Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Presidential Fuck-Up #5,094,610

Bush To Filipino President: "I Am Reminded Of The Great Talent Of The -- Of Our Philippine-Americans When I Eat Dinner At The White House"

January 20th, 2009 needs to hurry up so that Obama can be inaugurated already. Yeah, I said it.

Bold statements flush themselves out left and right, but I never expected that shit. Where do I start with this article? Who fucked up more - Bush for his grandiloquence or Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her passivity? President Bush for his ignorance or GMA for hers? There are so many factors wrong with the notion and performance of discussing aide for a people who are suffering from the repercussions of a typhoon and an epithet blurted out by the so-called leader of the so-called free world. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Let's not forget that there were times when only Filipino men could join the Navy if they enlisted as petty officers, band musicians, firemen and then only as stewards and mess attendants. Let's not forget that Filipino recruits enlisted in the Navy to gain U.S. citizenship. But citizenship, it seems, is never enough. And the same sentiments of pettiness and designated inferior positions for Filipinos despite citizenship still linger, as made evident by George Dubya. Our talent as Filipina/o Americans should not be reduced to the dinners we make as service attendants for white men or as mere labor for the U.S. economy. Let's not forget the achievements and contributions of Filipina/o Americans. What a way to downplay Filipinas/os and  simultaneously demonstrate white privilege and white power. 

My homegirl says: Why does he speak like he wasn't educated? 
Why does he speak at all?

Let's not forget the reasons for GMA's trip to the U.S. GMA flew out of a country that she is supposed to lead during a time of need. People in the Philippines face the threat of typhoons every year around this time. Once again, natural disasters dictate forced migration, forced poverty and the person able to enact emergency rescue missions is found at the right hand of the man who did the same thing to his people almost three years ago. Anyone remember Hurricanes Katrina & Rita? 

But I'm not surprised because this is the same President that brought reporters with her to Iloilo, Guimaras after the oil spill at the end of summer 2006, to show her support for a quick recovery. There were photos of her with a bright, blue, mesmerizing ocean in the background during her visit. I could see why she would do this, I mean, oil and gas are important these days, no? 

Let's say a President was warned about an approaching natural disaster. Natural disasters - like hurricanes, typhoons, fires - have no political allegiance, that's what the academics say. But only because it's true. Therefore, they (the hurricanes, typhoons and fires) do not choose to affect, ruin or displace peoples no matter what country, city, or province is near. In fact, the personification of such natural entities is problematic, I know. And said President chooses to react by waiting, by putting off professional, scientific or administrative evidence and advice that would have saved lives and instead goes on vacation or flies out of the country for support. Who am I writing about here? Bush or GMA? And which politically tense and economically draining spectacle am I referring to? Whose ignorance is more salient? Whose words and broken promises are the most poignant? Or the least credible? Is this about the rice crisis in the P.I. or the inflation of gas and oil in the U.S.? Guimaras or Lousiana? Who fucked-up more? 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

trends i'm done with

It's June - the time of year for semi-annual sales at your local mall. You won't find me camped outside like it's Christmastime and a new gaming console is on the brink of release. Especially not when it's hella hot and the 80 degree (Fahrenheit) days and high gas prices dictate your level of activity, or lethargy. I'm not the type to go to great lengths to spend time to save bank. I don't like to hop on trends, I've always been a firm believer in wearing what you feel. But you know, just act right. If shit don't match, it should be apparent in the mirror. Or, if you don't feel right in it, then don't force it. Everyday's a new day and a new outfit. That's why I can't get with some trends. I understand that certain trends aren't flattering for some people. I understand that there shouldn't be one universal or standard body shape or image. But there are a few things I couldn't keep quiet about:

1) Ethnic Cuff

Charlotte Russe stores know this item as the 'ethnic cuff.' WTF. 
The reality/history: Indigenous peoples used geometric shapes, used bold colors, drew decorative art on bodies, tattooed, etc. sometimes to maintain cultural identity as they traveled and dispersed. We see this practiced today with Henna tattoos, Kente cloth, Zarape blankets and Polynesian tattoos - all of which are deemed 'ethnic'. Jewelry attempting to emulate (or mock) legacies of honor fall short. 

2) Top or Bottom?

You tell me. I really can't tell these days. 
These tops are either really really long or hella short dresses. Either way, I can't get down. There has to be another way to fight the confusion and avoid another jeans and shin protectors boots outfit. 

3) Bubble Wrap

Bubble-gum colored.
For your flavorite disproportions. Why would anyone want to look mid- or bottom-heavy?
 It's like... buying a top with a muffin top included. 

4) Activist Hats

I think that one of my best friends said it best...
"You know something's trendy when something that can represent a counter-culture is mass produced and available at Urban Outfitters." Don't wear these in the summertime. 

5) The Morning After Look

It just looks like she belted her man's button-down with his matching tie. 
Definitely not a goodlook.

6) Gladiator Sandals

It's like a re-try at Life for the Jesus sandals, in Gladiator form.

7) My Favorite: Pooh Bear Yellow

Mustard Yellow, Pooh Bear Yellow... does it make a damn difference?
It doesn't work for everyone's skin tone and I just want to put a red cardigan over every girl with this color on.

Homeboy as we know and love him.

