Category Archives: media

Billionaires Buying Things

Around two years ago, I got banned from Twitter. It was over a response to Laura Ingraham, a vile racist Nazi on Twitter. So yeah, I don’t mind being permanently banned on Twitter fighting the Nazis. I used to be a heavy Twitter user. And since I stopped using Twitter, I’m less stressed about the news, etc. I no longer have this useless need for one-upping strangers on the Internet. With Twitter out of my life, I focused more attention on Reddit, which I find more populated with people who are constructive and are actually interested in conversation, instead of Twitter where people seem to be more concerned about burning other people.

Now Elon Musk has bought Twitter. I never liked the man. I find him obnoxious and for lack of a better word, “corny.” He’s trying too hard to be Tony Stark, an obnoxious fictional character that only works via the nebulous deus ex machina of his genius and technology in general. “What seems like magic is actually nanobots. Plot hole filled!” Anyway, for a man who is the richest in the planet, Musk tries too hard to insert himself into our lives. A group of boys are trapped in a cave in Thailand, he sends a useless submarine. He asks the UN for a plan to solve world hunger. They give him said plan, but he doesn’t act on it and pretends he never offered to finance their plans in the first place. He gets into a dick-measuring contest with other obnoxious billionaires in their race for space (when the planet is literally dying). But my favorite is him evangelizing his idea of the Hyperloop in order to solve traffic problems. Years later and many companies involved in the idea, it has eventually materialized into nothing but tunnels, absolutely normal non-special tunnels.

My biggest problem with him is how he panders to the worst people on the Internet. The Joe Rogans, alpha males, conspiracy theorists, crypto bros, etc. His idea of free speech is for everyone to be able to say anything they want, no matter how vile or how dangerous it could be, except if it affects him. Just a couple of days into acquiring Twitter, he’s already unleashed one of the two female executives on Twitter to his horde of trolls. Maybe it’s creative termination or maybe it’s just his nature to be vile. But as one ex-Twitter CEO replied, “Bullying is not leadership.” He is a good salesman and a good hype man. Tesla ran for years without making any profit based on his promises, but it’s also been revealed that the company fosters a very misogynistic, racist, and hostile work environment.

When Peter Thiel, another billionaire, managed to get rid of Gawker, a media company that displeased him using a lawsuit and Hulk Hogan’s sex tape, it didn’t feel right to me. I felt it was the beginning of billionaires using their wealth willy-nilly to acquire or destroy companies and significantly affect people’s lives. Rupert Murdoch has been manipulating the public with his media empire for years, but when Peter Thiel got rid of Gawker, it showed that monumental changes can happen significantly faster via the tyranny of capitalism. And now that Elon Musk bought Twitter, he can use it to attack his enemies, gain more cultish followers, and boost his stock with his tweets, something that he’s done before in the past.

It’s the wild west now. What if Jeff Bezos just suddenly bought NBC and made it shill for Amazon non-stop? He already bought the Washington Post. And while the paper hasn’t really changed much since its acquisition, who knows how many Amazon stories they decided not to run since being bought by Bezos?

What bothers me also is that for the amount that Musk paid for Twitter, he could’ve used that money to help finance world hunger programs that he was previously talking about with the UN. He could’ve used that money to make college education free in the US. There are so much good that could be done by these billionaires’ money. Instead, Musk is using it to flex during his mid-life crisis.

As much as I don’t mind Warren Buffet and find him charming, there really isn’t anything good about being a billionaire. It is basically a person accumulating too much wealth to the detriment of everyone else. Sure, they might not be doing it maliciously, but by the amount of taxes they are not taxed alone, they are by definition taking more than they deserve and contributing less to society than the average person. When an average person pays their taxes, they literally gave away a bigger proportion of their wealth and effort more than any of the billionaires. Maybe they are not creating jobs, but they’re certainly working as the tiny cogs that make every day life work.

Billionaires should be illegal. They shouldn’t be allowed to exist. What is their point other than abusing their wealth?

