Tag Archives: media

Suddenly Pink

Not tonight

God bless Pink! I’ve never been a big fan of her music, but it’s really good for her to speak out and be realistic about the challenges and problems with monogamy. There have been many articles and people talking about it before. Dan Savage, someone I’ve been listening to for years now, has said that the fantasy of monogamy which has been perpetuated by culture and media is basically just that, a fantasy. It is not a happily ever after. It is the beginning of a long and challenging path should you ever be foolish enough to commit to it. And that’s why I admire Pink for basically coming out and saying the same thing. It’s not so often that someone fairly attractive is out there with their sexuality basically come out and say, yes, despite how she looks, and despite how glamorous we imagine her life would be, she struggles living with monogamy sometimes, to the point that she’ll find herself sexless for a year.

Romance is not forever. A person’s spouse will eventually become their roommate, and they will no longer be amused with each other. Of course there will still be a bond there, but becoming romantic or being into someone will often become something they’ll need to work at. And so the best one can hope for is that their relationship turns into waves, where sometimes they’re into the other person, and sometimes they can’t stand them. It’s okay to not be into sex. It’s okay not to have sex. As important as it is, it is not the goal of most couples in the real world. Just getting along with each other is sometimes hard enough. And that hard, unsexy truth is quite difficult to admit for fear of being relegated into the Married with Children, Al Bundy archetype.

This reminds me of Bojack Horseman’s recent representation of asexual people. Sometimes people are really just not into sex. That doesn’t mean they’re devoid of feeling towards other people. They’re just not interested in being intimate with others in a physical manner. Nico at the Mary Sue does a better job of explaining it more than me, but being asexual, just like being monogamous and sexless, seem to be one of those things that people need to come out of in the midst of the culture of being into happily monogamous and enjoying sex. I mean, just look at most characters on television and movies. They’re all having sex. They’re either married, dating, single and having sex, or struggling to have sex. Same goes for most musicians, political figures, athletes, etc. I don’t even need to know about people’s sex lives and I get needlessly informed about it. Just recently, my wife and I were watching Justin Turner hit a homerun and win the game for the Dodgers. She suddenly goes and says, “you know his wife is a model, check out her Instagram.” Is that supposed to make me like him more? I already assumed most athletes are dating models. How is that little factoid supposed to help me enjoy the sport I’m currently struggling to keep interest in? We can’t seem to divorce ourselves from people’s sex lives so we feel pressure to be enjoying sex more.

So yeah, God bless the people talking about the myth of monogamy and the reality of wanting/having sex. It is quite refreshing to see some honest voices talk about these things in a world where sex and the pressure to have sex are ubiquitous.

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Lending Credibility

Fake news

Back in February 2014, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” debated Ken Hamm, the creationist who built and operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Prior to the debate, people didn’t think it was wise for Bill Nye to be debating Ken Hamm. Though Nye wanted to have a debate from a more inquisitive perspective, to learn more about creationism and to see if it is an actual viable model for explaining the origin of things, people saw it as a way of elevating Ken Hamm, of inviting superstition to the scientific table, long after most of the world’s academic and critical thinkers have discarded religious dogma to explain natural phenomenon. I thought it was a useless exercise. Nye was lending his credibility to Ken Hamm and making him an “expert” equal to himself. I’m not opposed to debate, but I don’t see the value of debating people who sees a challenge to their ideas as fuel to their faith, scientific evidence as devilish trickery. The religious don’t even have conversations to be convinced. They are there to convince you, to add you to their flock. Scientists debate to see if there are holes to their ideas; see if their initial hypotheses holds up. So in the end, the debate didn’t do anything but raise Ken Hamm’s profile. It made him known to people outside of religious circles.

This is similar to my problem with Bill Maher. He claims that the best disinfectant is sunlight; and that we should confront irrational ideas and characters, and show them what fools they are. His show will have accomplished people like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West, then he will have people like SE Cupp, whose initial schtick “I’m an atheist but I envy the faith of the religious” is such a boldfaced sham that it’s a wonder why Maher didn’t run her out of the panel. Cupp was just a blip on the media radar at the time, but Maher elevated her, lent her his credibility as well as the credibility of his guests, and this resulted her getting employed by CNN and other media outlets. Maher claimed to do the same thing with Milo Yiannopoulos earlier in the year, to invite him to his show for a dialogue to see what makes him tick, then later took credit for Yiannopoulos getting exposed for his past comments regarding homosexuality and pedophilia. I saw the show and was not impressed with either of them. He didn’t really challenge Yiannopoulos too much on his flimsy arguments. I predict if Yiannopoulos wasn’t drummed out of the public eye by the Internet a week later, Maher would’ve had him as a regular guest, feeding off of his notoriety.

