bantha_fodder: ([liu] prettier than you)
This week's it's IBARW! And I just wanted to say:

In 2007 I wrote 15 stories for Chinese New Year, the focus was on CNY so not all of the stories were about characters of Chinese ethnicity, in fact only half of them were of the POV of characters of Chinese ethnicity, and only 9 of them featured characters of Chinese ethnicity. This year I wanted to do it again, but there was a problem.

I've run out of characters.

(so I'm doing a lot of reading this year, we'll see how we go)
bantha_fodder: ([liu] prettier than you)
I specifically held off on making this post until [ profile] koalathebear returned, so that she wouldn't accidentally miss it.

I recently had the pleasure of consuming two texts that talk about Chineseness and Australianness in the same text.

The Home Song Stories

The Home Song Stories is about a beautiful Shanghai lady by way of Hong Kong, who marries an Australian sailor in order to move herself and her children to Australia in the late 1960s. Shortly after their arrival in Australia she leaves her husband, and the spend the next seven years shuffling from uncle to uncle, using her only coin - her beauty - to peddle them through a succession of men who support her.

The story is told through the eyes of her son, Tom, who at the time of the movie is eleven years old and has spent most of his life in Australia. Tom is serious and clever but unsure, and I love him, he is adorable. His sister May is fabulously acted, too, as are all the rest of the characters.

The Home Song Stories is about the events that shape us, about being Chinese in Australia and the Chinese diaspora, about family, and about mental illness, and I loved it, though I wept through a bit of it.

I love that the movie is in English and Cantonese and Mandarin, and I love that it's an Australian movie. I don't think I've ever seen an Australian movie in that combination of languages.

Though it is set in Melbourne, an older Chinese gentleman with whom I work tells me the events it is based on actually occurred in Perth, and it would have been filmed here except they couldn't get the funding.

I recommend it quite highly.

The Dark Heavens Trilogy

I have just finished books one and two of this trilogy, White Tiger and Red Phoenix respectively. The Dark Heavens Trilogy is set for the most part in Hong Kong. It's an interesting weaving of Chinese deities and modern day society, and overall I'm enjoying it, though it has its flaws.

The narrator is a Caucasian-Australian woman named Emma, and her escapades in Hong Kong and the way she is learning about Chinese culture form a significant element through the books. She's a bit too perfect for my liking, but I love the way she already knows about some things, and so the author rarely used the "outside Westerner" to explain the elements of Chinese culture that a Western reader might not necessarily know. I really loved that a lot of it was just assumed knowledge, that was really cool. And I liked that for once, being Chinese wasn't being other - in this instance, it was mostly the Western narrator who was the other.

The most significant problem for me was the fact that a non-Chinese narrator was required at all. I loved that this was a book set in Hong Kong, an interweaving of Chinese mythology, and I did love that she was Australian, that was cool too, but that she had to be Caucasian-Australian in order to allow readers someone to follow. I dislike this phenomenon, and I don't mean to detract from what I was hoping would be an enthusiastic pimping post, but it was a significant problem for me.

Okay, the two books that I've read so far were fun. She's a bit too perfect, and spends a bit too long pining, but she talks about Australia (and there are actual chapters set in Australia!) and it's kind of about being Chinese and the Chinese mythology elements have been really cool, and it's a fairly accurate rendering of mostly-Chinese life, and that was so novel for me, I couldn't help but love it. The third is out, I'll probably pick it up from Dymocks on the weekend.

See this movie, read this trilogy. The end.
bantha_fodder: ([liu] prettier than you)
I thought about IBARW sporadically over the weekend, trying to decide if I should make a post. I hate these things, these weeks or days that are compulsions to act, but they exist for a reason and I think it would lessen me to ignore them, to act like just because I will people to stop being thoughtless, or horrible, they'll just stop.

I wear my ethnicity on my sleeve; I write about little Chinese girls and Chinese traditions and I weave the pieces of me into the fic that I write, and as a result, I worry that I'm repeating myself, and I want my words to have impact, not for you to gloss over them because you've read them a hundred times before.

I've previously talked about inherent prejudice and racism, about the little things we never notice and the way we normalise what we do, and most of what I really want to say I already said there, and if you've not read that post before, please do. I'd much rather you read that post than continued reading this one, if you had to pick one.

I hate the way 'orientalism' is a theme. I hate the way thousands of years of a hundred heterogeneous cultures can be compressed into silk embroidery and fans with cranes on them, and I hate the way my wedding dress will be considered no more than a novelty, a fashion statement, whilst I look forward to the bright red and the gold and the luck it will bring my partner and I.