This isn't the first time I've had gripes with fashion. Pictures of these gawdy trends were taken from various white-ified sites. And by white-ified, I mean as demonstrated by populations of people who allow themselves to buy into their insecurities by investing in businesses that purport the idea of oneness, of power, of trend, and a standard of beauty and/or body image. Because whiteness is a claim to power and resources and is also the monopolization of market and mind.

P.S. If you own any of these, my bad! Nanay would not be proud. But it's a good read, though, yeah? 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kick Kung Fu Panda in the Ass

"You ask me if I'm related to Bruce Lee, then laugh. I answer back, 
'Why? You wanna know if I can give you same kind of ass kickin?' I laugh."
- Catzie from Yellow Rage

Pandas are cute, huggable even, if you've got a plush toy. And Kung Fu is a respectably ancient Chinese martial art, right? The two might go together, they might even be enough to create a summer Hollywood blockbuster, right? Might be enough to get crowds and audiences full of young minds and their parents to get to know the Asian culture in a seemingly harmless way. Might be enough to draw in hella bank at the box office. Might even be enough to promote diversity and show America that Asian culture is valuable in some respects.

Respect. I've tried to talk to some folks about how irked I get when I see commercials or adamant advertising about the new Kung Fu Panda film. Some get it, some don't. 

"Most Kung Fu movies were exploitation films - sensationalist, violent, sexy, and often cheaply made abroad... Often in kung fu movies, white characters were constructed as villainous and racist, and audiences were encouraged to empathize with Asian heroes as they karate-chopped and kicked the (white) bad guys." - Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin, America On Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies

The gong sounds, the martial arts, the fact that the main character is a humanized panda who is a "dragon warrior," the sidekicks who can side kick and come prepared to fight shouting their "hi-yas" - it's all beyond the reinforcing of stereotypical figures. Historically, American films have found a way to simplify, reduce and reinforce Asian culture in America. Kung Fu Panda is no different.

Let me break it down:
Populations of the panda bear have been found in few mountain ranges that are located in China, the dragon remains as the national animal/symbol of China and the gong is used to commence religious ceremonies or official processions and the language of a people has been butchered into a two-syllable exclamation for an upcoming attack. How did these symbols, full of meaning, of culture, of value, of life become reduced to mere entertainment at the expense of a people so much more worthy and complex? Kung Fu is a martial art that demands discipline and time and does not only consist of swift movements that parallel the ground. Realistically, individuals can practice kung fu in places other than a competitive setting - it requires hard work and develops skills for a sharp mind. It is not your next blockbuster hit. Not your child's next favorite movie. Not your next excuse for a family outing, not your chance to take an adventure into a world influenced by the Orient. Not your chance to see cute, fuzzy pandas in action. 

Not only am I disgusted at the fact that an animal has been humanized and animated to play a role that only re-creates the Charlie Chan or Bruce Lee stereotype, I am even more grossed out by the bamboo-like font on all of the movie posters and merchandise, more spiteful at the pose upon the panda in the pictures and angry at the depiction of his slanted, wide eyes. I can't stand the racism that is inherently attached to this film and the perpetration led by those who see it as an attempt to bridge Asian culture (when the movie-makers are really perpetrating what's really Chinese culture) with America. This film is more about American's discomfort with accepting Asian Americans on film than it is about a fucking panda bear that seeks to showcase their athletic skills. No wonder Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman, do the voiceovers - they probably couldn't find any Asian American actors or actresses to demote themselves (thank goodness! That shit is racist!)

What's worse, Panda from Kung Fu Panda is a fucking character for comic relief. He is not taken seriously by of the "supporting roles" or characters and have to prove himself to be "worthy." Wow, America. You done done it again.

I can't stand it. I can't stand for it. I will not stand in line for it. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

a pop culture lifeline

When the Spice Girls announced that they were ending their tour early, I can say that I half-expected it. This sets the context for point #2.

When Dru Hill got back together for 5 minutes, I should have been more apprehensive to buy those tickets since the show got cancelled and all. My shot at listening to live 90s R&B has been delayed. Now, I'm definitely looking forward to DJ Mark Marcelo's ScRuNcHiEs & hEaDbAnDs 90s R&B Mix (that shit took me 5 minutes to type). It's like he stole my iTunes and mixed it.

The new iPhone is coming out and I'm gradually deciding to give in to the bittersweet irony of purchasing electronic products that I know are manufactured by immigrant labor workers, like my mom. Can't fuck with that.

I'm definitely not uber impressed by Season 2 of America's Best Dance Crew. Give SoCal due credit, as emphasized by Jon Yang here (his commentary about ABDC is on point). Let me remind yall bout something:

JabbaWockeeZ set the standard. WTF is going on now. Because I trust Dandiggity, I gotta give it up to Supreme Soul.

The 2nd fundraising event, Volume Control 2, for the Asian/Pacific Islander American (APIA)  Spoken Word Summit for bay0nine is on Father's Day, June 15 in Oakland, CA.  Support, if you can. Volume Control 1 was dope! Artists are everyday people, too.

Same-sex marriages can be banned again in California. I've read about the economic benefits to allowing same-sex marriage, but foreal, this is not about financial prosperity and the jobs that could be created. This is about respect and human rights. The struggle for sexuality- and gender-based movements is just as important as race-based social movements. Who are we decide freedom to love and the right to dedicate that love? Please vote NO on the California Gay Marriage Ban on November 4th.

Not all is wrong with the world. Barack Obama as the 2008 Democratic Party Nominee proves good karma. And MTV decided to play music videos, recently. 

Stay tuned.

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