For the past ten years, Twitter, despite its valuation, has struggled to make a profit. I’m not too optimistic about its future with Musk at the helm. Tesla has also struggled to make a profit for years. And I believe to this day, the company has not made a profit from selling cars. Instead, it’s made a profit by selling its regulatory credits to other companies. So yeah, I can’t wait for Twitter to become the next Myspace. Or be like Facebook, currently pushing a virtual reality world that most people won’t be embracing.

BTW, by Tesla selling regulatory credits and running on electricity that most probably was generated by fossil fuels, doesn’t that make everything a wash? Doesn’t that make going electric ultimately more wasteful than sticking with internal combustion vehicles, especially with electric vehicles needing more rare metals and requiring its batteries, which cannot be recycled, to be replaced every now and then? Internal combustion vehicles have a longer lifespan and require less rare metals. They won’t be subject to rapid technological cycles and be frequently outdated compared to electronic products and thus won’t generate as much physical waste. I believe that the future is electric vehicles, but as they are right now, they are doing worse for the environment than internal combustion vehicles. The cars and their batteries are not as efficient as they could be, and current internal combustion vehicles are running on the most efficient engines at the moment. The internal combustion car you are driving right now isn’t the same gas guzzler from the 60s. It is far cleaner and more reliable. And at the end of the day, you can drive it longer than your rich neighbor’s Tesla or Chevy Bolt.

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Filipinos

Read a 2014 article about the effect of antidepressants on creativity. It’s about a study at the Max Planck Institute. Apparently, the flatness of mood, which is a great alternative to depression, can also be seen as “emotional blunting” which hurts creativity, especially for artists who work best in response to internal turmoil. Another article I read talks about an artist who found it difficult to write after a period of being on antidepressants. Now, I’m not sure if I’m experiencing a bit of this, but I’ve experienced a couple of periods of artist’s block and I don’t know whether to attribute it to medication, the lack of stimulus due to the pandemic, or just natural artist’s block. I seriously hope the antidepressants are affecting my creativity because given the choice of coping tools, I’d rather have art than medication.

One possible effect discovered by the study coining “emotional blunting” is that antidepressants negatively affected feelings of affection towards partners, especially among male participants in the study. Perhaps men are more prone to “emotional blunting” than women. Or to put it simply, women just care more than men, so much so, that their love emotions are more resistant to drugs. So yeah, antidepressants may cause less creativity and love… but hey, less depression and suicidal thoughts. If true, what a dilemma!

My sister proposed a writing project regarding Filipinos and the immigrant experience. It could be a book, a collection of essays, whatever. We’re just in the process of throwing ideas at the moment. I think it’s a good idea, especially with her being a mother of a couple of gen Z kids who might be disconnected from their heritage or would need some guidance regarding the culture of their parents. Admittedly, many of my entries regarding the Philippines, or perhaps even Korea, tend to be very critical. This is not coming from a negative spirit. This is coming from someone who wants things to improve. So yeah, perhaps in the coming months, I’ll be writing more about the immigrant experience instead of much else. Some ideas that come to mind include:

-“Kain na tayo.” The willingness of strangers to share their meals.

-Love the people, hate the politics. Why Filipinos will never vote themselves to prosperity.

-The long reach of Catholicism

-Filipinos and regionalism

-Spanish colonialism and its effects

-Filipino heroes and non-heroes; Juan Luna is a despicable scoundrel.

-The Out-of-Taiwan theory, and what the heck are we?

-The Overseas Filipino Worker

-No, Dave Chappelle, you are wrong about Filipino women overseas.

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Actual Art

Despite the new surge of covid cases around the world, it’s a great time for art lovers in Seoul, and thankfully, I’m not talking about NFTs.

First off, there’s a great exhibition of around 200 pieces by Matisse on display. I remember spending a month studying his works in art history and finally seeing them in Minneapolis and Chicago. ‘La Danse’ is a favorite and I’ve seen it influence many artists. I even tried to do a poor version of it myself. Despite being a giant in the arts, I always feel like he’s unjustly overshadowed by Picasso and other artists. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think everyone has seen a work by Matisse but only a few could name him as the artist.

