Mike Miksche 「Circuit Parties Began Fading in North America a Decade Ago – Why Are They So Hot in Asia?」

Posted on March 31, 2017 commentaires
On Saturday, hordes of gay men and other dance lovers will descend upon a club space in Manhattan for the 「Black Party」, an edgier, kinkier underground variant of the “circuit party,” a gay institution that has, for better or worse, defined a certain strain of macho, drug-embracing, sex-positive party culture since their initial appearance around 1980. Circuit parties can be found all over the globe – on the circuit, as it were – from Palm Springs and Paris to Barcelona and Bangkok. But regardless of locale, the basics are the same: They feature local and world-class DJ talent and performers, have immersive production values, and are held in large venues filled with writhing, shirtless men.

Speaking of Bangkok, I just finished up a two-month stint living there, and while I had arrived expecting surprises, the existence of a circuit party was not one of them. Just as I was preparing to move, I came across a trailer for one.

「WHITE PARTY BANGKOK 2017 | Official Trailer #2」 - posted on November 30, 2016.

It was based on the original 「White Party」, which started in Palm Springs, California, in 1989.* The Palm Springs festival is still around, the style and aesthetic same as it always was – ads feature chiseled alpha males in speedos, flexing and posing. The Bangkok homage, named 「The White Party Bangkok」, takes place over New Years and is produced in collaboration with the founder of the Palm Springs festival, Jeffrey Sanker. The trailer mimics that old school American circuit style with beautiful, buff men outfitted in aviators and designer underwear.

Despite the familiarity, seeing the video stirred the same sort of excitement I used to feel prior to attending one of these events over a decade years ago. It transported me back to that time when circuit parties were at the peak of their popularity in North America. Even the soundtrack triggered nostalgia, with a circuit remix (yes, it’s a whole style) of Abba’s 「Voulez-Vous」. But nostalgia is not exactly enough to fuel a lively cultural form. The remix’s tribal sound is from another time; its basic beats have since evolved to techno, deep house, or nu disco in the trendier queer club scenes. And many of the DJs who brought this genre to thousands of rolling queens have moved on as well: People like Victor Calderone who, back in the day, had famously remixed Madonna’s 「Ray of Light」, has since gone on to more techno work and is playing some of the biggest EDM festivals around the world.

Overall, the gay party scene just seems so much more eclectic these days. There are groups like Horse Meat Disco headlining parties around the world, re-introducing the homos to that glittery ’70s sound while re-inventing it at the same time. I’ve seen them pack the Output venue in Brooklyn with guys dancing into the morning hours, seduced by smooth strings and that original four-on-the-floor rhythm. And then there are events like 「Burning Man」, where we have our own LGBTQ theme camps in Black Rock Desert. We’ve come so far from that circuit vibe, with it’s non-inclusive standards of beauty and its stale sound. Of course, there are still many devout followers – but they kind of feel like those punks who won’t let go of the whole hardcore thing.

However, what seems played out to some can be revolutionary for others. According to Blue Satittammanoon, the producer and organizer of 「White Party Bangkok」, the circuit scene in Asia is as fresh as new wave. This specific party is only in its second year, and the most recent festival saw approximately 13,000 patrons over the course of three days. That’s up from 12,000 who attended the previous year, when every single party at the festival sold out. As I dug deeper, I learned that similar such parties were happening all over Asia, creating a circuit of their own spanning from Bangkok to Seoul, and Shanghai to Tokyo. Given that the circuit scene in North America has been slowing down for the last decade or so, it’s surprising that the practice would catch on in Asia now, and with such strong appeal. To find out why, I decided to reach out to local organizers – but first, I reflected on what drew me to circuit all those years ago.

I began fashioning myself as a circuit queen in the early to mid 2000s. I’d just come out and moved to the “big city,” which for me was Toronto, having grown up in a small town in southwestern Ontario. I got an office job, began earning a decent salary where they gave me my own desk and box of business cards. I had disposable income for the first time in my life, too, so I was poised to become a circuit boy – it’s not a cheap lifestyle, given the steep cover charges, necessary synthetic drugs, and travel expenses.

The first circuit festival I attended coincided with Pride weekend in Toronto. It was the first time that I’d ever taken ecstasy, and I still remember the feeling of coming up on the pills – problems that I’d been having with my family seemed to untangle themselves in time with the beat. we weren’t speaking after my coming out, but on the dance floor that didn’t matter. I’d resolved all our issues ... in my head, at least ... with chemically induced reasoning. I soon felt an intense euphoria just by moving my body with all those other men, with my people. Eventually I took my shirt off, comfortable enough to flaunt my body, proudly enjoying my sexuality and losing myself in the lights and sounds. It was fabulous. The drugs were fabulous. I felt so beautiful that night.

Inevitably, all my problems came right back when the weekend was over; but to escape from them, even for a bit, made them much more bearable. From that Friday on, I did “e” pretty much every weekend for years, in addition to gradually incorporating other drugs to take the edge off, like ketamine and coke.

I got buff, hitting the gym twice as hard, traded in my ironic graphic tees for skin tight muscle shirts, and even attempted to shave my body hair – smooth skin being the coin of the circuit realm. Being a very hirsute gentleman made the chest shaving problematic. The first time I tried, I just used a razor, but it turned out a mess since I still had so much hair on my thighs and lower back. I used Nair the next time, which worked, but left me freaked out by how easily the hair came off. I decided in the end that the best way to fit in was to just keep the chest hair trim. People seemed okay with that. In fact, there was even a niche market for it back then, well before beards and body hair were hip.

In circuit culture – both on the dance floor and in the effort it took to look the part – I found I was so much more than the “faggot” my family had said I was. I got in shape, I had my own phone extension at work, and I went to fun parties with beautiful, interesting people all the time.

I was following in a disco ball-lit path that thousands of gay men before me had strutted down. The circuit party started with men travelling between the The Saint in New York, The Probe in Los Angles, and Hotlanta in Atlanta. Many more parties followed all over North America, including Sanker’s 「White Party」 in the late ’80s. Although some of the events today are purely for profit, during the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s many became a way to raise funds for HIV/AIDS service providers. They were also where the community could come together and celebrate life during tough times, while remembering those who had passed. But as the immediate threat of AIDS faded – and gays were afforded more and more social opportunities outside of our ghettos – the popularity of circuit declined.

To find out what was happening in Asia during those early days of American circuit scene, I spoke to Yoshida Toshinobu, the Promoter of 「Shangri-La」, which is the leading party series of its kind in Tokyo. “Other than in Japan, the doors to the gay scene hadn't been opened yet,” he explained via email through a translator. “So in the ’80s and ’90s, most gays had to remain closeted. The only fun they could have was going to regular clubs. In Japan, there were gay nights every weekend, and house music was in its heyday.”

Although the 「White Party Bangkok」 only got starred back in 2015, a semblance of a circuit scene was forming in Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore fifteen years earlier, according to Toshinobu. Other countries like Thailand, China, and South Korea joined later on. The 「Shangri-La」 parties began back in 2003, just when the scene in North America was slowing down. They hosted five parties the first year, drawing 10,991 patrons total. 13 years later there was only a slight reduction in numbers, with 10,714 people attending their five events. So what makes circuit so vital to the Asian scene when, in its homeland, the necessity of it was largely obsolete?

“Now we’re seeing a kind of normalization of gay,” Russell Westhaver told me over the phone. He was careful not to imply that gay lives were adversity-free today, but just that there’s an increase in recognition of same-sex rights in the West. Westhaver is an Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and he has spent many years writing about and studying the circuit scene as a participant and observer, though he admitted his last real party was 2003’s 「Black and Blue」 in Montreal. “I think as we become normalized we can occupy public spaces in these somewhat more comfortable ways,” he explained. “The need for collective confirmation, these sub rosa or hidden or alternative spaces becomes less of an issue.”

Of course, Japan is different than North America, and Thailand has its own situation as well. Though a city like Bangkok can seem like a paradise for gay tourists, with a number of gay nightclubs, saunas, and go-go bars, there are no anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBTQ community who actually live there. Same-sex marriage is yet to be recognized. There’s even a sort of conversion therapy for transgendered youth.