I hate the way people say, I was raised to be colour-blind, like it's something to be proud of, the way they try to mask their own prejudices by denying the things that make up the identities of other people. I know I spoke of this only recently, but whilst I suppose there are people who honestly cannot see the difference between people of different cultures, different backgrounds, I am Chinese-Australian, and I am different from my partner, who is Australian from a European background, and I am different from Claira, whose ancestry appears to be positively Colonial. And whilst that phrase is used as a defence, a suggestion that I cannot be racist because I am colour-blind, it's also an insult, and it's a denial of our identities, all of us. And it's a poor defence, filled with holes. Who are you to deny who I am, all the pieces that fit together to make me? Use of such a statement suggests, at best, a very poor grasp on cultural and racial issues; at worst, a denial of one's own prejudices.

I don't expect you to embrace all of your own prejudices. I am not proud of mine, and I will not tell you what they are, but I know what they are and I try to change them, and it is all that I ask of you.

I do not know what sorts of posts will come out of this week; I can only hope that they make you think. You can find a large selection of them here.
bantha_fodder: ([zhang] enraptured)
Since I wear my ethnicity on my sleeve anyway, I thought I would briefly talk about some women whom I love, and make some icons. The icons are for sharing and modifying, if it takes your fancy. The Gimp, delightful though it is as an editing program, is having difficulty dealing with Chinese characters, which is why these icons are textless. I was going to put them behind a cut, but I was having so much trouble deciding which ones to hide that I decided not to, as there are only twenty-two. Please forgive me.

Fish Leong is a delightful singer from Malaysia. My friends mock me when they find out that I like her, but I do, she's lovely. She reminds me of all the songs I used to love as a kid, even when I couldn't remember the words. A song: 暖暖.

You may recall the beautiful Li Gong: she was recently in Miami Vice, looking like she was having a hilarious time in what was a terrible movie; she was also in Memoirs of a Geisha and the fact that I still haven't seen 2046 or 满城尽带黄金甲. UGH.

Lucy Liu is American born, but she is still a beautiful ethnic Chinese woman whom I think is fantastic. And beautiful. Her freckles make me feel better about my own.

Faye Wong was born on the mainland but had to become popular in Hong Kong first, which is why there she sings so many Cantonese songs. I don't know how to describe her, not really. She is one of my favourite singers, which really says a lot for my tastes. The song I have uploaded is a cover, and I'm sorry, but it's one of my favourite songs ever, and I know that you will find it delightful: 冷戰.

I was so ridiculously excited when I first found out that Michelle Yeoh was going to be a Bond girl, and when her character neglected her duties to make out with James Bond I was a little disappointed in her (I was only fifteen, what can I say?). She too was born in Malaysia, a country I love like no other.

I didn't like Zhang Ziyi for some time, introduced to her as I was through Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Two things won me over: how fucking beautiful she is, and her performance in 我的父亲母亲 which was awesome.

bantha_fodder: ([hp] katie in china)
So I've been reading these posts by hederahelix, parts one and two, and she's thoughtful and she's made me think about all sorts of things. She talks about privilege, and listening, and in a post inspired by race it really made me think about my own heterosexual privilege (which I'll talk about another time), but the first thing I want to talk about is this:

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my fen friends of color, it’s that I’m more likely to get listened to when I say something about race than they are.

You can't look at my lj, or at my style of typing, and tell that I am fen of colour over the internets. So I wear my colour on my sleeve: I post stories about little Chinese girls, encourage people to learn about Chinese New Year and the things that I find important, talk about racism in my life. And I'm clearly not hiding my ethnicity at all, and in fact I'm actively encouraging people to look at my ethnicity, because if I didn't, then you couldn't see it.

So now I'm wondering how much [ profile] hederahelix's point applies in an internets only context. Ignoring whatever Fan A's argument is, and whatever Fan B's argument is, is either one more likely to be heard because of the colour of their skin? I want to say no, because how can you tell? But I don't want to say yes, either, because who am I to make these sweeping judgement calls? I'm just some chick on the internet.
bantha_fodder: (Default)
There's been some stuff going on in fandom, stuff about inherent prejudice and racism. Though it's difficult for me to be coherant about this topic, I'm going to try.

[ profile] ciderpress made an amazing post here, a really thoughtful, interesting post that I strongly encourage every one to read. S/he talks about defining racism and fandom reactions, resistance, and the thing that never fails to make me angry, arguments against. [ profile] liviapenn also has an excellent post here, wherein she talks about the actual phenomenon in SGA, this unconscious hand washing that is so predominant, and so incredibly frustrating. I strongly recommend both of these posts. Everyone in these sorts of arguments always starts by establishing their credentials, so I don't know if I should mention this, but Liviapenn is a white fan, and Ciderpress is a fan of colour. Interestingly, Ciderpress establishes this early on, whereas Liviapenn does not establish it at all.

And now I would like to establish my own credentials.

