Monthly Archives: March 2016

Racist Korean Rashomon Morning

Vishnu

Yesterday, the bus driver ruined my morning. I just wanted to be left alone and go to work, but no, he had to get into my life, embarrass me in front of strangers, and ruin my morning.

The bus was packed as I got in. There are two ways to get in the bus: the front closest to the driver, and the back which is really an exit, but people in Korea use to get into the bus anyway. The bus that morning was so packed that I remember whispering “fuck” as I got in and swiped my card. I was standing at the front, making sure not to block the driver’s view of the right side mirror.

After a long tunnel, we stopped. The door opened and a couple of people behind me were trying to get out. I wanted to make life easier for them since the bus was so packed, so I got out of the bus only to go back in once they got out. The bus had less people now, so I went further back. I was enjoying listening to This American Life and updating my Twitter feed when I noticed the bus wasn’t moving. The bus driver got out of his seat, went straight to me, and yelled, “CARD! CARD!” while pointing to the bus’s card reader. He must’ve assumed I just got in and assumed that I didn’t bother paying.

He didn’t speak in Korean nor was he being very polite, so I shot back, “I already did!” And I heard a Korean lady, probably the one next to me when I first got in say, “He paid already.” Content, he went back and resumed driving. No apologies. I had to call my friend in Canada during the ride just to calm down about, all the while shooting dirty looks at the driver. And as I was about to get off, continuing to imagine his death, he gave a goofy wave goodbye. Idiot.

A co-worker heard this story and said that perhaps I was reading it all wrong. The bus driver actually took the time to get off his seat, come to me, and remind me to pay in English. Most Koreans would’ve just been yelled at from the driver’s seat. I say bullshit. How would she like it if she was travelling in the US and the bus driver stopping the bus only to yell at her, “PAY! PAY!” when she already did?

My View: That bus driver was a racist. Why would he assume that I didn’t pay? Do I look like someone who doesn’t know how buses work, or for that matter, how the world economy works? I just wanted to go to my job. I didn’t wake up in the morning thinking I’m gonna screw the bus driver. And really, if it was a Korean person, I’m sure he would’ve given him or her the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately for him, I already paid. I’m sure if I didn’t and he had to drag me to the card reader, that would’ve made his day. I’m sure he can’t wait to tell a foreigner off.

Co-worker’s View: Joe is being overly sensitive. He’s been binge-watching Black-ish and the new OJ Simpson show. He really should know that he’s not black, and he’s not being oppressed in Korea. I’m sure that was just an honest mistake. He’s lucky the bus driver even used English.

Bus Driver’s View: Did that guy just get in without paying? I’d better tell him. Luckily, “card” is the same word for card in Korean. Maybe he’ll get it when I tell him.

Lady in the Bus’s View: Didn’t that guy already get in before the tunnel? I remember him whispering “fuck” as he swiped his card. I’d better tell the bus driver. That foreigner mustn’t speak a lick of Korean. I’ll bet this’ll ruin his morning.

Now I’ve calmed down since yesterday. And yes, I know there was a misunderstanding, but I can’t help but sense glee in the bus driver tone as he told me off in a crowded bus. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but even if it was, the perception of the whole thing is bad: a Korean man yelling at a foreigner in front of people early in the morning. It’s very hard for a person to be understanding and open-minded if he or she was on the receiving end of that abuse, especially if they went out of their way just a few moments ago, to make life more convenient for other commuters. Sometimes you don’t have to outwardly racist in order to be racist, just the appearance of racism is enough.

And that really, is one of Korea’s problems. Sure, there is racism. There are people out there who truly hate or don’t want anything to do with foreigners, but there’s also mild or “innocent” racism. An example of it would be places like Koreans-only establishments. Their excuse is not so much that they don’t like foreigners; it’s just that dealing with English is a problem. It’s all just a misunderstanding on the foreigner’s part. This is often excused by saying, “no, no, it’s not racist, but…”

But what?

But your foreign ass just has to deal with it.

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Hulkamania Runs Wild On You

Tim_Hortons

Here’s my Tim Horton’s duck after drawing over it. I’m back to my traditional drawing after weeks of doing faux anime.

I’m very happy with the Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea vs. Gawker Media verdict. Hulk Hogan just won a $115 civil lawsuit against Gawker media who published a sex tape of him having relations with his best friend’s ex-wife. Gawker media argued that it was a First Amendment issue and since Hulk Hogan candidly talked about his personal life (including his sex life) in public, then the sex tape should be considered news-worthy material. Terry Bollea argued that it’s a violation of his privacy rights and that all the personal and sex life talk is him as his Hulk Hogan persona. It doesn’t give anyone free-reign on all of his life, including his most intimate moments.

The case was quite interesting because it showed a company that was willing to be on both sides of an issue to get more clicks, to make a profit. When Jennifer Lawrence Lawrence and other female celebrities’ phones were hacked and their naked pictures were posted online, Jezebel, a feminist Web site under Gawker Media ran articles non-stop railing against the evils of the companies hosting such images. They equated the posting of the images to sexual violence. A couple of years later, they post a video of Hulk Hogan, even fighting to keep the video online. Double standard much?

The six-person jury awarded Hulk Hogan $15 million more than the original $100 claim. The jury is still going to reconvene tomorrow to discuss punitive damages which could bury Gawker Media. Left as is, the decision could end the Gawker Media empire. Of course, the company is already planning to appeal the decision, but before doing so, they must pose a $50 million bond which I’m not sure the company could collect. And while some people are confident that the company could win on appeal based on the absolute victory on Judge Campbell’s court, I’m cautiously optimistic since the appeals court has reversed many of the Judge’s rulings in the case. There’s a possibility that Hulk Hogan’s victory might not be as big after the appeal, but it will definitely be devastating for Gawker, especially for its owner as well as its former editor who glibly suggested in court that he would be willing to show a five year-old’s sex tape on their Web site. I’m sure this failed attempt at humor didn’t impress the jury.

