Angry Asian…Woman?

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My original plan was to post something before the month started, but whenever I sat down to write, I found myself struggling to pinpoint what exactly I wanted to say.

This is due, in part, to my lack of awareness about the APA community. I’ve never hesitated to check “Asian/Pacific Islander” when prompted on a test form or write “Seoul, South Korea” as my birthplace but until recently, I never gave much thought to what it means to be Asian American.

Then, in my senior year of college, I took a seminar focused on public memory and public history. My professor was (well, she still is) Filipina and for the first time I was in a class where the syllabus was comprised of work by and about Asians and Asian Americans. It was like my blindfold had been removed. I was the only Asian student in the class and I felt a much different connection to the course material than the other students. I found it difficult to read some of the novels at times because the stories hit a little too close to home. It was hard to be objective in discussions because it felt like we were analyzing me.

I grew interested in they hybridity of Asian American culture. As a Korean American adoptee I have sometimes felt that I was “too White” in some situations but “not White enough” in others. This constant feeling of being at odds pushed me to try and blend in or not focus on my race as a defining characteristic, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that unless a person got to know me, there were certain assumptions that would be made based on my being Asian.

When met with my professor, I told her how the course material was affecting me. The protagonists in the works we studied that I connected to were angsty, angsty ladies. I was feeling something, but I couldn’t fully explain what it was. “I feel like I should be angry,” I told her. “But I’m not sure what I’m angry about.”

A few months later, I found my anger…

Screen shot 2013-05-18 at 5.17.42 PMOr at least something like it. I read this book. I followed this blog. I took a closer look at the media I was consuming, looking for faces like mine and coming up blank. I remembered times when I was younger…

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I wish I had been angrier then.

It’s not all anger though. Like I wrote in my last post, there are millions of Asian Americans! We’re teaching you how to do makeup. We’re making beautiful films. We’re signing major recording deals. We’re starring in Golden Globe nominated television series. We are poets and activists.

Okay, I digress. I’m obviously in a little bit of a honeymoon phase with the APA community but this month is the first APA Heritage Month where I’m celebrating—like, truly celebrating—how great it is to be Asian American.

On a more mushy note, I wanted to write about how this weird awakening of my Asian pride has done more than just make me watch KevJumba videos.

Growing up, my brother and I were like any other brother and sister. And by “like any other brother and sister” I mean, we kind of hated each other. And a lot of it was on my part because he’s younger than me and I wanted to be cooler than him and blah blah blah.

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Then he came to college (the same one as me) and got involved with the Korean student group—something that I was not about during my time in school. I resented how he only hung out with Asian people and also how he never seemed to want to hang out with me—because what kind of brother doesn’t want to hang out with his bitchy older sister when she suddenly wants to be friends after 18 years of fighting? I also felt a pang of jealousy that he suddenly seemed “more Korean” than me, even though we are exactly the same amount Korean and by that I mean 100% Hanguk blood flowin’ through our veins.

Fast forward to January of this year. I’m all fired up about being Asian and trying to get involved in the APA community while I’m still in town and I find myself attending the same events as my brother and probably irritating him because, suddenly, he can’t. escape. me.

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And now, (to be really general) things are better. We talk more—like, really talking. We fight less. He even allows me to hang out with his friends, who have all been very nice and don’t seem to notice that I’m new at this whole Korean American thing.

So the blanket message here is that finding my identity has been a sneaky, lifelong process–one that is certainly not over yet. Sometimes I feel like I am still “learning” how to be Asian American even though I’ve been one all along. But now I feel like I have a community and, holy crap, is it a great one.

So, happy APA Heritage Month again, everyone. And shout out to my little broha, who I love very much.

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Pardon the Interruption

If you are one of the three people that read this blog (mom, dad, and Third Person), this post might come as a bit of a surprise to you. I’m not going to update you on my feelings about Water for Elephants or how I haven’t watched anything on Netflix for a good six months now. I’m not going to write about how I seem to have no time for writing boo hoo hoo. No, I’m gonna throw yall a total curveball and bust out my handy dandy deck of race cards.

BAM.

Hey, why are all the face cards White? THESE CARDS ARE RACIST.

Hey, why are all the face cards White? THESE CARDS ARE RACIST.

Today I watched a clip from a new show on Comedy Central called The Jeselnik Offensive. I will admit have never watched anything from this show before so the following is bound to be uninformed. I also only watched this clip because of a post about it from Audrey magazine, so the following is also bound to be angry.

Go ahead, watch it. I won’t even judge you for laughing at it. Do what you want.