My mother-out-law sat with me one day, sipping her tea and despairing over her middle child; "I don't know," she said, "Why he's so racist. He didn't get that from us." "Yes, he did," I said, and she looked at me. "When you tell us stories from the hospital, it's always this Aboriginal boy or this Chinese woman, but it's never this Caucasian girl," and she got very upset, and then very quiet. "Do you really think I'm racist?" she asked me, later. "No," I replied. "But everyone has their prejudices."

And they do.

My mother is Malaysian born Chinese. When she came to Australia she tried to improve her English; she was marked down because of her accent, and her place of birth. When we visit Malaysia, she gets a funny look, at the her Australian passport and her place of birth. When I used to get in trouble as a child, it was sometimes with a glare, and a "don't do that, only Malays eat with their hands." At dinner during CNY, discussion around the table turned to Malaysia, as it always does, and at the mention of the mosques my mother's face turned cold, and unkind. I know that talk of mosques and Islam has become a different thing now, but in my parents' house it remains the same: the intrusion of the Malays into Chinese lives, and the urge my mother felt to leave the country of her birth.

My mother believes that Singaporean born Chinese shopkeepers are misers and bitter; that old Caucasian Australians are racist and prejudiced; that Malays are insincere and dirty.

My mother has her prejudices, of course she does. I have mine, too.

As I said, my mother is Chinese. My father is Caucasian-Australian. When I fill in forms, I check the boxes marked Chinese and Caucasian based on the purpose of the form; every time, my pen hovers over language spoken at home, and I am torn. When I was ten, I realised that not everyone ate rice two or three meals a day, and it stunned me. I have been verbally abused in regards my race exactly once: I was thirteen, and he was a dumb shit at my high school. I was yelled at by an old Chinese dude when I was parking my car at my mechanic's; my mechanic's office manager was so affronted on my behalf: those things he said were terrible, she said, and him your relative! She meant it in the kindest way, I know she did, but the old man was Chinese, and so am I, and in her mind clearly we are relatives.

When I turn on the television, I see people with white/pink skin; when I read books, they are books about white/pink people. Now that I am grown, I make a conscious effort to read books by Chinese people, books about Chinese people, and I consciously look out for children's books, in English, about Chinese children, for my own (who do not yet exist). My thesis at university was on immigration from China and the Overseas Chinese; my pet topic, the thing that can get me talking and about which I may never stop, is the Chinese Diaspora.

A couple of weeks ago I asked for characters of Chinese descent. Every comment I got filled me with such glee, such intense, awesome glee, because I got referred to all these texts with awesome Chinese characters in them, characters I could maybe relate to.

All of these things are to explain why, though I pick my favourite characters based on their actions and their words, I will make a special effort to learn about them if they are Chinese.

The prejudices of my mother and my father curl through my gut and through my heart and sometimes, I don't even notice them informing my decisions. But as Ciderpress says in the post to which I linked, it's often not a conscious choice, and it doesn't mean you can't be a good person.

I was going to list my own prejudices here, but then I realised that they are mine, and they're not things of which I'm proud, so I won't. It's enough that I know them, and that I am ashamed of them, and that I try to change them.

In conclusion, I'd like to reiterate that I think people should read Ciderpress' post, if nothing else, even if you've naught to do with it. Because you're a person, and you're prejudiced, whether you think you are or not. And all I'm asking is that you think about your prejudices, and how they affect the rest of us. Because some of us don't get a chance to not care, or be just like every one else; some of us have no choice.

Of course, sometimes I emphasise the difference myself, the decorations in my window at New Year and nattering away in Mandarin or Malay, and the little shiver of delight I feel when I hear strangers walking past speaking in Mandarin or Malay is indescribable.
bantha_fodder: ([新年] a little red lantern)
Some time ago, [ profile] hobviously issued the non-Anglo/Western/Mainstream holiday Challenge, though it (alas) didn't actually happen in the end.

This was both an answer to that challenge, and something that I did for myself: fifteen short pieces about Chinese New Year. They ranged from 100 to 600 words, and I link them all below.

I originally tried to do this in 2005; I failed along the way, because I was writing them on each day, which was why I wrote (most of) these ones in advance. Best to be prepared, I suppose. I reworked some of the themes from the 2005 drabbles into some of these ones, but I have disclaimed that as necessary in the notes of each fic. There weren't that many of them.

I would like to think that I managed to convey everything about New Year that I wanted to, but of course I didn't. I was limited by the characters that I picked, and the situations that they were in.

I'd like to thank [ profile] annavtree, [ profile] zeplum, [ profile] fox1013, and [ profile] cupiscent, for their assistance as required. All mistakes are my own; the characters are not.

