booster (whose insightful and humorous take on identity can be found here), meaningful representations of their intersecting identities can be nearly impossible to find and being gay can sometimes seem like an exclusively white experience, as Takei himself has admitted was the case during his years as an actor in Los Angeles. Seeing a gay Asian character who isn’t constantly dealing with overwhelming shame and cultural conflict starring in a traditionally masculine action hero role sends a different sort of message.

A common plot device utilized in a large number of action films which feature the imminent threat of some world-ending catastrophe is to have the stakes humanized by leaving one of the main casts’ loved ones squarely in the crossfires of the impending Armageddon. The fact that in 「Star Trek: Beyond」 this emotional crux of the film is realized with the Asian husband and daughter of an Asian male action star is a step in the right direction for greater authenticity in the representation of LGBTQ Asians and people of Asian descent in general. It would be superb for these roles to be expanded to the point where they could headline future films themselves instead of remaining supporting characters. One can hope that the casting of John Cho – himself the center of an online viral campaign to cast more Asian men in leading roles – in this part means that we are moving beyond the point where actors of Asian descent in Hollywood can only portray math whizzes, ancient kung fu masters, or tiger moms to the point where they can be swashbuckling gay space captains or 「Melrose Place」-loving suburban housewives or just anything else any other actor gets to be.

Author: Garrett Dee/Date: August 11, 2016/Source: https://newbloommag.net/2016/08/11/sulu-husband-asian-american-rep/

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

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Ricardo Peralta 「RIO 2016: These Asian Athletes Are So Sexy You Won’t Stop Drooling」

We’re devoted to bringing you lists of the sexiest Olympic athletes from all over the world. Today, we’ll be looking at athletes from China, Thailand and Japan. Did we miss your favorites? Let us know!

1. Ning Zetao – Swimming
Ning Zetao, the Chinese freestyle swimmer didn’t win his race, but he has been a social media sensation. Just look!

2. Chen Aisen – Diving
Chen Aisen won the gold for China for men’s synchronized 10m platform diving – and he also won our hearts.

3. Alex Hua Tian – Equestrian
As his instagram description says, Alex Hua Tian is the first and only Chinese Olympic rider. As you can see he is a very distinguished, stylish man.

4. Lin Chaopan – Gymnastics
Lin is part of the “Men’s team all-around” – and his team just won the bronze! He’s 20 years old and you can’t deny his cuteness!

5. Deng Shudi – Gymnastics
Deng Shudi, is on the Chinese men’s all around team like Lin Chaopan, so he also got bronze! And, of course, like his teammate, he is one sexy piece of man!

6. Chatchai Butdee – Boxing
Thai boxer Chatchai Butdee, will be competing on Sunday, August 14th. He’s a flyweight – which is sports-talk for “twink”.

7. Sinphet Kruaithong – Weightlifting
Poor Sinphet Kruaithong – he’s had an up-and-down week. He won the bronze for Thailand. But unfortunately, while watching him compete, his grandmother collapsed and passed away. We send him our condolences and all our love.

8. Kosuke Hagino – Swimming
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino isn’t just mindblowingly hot – he won two medals! Gold for the men’s 400m individual medley and bronze for men’s 4x200m freestyle relay. Well done!

9. Ryohei Kato – Gymnastics
Ryohei Kato and the Japan Gymnastics Team won the gold! And just look at him – of course his team won!

10. Asuka Cambridge – Athletics
You might think we’re trying to pull something, given Asuka Cambridge’s last name – but this hottie is competing in a few track and field events. It turns out Belle & Sebastian were right – the stars of track and field are beautiful people!

11. Kenya Yasuda – Water polo
Kenya Yasuda’s on the Japanese water polo team – and we’d definitely like to play with him... if you know what we mean.

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