If you guessed that, as an Asian-American, I am offended by this clip then, COME ON DOWN BECAUSE WE HAVE A WINNER.

And it’s not just that I’m offended. I’m tired. Tired of living in freaking 2013 and having to see lazy humor like this. I can pull any rando from the street and ask them to make an Asian joke and you know what their response is probably going to be? Some combination of a bad-driving joke, dishonoring-your-family joke, or dog-eating joke. Like, the ultimate Asian joke for non-Asian people to tell would outline some situation where an Asian kid tells his mom he got an B+ on a test while they’re in the car and she gets so mad that she chokes on the dog burger that she’s eating and causes a traffic accident.

LOOK. I DID IT TOO. I MADE A RACIST ASIAN JOKE AND IT TOOK ME LITERALLY 30 SECONDS TO COME UP WITH. I’M NOT EVEN A COMEDIAN. I CRACKED YOUR CODE.

I'm coming for you, brah.

I’m coming for you, brah.

This is in no way an isolated situation. On an episode of Kroll Show earlier this month, one of the “Oh, Hello” skits involved an Asian woman whose race was not the defining part of her character at all but seemed to be the only source of jokes she was involved in. This was very sad to me because I don’t hate this show for the most part. This skit also involved Adam Brody AND an Alan Alda pun. THESE ARE TWO THINGS I LIKE VERY MUCH (three if you split up “Alan Alda” and “puns”. However, racism is a thing I do not like, so good job Kroll Show, you ruined everything great that happened after the racist first 30 seconds by being uncreative.

**note: I am trying to find a clip but my searches are returning fruitless. What happened was, any time the non-Nick-Kroll character spoke to the woman he made some creepy, racist comment, calling her “Yoko Ono” etc etc**

Yes, this is just me venting as an angry, minority person in modern-day America. But here is why I truly, TRULY want some of you to read this, and really read this:

I am all for humor. Believe me, when I was younger and still in school and actually still had good grades, I made jokes about doing well in math. I made jokes about doing poorly at science. I made jokes at my own expense which is a different form of The Poorly Executed Race Joke as is. And here’s another thing: I’m adopted! My parents weren’t even crazy Tiger Parents or whatever. And after a while, it got boring and unfunny to make jokes about being Asian because I realized that it’s just lazy humor (and self-hating). (**This is a very reductionist anecdote and I have a whole lot of stories about me dealing with being a Korean-American adoptee).

I am 23 years old. I am in that target audience for these Comedy Central shows. And I’m not alone. There are MILLIONS of Asian-Americans who I’m sure have televisions and a cable package that includes Comedy Central. WE SEE YOU.

Always watching.

Always watching.

There’s some part of me that is nervous to share this because I am a coward and I hate confrontation and race is a ~~*~sensitive~*~~ topic. But, there are ways to talk about race that are not serious. There are ways to talk about race that can be fun and funny. As much as I hate racism, I also get annoyed when other minority people get super butthurt about a supposedly racist incident that is merely a display of ignorance. An innocent question about where-am-I-from-because-you-just-got-back-from-a-trip-to-China-and-the-girls-there-kind-of-look-like-me is annoying. So, so annoying. But you, silly White person, are not calling me derogatory terms and you’re the one opening this discussion about me as an Asian person so I’m going to tell you that I’m from Korea but I’m an American citizen and maybe in the future when you approach a random stranger, maybe start out with some light small talk instead of just playing guessing games with my nationality.

But I digress. I think that people should be more comfortable talking about people that are not of the same race as themselves. However, I think the first step in doing so is maybe to not be an asshole about it.

When the last “contestant” for the Jeselnik Offensive’s “Which Kind of Asian Is This” tells Anthony Jeselnik that he is a movie critic, Jeselnik replies “Oh, we need more of those…” which is ironic** because I was going to just re-title this entire segment “Asian Jokes? Oh, We Need More of Those…”

So, go ahead predominantly White comedians. Go ahead and make race jokes. But step your game up. If you can’t think of anything original to say about minorities and have to fall back on stereotypes, maybe just skip that segment for your show and use that Kim Kardashian bit you had shelved instead.

**if this is the incorrect usage of ironic, I apologize. However, if it is the incorrect usage of ironic, and that’s the only thing you take away from reading this, you’re doing it wrong.

Guess who didn’t study journalism?

