Self-Reflection at its Finest

Satire: the use of humor, exaggeration, ridicule, or irony to criticize the flaws of mankind/society.  Indeed, satire is the purest form of self-reflection as it takes things quirks that are so small one may not even notice their presence, and blow them so far out of proportion that the viewer can fully understand how meaningless, unreasonable, or just plain stupid certain things are.  Out among the current mass media is a television show that has been criticizing American society’s flaws since 1997 and continues to do so to this day.  I’m talking about South Park.  It’s vulgar, rude, and the most politically incorrect program on TV, but at the same time all of those things are what make it the perfect judgement of the state of America.  Especially when every stereotype, racist concept, or ridiculous are hoisted up and thrown at the viewer to the point that one will physically cringe at how stupid an unwarranted fear of another race truly is.

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The image above is taken from an episode aired just after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 entitled “The China Problem”.  In it, the characters are so stricken with fear over the Yellow Peril and belief that the Chinese are coming to invade that they dress up in extreme explicit yellowface, go to a PF Chang’s, and hold the restaurant hostage while demanding that the few Americanized Chinese people there tell them the invasion plans.  Now while such a chain of events is absurd and would never happen in the real world, it makes the viewer realize that those who are bigots and counter-productive to social equality look just as moronic as the boys in the show.

While Asians play a large role in the show, it is not the sole focus of the show.  Instead South Park works to take its viewers’ own homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, extreme political views, religious views, etc. and effectively slap them in the face with all of it.  Satire of this nature is an interesting thing to analyze on the basis that it takes a dominant reading of society and pushes it so hard that it evolves into resistant reading.

International Topless Jihad Day

The Stream discussed the Ukranian protest group named “FEMEN” and “Topless Jihad Day” this past Tuesday. The protest has quickly grown popularity to the extent that it has become global. Youtube videos of FEMEN are available all over the Internet of woman protesting topless for equality in the world. This new wave of feminism is not approved by a large amount of woman in other parts of the world. That the protest may work fine in the Ukraine but it will surely be a disaster in Middle Eastern countries. The big difference is the laws. Laws in other parts of the world protect woman whereas Middle Eastern countries want to stone Amina to death for exposing herself in the Internet. FEMEN provided the wrong type of protest that delivered attention that drew away from the actual protest. The protest did not get followed with actions to what they were actually protesting. When I saw some of the videos in my mind I thought, all I see are some topless crazy woman running around with signs and paint on them. To me, it is an unsuccessful campaign that is not delivering the positive message that they are striving for. It was not until I saw the video from The Stream that I understood the situation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KhEeDA4cllk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LyAVyEncZs

Game Crib: Team Solo Mid

Game Crib came out with a new web based series based on a pro team of a famous online video game, League of Legends.  League of Legends has become the biggest played Video game online in the past year, and pro teams make up a small fraction of the community. Game Crib decided to film the lives of a certain North American team, Team Solo Mid. For those who don’t know about TSM they are made up of all Asian Americans who have been living in America for the majority of their lives. It starts out with the first episode showing where they live and the house they live in, and it’s just like any other reality TV show like Jersey Shore. They also head out as a group and go to Verizon and look at phones and then go to other places that are needed like a grocery store. The entire Episode just felt very resistant to me where they were doing activities that you would have done when you were living with your friends at a college age. The stereo types did not exist within the show and it’s as if you could close your eyes and if you just listened to them you would not be able to guess what race they were.

I was blown away by a web based series about Asian Americans living together that has not been canceled half way through the series. It reminded me of All American Girl, of course it’s not on cable television but it has an all Asian American cast and in a way its breaking stereo types even if that’s not the original purpose they were trying to come across. I was then watching more episodes of the show and during one of the episodes they destroy the forever foreigner by all them going out playing paintball, hanging out with friends, and going rock climbing. It helped fight against stereo types of Asians and of Video Game players. It brought this feeling that even though their job is to play video games professionally they are well rounded and enjoy such a physical sport like paintball or rock climbing.