Despite Toshinobu’s portrait of Japan’s relative cultural openness, anti-discrimination laws and recognition of same-sex marriage aren’t any better in Japan or the countries in the region making up this Asian circuit. Taiwan may become the exception, where late last year a marriage equality bill was approved by a legislative committee that could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Still, to say that homosexuality has been ‘normalized’ like in North America is a stretch.

So could the lack of LGBTQ rights explain the popularity of the circuit scene in Asia?

Although his understanding of Asia is admittedly limited, if Westhaver were to guess, he’d say yes: “I think it’d be generally fair to say that when the rights of gay people are not particularly secure, when they are fundamentally marginalized in ways that they’re probably not in North America, they would experience the same kind of challenges that I think circuit parties in North America spoke to, which is a visceral celebration; being present in the moment; a kind of abandonment where you could be fundamentally who you are at a bodily level.”

Traditionally, these circuit parties are a place for gay men to be themselves – a sentiment Satittammanoon had expressed several times. “There’s something magical when thousands of gay men come together,” he said. “You feel like you’re part of a community that’s bigger than yourself; it’s empowering at the same time.”

“For those brief hours, you’re the majority. You feel the power on the dance floor,” Stephen Pevner, the executive director of The Saint at Large told me from his office in New York. (The Saint at Large produces 「The Black Party」 each year.) “I think [the circuit] follows wherever gay people who feel oppressed are gaining a mental picture of where they could be going.”

Since it’d been so long since Westhaver had been to a circuit party, I was curious what he thought about them after all these years. He described them as a necessary and “fraught” site of affirmation: “It was a place where gay men who, at one level, may have felt and experienced a great degree of marginalization could confirm themselves in a bunch of different ways in a narrower sense. It served the same function as gay pride does, more generally.”

Westhaver uses the word fraught to mean “neutral complicated.” He appreciates the positive aspects of the circuit, such as the connection one can feel with others and the freedom to express oneself through dance. But he also sees the negatives, like valuing particular notions beauty, the close connection the scene has with drug use and addiction, as well as the possibility of risky sexual behavior that comes with excessive drug use. Ultimately, he sees the circuit as a place of both empowerment and danger.

I eventually stopped going to circuit parties because I grew to prefer trance and techno music over that circuit and tribal sound. After arriving at a party and being there for an hour or two, I’d slip away from my friends and go to one of the underground clubs in the city that weren’t gay per se, but were certainly gay-friendly. That was in 2006, and same-sex marriage had been legalized in Canada a year earlier, which might be why I was finding more and more straight techno clubs that were gay-friendly. I started bringing fuck buddies and lovers with me, and we’d dance together all night long, grinding and kissing. Nobody said a thing to us and I felt more myself at these places than I did at circuit parties, because I didn’t need to assimilate to a certain look. I haven’t trimmed my chest hair since.

That said, I owe a lot to the circuit scene because it was a stepping stone toward self-acceptance. Once I left that world and started going to straight venues, I felt empowered in a different way, because I was able to be gay in a straight setting. Integrating my life was intimidating at first, but it turned out to be an important shift that helped me deal with my family when we started talking again. Those people at the club accept me, so you will to. And they did.

“The fact that emancipation has given us the freedoms to be out basically says that these circuit parties aren’t even really essential anymore,” Pevner said. Since this isn’t the case in Asia – not yet anyway – events like 「The White Party Bangkok」 seem crucial as they may help some men see how coming together in joy and communal action might get them somewhere better. Despite my conflicting feelings about the circuit scene, there’s no denying that during certain periods they have been instruments of empowerment, only becoming obsolete when equality is achieved. For gay men in Asia, circuit is currently a wonderful thing. But when it fades, that will be a good thing, too.

*Correction, Apr. 2, 2017: Due to a production error, this post originally misstated the city in which the original 「White Party」 began.

Mike Miksche is a regular contributor to『Lambda Literary』and『Daily Xtra』. He’s also written for『The Quietus』,『The Gay and Lesbian Review』and『Litro Magazine』.

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Alexa Tietjen 「Ross Butler on Working With Selena Gomez and Shattering Asian Stereotypes」

Posted on March 30, 2017 commentaires
Ross Butler by Dan Doperalski

The actor plays Zach in 「13 Reasons Why」, out on March 31 via Netflix.

Ross Butler decided early in his career that he had had enough of Hollywood’s stereotyping. The actor – of American, British and Chinese descent – grew frustrated that the only roles he seemed to get called in for were “Asian roles” like “the martial artist or the nerd.” So he put his foot down.

“I told my team, ‘I don’t want to go out for Asian roles anymore,’” Butler says. He found himself in a dark period immediately following, but soon enough, he got called in for roles that didn’t specify an ethnicity. And he started booking them.

The 26-year-old now plays fictional teen Reggie Mantle on 「Riverdale」 and has also landed a part in Netflix’s 「13 Reasons Why」, Selena Gomez’s passion project based on Jay Asher’s 2007 novel. Butler plays Zach, a high school jock and one of the reasons why the show’s main character, Hannah (Katherine Langford), decided to take her own life.

“People in high school either feel like they’re with the cool kids in a clique or they’re isolated – there’s no in-between,” Butler says. “I wasn’t bullied or anything, but I didn’t really fit in. I think Zach has a feeling of that. Even though he’s seen as a popular kid, he’s actually really lonely. It’s that mixed with high school, where you have to put on this facade of who you are.”

He describes Gomez, an executive producer on the show, as “super down-to-earth” and not what he expected from someone who’s been in the spotlight for about a decade. Castmate Tommy Dorfman echoed this sentiment at an event in New York City earlier this month.

“She’s superhumble and supportive and obviously has a lot of experience to share,” Dorfman said of Gomez. “A lot of us are really new to this industry and she was there as an amazing resource. She’s so passionate about this book and this story being told.”

Gomez’s devotion to the project stems in part from her own struggles. She completed a 90-day stint in rehab last year to help her cope with anxiety and depression. Butler alludes to this time, saying Gomez was able to offer the cast “a lot of insight.”

“She was dealing with a lot of personal things a year ago,” Butler says of the actress-turned-singer. “Talking to her about that gave us a new perspective on the subject and how anybody can be affected by these things.” Through conversing with Gomez and working on the show, Butler was inspired to learn more about suicide prevention and depression diagnosis and how to have meaningful conversations about both of these.

“Try to imagine what it’s like to be this girl who’s getting bullied and is supercrushed to the point where she’d wanna take her own life,” he says. “All of our actions have consequences whether we know it or not. We never know what people are going through until something tragic happens – if they don’t talk about it.”

While he waits to see whether 「13 Reasons Why」 will get picked up for a second season, Butler continues to focus on shattering Asian stereotypes.

“Why can’t we have an Asian Brad Pitt or an Asian Ryan Gosling? Those type of roles, lead males,” he says. “I see this gap in the industry now where there isn’t an Asian leading man.”

He says he’s been auditioning for “leading” roles in which “the guy gets the girl at the end.” Perhaps he’s on his way to filling that void in the industry. At any rate, he says these potential projects are signs of “a good trending change.”

Author: Alexa Tietjen/Date: March 30, 2017/Source: http://wwd.com/eye/people/ross-butler-selena-gomez-asian-stereotypes-10851580/

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DJ Friz feat. MRSHLL 「Resist」

Posted on March 28, 2017 commentaires

DJ Friz feat. MRSHLL 「Resist」 - from『The Record Vol.R』released on March 28, 2017.

Avec MRSHLL ou Marshall Bang, le premier artiste K-pop ouvertement gay !

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Nassira El Moaddem 「« Asiatiques de France » : « Prenez la parole, montrez-vous, osez  ! »」

Hélène Lam Trong, journaliste et réalisatrice d’origine vietnamienne, signe le clip 「Asiatiques de France」, une vidéo pour rendre visible la minorité asiatique à travers des personnalités et des anonymes. Durant deux minutes, le clip recense les insultes racistes proférées contre les Français d’origine asiatique, rappelle ce qu’ils ont apporté à la société et ce qu’ils sont devenus : des citoyens français à part entière. Interview.

