Play Pause

Sunday, 23 February 2014

British Chinese Should Look To Asian American Stars For Inspiration & As Role Models

By Waiching

I understand people have pinpointed towards the negative depictions of Chinese in the British media - a fact that hasn't been addressed for the past 3 decades or so-, but the real issue lies with the lack of British born Chinese visibility.

The low integration levels and the reluctance of the British Chinese people to do things, has partly attributed to this problem.

Chinese Brits do not discuss about the lack of positive representations in the media. But that in itself then becomes a problem, as it implies that many of them are happy to sit back and see that Black British, White British and Indian, Pakistani British characters and celebrities and sportspeople exist, and not those of Chinese, Japanese, Korean ethnicity alongside too.

Another problem is that many do not vote in the elections. We are perceived as the 'silent majority', or be it minority but yet feel content. They are silent not because of fear or discouragement but because there are fewer opportunities and fewer doors open for British Chinese to walk through and to dispel stereotypes. People vote expecting change - yet when the chosen government does get elected, we see more broken promises, more often than not in the UK. Therefore, I can and do understand why some people do not vote, because of those reasons.

On the other hand, this predicament with Chinese Britons however, is a complete contrast to the United States of America, where Americans of East Asian descent are progressing forwards in areas such as arts and entertainment. Of course, Asians trail behind the Caucasians, Blacks and the increasing Latino communities, but it has the odd 5, 6 Chinese personalities on there. In fact, they have a lot of them. In the UK, we have Gok Wan and Ching-He Huang. Although Ching was born in China and moved to London when she was a young child.

This isn't the case with Asian- Americans, in particular, Americans of Chinese, Japanese, Korean descent on TV, in movies, as performers, newscasters, fashion designers, presenters.

The Chinese, particularly the Chinese Brits, can knock America as much as they want, but it is the land of opportunity and freedom. A country that has no bounds. It is a country which has produced more media representations of Asians outside of Asia than any other. And more representations than the UK. They have more opportunities for people of colour and are more open to having Asian presenters, actors on screen.

So in the answer as to how come there are more American- based East Asians in arts and entertainment compared to British based east Asians? That is my answer.

When people mention the American Dream, it is a dream that people regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality can aspire to by working hard. The Chinese are perceived to be hardworking and determined in education and in professions such as law, medicine, business. But if it is anything related to arts, entertainment and media, it is assumed it is a bad thing altogether and is so un - Asian like. This type of thinking has to be rid of - if British Chinese, as well as Koreans, Japanese stand any chance of success in these fields, as well as gaining further screen recognition.

I think it has got to a stage where people like myself, British Chinese sought positive representations and role-models of my own ethnicity across the pond.

Is there such a thing as British Chinese Identity? For me, yes. Should we always turn to British Shows, films, the pop music world to validate this argument? No, because a) there aren't many representations to speak of in Britain and b) why not look to Asian American stars?

Having celebrities who are positive role models who look like you, racially, is important because it instils confidence, motivation in yourself and enables you to fulfil and pursue your ambitions. That, or it gives you hope for the future. Seeing them on TV is a way of validating their existence and showing that we too can succeed in that area. It helps greatly if the celebrity you look up to specialises in the same field that you are in or are interested in undertaking. If what they do reflects what you want to do in the future, then you're most likely to pursue the career path you have chosen.

The Americans have Lucy Liu, Vera Wang, Jeremy Lin, Connie Chung, Julie Chen, B.D Wong, Kelly Hu, Ming-Na Wen, whereas the British don't have as many British Chinese celebrity & sporting personalities. Recent academic work on British Chinese studies calls into question an overlooked and less populated Ethnic group in British society, who feel invisible and ignored by mainstream Britain.

The absence of support figures in the media industry could (& understandably) illustrate their reluctance to actively pursue careers in television, film and music, for example.

In comparison to Asian- Americans, media coverage of British Chinese has been limited. The US goes to lengths to ensure diversity in arts, media, entertainment comes in all shapes and sizes, and colours.

But like Chinese Americans, Australians and Canadians, one of the distinguishing factors cited for British people, is the ability to speak English fluently & to communicate clearly and with clarity. If one speaks English well, you don't get treated differently.

If you spoke to me on the phone and had no inclination or hint to my physical appearance as a British Chinese Asian person, and I didn't mention my Chinese name, you'd assume that I was a White person.

Despite how far removed we are from our immigrant roots, or how different we are compared to native Chinese, born in China or Hong Kong, the British Chinese identity crisis is further deepened and contested by those who might be torn between being Chinese and proud of one's roots, and those who feel less Chinese, and more western. Not just for the sake of fitting in with the rest of society, but we need to acknowledge that having 2 identities - one racial, the other nationality- wise is a positive thing.