Well, I haven’t been doing much in the whole media consumption quest lately. I have been trying to catch up with podcasts and am currently enjoying another Nerdist podcast called “The Indoor Kids”. It’s about video games and video game culture. I’m still pretty behind but it’s fun so far. The hosts are a husband and wife duo and they’ve had some good and interesting guests. I bring this podcast up in specific because I just listened to an episode with Nerdist creator Chris Hardwick where he talked about quitting video games for a while and then getting back into them later in his life and he said something about limiting oneself in media consumption because there simply isn’t time to consume everything. 

This makes a lot of sense, even though I don’t want to believe it. I am still holding out that by the time I am old and grey, medicine will keep me alive for a million years and I’ll sit by myself and watch every episode of Friends just because I have all the time in the world.

I am reading a book, Water for Elephants, right now. I don’t know if I have just forgotten how to read because college sucked all of the fun out of reading or if I’m just not clicking with the story but it is taking me for.ev.er. to get through it, and I know that it isn’t freaking Tolstoy or anything. (Not that I’ve read anything by Tolstoy. What an incept-joke! Har har) I still don’t have a library card and I’m beginning to think that it’s just never going to happen. Or maybe I’ll just never read again after this.

I’ve started an internship which has been good so far. I’m working in a sort of cultural resource for the university, a resource I didn’t take advantage of while I was actually in school and regret a lot (possibly I’ll write more about my current mission to figure out my identity as an Asian-American if I can figure out a non-cliché way to do so).

But this isn’t really what I wanted to talk about. If this were a newspaper article, I would probably be fired because it took me four paragraphs to get to the point that I wanted to make.

Has anyone seen this video? Is anyone reading my blog to actually answer this question?

It’s been making its rounds on my Facebook newsfeed and I just watched it a couple of days ago. Part of me is sad because I’ve been wanting to document my forays into coding and now that I’ve mustered up the energy to do so, this comes out. I am no longer a unique coding snowflake. I took an introductory web writing class in my major but absolutely none of it made sense to me and I’ve been using w3schools tutorials to try and get a better handle of basic web authoring skills. I don’t really have any tangible evidence of this but web development has been my newest jones and I’ve been really enjoying learning about HTML and I’m even taking real notes and feeling very self-congratulatory even though it’s not helping me find a damn job or anything.

By the way, I read some bad reviews about w3schools which bums me out because I have been taking such meticulous notes on their lessons and I really have no way of knowing what is good and what isn’t about their tutorials. My current plan is to continue to use their tutorials for basic sort of information but do them alongside Code Academy, which seems like a really cool interactive site. Do any of you imaginary readers know better than me on this? Since I know nothing, I’m positive the answer is yes.

Anyway, that concludes another sporadic update. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting and less livejournal-y to say soon.

I Read A Book!

Emphasis on “A”. Last month, I mentioned I went home for break (okay, I guess it’s not really a break  if I’m not in school anymore…I went home for two weeks and hung out with my parents) and while I was there I got my millionth library card and checked out two books: All the King’s Men and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I only read the first book because I think that maybe I forgot how to read?? Seriously. It took me at least five days to even pick up All the King’s Men much less make my eyeballs move across the page and comprehend what letters were. THIS IS WHAT COLLEGE DOES TO YOU, IT SUCKS THE FUN OUT OF READING.

But in the end I emerged victorious and read that book. All the King’s Men is a LONG BOOK. It’s the first “real book” that I’ve read in a really long time so I’m not sure I’m quite equipped to even make any real commentary about it but I’ll try to tell yall how I felt about it.

I did not hate this book but I was not particularly moved by it. The narrator, Jack Burden, was the sort of biased, flawed narrator similar to what’s-his-face in Wuthering Heights where you’re not sure if you trust what he’s saying. Also, I am kind of shallow I guess and wasn’t really invested in the book at all until the romantic scandal part started. I really, really wish I had more intelligent thoughts to say about this book. The most interesting thing/ the only thing that I took away from the book was the idea of whether or not a person is happy or if they are happy because they are nostalgic for a time when they were once happy. I did not really finish this thought, but I did take the time to write a note about it on my phone at 3am.

Would I recommend All the King’s Men? If you like political drama maybe. It’s kind of comforting/terrifying to know that political drama in the 1930s was just as shallow as current political drama in that it’s all backstabbing and sex scandals and whatnot.

I feel like I just wrote the shittiest book report known to (wo)man. Sorry everyone. Sorry I don’t know how to read anymore. On my list of things to do is “get a library card for somewhere around East Lansing” and then maybe I can practice my book-reading and come back with something more interesting to say.

In other news, I made a Tumblr because why neglect one blogging platform when I can neglect TWO?? This has been Caitlin Parent, worst reader/writer of words on the face of the earth.

Let the Great Experiment Begin!