Bondy Blog  : Comment t’est venue cette idée de clip sur les Asiatiques de France ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Je ne peux même pas dire que c’est mon idée. En début d’année, j’ai tourné un documentaire pour France 2 sur le comédien Frédéric Chau, 「Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu」. En le suivant, notamment dans le xiiie arrondissement, j’ai rencontré beaucoup de personnes impliquées dans l’organisation du défilé du Nouvel An chinois en particulier, et dans la vie du quartier en général. Autour d’un café, j’ai fait la connaissance de cinq de amis de longue date, My-Anh, Kim Lys, Kim Anh, Jacques et David. Il m’ont montré une vidéo faite par les Américains d’origine asiatique. Ils m’ont dit qu’ils adoreraient pouvoir faire une vidéo similaire en France. Ils m’ont alors demandé si je connaissais des réalisateurs qui pouvaient faire ça. J’ai un peu cherché sans trouver. Du coup, je me suis portée volontaire. Mais en posant certaines conditions pour adapter le clip au public français.

Bondy Blog : Lesquelles ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Je n’assumais du tout qu’il puisse y avoir un appel au vote dans le clip par exemple. Je suis journaliste et je ne voulais pas qu’il y ait un message politique qui plus est clivant ou partisan.

Bondy Blog : À quelle nécessité ce clip répond ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Il y avait un sentiment d’urgence. Les Asiatiques sont régulièrement visés par des actes racistes, par un racisme ordinaire et par des actes violents ce qui est évidemment mal vécu par beaucoup de monde. Il y a une libération de la parole raciste en général. Mais à la différence d’autres minorités, les Asiatiques n’ont pas d’organisation constituée de défense de leurs droits. Cette vidéo est juste là pour dire, sans prétention ni revendication précise, « Eh oh, on est là, on existe, on aimerait qu’on voie en nous des Français avant de voir des Asiatiques ».

Bondy Blog : Quel est l’objectif de ce projet  ?

Hélène Lam Trong : À vrai dire, on n’a pas intellectualisé la démarche. Mais en mettant côte à côte personnalités et anonymes, en créant un effet d’accumulation, on avait envie de dire que l’invisibilité qu’on reproche aux Asiatiques, elle est avant tout subie. L’autre message s’adresse directement aux Français d’origine asiatique : « prenez la parole, montrez-vous, osez ! »

Bondy Blog : Avec quels moyens as-tu pu réaliser ce clip ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Très peu ! On a lancé un « kiss kiss bank bank » auprès de nos proches. On a récolté un peu plus de 2500 euros. Mélissa Theuriau, que je connais, a aussi eu la gentillesse de nous soutenir en mettant à notre disposition un studio qu’on n’aurait jamais pu louer sans son aide et en me permettant d’acheter des images de l’INA via sa boîte de production.

Bondy Blog : On sait la difficulté en France d’afficher parfois ses engagements citoyens. Dans ce clip, il y a des personnalités : Frédéric Chau, François Trinh-Duc, Anggun, Alphonse Areola, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Raphäl Yem, Steve Tran et bien d’autres. Est-ce qu’il a été difficile pour toi de les convaincre ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Absolument pas ! Au contraire ! Elles ont toutes été extrêmement enthousiastes. Frédéric Chau m’a aidée, à travers sa notoriété, à joindre les personnalités dont je n’avais pas les coordonnées, ce qui m’a confortée dans la conviction qu’il y avait un truc à faire maintenant, tout de suite. Tous les participants se sont démenés pour venir en studio malgré leurs emplois du temps très chargés. Je pense notamment à Anggun qui est venue directement en rentrant du Japon et aux sportifs comme François Trinh-Duc et Alphonse Areola, qui se sont pliés en quatre pour que le tournage soit possible avec eux.

Bondy Blog : Il y a ce message très important : « Vous dîtes de nous que nous sommes invisibles mais regardez nous, nous sommes bien là ! »

Hélène Lam Trong : Exactement. Et pour les jeunes français d’origine asiatique, il est important d’avoir des modèles qui leur ressemblent. Par exemple, Frédéric Chau m’a raconté qu’il ne se reconnaissait pas dans les figures qu’il y avait à la télévision, que ce soit dans leur physique que dans leur vie tout simplement. C’est exactement la même chose pour les livres d’enfants, les dessins, ou les films dans lesquels lorsqu’il y a des Asiatiques, ils jouent des Asiatiques et pas des rôles de journalistes, d’avocats ou autre. Il y a un manque de modèles. Avec ce clip, les jeunes ont une palette inspirante, j’espère.

Bondy Blog : C’est un message très universel, celui de dire « nous sommes qui nous sommes, avec notre histoire et les images d’archives sont là pour en témoigner, mais on ne fera rien sans être ensemble ». Ça change des discours séparatistes actuels...

Hélène Lam Trong : Bien sûr. L’histoire permet d’éclairer le présent. Ceux qui organisent les divisions aiment à gommer certains passages de l’histoire. Il est bon de les rappeler, même de manière laconique, y compris pour les jeunes qui ne savent pas forcément quelle est leur histoire commune avec la France. Le message est « Nous sommes des Français comme les autres », mais on peut lire aussi « Nous sommes des immigrés comme les autres ».

Bondy Blog : Est-ce que ce clip va déboucher sur autre chose, un autre projet ?

Hélène Lam Trong : Pas à mon niveau. Ou alors un documentaire peut-être, pourquoi pas. En tout cas, les participants espèrent tous que cela va créer une impulsion dans la communauté, que cela va pousser certains à prendre des initiatives pour mieux faire connaître la communauté. Et si ça peut déjà donner du baume au cœur à ceux qui subissent des moqueries quotidiennes, c’est déjà beaucoup !

Pour en savoir plus, rendez-vous sur la page Facebook « Asiatiques de France »

「Clip Asiatiques de France」 - posted on March 23, 2017.

Avec: Steve Tran, Frédéric Chau, Linh-Dan Pham, Leng Toan, François Trinh-Duc, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Pierre Sang, Anggun, Raphaël Yem, Alphonse Areola, Hom Nguyen, Alexandre Nguy, Paul Duan, Émilie Tran Nguyen, Monsieur Nov, Soc Lam, Sophie Hua, Sommany Nhouyvanisvong, Nhi Oum, Nguyen Vy Thuy, Véronique Ung, Éloïse Giromanay, Ty Boun Tai, Sophie In, M. Nguyen, les Smileyz, My Anh Hoang, Jessica Liu, Elsa, Christelle, Hervé et Léo Vongsamay.

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Marine Le Breton 「Dans ce clip, les « Asiatiques de France » s’attaquent aux clichés dont ils sont victimes」

Posted on March 23, 2017 commentaires
Frédéric Chau & Alphonse Areola

Plusieurs personnalités apparaissent dans cette vidéo, parmi lesquelles Pierre Sang, Anggun ou Frédéric Chau.

CLICHÉS – « Bruce Lee », « Jackie Chan », « Vous êtes discrets », les « chinetoques »... Ces mots et propos, les Asiatiques de France en ont marre de les entendre et ils prennent la parole pour s’attaquer aux clichés qui perdurent à leur sujet.

Dans une vidéo réalisée par la journaliste indépendante Hélène Lam Trong, postée ce jeudi 23 mars sur la page Facebook « Asiatiques de France », plusieurs personnalités apparaissent, parmi lesquelles le chef Pierre Sang, la chanteuse Anggun ou encore le comédien Frédéric Chau, rendu célèbre par son rôle dans 「Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu」.

Partagée plus de 5000 fois en à peine quelques heures, ils appréhendent en deux minutes les stéréotypes dont la communauté asiatique en France souffre encore aujourd’hui.

「Clip Asiatiques de France」 - posted on March 23, 2017.

Avec: Steve Tran, Frédéric Chau, Linh-Dan Pham, Leng Toan, François Trinh-Duc, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Pierre Sang, Anggun, Raphaël Yem, Alphonse Areola, Hom Nguyen, Alexandre Nguy, Paul Duan, Émilie Tran Nguyen, Monsieur Nov, Soc Lam, Sophie Hua, Sommany Nhouyvanisvong, Nhi Oum, Nguyen Vy Thuy, Véronique Ung, Éloïse Giromanay, Ty Boun Tai, Sophie In, M. Nguyen, les Smileyz, My Anh Hoang, Jessica Liu, Elsa, Christelle, Hervé et Léo Vongsamay.