When I was growing up in London, the UK in the early 1980s, there was no one on TV that looked like me and was born in the UK. Probably the first real Chinese diaspora celebrity I saw on TV that made me go 'yes, I can relate to her to an extent', was Lucy Liu when she played Ling in the dramedy, Ally McBeal. Like myself, we share the same surname, and we were born in big cities - I was raised in West London, Lucy was born in Queens, New York.

Today, the most well known British- born Chinese celebrity to date, is Gok Wan. He is the presenter of shows such as 'How To Look Good Naked'. Gok is a pretty interesting character, as he is from two cultural groups in society - Chinese and the LBGT community. Groups that are not considered as the 'norm' in society. He is of East Asian origin born in Leicester.

In the United States of America, Asians aren't always confined to supporting or background characters. They are also newscasters and reporters, TV presenters, fashion designers, dancers, musicians, as characters in sitcoms and dramas. A wide range of roles within the arts, media, entertainment, sport. The difference between the US and UK with regards to Asians on screen is the term 'Asian' and how it is defined. Asian in the UK is inclusive of India, Pakistan and people of South Asian origin; in America, the term is inclusive of people of south-east Asia, East Asia. Such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Philipines and Malaysia. There are more Indians, Pakistanis to name than Chinese, Japanese, Koreans in Britain & vice - versa.

Despite hailing from the transatlantic, in spite of speaking English in a different accent, us Chinese Britons do share a lot in common with Asian Americans, Canadians, Australians.

Having people who look like me, but do not reinforce stereotypes means I can identify with them a lot. But more importantly, they illustrate the types of experiences and ideas that best exemplify the contributions and positive output made by the Asian community, or be it from people of Asian descent towards the rest of society.

When people mention or think of Chinese people on TV, they tend to refer to native Chinese. But rarely include people of Chinese descent.

Assuming all Chinese people are from China is similar to thinking that all Black people are from Africa. & that isn't true. Because if that is the case, terms such as Black Carribean, Black British and African- American would not have been invented.

As disappointing as it is for me not to see as many British Chinese people in the media, that doesn't mean the situation is completely dire. It's better to have good representations of Asians than practically none or very, very little of them.

Even if means searching for examples abroad.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Tiger Mum Asian Inferiority Complex- Why Amy Chua Has It Wrong

Art via Yuko Art

There has been uproar in the U.S recently with tiger mom, Amy Chua and husband Jed Rubenfield's release of 'The Triple Package'.

In this book, the pair acknowledge that Chinese, Jews, Indians, Iranians, Lebanese Americans, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons are the most successful ethnic groups above Blacks, Whites, Hispanics; thus sparking national fury and condemnation.

A couple of years ago, Yale law professor Chua wrote and published an article titled, 'Why Chinese mothers are superior' where she proudly recollects memories of her daughters not being allowed to have sleepovers and telling them that they can't achieve a grade lower than an 'A'. Whereas in another time, she threw a birthday card her then 4- yr- old daughter had made for her, back in her face.

What was her daughter's reaction a couple of years later? 'I'm glad you and daddy raised me the way you did'. What would be her reaction had her daughters not done so well in their education? Physical punishment? Persistent put-downs and constant mockery in front of their relatives, friends, to themselves?

There appears to be some hullabaloo within the Asian- American community lately, stemmed by Amy Chua's comments about hardcore tiger mom tactics in raising their children by Chinese parents, whilst berating the West and accusing them of being slackers.

The preaching that one race is better than the others, because their methods in dealing with situations in a 'do it my way - or else' syndrome, illustrates the false notion that the Western world is 110% evil and can't be completely trusted and raises questions about diaspora and racial identity.

Inflicting physical, emotional abuse as punishment to their children and to say Chinese mothers are superior to mothers of other races, is instilling racial arrogance and it is also a bunch of bull. Nobody is perfect, no race is perfect. But when one person tries to speak on behalf of their ethnicity and attacking others, whilst claiming they are perfect and better than everyone else, that's when things can become dangerous.

It is dangerous to label people and put them into boxes according to success, because it plays into the hands of not just racists but Asians, who themselves do not wished to be defined this way.

Apparently, the existence of Amy's book adds fuel to the fire and further ignites and reinforces stereotypes and generalization of Asians and people of Chinese diaspora origin.

This leads to things such as Asian kids committing suicide - China in particular has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Chua once said her father called her 'garbage'. Another time, she called her daughter garbage to her face. SMH.

If that isn't verbal abuse, I don't know what is. It appears to me this woman is out of touch with reality and comes across as ignorant and narrow-minded.

This 'hardcore' approach to tough love is rather sad. Sad because 'we' (speaking as an Asian myself) are being socially conditioned to have certain standards. Standards of which are so high, that even doing your very best, isn't good enough for Asian folk.

To them getting grades equates more money, more financial stability. But it completely neglects the fact in spite of the grades, they care more for their child earning money. Money to them equals happiness, when that logic is not entirely true.