And now we see Kayleigh McEnany working for TrumpTV. A lawyer who graduated from Harvard, she worked at CNN as a Trump supporter, arguing for Trump’s and the administrations worst comments and actions. I wouldn’t mind her if her arguments were substantive, but the points she defended often goes against the viewers own senses (like Trump’s flip flops) and she sounded so disingenuous that it makes me wonder what it really takes to graduate with a law degree. She added nothing of value to debates, and it was infuriating to see CNN has people like her misinform their audience. A previously unknown person, CNN has elevated her and lent her their credibility simply by having her on their airwaves. The Most Trusted Name in News has misinformers on their payroll. And now McEnany is doing propaganda on TrumpTV. TrumpTV can now boast that it employs not just Trump relatives, but also former CNN contributors, giving merit and credibility to its “news.”

James Randi did it best. He had scammers on his show and showed them the flaws of their tricks. He exposed them in such a way that it wasn’t disrespectful. With logic and science, he showed how a person was deceiving the audience. Afterwards, he moved on to the next scammer. He didn’t have them as a regular guest nor consulted them regarding other matters. He didn’t lend them his credibility. Now, I’m not saying people like Bill Maher or networks like CNN should be debunkers. But they should call out lies and disinformation for what they are, and don’t reward liars by employing them or inviting them to sit on discussion panels to lie again.

 

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Park Geun Hye Got Her

monster

The whole Korean impeachment thing has swallowed my wife whole. It’s everything she watches on TV outside of the occasional Korean drama. She follows it all the time on the Web and has even talked to me about the most unsteady conspiracy theories. There are even whispers about the President having AIDS, to which I say it should not be an issue because having AIDS does not affect one’s ability at their profession unless they are a sex worker. Concerns about this not only expose people’s ignorance but also their prejudice against people with the disease. It has made normally rational people irrational. Park Geun Hye has become the reason for all of the ills in the country. My wife even tried to drag me into an anti-government rally over the weekend. It consumed my weekend! And it will probably consume my wife for months to come long after the president is driven out of office.

The thing is, I used to be like her until I got tired of it. I still enjoy watching people yell at each other over politics. I still argue with people occasionally on Twitter about it. But I no longer see the point of the endless back and forth of talking points on the likes of Bill Maher’s show, MSNBC, and worst of all, CNN. You learn something about politics, but after a while, it’s just the same talking points against another talking point. It’s just the thrill of getting the last word in, saying it better than your political opponent. It gets very tiring. And as much as the Park Geun-Hye thing is a concern for my wife since she is Korean, following it religiously for every bit of development, even the scraps of conspiracy theories, does not make the process of impeaching her any faster. It doesn’t fix things that are broken. It just aggravates her to no end.

I remember writing a few months back that politics is my professional wrestling. It’s the endless drama I watch. I follow Canadian politics, but it’s not as absurd as American and now Korean politics. The thing is, just like professional wrestling back then, I try not to get too worked up when The Rock gets his title stolen by Triple H. I can simply walk away from it. Some people need to learn to walk away from politics now and then and not get worked into a frenzy. Listen to yourself before you start sounding like a talking point, or worse, a conspiracy theorist.

As corny as it may sound, instead of following things religiously, people should act. You want Park Geun Hye out? Then protest, support opposing parties, donate to groups, etc. Don’t just follow every bit of news, fake news, and non-news on the Internet as if that will help change anything. You don’t like Trump? Support the cause he’s bound to hurt. Same thing with Trudeau. Mostly a decent Prime Minister but his pipeline stance is not really to my liking. Support anything green.

I say these things now, but tonight, I’m meeting my wife and her friends for dinner. I’m sure politics will be talked about endlessly. And to preserve my sanity, I will reflexively reach out to my phone and look at my Twitter… where I will definitely find more politics.

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Feeling the Menstrual Tension?

Bison

I miss Canada.