Petit rappel d’histoire à l’appui – les Asiatiques ont combattu pour l’armée française pendant les deux Guerres mondiales, ils ont été des boat-people, ces Vietnamiens qui ont fui leur pays – la vidéo insiste surtout sur ce que ces personnes asiatiques représentent aujourd’hui dans la société française : des Français. Ils sont « entrepreneur, agent immobilier fonctionnaire, avocat, médecin, professeur des écoles, retraité (...), liste la réalisatrice. Bref : ils sont comme tout le monde.

« Le message est double », explique Hélène Lam Trong, contactée par『Cheek』magazine, « rappeler que les Français d’origine asiatique sont des Français à part entière, tout en les incitant à investir davantage l’espace public (...) Il s’agit juste de dire « Je ne suis pas discret, je ne suis pas mangeur de chien, je ne suis pas tching tchong, niakoué ou Bruce Lee », poursuit-elle.

Le projet est né il y a très peu de temps avec une rencontre avec Frédéric Chau, qui lui a fait « rencontrer la communauté asiatique du xiiie arrondissement », précise-t-elle à『20 Minutes』. En quelques jours, après une petite aide par crowfunding, le projet est né.

Et cette vidéo vient rappeler une nouvelle fois que les discriminations dont sont victimes les Asiatiques. En septembre dernier, plusieurs milliers de personnes manifestaient à Paris contre le racisme anti-asiatique.

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Nicolas Raffin 「VIDEO. Anggun, François Trinh-Duc, Alphonse Areola… Les Français d’origine asiatique prennent la parole dans un clip」


MOBILISATION Ils veulent notamment casser plusieurs clichés trop souvent associés à cette communauté...

Les Français d’origine asiatique veulent s’exprimer. « Ils n’ont plus envie qu’on les considère comme réservés, discrets » explique Hélène Lam Trong. Cette journaliste indépendante vient de réaliser un clip, publié ce jeudi sur Facebook. La vidéo veut inciter les Asiatiques à prendre la parole pour « changer les choses ».

Dans ce clip apparaissent des personnalités telles que François Trinh-Duc, joueur professionnel de rugby, la chanteuse Anggun, le gardien du PSG Alphonse Areola, mais aussi Frédéric Chau. Le comédien, qui a notamment joué dans 「Qu’est qu’on a fait au bon Dieu ?」, a rencontré Hélène Lam Trong qui voulait réaliser son portrait.

« Il m’a fait rencontrer la communauté asiatique du xiiie arrondissement de Paris, raconte-t-elle à『20 Minutes』, et notamment un groupe de copains : Jacques, David, Kim Nay, Kim Lys et My-Anh. Ils ont tous des métiers très différents et ne sont pas politisés. » Ensemble, ils décident de s’inspirer d’une vidéo tournée aux États-Unis et incitant la communauté asiatique à s’inscrire sur les listes électorales.

« Je n’ai pas du tout eu besoin de les convaincre »
Après un rapide crowdfunding et grâce à un studio prêté par la journaliste et productrice Mélissa Theuriau, le tournage est bouclé en quelques jours. Hélène Lam Trong s’étonne même de ne pas avoir eu à forcer pour convaincre les stars de participer. « François Trinh-Duc est venu exprès de Marcoussis [centre d’entraînement de l’équipe de France de rugby] pour participer au clip, Alphonse Areola est venu après l’entraînement avec le PSG avec sa voiture », explique-t-elle.

Au final, la vidéo est le résultat d’un compromis : « le groupe que j’ai rencontré voulait surtout s’adresser à la communauté, moi je voulais que ça parle à tout le monde, explique la journaliste : on a essayé de trouver un équilibre, c’est pour ça qu’on incite les gens à s’exprimer de manière générale, pas forcément en votant. »

Le ras-le-bol de la communauté
L’intiative rappelle que la communauté asiatique est victime de discriminations. À l’été 2016, plusieurs marches avaient été organisées à Paris et Aubervilliers après la mort de Zhang Chaolin, un couturier victime d’une très violente agression au moment d’un vol. « Ces délinquants nous croient riches, s’énervait Joëlle, rencontrée en 2016 par『20 Minutes』. Ils sont persuadés que nous nous promenons avec beaucoup de liquide sur nous ».

En décembre 2016, Anthony Cheylan, rédacteur en chef de Clique TV, se fendait d’un article cinglant après un sketch de Kev Adams et de Gad Elmaleh rempli de clichés sur les Chinois.

Avec ce nouveau clip, Hélène Lam Trong n’a pas forcément de but précis : « On n’a pas réfléchi à la suite, reconnait-elle, je pense que ceux qui ont participé ont envie d’initier un mouvement pour montrer que quand on se met dans la lumière ce n’est que du bon. »

「Clip Asiatiques de France」 - posted on March 23, 2017.

Avec: Steve Tran, Frédéric Chau, Linh-Dan Pham, Leng Toan, François Trinh-Duc, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Pierre Sang, Anggun, Raphaël Yem, Alphonse Areola, Hom Nguyen, Alexandre Nguy, Paul Duan, Émilie Tran Nguyen, Monsieur Nov, Soc Lam, Sophie Hua, Sommany Nhouyvanisvong, Nhi Oum, Nguyen Vy Thuy, Véronique Ung, Éloïse Giromanay, Ty Boun Tai, Sophie In, M. Nguyen, les Smileyz, My Anh Hoang, Jessica Liu, Elsa, Christelle, Hervé et Léo Vongsamay.

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Myriam Levain 「Les asiatiques de France en ont ras-le-bol des clichés et le disent dans un clip」

La journaliste Hélène Lam Trong a rassemblé des personnalités et des anonymes asiatiques français dans un clip qui remet en question les stéréotypes dont est victime la communauté asiatique en France.

Hélène Lam Trong & Pierre Sang

Du chef Pierre Sang aux comédiens Frédéric Chau et Lin Dan Pham, en passant par de nombreux anonymes qui ont accueilli l’idée avec enthousiasme, c’est un joli petit groupe que la journaliste Hélène Lam Trong, 35 ans, a réussi à réunir en quelques jours, quand le projet de tourner un clip contre les clichés sur les Asiatiques s’est accéléré. Si c’est un groupe d’habitants du xiiie arrondissement qui en est à l’origine, c’est la jeune femme qui s’est démenée pour donner corps à cette envie. Interview express.

C’est quoi le message principal de ce clip ?

Le message est double : rappeler que les Français d’origine asiatique sont des Français à part entière, tout en les incitant à investir davantage l’espace public. C’est modeste comme ambition, mais on part quasiment de zéro. Il s’agit juste de dire « Je ne suis pas discret, je ne suis pas mangeur de chien, je ne suis pas tching tchong, niakoué ou Bruce Lee. Je suis professeur des écoles, footballeur, médecin, agent immobilier, rugbyman, avocat, comédien, comédienne, chanteuse, étudiante, retraité, chef cuisinier, journaliste etc. Français, quoi ».

「Clip Asiatiques de France」 - posted on March 23, 2017.

Avec: Steve Tran, Frédéric Chau, Linh-Dan Pham, Leng Toan, François Trinh-Duc, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Pierre Sang, Anggun, Raphaël Yem, Alphonse Areola, Hom Nguyen, Alexandre Nguy, Paul Duan, Émilie Tran Nguyen, Monsieur Nov, Soc Lam, Sophie Hua, Sommany Nhouyvanisvong, Nhi Oum, Nguyen Vy Thuy, Véronique Ung, Éloïse Giromanay, Ty Boun Tai, Sophie In, M. Nguyen, les Smileyz, My Anh Hoang, Jessica Liu, Elsa, Christelle, Hervé et Léo Vongsamay.

Pourquoi t’es-tu investie dans ce projet ?