Dali’s works are also being exhibited and I’ve seen his advertisements for his exhibitions everywhere. Maybe his famous looks are more famous than his works because they’ve been using his face with that ridiculous mustache to in the posters, which I guess is as he intended. He kinda became just as a famous as a celebrity as much as his art (a celebrity Picasso hated due to Dali’s support of Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator). His ridiculous imagery has inspired me through the years, and as someone who makes Dada-esque imagery, I can’t help but admire him. However, I kinda resented his celebrity persona and being one of the early “zany” artists. I think ever since him, many artists try too hard to look, dress, and act funny. Can’t we all just be normal? Just as trying to fit in can be tiring, being unconventional can be stressful as well.

Speaking of celebrity artists, Andy Warhol’s works are also on display, but I feel like his works are always on display in the city. Him, Picasso, and Klimt.

Lichtenstein’s works can also be seen in the city and is probably the one I’m most exited about. I’ve seen his works before, but apparently they’re showing a significantly large collection of his works. Seeing the blown up comic book pages in person is so much more impactful than just seeing it on screen. Another artist with a large number of works being shown is Chagall, but honestly, I don’t know much about Chagall. I find it interesting that on of the impressionist’s works (‘Over the Town’) just happens to look like the poster for a movie I’ve been hunting down and wanting to see, Roy Andersson’s ‘About Endlessness.’

Oh and speaking of Dadaism, a bunch of Surrealist works are on display at the Seoul Art Museum for three more months. It features works by Duchamp, Man Ray, Magritte, and other artists.

Anyway, it’s a good time to look at art once the covid situation calms down and I get boosted. I’m already scheduled for a shot in a couple of weeks and it seems that the recent covid surge in Seoul is finally starting to get under control, especially since tighter protocols have been reinstated.

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Farewell, Bond!

I finally saw the latest James Bond film and the last of the Daniel Craig movies for the franchise. I normally don’t post movie reviews here, but there’s nothing much art-related stuff I could talk about at the moment and I have a three-hour lecture tonight which is making me nervous, so I thought I would do some writing to calm me down, just some random thoughts about the franchise and the latest film.

A few years ago, I decided to watch all of the Bond films in chronological order. I’ve seen it go from semi-serious, to campy, to more grounded, back to campy, and then back to the grounded semi-seriousness of the Craig films. I gotta say, Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond. Purists will always give the title to Sean Connery, but I can’t help but see him from millennial’s perspective, the casual misogyny and perhaps even downright rapiness is hard for me to get over with. Others enjoy Pierce Brosnan’s turn as Bond, but I never really enjoyed the franchise during that era. I found Brosnan a bit too cheesy and the writing of the movies too silly. Also, before he became 007, he didn’t realize that his wife’s ex-husband was disguised as their elderly nanny. You gotta be sharper than that, James!

The latest film was good. It didn’t really feel that long as things kept on moving. In fact, it kept moving so fast that the main villain’s motives barely registered. He was out for revenge? But once he got his revenge, why did he want to kill so many people? What’s going on? It’s sad to say, but the main villain is actually the weakest part of the movie for me. He just wasn’t that interesting. And for Spectre to be built up as this massive organization overshadowing so many evil plots across the movies… for it to be undone by a boring villain that seem to come out of nowhere, is really unsatisfying. Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva was a great villain in the Craig films and wasn’t really matched by Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld. Then it was followed by Mr. Robot. I now appreciate Christoph Waltz’s performance (and ‘Spectre’s’ writing) much more.

