Since this is a K-pop blog, this is the part I thought applied most obviously to K-pop, or rather K-pop in comparison to North American pop/rock/rap, where, even with people like Lana Del Rey/Lizzy Grant walking among us, it is believed that who you play before the public must be entirely self-created and -propelled, if not who you really are, and someone else writing your raps is a valid reason to not like your music:
It seems to me that one of our main issues with both Kreayshawn and Del Rey is, of course, the issue of authenticity (which again is in many ways related to those greater conversations about race, class, and appropriation, but we’re looking at this from the lady-problems angle for the time being.) Is Del Rey as slutty and heartbroken and dangerous as she seems? Are those lips real? Is Kreayshawn as badass as she claims? Is she as talented and cool and sassy as she’s telling us she is? The arguments against both of them regarding inauthenticity — that they aren’t really as poor/talented/sassy/sad/marginalized/pretty/gay/straight/slutty/whatever as they initially lead us to think — is a tired one, but I can’t not indulge here. The concept of an entirely self-constructed persona and aesthetic, for both you and I as well as for public figures and entertainers, is incomprehensibly naive and almost ludicrously inaccurate.
Even the most indie of your hallowed indie bands, your most authentic self-indulgent earnest white dude indie rock, even they have marketing. On one level, they draw from the influences of their friends, neighbors, and musicians they admire. They do not exist in a vacuum, and the illusion of such independent authenticity is itself a construct. Beyond that, it’s often a direct product of a marketing team and a publicist pushing those ideas, and pushing them hard.
It’s not a plate-smashing revelation, but it’s a good reminder.
And also I just straight-up liked the part about the “anti-Zooey Deschanel”, even just on a writing level: “Vapid stares and posturing send mixed messages rather than conveying solely easy access.” YOU’RE TOTALLY RIGHT.
A recent incident highlights the mixed modern attitudes towards both “foreigners” and “other races” in South Korea (and sheds a little light on some attitudes on this side of the Pacific as well).
On Korean-language Internet sites, many called for swift punishment. Though there are few guns in South Korea and the incident lacked the bloodshed that might have played out in other places, for many it was still unsettling.
"Why are these people acting in such way in a foreign country?" asked one. Others reserved judgment. "I’ve seen many cases where Koreans act rudely to foreigners, staring at them as if they were some amusement," one commented. "Let’s look at ourselves and think of the foreigner, a black man living in Korean society. He probably has to endure a lot of stress."
Today, it’s not so much that foreigners are regarded as bad — on the contrary, many are heartily welcomed and at least outwardly respected as harbingers of economic success. But they are decidedly other. As workers and students from around the world take advantage of relatively lenient visa policies — more than half a million lived here in 2007 — there is an acute sense of who is foreign, and who is not.
However, Kos-Read’s attitude is, for me, questionable. He’s othering as much as he is (taking advantage of being) the other:
"It struck me how cool it would be to be that guy who speaks fluent Chinese, to be that cool guy. That was still rare enough then as to be almost nonexistent," he said. "I thought, ‘Hey, I could go to China and be awesome — to be the guy who goes to the weird foreign country and integrates himself into the culture and gets it.’"
I always approach Canada Day with some hesitance. On one hand, I have good memories of going to Queen’s Park with my parents (when we first immigrated to Toronto) and getting 25-cent hot dogs and paper flags.
Over the years, I’ve seen the annual celebration slowly change to better reflect our demographics. There used to only be English and French performances on the main stage, but recently there have been shows featuring other languages. The hot dog prices have also gone up, but that’s another story.
On the other hand, July 1 marks another significant Canadian event that far fewer people know about, but that has had tremendous consequences for certain Azn communities. On July 1, 1923, the Canadian government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which effectively barred East Azn* immigration until it was repealed more than 20 years later.
*Japanese people were sometimes subject to this Act because, y’know, we can’t tell ‘em apart. The Act could also be used to prohibit South Azns from entering the country, if they somehow got past another discriminatory piece of legislation, the Continuous Passage Act.