Le projet est né d’une rencontre, il y a quelques semaines à peine. J’étais en train de tourner un documentaire pour France 2, sur l’acteur Frédéric Chau. À travers lui, il était bien sûr question des problématiques que rencontrent aujourd’hui les Français d’origine asiatique. Nous avons notamment tourné dans le xiiie arrondissement de Paris, pendant le Nouvel An chinois. Et j’y ai rencontré des habitants actifs du quartier. Parmi eux, il y avait un groupe de cinq vieux copains, aux professions très éloignées des médias et du show-biz (traiteurs, agent de voyage, marketing, expert comptable...). Ils m’ont montré une vidéo faite par les Américains d’origine asiatique en disant « on aimerait tellement qu’une vidéo pareille existe en France ! ». Parce que je suis moi-même à moitié vietnamienne, j’ai une sensibilité à tout ce qui touche la communauté asiatique, même si j’ai grandi loin d’elle. J’ai proposé que cette vidéo, on la fasse ensemble. Mais en posant quelques conditions : ne pas lui donner de sens proprement politique et s’adresser à tous les Français, pas uniquement à ceux d’origine asiatique. J’ai tâté le terrain auprès de plusieurs personnalités, elles ont toutes été extrêmement enthousiastes. Mélissa Theuriau a accepté de nous soutenir dans la production. Du coup, on s’est lancés.

« Si on n’a plus envie d’être invisibles, il faut oser le dire. »

Comment expliquer le manque de visibilité des asiatiques en France ?

Le manque de visibilité vient, à mon sens, d’un manque de représentativité. Aujourd’hui, il y a des asiatiques dans tous les secteurs d’activité, à tous niveaux de qualification. En revanche, ils sont moins présents dans le paysage médiatique et donc dans l’imaginaire collectif. Le meilleur exemple est peut-être le cinéma où il reste rarissime de voir un comédien d’origine asiatique interpréter un Français lambda. Par ailleurs, il faut le dire, une certaine réserve a été adoptée par la « première » génération d’immigrés asiatiques, ceux arrivés en masse à la fin des années 70, début des années 80. Probablement parce qu’ils avaient tout perdu et étaient dans une logique de survie pure. Peut-être aussi qu’en tant que réfugiés accueillis, à l’époque, à bras ouverts par la France, ils se sentaient redevables. Ce qui les a rendus peu enclins à dénoncer le racisme qui pouvait les viser. Mais cette réserve n’est plus ce à quoi aspirent les deuxième et troisième générations.

Notre génération sera-t-elle celle du changement ?

C’est une évidence. Même s’il existe des freins intergénérationnels : adopter une attitude qui s’inscrit en opposition avec celle de ses parents n’est pas toujours simple. Au sein de la communauté, on sent un vrai souci de ne pas froisser les aînés... associé à une vraie volonté d’avancer. Pas facile ! Cependant, le changement s’impose un peu de fait. Aujourd’hui, les asiatiques sont visés directement par des actes violents, ils font l’objet de sketches et de blagues que plus personne n’ose se permettre à propos d’autres communautés. Pour renverser les préjugés, il faut mouiller la chemise. Ça peut prendre des formes différentes mais si on n’a plus envie d’être invisibles, il faut oser le dire. Haut et fort.

Author: Marine Le Breton/Date: March 23, 2017/Source: http://cheekmagazine.fr/societe/clip-asiatiques-france-helene-lam-trong/

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Taylor Henderson 「Asian Men Recreate Famous Underwear Ads to Prove They’re Sexy AF」

Posted on March 22, 2017 commentaires
Fresh off of Steve Harvey’s nasty comment about the unattractiveness of Asian men, the folks over at BuzzFeed decided to dig into the history behind Asian beauty standards in American pop culture.

Producer Eugene Yang sat down Jeff Yang, Parvesh Cheena, and David Dang and asked “Why the fuck aren’t Asian men considered sexy?”

In 2014, online dating site OkCupid released data showing a clear bias against Asian men when it comes to responses on their dating app. Multiple studies and statistics have affirmed a racial bias against Asian men, but where did this bias come from?

Yang and his panel believe it has something to do with how Asian men are represented in television and media. If you think about the Asian men you’ve seen on screen (Ken Jeong in 「Community」 and Aziz Ansari in 「Parks and Recreation」 are the first ones to come to mind), they’re often comedic relief and aren’t sexually motivated. Yang explains that “if you are an Asian lead, you almost have to be super hot.”

BuzzFeed enlisted four guys to tear down those Asian male stereotypes. These “average Joes” recreated underwear ads that have defined America’s idea of male masculinity for decades.

BuzzFeedVideo 「Asian Men Re-Create Iconic Underwear Ads」 - posted on March 17, 2017.

The four guys also open up about their own insecurities growing up Asian American, and their nervousness in revitalising such iconic photos.

The recreated photos include Mark Wahlberg, David Beckham, Justin Beiber, and Jamie Dornan’s Calvin Klein advertisements.

The guys’ final shots look smokin’ hot and they had a blast doing during the shoot too.

The experiment showed us that seeing a face that looks like yours as the hot underwear model can definitely change how you think about your own sexiness and self-confidence.

It is indeed worth a shot. I would love to see guys of all different kinds of body types on billboards and in films. (A boy can dream...)

The panel did have some last words of advice they really needed the world to hear.

I volunteer!

Taylor Henderson
Pop culture nerd. Lives for drama. Obsessed with Beyoncé's womb. Tweets way too much.

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Ross A. Lincoln 「Why Twitter is Upset That Lewis Tan Wasn’t Picked to Play ‘Iron Fist’」

Posted on March 20, 2017 commentaires

The actor, who appeared as a villain in episode 8 of the Netflix/Marvel series, talks about “missed opportunity”

The discussion of Asian representation in film and television has been reignited this week following the less-than-well received premiere of Marvel’s 「Iron Fist」 and the news that Marvel almost went in a different direction, casting-wise.

After a months-long search, 「Game of Thrones」 vet Finn Jones landed the role of Danny Rand/the Immortal Iron Fist on Marvel’s Netflix series, which premiered last week. But prior to the announcement that Jones would play the lead – and concurrent with the controversy that Tilda Swinton had been cast as the Ancient One, originally an Asian character, in 「Doctor Strange」 – a very public effort was made to convince Marvel to cast an Asian instead of a white actor (since the character is white in the original comics).

That didn’t end up happening as Marvel chose to cast according to the source material. So, it was after critical and audience reaction to 「Iron Fist」 was, to say the least, very mixed, the issue of casting returned to the fore. In reviews, many critics noted in particular a moment early on, when white man Danny Rand lectures Asian American martial arts phenom Colleen Wing (played by Jessica Henwick) about martial arts, as emblematic of the show’s deeper problems.

As it turns out, Marvel did consider casting an Asian actor in the lead role, and one who came pretty close to getting it was action and stunt actor Lewis Tan, whose stunt credits include 「The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift」 and 「Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End」, among others. Tan auditioned for the role of Iron Fist/Danny Rand, but was ultimately cast as a very well-received one-off villain (Marvel baddie Zhou Cheng) for the show’s eighth episode. In fact, Tan’s brief appearance has been singled out as one of the show’s real highlights.

Tan sat down with Vulture this week to talk about the show, his experiences as a half white, half Chinese actor (he is from England), and offer frank thoughts about what might have been. The quote that has everyone talking comes later in the interview, when Tan was asked about the push, prior to the announcement of Finn Jones, to cast an Asian actor as Danny Rand.

“It is a missed opportunity. That’s exactly how I feel about it, word for word,” Tan said. “It would’ve been a brave thing to do, for sure, for Marvel. I can see how that was difficult to make that decision. I think, personally, it would’ve paid off. But I think it’ll come next because people are feeling underrepresented. People are like, “Yo, this was a perfect opportunity to represent us.” They chose not to, and it’s not even their fault.”

Tan continued:

“I see why they stuck to the source material because it’s very risky to move away from that, but they’ll move away from it in other areas and in other shows where they’ll take an Asian character and make him white. So you can’t really win with that argument. Because we’ve seen many times when they’ve taken Asian characters and made him white.”

Suffice to say, in the hours since the interview, that quote alone has Twitter users of all backgrounds aflame with jokes and outright disappointment that the role might have gone to one of the show’s standouts. Read on for a sampling.