Lea Seydoux was great as Madeleine Swann, but I actually found her quite forgetable in the film prior, so I was surprised to see her back in this film. If anything, what stole the movie was Ana De Armas’ performance and action sequence in Cuba. The first time I saw her was in a regretable Eli Roth film and I didn’t really get her appeal even after I saw her a couple more times in ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049.’ In ‘No Time to Die,’ I finally got it. Consider me a fan. I thought having a black female 007 was a smart little wink as well. It would be interesting to see more adventures of Lashana Lynch as a secret agent, but I think it was all just a cinematic coño to the obnoxious man-o-sphere who insists that 007 should never be black nor female.

It was not the best film among Craig’s Bond turn but it was a good enough ending. It had great sequences, the score was great as usual, and it left me wondering and excited at who the next 007 will be. It was a very utilitarian movie and it served its purpose, much like Craig’s Bond has been described as a “blunt instrument.” I think the best Craig film would either be ‘Casino Royale’ or ‘Skyfall.’ So for the uninitiated, go watch the first Craig film instead. But for those who enjoy the series, this movie should be fun.

For the longest time, I never really cared for the James Bond franchise and thought it was a relic of a power fantasy meant to be enjoyed by dads and uncles. Maybe that’s still true since I didn’t really truly enjoy it until I was in my mid twenties. These days, I see it more as my “Fast and the Furious”… my Marvel Cinematic Universe film, my super hero film on steroids. As much as I enjoy spy thrillers, like 2019’s ‘The Spy’ starring Sacha Baron Cohen (surprisingly!), it’s always good to see a fantastical secret agent do his mission with so much finesse and with a catchy blaring orchestral melody.

Oh and as for best theme. I love the original ‘Dr. No’ theme and it’s many reincarnations. I also think “Goldfinger” is great. But truly, the best and sexiest song ever written is “Nobody Does it Better.”

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Take the Money? What Money?

Danish museum, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, paid artist Jens Haaning 534,000 kroner to recreate two of his works from over a decade ago. Calculating the cost of material and labor, Jen Hanning says that it was criminally low and would’ve required him to pay money out of his own pockets to recreate the two works. Now, Haaning is a known conceptual artist and I really have no idea how much reproducing the works would cost, but he decided to just pocket the money and rename the series ‘Take the Money and Run,’ and sent the museum two blank canvases. The museum in return, hangs the two canvasses as part of an exhibition examining the relationship between art and labor, but ironically still plans to get the money back from Haaning, accusing him of breach of contract.

As conceptual art, bravo Jens Haaning! Excellent. Artists’ works are criminally undervalued. Artists are often seen as doing a hobby and are expected to finance their art with “real” jobs. It’s not uncommon to hear artists being asked to produce work for “exposure.” Heck, even making art and posting it on Instagram (which I do), technically gives Facebook millions of artistic work as content for free. So when Jens Haaning refused to honor the contract after being paid what he felt was too low, as an artist, I couldn’t help but root for him.

But as someone who has a basic understanding of contracts, Jens Haaning orchestrated the whole thing and played the Kunsten museum. He’s a bad actor, not a victim. For a contract to be valid, there must be a valid offer, acceptance, consideration, mutual obligation, and both parties must be competent in the time of their agreement. No one forced Haaning to agree to reproduce his works for the price he calls “criminally low.” He could very well have negotiated to a higher and more suitable compensation for his labor. But he didn’t. Instead, he agreed to a contract which I suspect he had no plans to fulfill in order to make viral news, appealing to the sympathies of artists worldwide. The museum in return gets to benefit a bit from the notoriety and will no doubt see more people through its doors hoping to see a blank canvas.

Let’s not get carried away here. The stunt is closer to a banana on a wall than an upturned urinal. It may be speaking of truths that artists suffer through, but I can’t help but feel that the artist is distastefully cynical in his approach. Whether the museum gets its money back or not will not change the value and the meaning of the two original canvasses. I doubt if it would hurt the artist much as well. Even if he does get sued, I’m sure it will be settled without hurting him financially. In fact, being sued might benefit him more and gain him more notoriety. But while ‘Take the Money and Run’ tries to address how artists are criminally undervalued, I believe in the long run, it will only contribute to the notion that art is excessive, ridiculous, and arbitrary, and thus perpetuate the harm Haaning claims he’s shining a light on among artists. After all, how could two canvasses be worth 534,000 kroner?

