The San Diego Asian Film Festival (http://www.sdaff.org/) is ready to open up for its week-long festivities and screenings for the eleventh time this October 21-28th. The San Diego Film Foundation behind the Festival had put together a video contest (http://sdaff.org/festival/reel-in-the-vote.php) this past summer to get people armed with a camera to create 30 second PSA’s for the promotion of API votes. To encourage submissions and voter turn-out, Randall Park, along with a string of other Asian American celebrities released this video:
Beyond Tacobell and diarrhea, in all seriousness, Randall Park shares with us why it’s critical for the API community to vote— to raise our voices to be heard tomorrow.
“I believe that there is no community without it’s voice. And anyone who chooses to not be heard deserves to have their choices made for them. This includes mute people. If the mute community chooses not to be heard, then they deserve to have the blind community speak for them. They deserve to have their signs in braille. They deserve to be provided seeing-eye dogs, free of charge. They deserve to have Stevie Wonder be the President of the United States. (Which actually would be pretty cool.) But my point is, we as a community should not be mute. Even mute people can vote. It’s a basic and essential duty. The upcoming election is critical for all the obvious reasons, but I’d argue that every election is critical. Our inaction years ago is a big reason why everything is so “critical” today. Our action today will shape tomorrow.” – - Randall Park
You can enjoy more of Randall and his funniness at this year’s Unforgettable hosted by KoreAm Journal on November 20, 2010.
Marié Digby is all sorts of lovely and enchanting. From her soft, beguiling voice to her delicately pretty face, she’s everything you’d expect from a life-sized chanteuse-Tinkerbell. The Japanese and Irish American songstress holds a sovereign position in the World Wide Web as well. She debuted her homemade acoustic adaptation of Rhianna’s Umbrella on YouTube on May 29, 2007, and has garnered more than 16.8 millions views to date. Since then, she has grown as an artist and performer and has advanced onto much larger platforms.
In the past three years, Digby has released three studio albums — her debut album Unfold, on April 8, 2008; a collection of Japanese cover songs Second Home, on March 4, 2009; and her second U.S. album Breathing Underwater on September 8, 2009. Recently, she’s been making waves on stage through her appearances at Lilith Fair, as well as online with the release of her 17-episode web-series Breathing Underwater The Movie, named after her newest album.
Lilith Fair, which was founded in 1997 to celebrate women in music, is the largest and highest grossing all-female touring music festival. After a decade-long hiatus, Lilith Fair returned to the road this summer with its 2010 tour. With an original roster of prominent female artists such as Sarah McLachlan (co-founder of the Lilith Fair), Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, The Dixie Chicks, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Jewel and Nelly Furtado, to name a few, the 2010 summer tour included Digby in its ever-expanding list of top female musical performers of the day.
While the 2010 Lilith Fair is having its grand finale today at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Washington D.C., viewers can still find Digby in her musical film Breathing Underwater through ABC’s Music Lounge. The film, which is divided into 17 episodes, premiered on July 1, 2010, with new three to five minute episodes released every few days. (The final episode airs today.) The film is a compilation of inspirations and stories chronicling Digby’s life during the recording of her album Breathing Underwater. All the tracks from the namesake album are featured in the web-series to help dramatize Digby’s emotions and experiences during that time.
Check out the trailer here:
For more on Marié Digby and the Lilith Fair, check out her official ABC blog.
If you want to see Marié Digby live, and you’re in the Los Angeles area, she’ll be performing at Kollaboration Acoustic 4 on August 27, 2010 at the Ford Theatre. Get tickets here.
Current TV journalist Euna Lee made global headlines with her captivity in North Korean jail with fellow journalist Laura Ling last year. Since then, both women have been honored as Glamour’s Women of the Year. Lee is returning to the public with her début book, The World Is Bigger Now: A Story of Faith, Family and Forgiveness, published by Broadway Books (an imprint of Random House), to be released on September 28, 2010.
According to a previous report by The New York Times, the book would detail “her 140 days of imprisonment, her ongoing interrogation and her efforts to protect her sources and the subjects of her reporting, as well as the importance of her religious faith during this time.”
