Archive for the ‘sociology 101’ Category

I feel heartfelt and rambly

I’ve been trying to craft this post for a while, because ever since learning about Far East Movement, I’ve been thinking about them and what they represent in the music industry and what they represent to me as artists.

I’ll start with an admission of guilt. I truly support FM and all their endeavors and I just want to sit and enjoy a piece of Asian American history as they become the first all Asian American act to sit pretty on the top of so many charts, but I’m still not completely won over by their songs. I guess I should look at it from another perspective. I think the guys are great performers, great speakers, and great producers, but I think they’re mediocre lyricists. They’re meant to be performers and they’re meant to be music makers, but I think as writers their lyrics need a little bit of work.

I think FM is the most dynamic group I’ve ever seen perform live and I’ve seen them perform a few times now. Visually they are such a trip and their aesthetic is something I dig so damn much, and I can say as an Asian American — who’s really critical of Asian pop, Asian pop in America, and Asian/Asian American representation in American media — that I almost want to say I feel so blessed that there is finally somebody like me out there who is mainstream and who is succeeding and who are considered “cool.”

Maybe I’m being extra hard on them because I am Asian American and America has gone for so long without a mainstream Asian American music act that when we do finally have someone in that crowd, I want them to be perfect, and I realize this is not fair to FM as a group, because they have gone above and beyond, and why do they need to be perfect, when there are so many popular acts out there who haven’t done half as much as they have, and haven’t worked a fourth of how hard they’ve worked?

It’s like when I, as an Asian American, almost feel shame or embarrassment when I see fellow Asian Americans commit crimes or do bad things, because we’re taught that we have to uphold the model minority status, and not only that, but I feel like for a person of color, every time another one of “us” does something bad, we have to make sure to distance ourselves from them in case all the other Americans think that “all” of us are like “that,” because there’s such an easy tendency to think that all Chinese people are Communists, or all Muslims are terrorists, or all Koreans are descendants of Kim Jong-il.

When the Virginia Tech shooting happening, I’m pretty sure the Korean American community collectively went, “Well, oh, fuck.” When I read the news about Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei’s involvement in Tyler Clementi’s death, I was like, “Mother of shit! Why’d you both have to be Asian?!” Whenever I read the International section in the New York Times and I come across yet another piece on how the Chinese government is being “oppressive” or how there are a trajillion more “bootlegs” being imported from their country, I just smack myself in the face. When yet another terrorist caught happens to be Muslim, I sigh.

So all of this in turn makes me really strict with Asian Americans and the actions they take, and the products they put out. Which is completely unfair, because it’s not anybody’s responsibility, as anybody of color, to have to be responsible of their actions on behalf of an entire race in this country. Yet, that’s what happens. Repeatedly. History teaches us nothing. You, as a POC, do one thing really bad in the eyes of America, and you and other people of your race are also stuck with that for a while. And this has to change. I don’t think I’m selfless enough to be a straight on activist for these kinds of issues, and I admit this flaw, but I can change the way I evaluate the Asian Americans I see in my pop.

So I think about it again — why does Far East need to be good at this, this, this, this, this, and ALL of this in order to be good? They ARE good. They’ve been doing this for a long time, they’re some of the most humble artists I have ever met, listened to, watched. They deserve this as artists. The Asian American community deserves to have them repping us.

I don’t have much to say about the album yet because I plan on listening to it when I get my copy. And I end by saying that if you have, at any point, listened to FM and liked them and the work they’ve done, please go out and support these guys. Their album “Free Wired” was released October 12, and it’s available on Amazon for 9 buckaroos. 9 bucks! You can’t even get a meal and a drink at Chipotle’s for nine dollars. Go go go!

Whatever kind of face

Here is a detailed explanation of what happened.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I’ve been reading a lot of discussion in response to the incident, and I just wanted to get into some of the points that have been coming up repeatedly.

Point 1: I don’t understand why this is offensive because I wasn’t taught about this in school, and you can’t expect everyone to know about why this is offensive because Blackface is an American thing.

Blackface does its roots in the US. It has (hopefully) been ingrained into the American consciousness that painting yourself to look Black (or Asian, or Native American, or Hispanic) is offensive.

But, just because this is a unique to American history doesn’t mean that anyone outside of America or anyone who does not know American history should be exempt from understanding why this is offensive.

The very fact that someone has the luxury of painting some makeup on his/her face in order to be a person of another race, and then gets to perform/entertain/amuse an audience, and then has the luxury to take that face color off means that it is a thing of privilege, appropriation, and disregard for another person’s condition.

Someone else’s race and identity can be used at your disposal without you having to suffer any of the real consequences that are associated with having that skin color. That is not okay. Understanding this does not require a nuanced understanding of American history. These offenses exist independently of the circumstances that gave rise to them, so saying that you’re not aware of how something is offensive because you were never taught about it in school does not fly.