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The Myth of Sisyphus

I started watching this Korean drama entitled, “Sisyphus, the Myth.” I’m only two episodes in and I’m already not liking it. I can’t stand Tony Stark and the Tony Stark fantasy. I can’t stand how Koreans and Marvel fans love and worship the idea of a genius billionaire, when billionaires should be villified for hoarding wealth. The main character is basically a Tony Stark type and the first episode couldn’t help but cheese me out a bit in building him up. The filming and the writing, while very ambitious, also reeked of ambitiousness. It’s very hard to explain, but it reminds me of the first two episodes of Star Trek Picard, with the mixture of action, mystery, and plot holes.

한국 드라마 ‘Sisyphys, the Myth’을 보기 시작 했어요. 2 화 밖에 안 보아는데 벌써 좋아하지 않은것 같아요. Tony Stark와 Tony Stark의 환상을 참을 수 없어요. 억만 장자가 부를 축적해야하는 상황에서 한국인과 Marvel 팬들이 천재 억만 장자에 대한 아이디어를 어떻게 사랑하고 숭배하는지 이해 할 수 없어요. 주인공은 기본적으로 Tony Stark 유형이며 첫 번째 에피소드는 그는 약간이 즘 너무 진부해요. 촬영과 글쓰기는 매우 야심적이면서도 야심이 넘쳤어요. 설명하기는 매우 어렵지만, 액션, 미스터리, 이야기의 불일치 혼합 된 Star Trek Picard의 처음 두 에피소드를 생각 나게했어요.

So instead of the drama “Sisyphus, the Myth,” let me just quickly discuss “The Myth of Sisyphus” instead, a book by Camus, the one which I suspect the writers borrowed the title from. As I understood it, the book looks at absurdist philosophy. Life is essentially absurd. We toil all of our lives and the world constantly brings us unexpected hardships. And the closer we are to achieving our dreams as we age, for the lucky few that is, the closer we are to death. Now, looking at the absurd nature of life, isn’t the most logical solution suicide? After all, if you’re in an absurd relationship or stuck in an absurd job, isn’t the most logical solution to just quit?

그래서 드라마 “Sisyphus, the Myth”대신에, Camus의 책인 “The Myth of Sisyphus”에 대해 간단히 이야기하겠습니다, 그 드라마를 제목이 빌린 것으로 의심됬어요. 내가 이해했듯에 이 책은 터무니없는 철학을 본이요. 인생은 본질적으로 터무니 없어요. 우리는 모든 삶을 일하며 세상은 끊임없이 예상치 못한 어려움을 겪서요. 그리고 우리가 나이가 들어감에 따라 꿈을 이루는 데 가까울수록 죽음에 가까워집니다. 자, 인생의 어리석은 본질을 보면 가장 논리적 인 해결책은 자살 아니애요? 헊시, 어리석은 관계에 있거나 어리석은 직업에 갇혀 있다면 그만두는 가장 논리적 인 해결책이 아닙니까?

Now, I’m guessing the Korean drama will be touching up on the absurdity of life since the show deals with time travel, etc. But yeah, that’s the last time I mention that show.

이제 그 드라마가 time travel등을 다룬 쇼이기 때문에 인생의 부조리에 대한 이야기가 될 것 같아요. 하지만, 이게 그 드라마에 대해 마지막으로 말해요.

But thinking about aging and death. I suppose this is the reason why young people are generally seen as more attractive than people who are more mature. Forget biology and the ability to procreate. Young people are much farther from death than people who are older. The touch of death, as it starts getting in people’s skin, they become less attractive.