What we can expect from the yet to be released memoir are the developments that led up to Lee and Ling’s March 17, 2009 capture at the China-North Korean border while they were investigating the trafficking of North Korean female refugees, as well as Lee’s personal and detailed account of her captivity for more than four months within the enigmatic confines of North Korea.
The book was co-authored by Lisa Dickey, a frequent contributor of biographies and memoirs.
Can’t wait? You can pre-order the book here.
Love it or hate it, but one thing is left undisputed. Americans love reality television and Jersey Shore was one of the most talked about hits to break out into the airwaves last season. As the upcoming reality television show K-Town, dubbed as the “Asian American Jersey Shore” is currently in production, rumors and gossip are swarming the filming process. From America’s favorite paparazzi site TMZ and journalism powerhouse The New York Times, to cynically critical Asian American bloggers chiming in on K-Town, curiosity over the show is increasing by the minute. To curb my own prying nosiness, I held one of the three producers of the show, Eugene Choi, hostage on the other end of the phone. He addressed some of the swarming rumors, but hesitates to give away too much of what’s to come.
Q: There are so many videos and clips of K-Town circulating online. What’s real and what’s not?
Eugene Choi: That’s the crazy part of all the attention that we’ve been getting over the show — most of the things that are circulating online were not released by the producers or the official production team. Given how connected everyone is through the internet, it’s become so easy to snoop and scoop. We [the production team and cast members] have password protected a lot of the footage to get edited internally, yet somehow it got out of hand real quickly. Now, we’re receiving emails with links from acquaintances with production footage even before it’s edited.
Q: So are the photos and videos not accurate representations of the show?
EC: They are not the finalized version. Many of the videos on Youtube are also uploaded by fans and critics outside of the actual production team so it’s not our official material. All this attention is good for publicity, but it’s also misleading since we are still in the filming process and we’ve only shot the pilot episode.
Q: Tell me more of the parody of Ke$ha’s Tik Tok on TMZ starring the cast of K-Town. It says that it’s not an official trailer/teaser, but somehow managed to reach the American public through TMZ of all places!
EC: The quality of the video that was released through TMZ is no way near what you should expect from the upcoming show. The video and the lyrics were actually part of Jasmine Chang’s (one of the cast members) audition process and we were just talking about how it was cute and funny and decided to put the rest of the casts’ auditions into it. About 95 percent of the video is footage cut from the cast members’ audition videos and not actual footage from the show.
As a matter of fact, we ended up selecting the cast members partially based on their audition videos. They were very impressive high quality videos where it was shot and edited by professional videographers.
Q: Are the cast members going to be 2.0 Asian American versions of the Jersey Shore cast?
EC: We are using K-Town as the setting and drawing from what really goes on in Koreatown. The similarity is that both shows will feature a selected group of young adults going through a rite of passage in their [respective] settings. In this case, it’ll be K-town where it’s truly unique with a character of its own.
Q: How do you think that the show will be able to distinguish itself into its own and away from the Jersey Shore?
EC: Well, it’s the very first reality show of its kind with an all Asian American cast, so that’s the selling point and challenge when pitching it to the networks.
Q: Well, the mainstream American media that have reported on it so far have all called it the Jersey Shore — but with Asians. How do you think that’s going to play with the major networks?
EC: The main goal from the beginning was to get the show picked up and aired through a major network and that’s also the real challenge. Networks are in the business to pick up what’s profitable. Last year, Viacom’s biggest moneymaker was MTV, much credit to the popularity of the Jersey Shore. So when approaching the network executives, it’s a selling point to be able to address that, “Look, we have something here that can be successful. The risk you have to take is that the cast will be all Asian American instead of Italian-Americans,” and they’re more willing to listen. The hype and media attention that we are receiving now is an indicator that America is ready and interested enough to watch a reality show with an Asian American cast about their particular subculture within America. The content’s going to be different from the Jersey Shore because the people [cast] are different and the producers are different.
