Ultra Rich Asian Girls

Reality shows featuring pretty girls and their luxurious lifestyles is an eye-catching topic in every culture, just like people can never get bored of checking out celebrity gossip magazines. Whereas it is also common for this kind of show to receive all kinds of criticisms and controversies.

There is no exception to this show — Ultra Rich Asian Girls, which is a reality show featuring 4 mandarin-speaking Asian girls who lead luxurious lifestyle in Vancouver Canada. The show takes audience to have a glimpse of their daily activities including trip to private island, designer bags shopping spree, million dollar villa parties, etc., as well as documents how they interact with (or loathe) each other. However, as it is set in a special context where these girls actually represent the tip of an influx of Asian wealth into western societies, extra discussions involving racism, cultural identity and its unavoidable political implications among the diaspora group are triggered on top of the usual level of criticism over “the rich” and “materialism”.

Source: http://www.hbictv.com/

In a more realistic environment, the “invasion” of Asian students, investment, and culture has affected the local economy in many countries such as Canada and Australia. As much as these countries welcome the wealthy migrants, they also need to face some pressing issues like the rapid rise of property prices and the changing face of their local communities, which in a way has shaped the wealthy Asians into a form of special community and sometimes given the concept of “yellow peril” a new form.

Leaving all the”why”s and”how”s that people have towards these Asian migrants alone, what this reality TV did is simply to give the “ultra rich” group a voice and to satisfy the outsiders’ longing to know them. Besides, there is also no doubt that the group will continue to grow, bringing more change on both inside and outside of many western societies, just like a side effect of globalization. The consequence is obvious – one can either embrace it or feel intimidated by it.

The reality show is now preparing to launch for its 4th season. After all, it is all the controversies and criticisms that contribute to the success of this TV show series.

To remember, to forget, to heal

It’s been a while since the last time I watched a stage show in a small theatre…and I forgot what an intimate experience this can be. What made me feel this way are two Japanese theatre productions at Arts House Melbourne as part of the AsiaTOPA festival.

Both productions deal with the topic of 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, reflecting on the disaster’s impact on people’s living with a close glimpse to their inner minds. The simple settings on stage open up a new dimension where my attention is exclusively dedicated to the stage and the performance happening there.It hence becomes quite intimate — like witnessing a tragic process that interweaves the past and the future, the deceased and the lived and is something that is very delicate, fragile and easy to be overlooked if not contemplated carefully.

The first production: Time’s Journey Through a Room is about a man’s dialogue with the spirit of his deceased wife and his new girl friend, revealing his desperation for hope while also a sense of frustration of being worn out by the sadness.

arts-house-times-journey-through-a-room-photo-by-bryony-jackson-review
Source: http://artsreview.com.au/times-journey-through-a-room/

The second production: Kagerou – Study of Translating Performance is a performance involving simultaneous interpretation of a woman’s voice talking about her husband who died in the earthquake. Performed by one person with headphones on, the production also uses a projection of moving images in the background as the person does the oral interpretation. Her shadow projected on the background creates a special presence of a person among the images of objects and sceneries.

jap-journey-1

Each of the two shows has a unique way of depicting the character’s mental reaction to their loss at the natural disaster, by gently letting the character’s voice being heard with a series of subtle and distinct expressions. They captured moments after a person is finally settling in the fact about death of the loved one and is trying to get on with life. Somehow, making sense of the unforgettable is actually helping the lived ones to forget, to move on and in this case, to heal as part of a national tragedy.

Delicacy or Bizarre Food

I spotted many Asian delicacies in James Corden’s “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts”. Not sure if the production team was inspired by internet posts like this or Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Bird’s saliva seems to have appeared in a few episodes, but I wonder how much actual bird’s saliva is in that cocktail glass, as a small quantity of decent quality bird’s saliva can sometimes cost a fortune.

spill-1

When some of the food above were presented as “gross”“disgusting” and “horrific”during the show, it does trigger some amusing effect to see celebrities literally “spill their guts” in front of these food – whether it’s a true reaction or just a form of act.

Food is probably another strong aspect of everyday life that defines a type of culture other than language. I could just imagine that food like meat Pâté, blue cheese and jellied eel (or maybe a vegemite/marmite juice? ) would receive the same reaction if there was ever a similar show in China.

Besides, I noticed that SPAM is also categorised as “bizarre food” in this episode, maybe that’s prepared for some female celebrities who only eat kale, which certainly represents a very trendy subcultural group.

spill-spam

YouTube Korea: Social Responsibility or User Right?