To say that if you don't have A grades and a good education, you are considered worthless and will amount to nothing in life all the time, borders on mental abuse.

It's interesting how the Black and white racial communities look to the Asian methods of parenting and education as the so-called standard model for them to aspire to. When this 'tiger mum' - or mom as known in the US, mom mentality - has its negative points.

I read a study that reports that in Chinese culture, parents based on theirs, and I may also add their children´s self-worth on respect and how much respect and self worth they get. They use psychological control to make their kids perform better.

Hence, when their children do not perform well in their academic studies, for Chinese mothers this reflects badly on them and they believe other people, including their own family members will look at them differently, perhaps negatively.

People like Chua are fostering old-fashioned fuddy duddy values of their parents; values that praise Eastern mentality and thus accepting them as valid. Whereas US, British Western values are dismissed altogether.

They want their kids to attain A grades and become lawyers or work in business. Not every Asian child wants to follow in their parents footsteps. They want to live their own lives and be successful on their own terms. Not of their parents.

These are the same parents who bulk at their sons and daughters, children of whom want to pursue a careers in the arts, entertainment world for example; even though their kids have not only the skills but the passion, drive and persistence to follow their dreams.

I wished people follow their hearts and do what they always wanted, rather than do something just to make their parents happy, or because their parents told them to do it. Or they pushed them to do it. It is their way of saying, you can be happy but only at our expense.

And that is to me is not right.

Education isn't a race-thing and it shouldn't really be one. There are ways to ensure children, regardless of their ethnicity, succeed and do well, rather than bash other racial groups.

Chinese parents can be too protective of their kids, and whilst I realize they want what is best for them, at the end of the day, it is up to their child/ren, whose final decision rests with them.

Amy Chua needs to realise this.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

4 Countries I Would Emigrate To

As much as many Brits are as impassioned and proud of their national roots, there are some of us who still love our country, but despise how things are going or are unhappy with their lives that they are planning to move overseas.

Additionally, 54% of Brits in an Aviva survey aged 18-45 said they would consider leaving the UK to live abroad. The top 5 countries that they favoured were Australia for the work/life balance, America for the lifestyle, Canada for job prospects, Spain for the weather and New Zealand as to them it is like Britain in many respects.

Research from April 2013 revealed that almost half of Britons would emigrate to another country, if they were given the chance to do so. The study also revealed that Australia came first out of all the countries ahead of the United States of America, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil and that the weather was the primary factor in wanting to move.

If given the opportunity and money was no object with regards to getting there, here are my top 4 places I would leave Britain for, in descending order:

4. Japan 
Capital - Tokyo 
estimated population as of 2014 via Wikipedia: over 127 million

The main reasons I chose Japan are mainly because of the Anime and Manga cartoons, Nintendo, the technology and the general wackiness and silliness within their culture that I find both bizarre and amusing at the same time. Like many people, our interests in Japan is tied down mostly to their popular culture and entertainment, and tech gadgets that has had a huge impact across the globe. I also quite like their customs and etiquette - very respectful, polite. They bow down their heads to acknowledge you.

If there is one thing I dislike about Japan though, it would be the fact they hunt and kill dolphins for food. But other than that, it looks like a really cool place to visit.

3. Canada 
Capital - Ottawa
estimated population as of 2014 via Wikipedia: over 35 million 

Country in the North America continent in the north which shares its borders with its sibling rival, America. Officially bilingual with French and English as its main languages and one of the most multicultural nations in the world. Canada's national symbol is the maple leaf, which is depicted on the flag. Other symbols include the beaver, the Mountie and the moose.

Canada is a fascinating country - probably because for me it's as if it comprises of the best parts of England/UK, France and USA all meshed into one.

I also read that housing costs are much lower compared to the U.Ks, which is ideal for those looking for permanent accommodation in the area.

The thing I detest the most about Canada however is the seal hunting, which I find utterly deplorable. This has to be outlawed and made illegal. This is so un-Canadian like. I just cannot fathom a country such as this where hunters would kill these harmless mammals by clubbing them to death.

2. Australia - 
Capital - Canberra 
estimated population as of 2014 via Wikipedia: over 23 million 

A member of the commonwealth alongside Canada and the UK and 6th largest country in the world. Home to Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Neighbours, Chris Hemsworth, Kylie Minogue, Blinky Bill and Fosters beer. Ranks highly in terms of quality of life. Aussies are known for  their laid- back attitude and easy-going manner, their country's lifestyle and warm sunshine. They don't take things too seriously, which is good.

When I think about Australia and its people, I think to myself how much it is similar to Britain. Very civilised, much more optimistic bunch of people as well. They are more British- like than American-like in their mannerisms and such. However, they have wonderful beaches that can rival those in Florida and Hawaii, USA. I also admire how much they care for animals & wildlife. The kangaroos, koalas, possums etc.