TobiasFunke

I like to characterize myself as a Book-Person. Well, I used to. At least throughout high school and the beginning part of college I was one of those Austen-philes who went to see Pride and Prejudice in theaters with the sneaking suspicion that it would not be up to standards and then went home and wrote about it in my Livejournal.

one adaptation to rule them all

one adaptation to rule them all

I haven’t read P&P in so long. I haven’t really read anything in a long time. Last year I read The Help and One Day in about four days but didn’t really have time to absorb them. I haven’t read a lot of the so-called “Great Novels” just out of pure laziness. I haven’t even read a lot of novels that I think are shitty but really have nothing of which to base that assumption (I’m looking at you, Twilight).

So today, I dragged my dad to the library where I got my card renewed for the millionth time and let him hobble around (he’s having some back trouble) while I tried to figure out what to check out. My first instinct was to get the final installments of The Princess Diaries because I used to be obsessed with them and yet, stopped buying the books and never found out what happens in the end of the series. But, I stopped myself and ended up with Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier & Clay and Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men.

Chabon        Warren

I picked up the former because I’d heard about it when I took a comic writing class during my sophomore year, unaware of Chabon’s celebrity and the latter because it was on TIME’s ALL-TIME 100 Books list. I honestly don’t know much about it. I keep getting it confused with All the President’s Men so, there you go. I’m an idiot. Eventually I want to get through all 100 of these books, while also reading some important contemporary things. I’m almost 23 and still have pipe dreams of being a writer but I really don’t have the sort of familiarity with any one genre or collection of writers to call myself “inspired-by-blah blah”. I think that, to a certain extent, to be a writer these days is to be, in part, what you’ve read. And I’ve read the first Lord of the Rings book (suffered through it, really), and every Harry Potter and a lot of trash British romance and, in case you couldn’t guess, that is not the kind of writer I want to be.

So I’m going to try and read more and maybe I’ll share some of the drivel that I’m working on at the moment (which I have promised before, and still haven’t done). Or at least I’ll be able to prove I’ve actually read things because this blog will be proof.

Open-ended Question Time: I’m trying to post more frequently, folks. What are some blogs I should be reading? Blogs about writing are alright I guess but I’ll take anything.

 

Can I Graduate?

In my last post, I admitted to being a hoarder of sorts. From what I’ve learned from watching a fair amount of Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive and (embarrassingly) a lot of Clean House back in high school, hoarding seems to go hand in hand with procrastinate-y behavior. I am a major procrastinator, and blogging definitely falls under the category of Things That I Procrastinate. But! I have actually been trying to decrease the figurative piles and piles of media in my life and I have something resembling real thoughts about these things.

Parks and Recreation

I started watching Parks and Rec kind of on a whim. I used to be really into The Office and 30 Rock, but I got lazy about watching them and anyway, they only had the first few seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix for a while and also, as everyone knows, The Office is pretty much useless after Pam and Jim get married. I got caught up on Netflix and I think I’m only a couple of episodes behind on the current season. This is a good show, which is kind of stating the obvious, but whatever. What I like most about it is that, to me at least, the characters seem refreshingly altruistic (especially Leslie). I think my previous loves, The Office and 30 Rock, are very cynical in comparison.

Also, Aziz reminds me of my brother.

Also, this.

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American Horror Story: Asylum

I was a serious hater when my housemates were into American Horror Story last year. I watched about five minutes of one episode and all I got out of it was seeing a demon-faced baby which interested me not at all. I actually don’t know why I let myself get into this show for the second season but let me tell you: I am glad I did. The show is so over-the-top campy horror. Included in this season are:

  • zombies
  • serial killers
  • aliens
  • devil possession
  • Nazis
  • celebrity deaths (really, I’m just talking about Adam Levine here)
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sorry, bro

Bonus features: Jessica Lange being a really good actress (I guess? I’m not a SAG member) and the farmer from Babe being a creepy nun-fetishizing Nazi. Also, every once in a while, you get to see someone’s butt, so really there’s something for everyone.

Why do I like this show?? Why am I so in denial about liking this show?? I’ve never faithfully watched a show in real-time except for whatever season of 24 aired when I was in my junior year of high school. Being an expert at American Horror Story is certainly not going to win me any accolades in the academic community but I’m mostly proud of myself for watching a show week-after-week like a normal person.