I don’t mind tabloid journalism; I read tabloid/celebrity stories now and then. But I was just never a fan of Gawker Media’s sensationalist, click-driven ethos. In the pursuit of more media attention, they sensationalize and even fabricate news which in a more journalistically-responsible world would not even be considered news. They didn’t care what story they were pushing or what side they were on, as long as it garnered clicks. And what concerns me more is that not only was Gawker Media being rewarded for not having any journalistic value, their stories are being taken up by other news aggregators who are increasingly adopting the Gawker Media formula. You can’t have a healthy democracy without well-informed citizens (Honderich). And you can’t have well-informed citizens if you have media that is solely motivated by clicks.

 

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Canadian Anime

Emily_Murphy

Printed and distressed my Canadian posters to make them look more authentic. I’m hoping I succeeded (http://josephmreyes.com/Blamco.html). People can compare the results from the images I posted in the past couple of months. I’m happy with the resulting images. I’m hoping others are too.

 

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Bad Winnipeg Politics

Tim_Hortons

A friend alerted me to news regarding Jamie Hall, someone we went to high school with. I don’t remember much about him, but I knew enough to be surprised that he tried to be a politician. It takes a certain amount of courage as well as an almost wide-eyed zeal to serve one’s community, and these positive virtues are quite commendable, regardless of the cynicism that comes hand in hand with the profession. So it is a shame that Jamie Hall’s political career barely lasted twenty-four hours when tweets degrading women resurfaced and put a stop to his campaign. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/busby-on-hall-tweets-1.3476086)

What’s even more unfortunate is that somehow, the Liberal party’s vetting process didn’t catch what seems to be glaring red flags: He worked as a bar promoter. He penned a novel titled 7 Deadly Women. He has an active Twitter and Youtube accounts. They’re not sins of themselves, but they could be mined for anything that could be useful for rival candidates. And lastly, he dresses like a magician. He looks more like a pick-up artist at the Manitoba Legislature than a person trying to run for political office.

First off, let’s look at the comment themselves. He refers to his girlfriend as a “skank.” This could be excused as a personal term on a personal message not meant for public consumption. But then again, this is politics, and regardless of how his girlfriend feels about the term, it is still quite offensive. I could call my wife the n-word and she might think it’s the sweetest, most endearing moniker in the world, but that doesn’t make it acceptable especially if I’m running for public office.

This also isn’t the first time he’s used such demeaning terms. One of his offensive tweets (and there are quite a few) says, “If a whore screams in the bedroom and no one is around to hear it, is she really a whore?” Now, the tweet doesn’t really make much sense since I’m sure there are “whores” that could be quiet and “proper women” that could be noisy in bed, but his rather casual use of the term suggests comfort with the idea of certain women being “whores” and “skanks.” Now, he tries to explain his actions by saying that as a liberal, he’s always been against the idea of censorship, but there’s nothing offensive in the tweet “if a whore screams…” that mere censorship could cure. It is the idea within the tweet that is offensive. You could replace the term “whore” with “loose woman” and still come off as a misogynist.

He also uses such terms from a position of power and I don’t think he fully realizes how it looks from a political perspective when a white male refers to women as “whores” and “skanks.” Again, from a political and social perspective, it looks like he is punching down. I realize that there are some men, especially those in the men’s rights movement, who think that certain women deserve the label “whore” and that in many mays minimizing and/or objectifying women is a means of punching up, but that’s not how many women see it. That’s not how people in politics see it. Doesn’t this guy have a political consultant or at least someone with common sense who reads the paper? He explains that a lot of people talk like him, that he is not perfect and no one is. And it’s true, crude language doesn’t disqualify someone’s abilities nor does it negate their willingness to do good for the community. But it’s not one comment that shows a callous and rather immature attitude towards women, it’s several. And also, as political creatures, one has to look at such comments pragmatically whether they’re on his side or running against him. They are bad politically.

His explanation wasn’t much help either. I find that his CBC interview was more explanation than an apology, which is really the only thing that could’ve saved him. If anything, some of his explanations were more of an insult to the people who were offended. “My girlfriend is a strong, independent woman. She would not be sitting here in the studio next to me if I called her a skank.” First off, he did refer to his girlfriend as a “skank.” Perhaps it was in jest, but it did happen. He’s asking people to believe him instead of their own lying eyes. Also, to say that his girlfriend is “strong and independent” implies that those who were offended are not. Again, I don’t fully subscribe to this logic, but politically, this is a pretty bad explanation which could be easily exploited should he have decided to move forward. I dislike professional politicians as much as the next person, but that comment was amateur hour.

Now, I don’t want to be the word police. I think people should be free to say anything they want. The right to offend, to add controversial ideas and rhetoric in the marketplace of ideas is one of the greatest rights in Canada. However, people are not free from the consequences of their words. Hall is free to use the word “whores” and “skanks,” he is free to demean women if he wants to. Heck, I’ve been accused of misogyny a couple of times before myself. But as a political creature, Hall is not free from the consequences of his words. He should’ve known better, perhaps cleaned up his history or done a better job apologizing for it. The Liberal party should’ve known better as well.

The use of the word “whore” and “skank,” as well as his history of tweets don’t offend me. I really couldn’t care less about them. I’m not sure if I can outright label him as a misogynist based on a small sample of his language. What annoyed me is the lack of political savviness exhibited in the whole episode.

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