The Aussies seem to be really cool people. I love their accents and are very down-to-earth. And like America, Australia is very multicultural. It is also home to one of the largest overseas Chinese diaspora communities in the world, alongside the USA & Canada. A statistic that may not be of importance to many people, but as a British Chinese myself, with over 800,000 residing in Oz, it is one of the other deciding factors for me in visiting Australia.

Downside to Australia is cost: 3 of the cities in Oz are in the top 50 most expensive cities in the world to live in. And Rupert Murdoch.

1. The USA -
Capital - Washington, D.C
estimated population as of 2014 via Wikipedia: over 300 million 

Over 1 million people from around the world arrive in the country to live and work in the US, every year, which is one of the reasons why the United States is one of the most popular destinations for Brits, in particular. Whatever people say about America, it boasts 2 things that can't be rivalled in other countries: US states that vary and differ in culture, as well as their accents and the idea that if you can make it in America, you can make it anywhere.

If there is one problem that might hinder one's chances of emigrating to the U.S, it would be that 1) you need a visa, 2) you need a relative who is a naturalised U.S citizen and have lived and worked for a considerable amount of time. Alas, the Green Card.

I've always wanted to go to America, since I was a teenager. Plus, the music, TV shows, movies, celebrities. Many of my favourite celebrities are from America and it is a country that I have always shown interest in. Even during the early 00s when the U.S had a very negative image and perception worldwide, due to the invasion of Iraq and George Bush as President.

And since Barack Obama's inception as U.S president, I have noticed that those negative perceptions and anti-American hostility from around the world, has evaporated. Well almost. And thus, Brits love America again and are back to being their transatlantic buddies.

Main reasons I chose the U.S are the multiculturalism and melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, English being the main language and thirdly, etiquette. The thing that both Japan and America shares is personal responsibility. You are not asked to be polite, respectful and courteous to others but rather you are expected to show it. Unlike here in Britain, where for some people they choose to do the opposite, and become respectful and kind but when they are told to do so by others.

I also find some of the sarcasm, piss-taking and digs at Americans, especially when a lot of them are just nice people, when they are in the UK or on TV shows off-putting and irksome. Sure some Americans will do that towards Brits as well. And either way, I don't find that very nice at all. I just think most of the time, they get a bad (and undeserved rep), which borders on stereotypical and arrogant. That of which many Americans are not. It's purely ignorance. 

I just enjoy seeing the bi-continent relations Britain has with the U.S that has stemmed from way back since the world wars. 

Their national values in freedom, tradition, justice, opportunity and community may be oh so American to so many Anti-american folks out there, but at least they have a sense of pride as to where they come from, who they are as individuals, and at the same time come across as being courteous towards people of other cultures, nationalities. 

Probably the no.1 concern of mines, and many other folk would be crime and guns. But as long as you stay safe and be sure to be vigilant at all times, you should be okay. And dare I say it, but I am not in favour of the death penalty either.

Sure the United States of America divides people's opinions - some love all things American, some don't.

But their optimism, their own concept of working hard to accomplish your goals, their eagerness to be more open about other cultures and wanting to know more about you as a person, these are factors that can't ever be eroded, as well as they best sum up the America that we know of and admire today.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My Favourite Artists #4: The Art of Alex Ross

Terminator: The Burning Earth 

The Avengers Invaders

*Spiderman via the official Alex website

Born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Lubbock, Texas, Alex Ross has been labelled the photo-realist of comic books and when you search for his works on the internet, it's not difficult to see why he has been given this particular term.

His style is described as a mixture of Jack Kirby, Norman Rockwell & George Lopez and has been praised for his realistic Gauche-like depiction of fictional comic book characters. Many of his works comprise of pop-art paintings and each piece denotes his ability to capture their likeness incredibly well, as well as injecting a retro- feel. There is an authenticity about Ross's art that a) screams classic and b) demonstrates his wonderful brush strokes. When I think of Alex Ross's style, three words that spring to mind are, 1950s vintage American (see below next image). It reminds me so much of retro old- school 50s, early 1940s posters where figures, stars and characters had that painted, drawing look to them.

Surburbia for Sale (©) 2011 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

I would agree that his style is very much like Marvel's Jack Kirby; he himself studied artists such as Salvador Dali and George Perez at college.

Ross is the type of visual artist that can take fictional characters and I'd add factual people, such as celebrities and redevelop, recreate them in a way that makes them stand out more and give it that lovely Gauche-like touch.

Ross has won various awards including the comic buyer's guide fan award seven times, which is a pretty outstanding feat. For me, any artist that can take any medium such as comic books and give it that realistic approach, but incorporate their own unique art style, deserves praise.

*info via Wikipedia, DC Comics, Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross and Comic Vine

The Rocketeer


....The Artist himself 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...