In a later episode they explain that at a tournament one of their team mates had been underperforming and they decided to replace him off the team to better their chances at winning. The drama that went on was felt by players all around the world and many people were talking about it. Just the overall feeling of this web series is a great resistant view on the dominant images of Asians in America. I suggest this web based series for anyone who likes to play video games online or is a big League of Legends fan.

http://www.gamespot.com/events/game-crib-tsm-snapdragon/

The Impact of Media Activism

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We live in a world where the internet and social media allows us to connect with almost anyone, and while the most common use of this power is to interact with an old friend or watch a funny cat be adorable, it’s easy to notice the true potential it holds. Over the last couple of years, that potential has slowly been coming together in the form of media activism. No matter what you’re view is, you now have the opportunity to get your message out to the public right at your fingertips. So, what impact can this have in our world?

A recent movement you might have noticed would be the Human Rights Campaign’s logo invasion of social media. Changing their traditional blue-and-yellow logo to red, the organization asked their followers to change their current avatars to the new logo and to encourage others to do so as well, in support of the on going battle for gay marriage. In a pleasant surprise, the campaign was more successful than the HRC could have anticipated, and now facebook pages and twitter feeds are full of customized versions of the logo. Among the many too show their support was Asian-American actor George Takei, a popular and well known activist for the awareness of both gay and Japanese rights, whose work has earned him awards from the American Humanist Association. Side note, his logo is on the bottom row, try to find it.

Actor/Activist George Takei

Actor/Activist George Takei

Openly gay and married, Takei has done his best to use social media to educate many on gay rights and to help in whatever way possible. In 2011, when Tennessee proposed a bill titled “Don’t say Gay”, prohibiting teachers to mention homosexuality in the classroom, Takei took action. Believing this was done to ignore the problem in hopes it goes away, he started his own campaign called “It’s okay to be Takei”, humorously offering his similar sounding name as an alternate word for those affected. Held as a child for four years in prison camps alongside his family, Takei also uses the media in attempts to raise awareness about the struggles Japanese Americans have endured here in the United States. He is currently considered a key and positive force in the relations of the two countries, and his efforts were even awarded by the Japanese national government back in 2004.

The big question with media activism is if it’s really capable of making an impact. Many believe this is just “Slacktivism”, a term used to describe those who support something to feel good, but don’t actually put in any effort when it matters. After all, the process of changing your avatar doesn’t exactly exemplify effort. The “Save Darfur Coalition” facebook page has over 1.2 million likes, yet only averages 9 cents in donations per “supporter”. Another problem is if the cause is even reaching the right people. In other words, how many Supreme Court Judges have you befriended on facebook recently? While these are all fair points, I think it’s important to take things in stride and enjoy the small victories. Maybe media activism doesn’t possess the ability to change the entire world just yet, but If posting a picture of an equal sign can make one person out there have a better day, it’s already a success.

GT activism: http://truth-out.org/news/item/15579-george-takeis-social-media-activism

Slacktivism article: http://dailyorange.com/2013/04/slack-social-media-campaign-for-equality-exemplifies-wrongful-replacement-of-true-activism/

Vincent who??

Do you know who Vincent chin? No, is the most common answer to this question shown in a video to spark Asian American activism. Vincent Chin was murdered at the age of 27 in 1982, beaten to death by two men with a baseball bat at a Detroit bar. The two men apparently blamed him for being out of work because the success of the Japanese auto industry. The two men even pleaded guilty and did not deny they did it and argued that it was just a simple bar fight with a bad ending and that it was not a racist act. The two men were given three years probation and a fine of $3,000. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Three years in probation… These men should be behind bars for life for a hate crime murder.  This incident caused Asian Americans around the country to protest this decision with heavy emphasis on their civil rights. This was said to be one of the first forms of civil rights movements for Asian Americans. This led federal prosecutors to try the two men who murdered him for violation of Chin’s civil rights. The main perpetrator was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the violation. Finally a little justice right, but no the appeal process overturned the ruling. Downright absurd I say.

