Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Being Raw on Social Media


Let's face it, we use social media to present our fantasy persona. We are always happy, looking fabulous, doing something adventurous, and surrounded by intriguing people. We put out only our best selves and provide statements and images to support this characterization. Positive postings invite "likes" and affirming comments. It feeds the ego and gets us through the day.

So, what the hell is happening when some rebels in social media choose to do otherwise. They post about deaths, break-ups, job loses, depression, failing relationships, illnesses, troubled children...I can go on. These posts make us uncomfortable, annoyed, and even pissed. How dare they cloud utopia! How dare they indeed.

Well, I say, kudos to those bastards. Thank you for being real and reminding us we are assholes for being otherwise. Life is not perfect, people are flawed as hell. Shit happens all the time and, frankly, that's okay. I do not mind coarse postings that chill me a bit and leave me cringing at times. I welcome them and envy those that really put themselves out there.

Of course by exposing themselves on social media also makes them vulnerable – vulnerable to family, friends, colleagues,...But, then again, maybe that is the part of the rebellious nature of these posts that I most admire – they are risky. It is a bold affront to the risk-adverse and chicken shit in us all. I stand and applaud those that give it to us raw. Thank you.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#CancelColbert and the Ultimate Fear Factor -- Suey Park!

The issue of the now trending ‪#‎CancelColbert‬ is a tough one. On the one hand I think Colbert is brilliant. I mean, I actually know people that do not get he's playing a right-wing zealot, blatant racist, unapologetic bigoted buffoon. So, he's also an effective modern day satirist -- able to appeal to his core audience while also keeping his real foes puzzled! However, the issue is, if you have not watched his show, not seen the monologue referencing Asian American stereotypes to talk about the Redskin mascot controversy, the "I want to show the ‪#‎Asian‬ community I care by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever" tweet in isolation, is a trigger.

Some Asian Americans, like writer, activist, Suey Park, have no tolerance (or some have said, no funny bone) for tired stereotypes about Asian Americans –- even for satirical effect. She and others feel that it's not okay to perpetuate these negative images, especially since so many do not know Colbert is in character. It's unclear if there's any benefit with the skit for the groups that Colbert uses as a punchline. Some trending the #CancelColbert are saying that he is not exempt from a-historicizing the issues that matter to Asian American just to get laughs and ratings. They would argue there's simply not enough multidimensional images of Asian (Americans) in media to warrant a free for all use of Asian Americans as gags. Essentially, Colbert's brand of satire has lost its effectiveness and has become offensive to the groups he supports.

The "Ching Chong" joke and controversial tweet post that accompanied it does not bother me. I admittedly thought it was hilarious. However, I do not find Colbert's "Ching Chong Ding Dong mascot" funny (see Colbert's best rendition of Mickey Rooney's Yunioshi from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in the video clip), and I think I'm open to just about any unPC joke out there. Possibly this one hits just a little too close to home and I feel offended, not amused. Colbert didn't grow up Asian American but could have at least guessed it was not pleasant being bullied for just looking "Asian." This is where the "white, male entitlement" argument enters. But, I digress.

On the issue of the backlash to criticisms of the "racist" tweet," I can totally understand how non-Asians would respond with condescending, "uh, you're too stupid to get satire, Asians." But, what I'm disappointed about is how Asian Americans have also jumped on the bandwagon. They've taken to blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, and mainstream media about this topic with some harsh words for Suey Park and others trending #CancelColbert. The tones have been almost apologetic, in the vein of, "Sorry we have an outspoken Asian American woman that doesn't kowtow to the stereotypes of a submissive person without voice, opinion and anger. She and other Asian Americans against Colbert also obviously can't get a joke." Some of the pieces have been venomous, borderline misogynistic. But, the worst ones have labeled Suey Park a hashtag hustler and killer of legitimate twitter activism or dismissed her altogether as a frivolous debutant. 

Maybe Suey Park's most heinous crime is she gets the twittersphere. She knows no one pays attention to rational conversation so she screams her outrage. Then when she gets an audience, meaningful conversation can come from these people. Me blogging about this topic is testament to her effectively working media. I don't think it's wise to dismiss her, she's smart. She and her supporters can get a joke, but, maybe are too fed up with being the butt of one and want to be able to speak their minds about it. Just as Colbert is allowed to continue with his satirical show and should do so. 

Things have gotten a bit out of control in the virtual stratosphere and reactions to ‪#‎CancelColbert‬ is starting to remind me of the fear of the "Yellow Peril." How are there so many of them hating on a white man, a funny one at that? Scary, huh? (sarcasm) But joking aside, it is good to have this dialogue.

For background of the controversy, see HERE.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Call to Action for Women of Color in Academia: Review of "Presumed Incompetent"

A Review of Presumed Incompetent: 
The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia
By Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde

Presumed IncompetentWomen of color in academia are at a crucial crossroad. Within the inherently biased and unwelcoming academic culture, compounded by massive budgetary cuts and trends towards corporatization in universities nationwide, underrepresented groups increasingly find themselves targets of bullying, harassment, and dismissal. Sadly, the vast majority continue to endure the violent onslaught feeling helpless and isolated – unable and sometimes unwilling to seek assistance or simply unaware of how to begin to advocate for themselves. For more.