Of course, not everyone considers it a particularly bad outcome, though not for the reasons Marvel might have hoped.

Author: Ross A. Lincoln/Date: March 20, 2017/Source: http://www.thewrap.com/twitter-upset-lewis-tan-wasnt-picked-play-iron-fist/

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E. Alex Jung 「Meet Lewis Tan, the Asian-American Actor Who Could Have Been Iron Fist」


It’s hard to not imagine what could have been. For years, Asian-Americans had hoped that Marvel would cast an Asian-American actor as the lead of its Netflix series 「Iron Fist」, only for the role to go to 「Game Of Thrones」 alum Finn Jones. The decision wasn’t exactly surprising – after all, the character Danny Rand is white in the original comics – but a casting reversal would have turned a stereotypical narrative into a fresh story about an Asian-American reclaiming his roots. Now, we know that Marvel had seriously considered the possibility: Actor Lewis Tan was on hold for Danny Rand before he was offered the role of the one-off villain Zhou Cheng, who appears in episode eight of 「Iron Fist」.

Tan, a half-Chinese, half-white actor, is the son of renowned martial artist and stunt coordinator Philip Tan. He was originally born in Manchester, England, but calls Los Angeles home, and can switch fluidly between British and American accents. In a narrative familiar to Asian-American actors, Tan has steadily worked his way through Hollywood, which means doing a string of roles as an Asian gangster in TV procedurals. “I’m six-two, I’m a 180 pounds, I’m a muscular, half-Asian dude,” Tan told me on the phone. “They’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know what to do with this guy.’” We talked about auditions, his most brutal injuries, and why Danny Rand would have been a great Asian-American part.

How did you come to audition for 「Iron Fist」?

Well, I knew about 「Iron Fist」 before anyone was talking about it in the public. I heard it going around inside the industry, and I was like, “Wow, if I get a chance to audition for the lead, this could potentially be a great vehicle for me.” I had a lot to offer here, but I knew that the character is white in the comic book, so I was concerned. But I thought at least I had a shot – I’m half white and I do martial arts and I could easily play that role. So I was excited. And then I read for Danny and they liked me a lot. I read again and again and again, and it was a long process, and it got to the point where they were talking about my availability and my dates. That’s always a good sign, you know? And then they went with Finn and they had me read for a villain part maybe two weeks later. I was in Spain, and I read for the part and I got it.

So you originally read for Danny Rand.

Yeah, I read for Danny originally. I think they were highly considering it at one point in time, but it would have definitely changed the dynamic of the show. It would have been a different show.

Did you have conversations with them about the significance of casting an Asian-American?

I personally think it would have been a really interesting dynamic to see this Asian-American guy who’s not in touch with his Asian roots go and get in touch with them and discover this power. I think that’s super interesting and we’ve never seen that. We’ve seen this narrative already; we’ve seen it many times. So I thought it would be cool and that it would add some more color to 「The Defenders」. And obviously I can do my own fight sequences, so those would be more dynamic. I think it would be really interesting to have that feeling of an outsider. There’s no more of an outsider than an Asian-American: We feel like outsiders in Asia and we feel like outsiders at home. That’s been really difficult – especially for me. It’s been hard for me, because in the casting world, it’s very specific. So when they see me and I’m six-two, I’m a 180 pounds, I’m a muscular half-Asian dude. They’re like, “Well, I don’t know what to do with this guy.” They’re like, “He’s not Asian, he’s not white … no.” That’s what I’ve been dealing with my whole life. So I understand those frustrations of being an outsider. Like Danny’s character. I understand him very well.

There was a huge push from Asian-Americans to cast an Asian-American actor as Iron Fist, and it would have made this story more compelling for precisely the reasons you’re saying: The narrative of having an Asian-American going back to Asia after losing his parents as a metaphor for regaining power is a really great one. It feels like a missed opportunity.

It is a missed opportunity. That’s exactly how I feel about it, word for word. It would’ve been a brave thing to do, for sure, for Marvel. I can see how that was difficult to make that decision. I think, personally, it would’ve paid off. But I think it’ll come next because people are feeling underrepresented. People are like, “Yo, this was a perfect opportunity to represent us.” They chose not to, and it’s not even their fault. I see why they stuck to the source material because it’s very risky to move away from that, but they’ll move away from it in other areas and in other shows where they’ll take an Asian character and make him white. So you can’t really win with that argument. Because we’ve seen many times when they’ve taken Asian characters and made him white.

Did they tell you why you didn’t get the part?

No. It doesn’t really work that way. I mean, you put your blood and sweat and tears into these things and then you just end up not getting a phone call. I got a lot of positive feedback and a lot of positive encouragement from Marvel and from the casting people. So I know they were saying good things about me, but then they chose not to [cast me]. But then the fact that they asked me to read again for a different character is a testament to they liked my work enough.

What have your experiences been like going out for auditions?

It’s been a learning process, but my whole life has kind of been like that. And before me, my father had a really rough childhood and upbringing, but it made him strong and he succeeded in so much. His parents abandoned him when he was a kid on the streets in China and then he raised himself and he’s achieved so many things in his life. That pressure made him strong and made him courageous. He’s a great man. I look up to him a lot. It’s done the same for me because I had a really hard time, because I want to be the best in my ability – not just in martial arts, but in my craft too. So when I go in the room, I am the best one there, so they don’t have an excuse. So they can’t say, “Well, this guy he’s Asian so, you know, let’s not give it to him.” They see my craft and they go, “Damn. Okay, this is an option.” That’s my goal. That’s why I work hard and that’s why I train.

It’s been real frustrating when you put in that much work and you get very little, but then I look back at Bruce Lee, I look back at Jackie, I look back at these guys who were paving the way and they also suffered. Bruce wrote this series [「Kung Fu」] that didn’t get picked up, because they didn’t trust that Bruce Lee was a star. He’s a superstar. That, to me, is courageous. It makes me inspired and keeps me going, but yeah, it’s been a long, hard process. I have been blessed and fortunate enough to be working. I don’t have another job. This is all I do.

Do you feel like you do martial arts because it’s something you need to keep up as an Asian-American actor?

That’s a good question. I actually love martial arts. If I didn’t love it, I would’ve stopped. To me, it’s meditation and it’s put me in tune with my body in so many different ways. It’s also made me a better actor. Like Stella Adler said, acting is not in the words. Everything else is acting: the emotions, the physicality, your energy, your spirit. That’s where it comes from and that’s connected to martial arts. I love it. And if I got to whoop that ass, I can whoop that ass.

Have you tried to avoid roles that you think are stereotypical or offensive?

I’ve turned down a couple roles. My agents will tell you when I first signed with them, I turned down the first three or four things that came up. I’ve just turned down roles that were super-stereotypically Asian that I didn’t feel represented me and I didn’t want to do. Not to necessarily say they’re bad roles, but it just wasn’t me. I’m not going to do this dorky Asian accent and just play someone in the background. That’s not why I’m here to act. I’m here to represent and to make stories that I believe in and to achieve new things in the industry. If it’s not pushing that, then it’s hard for me to take those jobs. But a lot of the roles that I got when I first started acting were villain roles: Yakuza, Chinese gangsters. I’ve played every single Asian gangster there is on every single 「CSI」 or crime show. I just have to try make something different each time or else I get bored.

What do you think you need to do to get to the next level?

It’s just getting in front of the right people. I read for a Forest Whitaker film called 「Sacrifice」 that’s not released yet. We shot it already, and he cast me as a Southern football player. That’s it. There’s no martial arts. It’s just a drama. I play a Southern football player from West Texas. And man, he’s an artist. Forest Whitaker is a visionary. You have people like that and they see the future and they don’t see you as some ninja. They’re like, “Oh, right, he’s an actor.” It’s going to take people of color behind the camera, it’s going to take even Caucasian people with a broader scope or a deeper understanding of how the world looks now. The world doesn’t look black and white. The world is grey. Everything is grey. Everybody’s mixed up. Like, it’s 2017. People want to see themselves represented and we want to see what our real life looks like on film and on TV. That’s why those movies that don’t show that – they flop. Because people are like, “Ah, that’s not how it is.” And now people are pretty angry.