On April 1st, 2009, South Korea’s telecommunication authority deployed an act which obligates the Internet user to publish his/her real name when uploading a video or leaving a comment on large social networking sites as in Korea, increasing rate of crimes and suicide cases have been caused by slanderous messages posted on social websites. YouTube was also specified as one of the websites to which the act should be applied. However, after discussing with Google World Headquarters, Google Korea (who owns YouTube Korea) refused the authority’s request on the grounds that anonymity is essential to guarantee freedom of expression on YouTube, and the company disabled any video uploading and commenting instead. YouTube customers in South Korea can only use these features by changing the current region in their personal settings into country other than South Korea.


(Source: Asiajin/Korea)

It was highly anticipated that users would eventually leave YouTube in favor of local competitors Like Pandora.tv after YouTube’s decision. Surprisingly, it was not the case. According to a survey by Korean Times in June 2009, for the first time since its launch in Korea in 2008, YouTube became the number one video portal in terms of overall usage time with a 42.79% market share. It shows that Google’s move of disabling the uploading and commenting system does not influence people’s use of the YouTube website. People believe that YouTube’s features like quick registration process, the possibility to embed videos on Cyworld (first social network in Korea), as well as the amount and diversity of content made available from its worldwide user base are all reasons they decide to stick to YouTube.

It was commonly known that it is important for global websites such as YouTube to tailor to the specific local market so as to localize its brand image, this involves operating with respect for local morals and ethics. The response by YouTube Korea here seems to strike a balance between its social responsibility and the protection of its users’ right. It is obvious an excellent way of building a strong position in the Korean market and at the same time casts no negative effect on the corporate’s business.

Rebiya Kadeer & Melbourne International Film Festival

8th August’s protest before Melbourne Town hall against the screening of the Film “Ten Conditions of Love” brought the whole Rebiya Kadeer movie controversy to another climax. For me, witnessing this kind of conflict actually evokes more complex feelings and thoughts than if I heard or read about them in China.

The MIFF’s attitude is clear that they do not want to threaten the independency of the film festival, and especially when it comes to a film made by an Australian director.

According to Richard Moore, the executive of the MIFF,

“On Friday I received a call from Ms Chen, who is based here in Melbourne at the Chinese consulate. She told me that she was ringing to urge me to withdraw the particular film Ten Conditions Of Love from the festival. I said I had no reason to withdraw the film from the festival and she then proceeded to tell me that I had to justify my decision to include the film in the festival. I said ‘Well, I’m very sorry but I didn’t have any reason to justify the inclusion of the film in the festival.’ So she then proceeded to … list Rebiya Kadeer’s crimes. I have to say to you after about five minutes I blanked out………She plainly wasn’t happy [the festival will continue as planned] and as I said before, she just went on to list Rebiya Kadeer’s crimes and unfortunately I had to tell her that I could no longer continue the conversation because I’d already expressed my opinion, so I politely hung up.”

It is easy for me to image how Ms Chen, as a representative of Chinese governemnt, used the authoritative tones (just like these TV propaganda shown on major Chinese TVs) to list Rebiya’s crimes such as the terrorist riots she incited in Western China (which Rebiya denied ). This might be a persuasive discourse in China where the dominant ideology of the society is constantly produced and constructed by the Chinese Communist Party. But within the context of Australia, the executive of MIFF obvious sounds “confused” or a little “annoyed”…… Obviously, there is nothing wrong with showing a documentary regarding the spiritual leader of an ethnic group in the Film Festival, and it is also supposed to be a natural thing for giving her the freedom of expressing issues about her ethnicity.

 

I had once thought that the controversy would over after three Chinese filmmakers withdrew their films from Film Festival in protest against the screening of “Ten Conditions of Love”, but, things gotten more ridiculous…..

It is said that

“The hackers broke into the festival’s website, just hours after Premier John Brumby officially opened the 2009 festival at the Arts Centre.

The hackers replaced festival information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans and were last night continuing to disrupt the site by spamming.

“We like film but we hate Rebiya Kadeer,” one message says and calls for an apology to the Chinese people.”

However, the hacking definitely didn’t change the minds of the MIFF organizers, who told ABC:

How could we change our mind now?” said Richard Moore.

“It just makes our position even, even stronger and we may even consider programming more sessions of 10 Conditions of Love.”

Apparently, Chinese netizens were quite furious about MIFF’s disrespect to Chinese government’s suggestion, and it seemed that MIFF’s insistence did  hurt Chinese people’s feelings. So, after the decision of more session of “Ten Conditions of Love” to be shown, four more Chinese-language films were withdrawn, and a long-term Hong Kong-based sponsor  pulled out of the event.

The situation is complex, and I guess each side would always provide their own version of the justification. I’m just thinking of what such not-so-pleasant consequences might imply….. It is obviously a very poor strategy for Chinese government to try to make the rest of the world to see the events through the same lens they use. As is shown here, this would probably only result in more confusion and misunderstanding between China and other countries. On the other hand, MIFF also seems to be facing a dilemma of choosing between its independency and its credibility of “an International Film Festival”.