I’m not sure if it was Cesar A. Cruz or if it was Finley Dunne, but art should “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comforted.” I don’t 100% agree with the idea. After all, some art is just meant to be pretty. But yeah, some art is just so dumb that it hurts knowing that the government is paying for them. This is people’s money which could be better used for other public good instead of financing tripe.

Stop it Poppy Jackson, stop it (http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/26219/1/got-some-spare-menstrual-blood-this-artist-wants-it). I’m sure you can make artistic statements without rolling around in schlock. Apparently, she is asking for women to donate their menstrual blood for an upcoming performance piece. Now, this isn’t the first time she’s used menstruation in her performances, but I guess this time she’ll be needing more blood aside from her own. This is why people dismiss art and artists. It is Jackass stunts disguised as high art.

What irks me more is that the media just buys into the whole thing and doesn’t call it for what it is: a giant cry for media attention.

Looking at Jade Jackman’s article on Dazed, a lot of it is just artsy BS.

In recent weeks, there has been a growing feeling of tension – especially within creative and online communities – at the treatment of menstrual blood. But, Jackson does not feel under pressure by this to make something more ‘extreme’. Instead she feels that the similarities between topics signifies that a frustration is building in our culture and actually makes messages from all the artists a lot more powerful.

What growing tension? Does anyone feel this tension online or otherwise? This is why people are turned off. It doesn’t reflect what is going on in the real world. I consider myself quite the consumer of online information, and as far as I can tell, there is no “growing tension” regarding menstrual blood. It just naturally gets a negative reaction the same way any other bodily substance/wastes does.

These days we go to the Internet for a lot of things and it loses that one-to-one flavour that you would get with your doctor.” She adds, “The human contact of speaking is replaced by isolated online activity, so through use of the substance of people’s bodies I’m hoping to bring some of that closeness back.” On top of that, Jackson mentions how much more risky it is performing with other people’s blood as due to any potential of diseases she cannot “just throw it around as if it were her own.

Good luck trying to bring that “closeness” back. Most people would be finding out about her work online and that would be the end of it. The same activity she tries to fight is the same monster that feeds her. And yet Dazed doesn’t point this out.

If Poppy Jackson is gonna try to play around with other people’s menstrual blood, claim it’s high art and have media outlets encourage it, then what prevents Ryan Dunn from doing the same thing after he swam in people’s excrement? (http://jackass.wikia.com/wiki/Poo_Diving) Isn’t that almost the same thing? Isn’t he bringing closeness back by immersing himself into what could arguably be one of the most intimate aspects of a person? Isn’t there as much revulsion over feces as there is over menstrual blood? And as a bonus, fecal matter is universal, while menstrual blood is not. Mr. Dunn’s “piece” is more universal and far riskier than Poppy Jackson’s stunt.

And yet Arts Council England and the British Council have yet to reach out to Mr. Dunn.

This is why when someone hears performance art, they often assume someone will be prancing around naked doing something weird. People do schlock because they know the media will feed into it. It makes making “traditional” art a losing battle since most of the ears and eyeballs are trained onto either the naked lady or the excrement she’s playing with.

I fear that a hundred years from now, while generations of artists before produced Pietà, Burghers of Calais, Guernica, etc., art students will learn that the past few years have produced mostly stunt artists and sales people… people that played with excrement and sold it well.

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Gah! School Girls!

homeless

I don’t normally give money to panhandlers and charities, but I decided to start doing so, actively pushing myself to giving. This is not humblebragging or anything, but me trying to do something while I can still afford to be generous. It came to me the other day: there might come a time that I won’t be able to afford to give to others. Might as well do my bit now.

I usually take the bus home. During traffic, I sometimes walk a few blocks and take the bus much closer to my place.  I tell myself this gives me a bit of exercise while skipping all the traffic. That’s what I did last week. I decided to walk a few blocks after work.
As I was walking past the shopping district (Myeong-dong) near where I work, I passed by this foreign couple as I turned a corner. They were being followed by a mob of teenagers. This annoyed me since not only were the teenagers blocking my way and drowning out ‘This American Life’ on my earphones, but I can’t stand gawkers. I didn’t bother paying too much attention at the couple I just passed. I just assumed that the man was some minor, white, foreign celebrity that the school girls were gushing over.

Fast forward to Sunday and my wife was watching some fashion talk show and they were interviewing some female celebrity. Apparently, she’s visiting Korea to promote a couple of brands and there are always lines of people on all the events she went to. She then brings out her brother who she says always accompanies her on her trips. I didn’t pay too much attention until I recognized the couple.

chloe_moretz

Hello Chloe Moretz.