Do you feel like you have to work harder to get the same opportunities?

Yeah, we have to work harder to see ourselves represented. But like I said, that determination makes the greatest actors and the greatest artists if you don’t shy away from it. When you see these people and they do get roles, they take an inch and they make it a mile. They really go there. That’s how I’ve looked at it. Even with this part with Marvel. Was I frustrated being on set knowing that I was on hold for the lead and that I can do that? Yeah, it was frustrating. But when I do my thing and when you see me on camera, it’s always going to be dynamic. Because I put in ten times more work. I hope that the fans see it and they notice those things and people enjoy it.

What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?

One time for a commercial, I was in Chicago and I snowboarded behind a train and I got caught in the tracks and it threw me and I almost broke my ribs. If you Google “Mountain Dew Train Boarding” that’s me. That was one of the gnarliest things I ever did.

What was it like working with Finn Jones?

He has a lot on his shoulders. He just seemed focused, and he was a nice guy.


[Laughs.] I mean, you know what? It’s hard for me to answer that and I’m not trying to be weird about it or anything. The real reason is, I’m so focused on what I’m doing that when him and I are there, he’s focused on what he’s doing and that’s what it is. It’s not like we really get a chance to hang out and chill. I mean, Jessica Henwick was in the gym training with us every day so we got a chance to become friends. Finn and I never really hung out. If he wasn’t on set, he was doing something else because he’s busy. He’s the lead. So we never really got a chance to connect. But as far as when we’re doing our scenes together, I’m just in character. I’m just there, in the zone, focused on what I have to do.

What kinds of roles do you want to play?

I want to play roles that are going to give the younger generations of Asian-Americans hope, where they see themselves as love interests, as heroes, as badasses, as confident protagonists. It’s a vicious cycle: They see themselves as nerds and fourth and fifth secondary characters in the background, and that’s how they start to feel. And they start to think that other people feel that way about them because of their ethnicity. Everybody loves cinema, everybody watches it and it affects the world. So I want to play roles that they can look at and be inspired by. I would love to just play normal roles – just a character, it doesn’t have to be an “Asian” character. I would love to play interesting roles. I would love to do Macbeth. I mean, you fall in love with the words and you’re like, “I’m never going to get to play that.” That’s disheartening. I get to do that stuff in class. I get to do it when I put plays up. But I would love to take on all types of roles and not have to worry about my race.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Author: E. Alex Jung/Date: March 20, 2017/Source: http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/lewis-tan-marvel-iron-fist-interview.html

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

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Sora Hwang 「‘The Good Place’’s Manny Jacinto on Playing a Non-Stereotypical Asian Role」

Posted on March 14, 2017 commentaires
Photos by Dianne Doan

There is nothing stereotypical about Jason Mendoza, Manny Jacinto’s character on 「The Good Place」.

For starters, he uses “dawg” in every other sentence, aspires to be a professional DJ, and isn’t exactly the brightest bulb.

“He’s not your typical hardworking nerdy Asian stereotype,” Jacinto says of his comedic role. “He is the complete opposite and it pushes forward a sense that not every Asian is going to be smart and hardworking.”

The show’s writers crafted Jason that way intentionally, Jacinto explains, because they noticed that “there are no dumb Asians in mainstream media.” His easygoing, simpleminded personality is exactly what Jacinto loves about his character.

But Jason’s vernacular and lack of intellect aren’t the only unconventional things about him in Hollywood. Aside from being mistaken for a Buddhist monk named Jianyu Li in what seems like the show’s version of heaven – aptly referred to as “the good place” – his ethnicity is never explicitly addressed.

“His culture doesn’t make up his character,” Jacinto explains. Though the fact that he’s from Taiwan is in the script, “he’s not defined by his ethnicity, so you don’t hear him speak Tagalog or Mandarin or whatever it may be. He’s really, at the end of the day, a person, just like any other individual.” Even when Jason speaks to a friend of color, “they’re having a normal conversation as people. It’s not something you see in mainstream media at all – usually, there’s some sort of cultural joke.”

The Canadian actor understands the importance of addressing racial differences, but he believes the opposite end of the spectrum, like Jason’s character in NBC’s hit comedy, is just as necessary. “When you step away from [introducing a culture] and you have a person of color just being a regular person, you start changing people’s mindset in the idea that, ‘Oh, I can see myself in this person even though we’re a different color,’” he says.

Though he continues to look up to Asian American actors like John Cho and Daniel Dae Kim, Jacinto came to another realization that further breaks the mold.

“When I asked my African Canadian friend who his favorite actors were, he didn’t necessarily name specific African American actors. He started naming just all-around actors,” Jacinto recalls. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, why can’t I have that same thing?’ So then, I started to look at other actors like Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch.”

One day, Jacinto hopes to be a similar role model for younger generations, but especially for those who don’t see anyone who looks like them on screen. “I want to be able to inspire the next kid, the young kid, to have somebody to look up to in a sense, that they can be this or be that,” he says. “That was the biggest part for me – for Asian males specifically to not just be an Asian nerd or an Asian martial artist.”

His passion stems from personal experiences, having faced discrimination firsthand. “I’ve had jobs as a server or bartender where they’ll assume that I’ll do the work [and] that I can be taken advantage of because they think we’re a subservient culture,” Jacinto shares. “There’s always that assumption and it sucks that that happens still to this day.”

The continued normality of demeaning jokes and stereotypes against Asian men (most recently, from Steve Harvey) has pushed Jacinto to strive for change in the medium he can best contribute to: movies and television.

“It really kills me how Asian males are being emasculated, especially in TV and film,” he says. “I’ve definitely been a victim of discrimination and that’s one of the biggest reasons that I stay in this game – so I can change that.”

Jacinto has given himself a mammoth goal, but with his philosophy, he’s on the right track.

“Bottom line: We are actors first. We are creators first. We are artists first,” he says. ”And by taking hold of that identity rather than being an Asian actor, we can do a lot more.”

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Alex Davidson 「10 great gay films from east and south-east Asia」

Posted on March 09, 2017 commentaires
Take a look at the best gay films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Our list includes films from across east and south-east Asia, including works from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Gay rights, and representation of gay men on screen, vary hugely from country to country, offering a rich diversity of fascinating movies. Films that would have made the cut had they been more easily available include Stanley Kwan’s romantic tragedy 「Lan Yu」 (2001), the flawed but fascinating Filipino crime drama 「Macho Dancer」 (1988), and two Japanese ‘pink cinema’ titles – 「Beautiful Mystery」 (1983) and 「I Like You, I Like You Very Much」 (1994).

If east and south-east Asian films about gay men rarely make it to DVD, films about lesbians are rarer still. The groundbreaking 「Fish And Elephant」 (2001) is hard to find, 「Blue Gate Crossing」 (2002) is out of print, while 「All About Love」 (2010) and the award-winning 「Spider Lilies」 (2006) didn’t get a British DVD release. We hope that, with classic lesbian titles becoming increasingly successful, albeit at a shamefully slow rate, a future list on gay female east Asian films will appear in the future.

「Funeral Parade Of Roses」 (1969)
Director Toshio Matsumoto

Hold on tight, as 「Funeral Parade Of Roses」 takes you on an outrageous journey through sex, drugs, drag and Oedipal horror, in a weird and rather terrifying walk on the wild side. The bananas plot is pure camp: transvestite performer Eddie (played by Peter, later the fool in Akira Kurosawa’s 「Ran」 (1985)) strikes up a fierce rivalry with another drag queen in Shinjuku Ni-chōme, Tokyo’s gay ghetto. Eddie tries to forget harrowing memories of killing his mother – and anyone who knows their Greek tragedy will second-guess the identity of the manager of a gay bar with whom he then shacks up.

A direct influence on Stanley Kubrick’s 「A Clockwork Orange」 (1971), 「Funeral Parade Of Roses」 gleefully subverts all notion of respectability, giving the viewer an unashamed snapshot of 1960s Japanese gay subculture on the way, as queers in Tokyo speak their minds to the camera.