“The first federal anti-Chinese bill was passed in 1885. It took the form of a Head tax of $50 imposed, with few exceptions, upon every person of Chinese origin entering the country.” – Chinese Canadian National Council
The Act came as a response to public and political concern over the growing number of East Azn immigrants in spite of the head tax (which was increased from $50 to $500 in 1903, $500 being the equivalent of two years’ wages).
Between 1923 and 1947, when the Act was repealed, less than 50 Chinese people entered the country. Most who were already here were men, leading to the development of a “bachelor society”–one factor that undoubtedly contributed to the desexualization of Azn men we see in popular discourse today.
After WWII, people of East Azn descent still didn’t have the right to vote. Canadians of Japanese descent had been uprooted and sent off to concentration camps in the prairies during the war. Their now-empty properties in the Fraser Valley were conveniently given to white Canadian soldiers returning from overseas.
I could go on, but I think I’ve given you enough to understand why July 1 is known as “Humiliation Day” among some Chinese-Canadians. You probably didn’t learn about this in high school; I grew up in the Canadian public school system and I certainly didn’t.
Think about this as you’re celebrating “Canada” Day. And chew on the fact that we sing “our home and native land” in the anthem when, really, it’s our home ON native land.
Today a guy came up to me as I was preparing to exit the metro and get onto my bike and said, “What part Asian are you?”
I said, “Excuse me?”
He said, “You’re Asian, right? What part of you is Asian?” This has happened to me so many times before (though this was probably the first time the person dropped the “Hi, come here often” preamble and just went right into it) and so many times I’ve either been left going “uhhh” or been dragged into an epic conversation about the kind, efficient subservience of the Japanese, so I knew I needed a comeback, fast.
"What part of me is Asian? All parts,” I said. It was the first thing I could think of. “Why, are you?” I continued, even though it was fairly clear that he wasn’t, or at least not directly. (That, by the way, was part 2 of my comeback.)
And he went into something about how “Asian chicks really get my blood going” and asked if I’d ever watched Naruto. I told him I hadn’t, and got out of there as fast as possible.
I really hate that strangers hitting on me with “I like your face, what is your ethnic background” is a Thing I Just Have to Deal With for the Rest of my Life. Whenever I share stories like this I get told that I’m “being oversensitive”, that the other person is “just trying to be friendly” and start a conversation, and even that if I don’t like answering questions like that to strangers, it means I’m not proud of my heritage. And I know that I, personally, have often wanted to start a conversation with the only other Asian-looking person at a party by bringing up the thing we have in common besides being at the same party. (I never have, because I don’t want to be a big ol’ hypocrite.) But I can’t help but find it irritating. Maybe I’m vain, but I want to be found attractive because I look uniquely pretty or have charisma or seem smart, not because I had a Chinese dad and a Korean mom and that gets someone’s blood going.
One thing’s for sure: I need better comebacks. Suggestions?
엘루이즈 (Eloise), “진심을 너에게” (Are You Honest). Let’s talk about some non-pop Korean music for a sec. These guys sound like Phoenix + post-punk and I like it. Gonna start checking out Pastel Music's roster.
I love this meme because it gets the weird hypocrisies of art school dead-on. I hate this meme because one of the staple jokes is “Golly gee, there are a lot of Korean people at my North American art school!” (“And none of them speak English!”)
Here’s how the game goes: Someone makes a music video, or a piece of art, a remark, or anything, really, that invokes imagery that could be construed as culturally offensive. If you are playing the game, you make a comment (usually on a website, in response to someone’s posting it) that contains your opinion about and evaluation of the quasi-offensive object.
Your opinion can only fall into one of two categories: either you are Offended, or you are Not Offended. There is no middle ground. Being Offended includes any reaction that happens to mention disapproval of or discomfort with the cultural insensitivity present in the work. By default, it is also considered to be an attack on the artists themselves. Reactions of the Not Offended range from simply ignoring the offensive part to outright denying it (usually phrased as “I don’t see what’s offensive about this”).