Q: So all this attention, even though it’s negative, is essentially good publicity.
EC: It was shocking to receive so much attention from the very beginning. Even from the very first Criagslist ads to the audition process, we’ve been getting a lot of attention and negative criticism. There’s been so much negativity from the beginning from the Asian American community trying to tear us down, but it hasn’t affected us from moving forward with this project. Surprisingly, the public American media, whether it’s Chelsea Lately, CNN or TMZ have not been negative.
Q: What made you guys place a Craigslist ad looking for Asian American Jersey Shore-types?
EC: I was studying the Jersey Shore and how it’s a simple depiction of a subculture in America, following young people through their rite of passage and thought, “why not in K-town?” Koreatown has so much going on as an enclave for Asian Americans to soak up its own unique lifestyle and nightlife. Some people are complaining over the cast members’ nationalities — on how not every cast member is a Korean American. I think it goes to show that Koreatown, in addition to its namesake that harbors Korean businesses, has been naturalized as a Asian American hang-out spot. The production team is not entirely Korean either, but we [the producers] all want to do what many other Asian Americans in the entertainment industry are working to do, which is to breakdown the stereotype that we [Asian Americans] are not all nerdy or that we can’t be mainstream.
Q: Is the goal to break the stereotypes and to have a successful reality TV show?
EC: The goal is not to show the rosy picture, but to show that Asian Americans are more multidimensional through the individuals that they’ll meet through the show.
Q: Multidimensional through drunken debauchery in Koreatown?
EC: Well, reality TV is about drama.
Q: I have to agree. Looking at other popular reality TV shows like the Real Housewives or the Real World, it’s all about people and their hot, messy drama. I shall expect to see Asian Americans and their hot, messy drama then.
EC: Speaking of the Real World, there was an interesting Facebook page that points out how there have been zero Asian American males cast on the show, with only three Asian American female cast members in its long-running history. That says a lot about American television and what this K-Town reality show is trying to do. We have interesting characters and the only difference is that they’re Asian Americans.
Q: Then don’t you think that the critics and haters are almost giving you too much credit with the show? After all, it is only a reality TV show.
EC: I guess I haven’t looked at it that way. But we want to create a good show that is entertaining and to put a different perspective of Asian Americans.
What I gathered after our thank-you-and-good-bye was that the producers are in the business of making good reality television as opposed to creating a new set of Asian American role models. It’s reality television — not reality as it is.
Let’s face it. Facebook profile pictures matter almost as much, if not more, than first impressions on first dates. And skincare company Vaseline is banking on that with their new Facebook app and arguably racist marketing campaign, which is stirring up some major controversy.
Vaseline’s Facebook application allow users to lighten the skin color of their profile pictures by five shades. The app targets Indian male consumers as a marketing tool to accompany the launch of the Vaseline brand’s new skin-lightening creams for men. The ad campaign has Bollywood star Shahid Kupur as its brand ambassador and features a picture of his face divided in half, highlighting the lighter and darker differences.
The ad campaign’s message is clear — that lighter skin, even for men, is better. In India, light skin has long been the gold standard for beauty. The standard doesn’t discriminate between men and women and applies to everyone. In a country where often the societal and cultural norm states that fairer skin will enhance one’s chances at success in life and even in finding love, it has become apparent that Indians are literally and physically getting white-washed.
In many South, Southeast and East Asian countries, the physical attribute of “whiteness” has become the beauty standard. Whether it is more Westernized facial features through double-eyelid folds or lighter skin achieved with whitening creams, Asians in their native countries are taking drastic and unnatural measures to achieve such desired outcomes. In the case of Vaseline’s skin-whitening cream ad campaign, its online marketing through the globally accessed social networking site Facebook.com is giving users from all over the world an insight into racism-embedded marketing efforts in India. What may seem culturally relevant and applicable in India today is being criticized as racist marketing according to online users from other parts of the world. Profile pictures are important and it’s understandable that everyone wants to put their best faces forward, but your face — five shades lighter — shouldn’t be the accepted beauty standard.