그러나 노화와 죽음에 대해 생각하며, 이것이 젊은이들이 일반적으로 더 성숙한 사람들보다 더 매력적으로 여겨지는 이유라고 생각해요. 생물학과 번식 능력을 잊으십시오. 젊은 사람들은 나이가 많은 사람들보다 죽음에서 훨씬 더 멀렸어요. 사람들이 죽음의 손길와 냄세를 피부에 들어가기 시작하면서 덜 매력적이됬어요.

Another thing which I found interesting about the book is the idea that “if the world were not absurd, art would not exist.” This is similar to the old idea of art illuminating truths, that artists see the world in a certain way, and use art to express the truths that they see. These all sound very lofty, which makes me wonder why artists are often undervalued as a calling or profession. Unless you’re making millions out of your art, it’s often just treated as a quirky hobby.

이 책에서 흥미로운 또 다른 점은“세상이 어리석지 않으면 예술은 존재하지 않을 것”이라는 생각이요. 이것은 예술이 진실을 말하는 오래된 아이디어가 비슷해요. 예술가들은 세상을 특정한 방식으로 보고, 그들이 보는 진실을 표현하기 위해 예술을 사용해요. 이것들은 모두 매우 고상하게 들리는데, 왜 예술가들이 자주 부름이나 직업으로 저평가되는지 궁금해요. 예술로 수백만 달러를 벌지 않는 한, 그것은 보통 그냥 흥미로운 취미로 취급되요.

Actually, this kinda reminds me of an episode of Peep Show, where a woman was complaining about all of the bad news on the news, “What about the good news? The news where things actually went well?” Well, if the news was like that, it would just be a long, insufferable list of observations of things functioning as they are. The news needs tragedy, otherwise it won’t be news. That’s why I can’t stand news that aren’t really news, like the announcement of the oldest person in the world. There will always be a new oldest person in the world. As Camus would probably attest, the oldest person in the world is probably the one closest to death.

사실, 이것은 Peep Show의 에피소드를 생각 나게해 한 여성이 뉴스의 모든 나쁜 소식에 대해 불평하고 있어요. “좋은 뉴스은 어떻습니까? 실제로 잘된 뉴스?” 글쎄요, 만약 뉴스가 그랬다면, 그것이 그대로 기능하는 것에 대한 관찰의 길고 참을 수없는 목록 일 것이요. 뉴스에는 비극이 필요해요. 그렇지 않으면 뉴스가 아니요. 그래서 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람의 발표처럼 진짜 뉴스가 아닌 뉴스를 싫어요. 항상 세상에서 가장 오래된 사람이있을 것이요. Camus가 생각했듯이 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람은 아마도 죽음에 가장 가까운 사람 일 것이요.

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Talking Art

I realized yesterday that my best friend, despite being an artist and a gallery owner, is incapable of talking about art. For sure, she can spend hours talking about her works and her self, but she is not the best person to talk to about art, artists, and anything creative. I’m not even sure if she’s interested in art history or anything in the past that could inspire her works. I remember giving her a couple of books about art and artists, sending her links about art, or even trying to talk about potential art concepts, but I can’t remember feeling any interest coming from her in return. If anything, I recall a couple of times being discouraged and just keeping things in the status quo when I tried to brainstorm ideas with her.

어제, 내 가장 친한 친구가 예술가이자 갤러리 주인이지만 그녀는 예술에 대해 이야기 할 능력이 없다는 것을 깨달았어요. 확실히 그녀는 자신의 에술과 자신에 대해 이야기하는 데 몇 시간을 할애 할 수 있지만, 그녀는 예술, 다른 예술가 및 창의적인 것에 대해 이야기하기에 좋은 사람은 아니에요. 그녀가 미술사에 관심이 있는지, 아니면 그녀의 영감을 줄 수있는 미술사에 관심이 있는지 모르겠어요. 그녀에게 예술과 예술가에 관한 책 몇 권을 주었던 기억에, 예술에 대한 링크를 보내거나 잠재적인 예술 개념에 대해 이야기하는것 하지만 그 대가로 그녀에게서 오는 관심을 느꼈던 기억이 없어요. 그녀와 아이디어를 브레인 스토밍하려고 할 때 몇 번 낙담하고 현상 유지를 유지했던 것을 기억해요.