The winner, according to who fights the hardest and most indefatigably, will always be those who are Not Offended. Rarely are these people marked as ignorant or containing discriminatory biases themselves; instead, they are seen as having “risen above” the possibly offensive content and able to enjoy the work itself, therefore possessing a more refined level of artistic/cultural appreciation. The Offended, on the other hand, get trapped in their own need to argue convincingly and bogged down in trying to communicate in terms the other side will understand, and are ultimately defeated as soon as someone utters the words: “Don’t be so offended.”
Being Offended is the worst! It means you are over-thinking simple cultural entertainment, or being negative, or - worst of all - being too sensitive. Indifference is the key to survival nowadays, and it is the only state that guarantees that you will win every time. (Note that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, indifference is one of the few ways to win against a bully, whether of the schoolyard or Internet troll variety.)
The game is a paradox: it is born out of the ambiguity of potentially offensive content (in order to divide the sides), but its whole purpose is to defeat ambiguity in order to decide, objectively, whether something is Offensive or Not Offensive. It doesn’t work, for example, with anything pertaining to the Holocaust. It is very hard to say “I think you’re making a way bigger deal out of this than it has to be” about the Holocaust. (Though I’m sure it’s pretty possible in 4chan-type circles, where people usually instigate the Do You Find This Offensive game rather than just play it in response to something.) (Hitler, on the other hand, seems to be fair game.)
Though I hardly think I’m an objective viewpoint, I think that there are people who take the wrong approach on both “sides”. (Obviously I’m closer to one side than the other - take a guess at which it is.) Overall, I think that the game is pretty much pointless. Instead, what needs to happen is dialogue. Both sides need to be able to communicate with each other and share their opinions. (In the past I’ve used my authority to take away spaces for people to have dialogue and discussion, and I very much regret doing this.) Instead of trying to “win” by having the last word and silencing each other, it should be seen that ambiguity is just that, and more than one opinion or point of view is possible. But this also doesn’t mean everyone should just state their piece and be done with it. By sharing opinions, who knows? Maybe some of the Offended people will be less quick to blow the whistle on everything, and the Not Offended will be okay with acknowledging feelings of discomfort with something that might not sit right with them.
I don’t really have much to say about thatMacleans article - you know, the one in which my pursuit of higher education causes certain [white] people to recoil in horror. But then, the borderline inflammatory way the article is phrased is not particularly inviting of the dialogue and further discussion it was perhaps intended to prompt. As it is, you either agree with it or you disagree (as most I’ve heard from do). Of the varying public responses in disagreement, Jeet Heer’s is probably the most clear-cut, insofar as it puts the racism of the article in terms people who otherwise don’t see it can understand.
The only part that I have something to say about that I haven’t seen discussed as much is this “fact”, at the top of page 2:
Asian-Canadian students are far more likely to talk about and assert their ethnic identities than white students.
The moment I got to that part, I wanted to stop reading. OF COURSE Asian-Canadian students are more likely to talk about their ethnic identities, when articles are being written about them that question their presence in Canadian universities based on their ethnicity (and behaviours assumed to be tied to their ethnicity)! If “Canadian” is assumed to equal “white” unless preceded by an ethnic marker (i.e. “Asian-“, “Chinese-“, “African-“), then OF COURSE white students aren’t going to assert their ethnic identities, because what do they have to assert? As far as they have been taught, they are the status quo, the cultural majority, and all they have to do is go around pointing out the difference of others. How many Canadians of Asian descent have been asked by a white person, “What’s your background?” (thus being PROMPTED to assert their ethnic identity by a white person), only to respond in kind and be told by the other person, “I’m Canadian”? Not having to think about your identity is the definition of privilege. This is not something that should be used to point out the difference between Asian-Canadians and white Euro-Canadians, or at least not in the way it’s presented.
Other things that went through my head, but which I don’t want to expand upon right now due to the probability of rage clouding my ability to be articulate: why the ethnic person has to be accommodating of the white person’s expectations and not the other way around; how associating behaviours with ethnicity obviously leads to racism; why for the first half of the article, Asian-Canadians interviewed are given full names, first (not-ethnic) and last (ethnic) but the white women interviewed at the beginning have protected identities; why this article subtly infers that meritocracy is letting in too many undesirables, when the whole argument against affirmative action is that meritocracy is superior; etc., etc.