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Kind of perverse

There’s a new SBS variety show called “Heroes” with an all-female cast (minus the MCs) — IU, Kara’s Nicole, After School’s Gahee, Shin Bong-sun, Lee Ga-eun, Yoo In-ah, T-ara’s Ji-yeon, BEG’s Narsha, Seo In-young, No Sa-yeon, Hong Soo-ah, Finkl’s Lee Jin.

The episode begins with the cast members arriving one by one to a remote location, inside a warehouse, where there are two tables set up. One table is labeled “popular team,” and the other is labeled “unpopular team.” As the members arrive one by one, they’re supposed to decide which table to sit at.

This is the awkward and stupid part: the sunbaes in the industry obviously feel like they belong at the popular table, and the eldest unnies who are also the most senior in experience feel even more of a reason to sit at the popular table. This leaves: jokes about Shin Bong-sun, and jokes about the younger members.

Seniority is a big deal in Asian culture, and I understand that. Women like Noh Sa-yeon and Lee Jin have been in the industry for forever, and do have a lot of work experience that people, say, IU don’t have. But the problem I have with Asia’s sense of seniority is that somehow it trumps everything (both seniority in age and in experience). Look, things in the industry are a lot different now than they were ten years ago. I know that the elder sunbaes have had to pay their dues many times over to be where they are, but it’s so embarrassing to watch them single out newbies like they o b v i o u s l y do not know anything or they can’t possibly be knowledgeable of this, this, or that.

So you get the younger girls being embarrassed to admit their popularity for fear of appearing haughty — because we know that it’s double whammy to be both haughty and a haughty female — when I’m sure audiences know someone like IU is sure as hell more relevant now than Lee Jin.

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Lee Min-ho gave an interview on MBC Section TV, he said,

I have an older sister and I don’t really like it when she wears short skirts. Even with any girls that have some sort of relation with me, even though they are my friends, I nag at them if they wear short skirts.

This quote bothers me and it adds itself onto a list of reasons why even though I like Lee Min-ho as an actor, I’ve always been kinda iffy with him. (During his BOF days, he was asked about his ideal type, and he said he replied with women with “really white/light skin.”)

Anyway, I think what he said about short skirts isn’t really an opinion that only he holds, so maybe it’s not fair that I hold it against him personally, but since he’s a famous actor and someone a ton of people like/admire, it’s relevant.

Just this more general statement of a man (sometimes a woman) projecting dislike over what he deems is appropriate attire is an issue. Other than the obvious fact that it really isn’t his body or his personal clothing choice, it gives off the idea that a woman wearing clothing a certain way is an invitation for something to happen. Like if she wears a short skirt, if she gets raped, well it’s her fault for wearing something sexually suggestive. Or if she wears a shirt showing a lot of cleavage and she gets thrown perverted remarks, she was asking for it.

This sort of stuff places all the responsibility of maintaining abstinence on the victim, and none of it on the attacker. It’s so completely ingrained into our culture that women are doing themselves some kind of disservice if they wear something suggesting promiscuity, but it’s entirely unfair because why do women have to go through several lengths to tamper down an image just so that nothing happens? How about the men just keep to themselves?

At the end of the day, you can argue that this is just Lee Min-ho’s preference and that he isn’t being offensive or discriminatory, but this type of opinion, voiced by a famous and well-liked actor, just perpetuates this stigma against women dressing a certain way because it’s an invitation for attack. I’m not saying I’m a fan of breasts hanging out of shirts or shorts that don’t cover anything, but it’s ridiculous how many things girls have to do in order to “feel safe” in an environment.

Some posts of relevance regarding news on a condom introduced pre-World Cup that was meant to “prevent” rape (but by doing so, placed the responsibility of preventing rape on the women, not the rapists. Ergo, if a woman was raped, she wasn’t doing enough to prevent it.):
Rape-aXe Condom Distributed During World Cup
Penis-Shredding Condom Can’t Actually Prevent Rape

Personal Taste, episodes 5 to whatever it’s up to now

Guess the title of the post gives you a sense of my feelings towards the show, eh?

I took it off my “Currently watching” list because I had a couple of problems with the show starting with episodes 5 and 6, and then they got to be bigger and bigger problems as the weeks went by. Maybe I just have slight drama ADD and can’t emotionally invest in more than one drama at a time, but it’s hard for me not to compare Personal Taste with Cinderella’s Sister at the moment — not because the stories or the actors are appropriate points of comparison, but it’s easy to compare the level of writing that goes into each and the direction that each story takes.

At the heart of it, both Personal Taste and Cinderella’s Sister have the standard story lines typical to both television serials and K-dramas in particular — PT harps on the move-in-male-who-falls-for-girl, and CS is a Cinderella story. But what piqued my interest is that both of those dramas try to subvert those norms by angling the story in a different light: PT goes for the sexuality factor and CS goes for the reversal of the Cinderella plight.

Surprisingly, it’s not how the writers chose to handle the sexuality plotline that I have a problem with — in fact, I think this show does a really good job illustrating sexuality in both men and women — but the problem I have is that there are some things that suspend my belief and makes me go, “Really? You’re gonna use that plot contrivance? Really??”

Minor spoilers ahead.

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