She simply can’t or is just disinterested. We try talking about art, and then eventually we drift back to talking about her works, going through the same rote conversations.

단순히, 그녀는 할 수 없거나 무관심해요. 우리는 예술에 대해 이야기하고, 결국 그녀의 예술에 대해 이야기하며 제 귀에 못이 박히도록 같은 대화를하게되요.

Now, I know that this is not a prerequisite for all artists to follow, but it surely helps in guiding one’s work to know about art and be able to talk about them, and to be inspired by bigger artists. It instructs the artists not only with their style but also in how to see their own works. Is an artist painting the way Jackson Pollock painted in order to see the canvas in different directions and show movement? Or is the artist just doing it for pretty colors? Maybe an artist can start with the latter, but knowing who Pollock is and why he painted the way he did, an artist can move on to the former and beyond.

이것이 모든 에술가 따라야 할 전제 조건이 아니라는 것을 알고 있지만, 자신의 예술이 예술에 대해 알고 이야기하고 더 다른 유명한 예술가로부터 영감을받을 수 있도록지도하는 데 확실히 도움이될수 있어요. 예술가들에게 자신의 스타일뿐만 아니라 자신의 예술을 보는 방법을 가르쳐주어요. 캔버스에 다른 방향으로보고 움직임을 보여주기 위해 Jackson Pollock적 그린 그리는 예술가입니까? 아니면 예쁜 색들을 위해해요? 혹시 아티스트는 후자부터 시작할 수 있지만 Pollock이 누구인지고 그의 그린 방법 이유를 알면 아티스트는 너머로 이동할 수 있어요.

Anyway, I’m going to have to take my art conversations elsewhere.

어쨌든, 저는 다른 곳에서 미술 대화를해야 할 것이에요.

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Achoo!

Tongue

Before the long Chinese New Year weekend, I asked a coworker if he was going somewhere. He said he had plans to visit Japan. He just hoped that he won’t be encountering too many Chinese tourists because of the coronavirus which is all over the news at the moment. I shrug and nod at the thought.

After living in Korea for so many years, I could differentiate Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese by the way they look, dress, and behave, especially as tourists. Listening to that comment, it’s a bit odd to hear such casual xenophobia from coworkers, when from a western point of view, he might as well be Chinese himself. Right now, I’m seeing Chinese Canadians are reporting being stigmatized due to fear of being infected by the virus. The same goes in other parts of the world. News about French newspapers being particularly insensitive towards their Chinese populace has been going viral, no pun intended. Asians aren’t usually very loud when they suffer racism. In fact, many racist Asian tropes have been so normalized due to people suffering in silence that it takes a fair amount of time to convince them that such tropes are racist.

In any case, I think situations like these are just catalysts for internal racist attitudes to be openly vented. I was inclined to believe that racism against Chinese people overseas due to the virus was just media hype, but then again, I’ve seen people in Korea actually fearing the Chinese. Chinese students and instructors who visited China during the break are asked not to attend school for at least two weeks. Places where Chinese tourists usually crowd in the city look quite empty. I haven’t really seen this strong a reaction in people and in the media since the avian flu hit the country, not with SARS or MERS. And even with the avian flu, the only time it affected me was not being able to visit the aviary in the zoo.

Anyway, I’m not really too concerned about it at the moment. I still believe that the rate of infection and casualty is still pretty low compared to other diseases that were previously hyped up. Though the youngest casualty is 36 years young, the majority of the casualties are over 60 years old. Videos of tents and Chinese medical professionals yelling instructions in Chinese might sound scary, but I don’t think it’s too much to get into a panic over. Tents with sick people, hazmat suits, loud foreign language… these are all intimidating at a very basic level. Then you add in some communism and a distrust of the Chinese government and you have a potent mixture of irrational fear that allows you to be dumb, or at its worst, be unkind to your neighbors.