「Farewell My Concubine」 (1993)
Director Chen Kaige

The unrequited gay love story at the heart of Chen Kaige’s Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece is often overlooked, with critics concentrating their admiration on the incredibly ambitious scope of the film, taking in over half a century of Chinese history. It follows the friendship of two men, brought up through the strict training of the Peking Opera School. Dieyi (Leslie Cheung) has been trained in female roles, and plays the concubine to the King of Chu, played by his friend Xiaolou (Zhang Fengyi). Dieyi falls in love with Xiaolou, but the latter marries a prostitute (Gong Li, excellent), ushering in a complex saga of love and betrayal.

Cheung is remarkable as the tragic figure of Dieyi, a damaged and abused individual who resorts to dreadful betrayal when threatened by the Red Guards. Cheung, who came out as bisexual, was a hugely successful pop star in Hong Kong as well as an acclaimed actor, starring in several films by Wong Kar-wai, including 「Happy Together」 (1997). After years of suffering from depression, he killed himself in 2003.

「East Palace, West Palace」 (1996)
Director Zhang Yuan

Power play is a major theme of this intense drama, in which a gay man is apprehended while cruising in a park and spends the night in a police station under the stern eye of the arresting officer. As the detainee tells the disapproving cop about his tumultuous life, it becomes clear he is subtly trying to seduce the masculine policeman. When the officer releases the gay man from custody, he refuses to leave, and things takes turn for the twisted. Jean Genet would have loved it.

The Chinese Film Bureau weren’t fans of this subversive work, and confiscated director Zhang Yuan’s passport. Opting to use a gay man to symbolise free spirits and a possibly homosexual guard to represent Chinese authority was a risky move, complicated by the former’s sado-masochistic declaration of love for his captor. Despite a low budget, it’s a beautiful and highly provocative work. The title is a reference to the parks flanking the Forbidden City, popular cruising grounds for Beijing’s gay men.

「Happy Together」 (1997)
Director Wong Kar-wai

This is one of the coolest gay films ever made, a vivid and exhilarating depiction of two men from Hong Kong – Lai (Tony Leung) and Ho (Leslie Cheung) – in an intense on-again-off-again relationship, who travel to Argentina to visit Iguazu Falls, but end up repeating the cycle of infidelity and cruelty. After yet another break-up, Lai meets the handsome and possibly gay Chang, whose friendship jolts Lai into facing up to his responsibilities, and offers a chance of happiness and redemption.

Wong Kar-wai enjoyed an extraordinary string of success from 1990-2000, including 「Chungking Express」 (1994), the perfect date movie, and 「In The Mood For Love」 (2000), one of cinema’s greatest love stories. 「Happy Together」, which won him the best director award at Cannes, is one of his best, with a terrific central performance from Leung as a young, insecure man yearning for romance. As so often with Wong Kar-wai, the last shot, accompanied by a brassy cover of the title song, is unforgettable.

「Gohatto」 (1999)
Director Nagisa Oshima

‘Gohatto’ means ‘taboo’ in Japanese, and here the forbidden subject is homosexuality. In 19th-century Japan, a young and beautiful swordsman (Ryuhei Matsuda) joins a group of samurai. Although homosexuality is forbidden, he immediately arouses the attention of his fellow warriors, including the stern vice-commander (Takeshi Kitano). Sexual jealousy inevitably rears its head, and violence ensues.

Unorthodox erotic obsession permeates the best-known works of Nagisa Oshima, notably the ultra-controversial 「Ai no Corrida」 (1976), with its graphic scenes of unsimulated sex, and the homoerotic atmosphere of the prison camp in 「Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence」 (1983). 「Gohatto」 is especially interesting given Oshima’s criticism of the work of Akira Kurosawa. A world away from the male bonding of 「Seven Samurai」 (1954), Gohatto’s world without women is vicious and destructive. The last scene, set by a lake, is incredibly beautiful.

「Tokyo Godfathers」 (2003)
Director Satoshi Kon

A funny and moving reimagining of John Ford’s western 「3 Godfathers」 (1948), Satoshi Kon’s animation follows a trio of homeless people – an alcoholic man, a former drag queen and a young female runaway – who discover a baby in a pile of rubbish. They embark on a journey to track down the child’s mother, and reveal details of their past lives as they traipse through snowy Tokyo.

It’s unclear in the story whether Hana is a cross-dressing gay man or a trans woman. Either way, Hana is a fantastic character, who dreams of bringing up a baby and shows the most kindness of the threesome. Even Hana’s one moment of cruelty, when Hana deliberately humiliates the alcoholic man in front of his daughter, is done out of perverse kindness. The bond between the three is seemingly unbreakable, and together they form the tightest of units, reinventing the concept of family. A queer fairytale.

「Tropical Malady」 (2004)
Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul

On the festival circuit, Apichatpong ‘Joe’ Weerasethakul has established himself as Thailand’s leading director, having scooped multiple prizes at Cannes, including the Palme d’Or for 「Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives」 (2010). Homosexual themes suffuse much of his work (Weerasethakul is gay himself), manifesting as out and out camp in the outrageous 「The Adventure Of Iron Pussy」 (2003). But best of all is 「Tropical Malady」, one of the most mesmerising and surreal gay love stories ever told.

A soldier and a country boy fall for each other and pay regular visits to the Thai jungle. So far, so unremarkable. Then one of the men is spirited away and the narrative whirls into a different world. The soldier appears to be on the trail of an apparently shape-shifting entity which may or may not be his departed lover. It’s utterly bizarre and utterly beautiful – a shot of a tree lit up by fireflies is astonishing, as is the hypnotic final encounter between the hero and a tiger.

「The Blossoming Of Maximo Oliveros」 (2005)
Director Auraeus Solito

A gay Filipino kid with a penchant for drag is the subject of Auraeus Solito’s funny but gritty coming-of-age film. Young Maximo, whose family make their living through petty thievery, lives in a poor area of Manila. A police officer investigates the family’s crimes, and Maximo develops a deep crush on him. The two form a tight if unusual friendship, which is jeopardised as the officer’s duty threatens Maximo’s family.

Nathan Lopez gives a wonderfully guileless performance as Maximo, who grows from the dizzy kid dressing up as Miss World at the start of the film to the mature adolescent who walks off to a brave new future at the end, in a knowing nod to 「The Third Man」 (1949). The film deservedly won the Teddy award, celebrating the best LGBT cinema, at the Berlin Film Festival.

「I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone」 (2006)
Director Tsai Ming-liang

Gay characters appear throughout the work of Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang, from the suicidal homosexual man in 「Vive l’Amour」 (1994), the hopeful horny Japanese guy cruising the cinema in 「Goodbye, Dragon Inn」 (2003) and the father and son in the bleak 「The River」 (1997). Sadly few of his greatest films are available on DVD, with the exception of the beautiful 「I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone」.

In his first feature made in Malaysia (his previous work was filmed in Taiwan), Ming-liang regular Lee Kang-sheng stars in two roles – as a comatose man cared for by a woman, and as a migrant worker in Kuala Lumpur who is beaten up and cared for by a gay Bangladeshi man. The latter falls for his patient, despite their different languages. The film uses many of the tropes of Ming-liang’s previous works – long takes, a slow pace, themes of longing and loneliness – to create a beautiful and unclassifiable work.

「Soundless Wind Chime」 (2009)
Director Kit Hung

In this globe-trotting semi-autobiographical debut feature from Kit Hung, Ricky, a delivery boy working in Hong Kong, falls in love with petty thief Pascal (Bernhard Bulling), who pinches his wallet. The two start a passionate relationship, but tragedy strikes. Numb with grief, Ricky travels to his lover’s native Switzerland, and meets Ueli (Bulling again), who looks exactly like Pascal. They, too, begin a relationship. But is Ueli’s resemblance to Pascal mere coincidence?

The non-linear narrative can be tricky to follow, and the film demands more than one viewing to tease out its mysteries. It’s an enigmatic film with some gorgeous flourishes (check out the yodelling-backed scene in the Swiss bar), and a hugely impressive first (and hopefully not last) feature. 「Speechless」 (2012), another strange romance filmed in China, shares similar themes and is available on BFI Player.

Author: Alex Davidson/Date: March 09, 2017/Source: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/10-great-gay-films-east-asia

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