I think that might be it for updates. One of my info-hoarding practices is, whenever I want to catch up on a blog, I go back to the very beginning and read it from beginning to the present. Yesterday, I did that with the website, Nerdist. I didn’t read every single post, but I can comfortably say that I’m familiar with what’s up with the site. I’ve subscribed to all of their podcasts and am in the process of figuring out which ones I like and which ones are just taking up space on my hard drive (I have a similar relationship with Revision3). At this point, I can only recommend the podcast Questionauts, which I have actually laughed out loud while listening. I just checked the website and it’s not on Nerdist’s podcast page anymore but whatever. It’s funny.

I haven’t been able to catch up on as much as I’d hoped, and I haven’t really picked up any new hobbies or anything but that is because I have finally reached the culmination of my Biggest Procrastination Of All Time: The 7-Month Procrastination Of My College Graduation! A couple of days ago I stapled my final, final paper together and yesterday, I turned that paper and the corresponding project in and today, I woke up at 11 which is not something very out-of-the-ordinary for me but I pretended like it was anyway.

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2012 was a year of Dark Times (to put it delicately), which ended up with me having to push back graduation a few times, but now! Now, I am done and I can fully dedicate my time to getting the hell out of my shitty bagel job and reading real books and maybe writing again for real. When I get my project back from my professor, maybe I’ll share that with you because I made paper dolls and it was kind of fun. So anyway, that’s probably the biggest update of them all and I hope it means some actual, consistent content from me.

In Which I Have a Confession of Sorts

I am a hoarder of ideas. I have an external hard drive that can hold a TB of data. It is over half full of podcasts that I subscribed to at some point but have never actually listened to. 500 effing gigabytes, mostly of people talking about mostly outdated technology trends and performances of bands that are probably not “cool” to listen to anymore, or at least will not put me ahead of any music curves. But I can’t bring myself to delete or unsubscribe from them because I am deathly afraid of missing out on something that will change my life. This same hoarding habit is the reason that I have a large collection of actual music in my iTunes library that I have never listened to.

Prime example: I like the Beatles well enough. I am not, however, a die-hard Beatles fan in the least. This did not stop me from downloading THE ENTIRE BEATLES DISCOGRAPHY. This includes doubles on doubles on doubles of songs since I now have the US and UK releases of several albums. But which ones are extraneous? Which ones do I delete? I don’t know!! I also don’t really care!

I spent a good chunk of time a couple of years ago compiling an Excel spreadsheet with several “Best Book” sort of lists. I have some weird random list from TIME Magazine maybe, two columns dedicated to the MLA 100 Best Books Fiction/Non-Fiction lists, and some other column. I have read maybe 12 of these books and that might even be an overestimate. Fun fact: I used to want a career in editing and publishing. Fun Fact #2: Even though I am not a complete idiot, I am actually not that well read! I have never read “The Great Gatsby” *gasp* This book title hoarding behavior has carried over into the audio/visual world as evidenced by my Netflix Instant Queue, which only contains TV Series. My Instant Queue is, more or less, alphabetized and includes any show that I have a passing interest in. For a while I was attempting to tackle my Instant Queue IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER but I got bored with 24 and then I tried to suffer through Ally McBeal but here’s a little thing about that show: ALLY MCBEAL SUCKS. So now, I’m finally watching Parks and Rec which I totally love and am sorry for wasting so much time on Ally McBeal The Worst Show I Have Come In Contact With.

Another fun fact about Netflix and me: I like to be able to log into Netflix and go to “Recently Watched” and continue whatever TV Series I was last watching but my brother has my password and he is ROBSESSED with How I Met Your Mother and watches about 17 episodes of this show a day and I have to scroll way the eff down to get back to my current project Parks and Rec (which is a far better show, duh). This is sort of a non-sequitur but mostly LISTEN UP, INTERNET. MY SUPPOSED-MR.-COOL-GUY BROTHER ACTUALLY DOES NOTHING BUT WATCH HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER AND I GET TO FOOT THE $7-A-MONTH-OR-WHATEVER BILL.

I never thought I had a bucket list but I’m now realizing that I do, and that it looks kind of like this:

1. Read all the things

2. Watch all the things

3. Listen to all the podcasts (?) or maybe: Listen to everything by the Beatles or whatever, you get the idea

So we’re going to go on a little adventure, Internet people, in which I try to consume every type of media out there and then I’m going to record my thoughts about said piece of media and maybe we’ll discover something shocking/enlightening/tragic about myself other than the fact that I like to procrastinate by making lists. I mean, I’ve already ruled out Ally McBeal, so that says something right?

I also have this thing where I One Day Wish To Be A Writer, and I’ve been hoarding some ideas in the ol’ brain notepad so maybe I’ll share some of those too. Get pumped.