My wife was like, “What?! You should’ve stopped her and asked for her autograph!”

And what? Creep a child out?

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Dead Strangers

motivated

I was reading a great obituary over the weekend. It was tragic, but inspiring. It was of this young lady who devoted so much of her life to charity, so much of her life to helping others. It’s really sad, but she was one of those people whose life Lao Tzu was referring to when he talks about flames that burn bright but burn half as long. (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/jennifer-joy-logan-1982-2015/) Though younger than me, she probably helped more people in her short life than I ever did… than I ever will. I was and am not as generous as she was. And for that I do feel a tremendous amount of shame and regret.

The beauty of such obituaries (and no, I don’t often read strangers’ obituaries) is that not only do they celebrate a person’s life, but they also inspire others. Perhaps they push others to be more grateful for what they have, enjoy the moment more, or in this particular young lady’s case, be kinder to others. It is like the one last good the departed could do, to inspire and teach.

Speaking of death and remembrances, I watched the documentary about Vivian Maier over the weekend.  (http://www.vivianmaier.com/) What a fascinating life! Her works are amazing. It’s such a shame that she didn’t push harder for them to be shown while she was still alive. Of course, the woman was suffering from some mental illness, the film made sure to explore that aspect of her life, but it doesn’t remove the fact that she was an utter genius who had an eye, not just for light and composition, but for human drama.

Again, the documentary, even the current interest in her life and work, serve as form of obituary, a tribute to an artist that was almost forgotten. And while the first obituary I was talking about was about a life of charity and giving, Vivian’s was a life that appears she never wanted to be shared.  She was never particularly kind. In fact, some of the children she cared for described her to be cruel. But she was relentless in her art, and in it, her humanity blossomed. It’s as if what she lacked as a participant, she made up for as keen observer. And what she saw was beautiful.

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Monkey See

monkey

So what’s on television?

Korean television is 40 percent people eating/cooking, 30 percent dramas, and 30 percent celebrities talking or singing, or being in any format where they’d end up just chatting or singing. That breakdown is a tad unscientific, but it’s basically all that I see whenever my wife channel surfs. Lately, there have been a couple of trends: having foreigners who speak Korean on television, and having celebrities’ children go about their everyday life. All in all, there’s nothing too compelling.

Some people say that Japanese television is also the same, just people eating or watching celebrities react to different topics. But I don’t really watch too much Japanese television.

There are foreign channels here but they are simply awful. There’s Discovery Channel, National Geo, and TLC. So if you want to learn about panning for gold, ghost hunting, or baking cupcakes, you got your channels. Local stations would show different CSIs, NCIS, and other network dramas, but not so much of the amazing Renaissance television has been experiencing on cable.

For years, all of my viewing entertainment has been on the Internet. I’ve become one of those people that would just watch whole seasons of shows within a week. Thank you, Internet. I’ve gotten access to long dead shows and movies that people don’t really hear too much about. These shows probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Korean television. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Canadian television either. Do they still show reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Last time I was in Canada, I wasn’t too impressed with what my sister had on television. She was watching OWN.

Speaking of sister, she was watching a lot of Filipino television as well. The shows seem to be very celebrity driven as opposed to being about good writing. There’s a lot of melodrama and schlock. Like everything, it could be good in small doses, but I’m not sure about a steady diet.

I also stayed with my best friend while in Canada and she’s content with just having Netflix. I guess much like me, she prefers to watch seasons of shows or have a movie playing. She’s not much for keeping up with what’s on on television either. I guess it’s not just me being here in South Korea that’s driven my viewing to the Internet. I guess it’s the future of the media.

In any case, if you’re in Korea, the Internet is vital. Otherwise, you’d either be watching a lot of Koreans eating things or you’ll simply be getting a lot more reading done.

I recently saw the latest Planet of the Apes film. I really like where they’re going with this franchise.

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No English For Me

flowers_tentacles_spikes

I’ve been trying to learn Korean on and off for the past few years. I’ve taken Korean classes, listened to tapes, did the whole Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur thing. My problem is there hasn’t really been many opportunities for me to practice speaking Korean, and my level remains pretty low. My wife and I speak English to each other, and I don’t need to use any Korean at work. I suppose it would be easier if I was interested in any Korean media, but there’s really nothing on television that interests me at all. As for K-pop, no. No, just no.