                Activists are using his story to fuel young Asian Americans to seek justice and unite as a whole community to make change in America. The trailer made for the film attributes the lack of power positions held by Asians ultimately affected the outcome of this brutal crime. They promote the community to stand together and make a difference to bring change the way Asian Americans are represented in America. They want Asian’s to stop just wanting to “fit” in, go out and prove their thoughts, words, and actions count just as much as anyone else’s.

                The video wants people to strive to break the glass ceiling and never stop going up. It also promotes individuals to not just conform to the marginalized role our society has labeled Asian Americans with. They need people to challenge this dominant ideologies created by media representations that influence these stereotypes.  It is a fact that the hierarchical power structures of America must be changed for the greater good of our country as a whole but I believe another aspect to be attributed is civil injustices served by our country 30 years ago. This video trailer really touches the heart of people and I believe it can create great influential power within the Asian American community.

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All Asians Look the Same?

When it comes to being Asian, it is a very common thing to hear someone say: “Oh. All Asians look the same!” It’s funny how that is because it seems like it is only said about the Asian race. Why? I have no idea. It seems that our society is too lazy or think that it is useless to recognize the differences between the numerous ethnicities in the Asian race. You don’t hear people saying “all African Americans look the same!” or “all hispanics look the same.” It’s just Asians that look the same apparently.

On April 8th, Angry Asian Man made a blog post about an event that circled around this topic of Asians looking the same. One day in Portland, Oregon, there was a group of cyclist activist trying to promote something. During their ride, Krisapon Chaisawat (who is in fact Asian) decided to join up with the group just to meet some new people because he was new to the town. But instead of what could have been a nice even of meeting new people just turned into an event of accusations. These cyclist were just a little too paranoid and did not know any better. They accused Chaisawat as an undercover cop, that undercover cop being Captain Uehara.

Surprisingly (and I say that sarcastically), the Asian man who had joined in on their group ride was in fact not the same person they thought he was. Angry Asian Man mentions in his blog post that “race was a big factor in this foolishness,” and he is right. Just because someone is Asian, does not mean they look exactly the same as the next Asian person that shows up.

I remember when I was younger when people in my class would mistake me and my friend as sisters. Yes, we were both Filipino, but we looked very much different. The only quality we had in common was black hair. Our facial features, height different, and skin tone were very different, but the kids still kept asking us: “Are you guys sisters??” just because of the fact that we are both Asian. More recently, I even had an acquaintance say to me: “They’re all the same through squinted eyes.” And yes, this particular acquaintance happened to be half-Asian and he was saying this about his own race. Apparently even some Asians think we all look the same.

I guess society is just very narrow minded about the differences between Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Koreans, and so on.

Angry Asian Man’s Blog Post

New media activism

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The average person would have a hard time talking about new media activism without talking about thehacker group Anonymous. Formed by an anonymous coalition of anonymous individuals spread across the world, but bought together by the same mindset, teaching a lesson through exposing sensitive information. With their high-level hacking skills and numerous drone computers at their disposalAnonymous has made themselves famous by hacking into many well-known corporations andorganization’s websites and data bases. Anonymous was formed on a 4chan image board thread when one of the administrators of the boardInitiated the “Forced_Anon” protocol which signed all post on the board by Anonymous. This made the Anonymous name grow in popularity. With popularity comes new users who wish to be included in theAnonymous family and with new members the power and capabilities of Anonymous grows. Anonymousmade themselves famous through hacking websites like Facebook and the Pentagons official website  Anonymous is a group with no leader and no ranking system every user is equal. Every user is protectedby the Anonymous name and every user follows the same motto, “We are Anonymous. We are Legion.We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”