Gotta keep calm.

Just stay healthy, eat right, wash your damned hands, and be nice to Asians.

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2019 Just Died

Cherubs

New Year morning, we were watching ‘New Year’s Rockin Eve’ over breakfast in Seoul and it dawned on me how truly mediocre popular music is. Well, maybe that’s a tad bit unfair. After all, ‘mediocre’ is kinda expected when ‘New Year’s Rockin Eve’ is preceded by “Ryan Seacrest.” Seriously, Post Malone? Ugh… It was so unbearable that I had to distract myself doing chores afterwards while my wife waited for BTS.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Let’s make more art in 2020. Be less depressed. Learn more. Work more. Draw more.

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Striking Viral Gold

Calendar

Lately, there’s this new mascot in Korea has skyrocketed in popularity. Pengsu is a headphones-wearing penguin that does 10-minute man-on-the-street skits produced by EBS, the Korea Educational Broadcasting System. Unlike a lot of Korean comedy, the character is able to attract both young children and adults with his witty ad-lib free of sexual overtones, cursing, or slapstick.

I must admit, I too find him amusing. The whole set-up is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen skits. Talk to someone for a few minutes, move one, rinse and repeat. He also has recurring things he comes back to, basically building his own world simply by virtue of the story he spins.

Much like PBS, EBS survives through sponsorship and advertisement. Because they’re mainly focused on education, they’re not as attractive to companies compared to other bigger broadcasting companies in the country. The character Peng-su’s surge in popularity not only because of the character itself but also due to the story of an educational character crossing over to the viral mainstream. And that is one of the things that interest me most about the character. A lot of the character’s fans are quite keen on speculating on what products the character would or should endorse in the future. Already, I’ve seen news stories of companies courting the creators of the character to ink a deal to start hawking their merchandise.

Now I know that some characters or some shows are always in danger of not having enough funding to continue. It’s always difficult finding funding for the arts. But to me, the Peng-su phenomenon is akin to having a viral tweet or Instagram post. When an unknown account suddenly goes viral with one tweet, it is often followed by either the original poster advertising something in response to the sudden popularity or just shrugging it all off and linking to something innocuous. That attitude of “BAM! You’ve hit the big time, not milk this for all it’s worth” is so pervasive that it’s a tad off-putting. Now, I know that this has been going on since the very beginning of mass media, but now it’s almost the very first thing one thinks of the minute they get a hint of fame (or infamy even). And now it’s even come to cartoon mascots. It’s a bit weird. I mean, I enjoyed cartoons and different characters and media when I was younger, but not once did I think they should trade their fame for more advertising revenue. G.I. Joe was already selling me action figures. I didn’t think they should advertise McDonalds just so they could eke out more episodes. Sesame Street could easily survive if Big Bird started selling life insurance.

I’ve seen this kind of talk with athletes before in the country. And this I understand. The champion figure skater Kim Yoona was super popular (and still is) in the country and her fame coupled with her good looks made her a magnet for advertisers. And good for her, too. Athletes only have a few years to capitalize on their fame, so she did well with her advertising and she didn’t overdo it either.

I remember Howard Stern once saying, “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.” Which is him saying just because you can be part of any sort of project just to make a few dollars, doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything. You can afford to not be part of everything. You can afford to say no. Which is more than I can say with some celebrities in Korea. There are times when the media just keeps on pumping the same set of people again, and again, and again. Sure, they might think their current popularity has a very short lifespan, but during that lifespan, I’m already sick of their face on television (Yes, I’m sick of Park Na-rae). This is one reason why I get easily put off by Korean television. It’s the same people again and again until you get sick of them.

Now, I do hope this Peng-su character lasts for a while. If anything, his popularity shows that there is more to Korean television than singing, people eating, or fake reality show BS. It’s also good to see a character be successful fueled mostly by wit. It’s a good departure from the standard brand of stand-up comedy you would see in Korean gag comedy.

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