So what’s the plan now? From now on, the rule will be to use Korean exclusively whenever I’m home. It will be a frustrating experiment but it will hopefully force me to learn more Korean and get used to speaking the language, or at least get me used to speaking key phrases that couples use all the time. People on average use 5000 words out of the 50,000 to 250,000 words in their personal vocabulary. I figure most of those words combine to a handful of routine conversational phrases which I really should be practicing more (I guess that’s a bit of a sad state of affairs regarding conversation between married people).

Well, good luck to me, I guess. Hopefully I don’t get too bored, lose my sense of humor and personality, or just stay quiet the rest of the time I’m home.

I actually think my wife has a crush on one or two of the foreigners on Korean talk shows who speak fluent Korean. I suppose that’s natural, and I really can’t fault a person for that. It just boggles my mind however the extent that the foreigners on television who speak Korean fluently also pander and adopt behavior that for lack of a better word, is so alien to their home country (at least in my opinion) They also entertain topics of conversation that would at the very least get my eye rolling and at most, enrage me. Is this what happens when you learn Korean? Or at least when you learn Korean for Korean television?

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Let’s Make Little League a Tad Racist

I see what you did there, Huffington Post!

Huffington_racist

 An hour or so later…

Huffington_racist_corrected

I wonder who thought the first title was such a hot idea especially with all the race-related things happening in the US right now.

I really should stop giving the Huffington Post any more traffic. I’m sure I could find Kim Kardashian updates, side boobs, and non-news “news” somewhere else.

 

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Police and Minorities

flowers_tentacles

Seriously, what is happening in Ferguson?

What’s annoying about the debate is when privileged talking heads wonder why black people don’t trust the police so much. What exactly is their problem with authority? Usually, people that spout of such opinions are, you guessed it, white people who are more than happy to indulge in small talk with police officers whenever they get stopped for whatever it was they got stopped for. Did you watch the game? Hey, didn’t you go to Sisler High School? Nice weather for fishing, eh? Etc. etc. I don’t think black people… or other minorities for that matter, could usually get away with half the things white people could get away with when it comes to dealing with police officers. Most of the time, minorities are too busy explaining themselves. How could they indulge in inane banter? There is often no room for pleasantries because it is not afforded to them. The police are doing their job, you did something wrong or you fit the profile, now answer the questions.

Ferguson is an amazing contrast to how authorities react to white people behaving badly, particularly in the standoff in the Bundy Ranch a few months ago. In that scenario, white militia men are pointing guns at police officers, clearly threatening to harm them should they remove Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle from government property. White people carrying and pointing guns around = totally legal. But in Ferguson, people showing outrage at teenagers getting shot, regardless of whether they’re a suspect for a robbery or not (since when was robbery a crime deserving of a death sentence?), police react as if they were being invaded by a foreign force. Body armor, automatic weapons, tear gases, etc.

And (white) people ask why do minorities have a problem with the cops?

I remember having a debate in Criminal Justice class about racial profiling. I told them about a story of me being profiled in Vancouver Airport and asked in two separate instances by two different officers whether I was carrying any contraband or cash exceeding $10,000 while I was waiting for my flight. I was dressed in a suit, no hand carry, and just reading a book. I don’t know where I could’ve hidden both contraband and cash. In both instances, the officers asked me questions, looked at my passport and tickets, then proceeded to make small talk and jokes with other people next to me after questioning me. Thanks officers. I felt that while the incident was minor and quite annoying, I could see how people could see being profiled as dehumanizing. But that’s what some people don’t get. That’s what some (white) people don’t get. “How could you feel dehumanized? Personally, when an officer stops me and checks to see if everything is in order, I feel safer and lucky that I live in such a well-protected neighborhood.” Yeah keep thinking that. I’m sure you’ll feel differently when it’s only done to you a few dozen times.

Personally, I’ve only had minor instances of racial profiling in Canada (I’ve had more racial profiling here in South Korea), but I can only imagine how hard it must be for other neighborhoods in Canada and in the US. In any case, I believe it’s never right for the powerful to tell those under them how they should be feeling, how they should be reacting in the face of oppression. That is a privilege only the oppressed should have. As for Ferguson. God bless people for their hope, courage, patience, and faith that justice will someday be done.

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