That Small Circle of Light in the Night Sky: a collection of fictions in regards Chinese New Year

  1. On Not Knowing the Way, Stick It. Mina Hoyt, at a New Year's Eve Reunion Dinner.

  2. Show Me The Way (to go home), Space: Above and Beyond. Paul Wang, frightening away the bad spirits.

  3. Just the Ticket to Ride, Kill Bill. O-Ren Ishii, scaring the bad spirits/honouring the dead.

  4. One Among the Hundreds, Harry Potter. Cho Chang, honouring the dead.

  5. So Close to Bedrock, Phryne Fisher Mysteries. Phryne, on not being Chinese.

  6. With the Lights Left On, The Pretender. Jarod and Miss Parker, strangers amongst the celebrations.

  7. A Garden, Disturbed by Echoes, Eating Chinese Food Naked. Ruby, brooms and that feeling you get when you realise you're not who you're supposed to be.

  8. A Glimpse in Mirrors, Law and Order: SVU. Huang going home with oranges.

  9. No Uncertain Clarity, Children of Dune. The twins and the Nian.

  10. Our Own Legends in the Silence, Harry Potter. Charlie, for the dragons.

  11. Sun-Drenched in a Winter Storm, The Joy Luck Club. June, on the Chinese diaspora, and the family we end up with due to the decisions our mums made.

  12. The Great Muppet Chinese New Year, The Muppets. Kermit, a summary of the events that have come before.

  13. On the Same Wave, X-Men. Jubilee, and the new years that we have left behind.

  14. Just Like a Hundred Times Before, Blade: Trinity. Hannibal King, hunting the bad spirits.

  15. Your Posture in the Celestial Realm, Firefly. Mal Reynolds and the lantern festival.

And that, my friends, is just about the end of the new year festivities. I'm just on my way out for one last family thing, so have a good one, and thank you for indulging me.
bantha_fodder: ([dune] alia)
In other news, I am currently compiling a list of instances of languages other than English (both pre-existing and created) featured in English language texts. So far I have:

Dune - Herbert made up the Fremen language in Dune. It wasn't used extensively in the books, but it was based on Arabic and was used enough that Brian Tyler was able to construct a song in Fremen (lyrics to which can be found here). I don't know if it was his intention, but I've always found the sprinkling of Fremen words throughout the text made the Fremen feel almost alien.

Serenity/Firefly - the use of Mandarin Chinese as a sort of high language (though the fact that they swore in it made it seem a little more like a trading language). I'm wondering if Joss has ever spoken about his choice - I suppose it could have been solely a decorative decision, that tweak of something existing so it was clear it was the future but still familiar.

Lord of the Rings - I know that Tolkien created Elvish, but did he create anything else? And it's interesting, but the use of Elvish in this text, whilst othering, always makes me think about the longevity of the Elves, and I do have to wonder if it's because there are whole freaking passages in Elvish.

Star Trek - Klingon. I have no opinions on this.

The Pretender - NO I'M SERIOUS. Off the top of my head, Jarod speaks Greek, and Miss P speaks Japanese fluently and at least understands Ukranian. Every time one of them speaks in another language, it makes it particularly obvious how intelligent they are supposed to be, especially when contrasted with the other characters, who never speak anything other than English.

And perhaps Pingu, and other children's shows featuring nonsensical, made-up languages. I know Pingu is Swedish, so technically doesn't count as an English language text, but it's funny how I think Pingu is more intellectual than the Teletubies, though neither show fetaures intelligble language. It probably has to do with how awesome penguins are.

So that's my list so far! PLEASE do weigh in, and offer other examples. I promise that there's a reason for it. Opinions as to the effectiveness of the use of the language would also be appreciated!
bantha_fodder: ([hp] katie in china)

I need a list of characters who are Chinese/of Chinese descent in English language texts. So far I have:

Jubilation Lee
Cho Chang
Huang (from SVU)
Isabella (from the recent Miami Vice movie)
Whoever Michelle Yeoh played in Tomorrow Never Dies


I would appreciate any and all assistance with this.
bantha_fodder: ([hp] katie in china)
Today I hit 200 friends of. I'd like to do something special, like offer to write fic for everyone, but a) i do that every day anyway, and b) to make a big deal of it seems kind of wanky. This particular journal has been in existence for just over a year, but I've been on LJ for about four years now. I was a big fat dork then, and I'm a big fat dork now, so whatever.

I owe several people comments, and I owe one person a beta. I am actually, really sorry that I suck at any sort of meaningful correspondence, but I've been so busy this weekend, that it was a struggle to post today's [ profile] galacticanews. Of course, busy as I was, that didn't stop me from reading Wisteria's Arrested Development/BSG crossover, or ranting at people, so I guess it's just a matter of prioritising. I tend to do the low thought necessary work first, and then the stuff that requires more thinking later. Hence betaing and replying to comments gets left behind. But I will get to it. All of it. Tomorrow, hopefully.

OMG Yuletide. I should start that, so I'll probably be trying not to write anything else until that's done.

I have a bunch of links I'd like to share, but before I do, I'd like to make a special mention of [ profile] koalathebear, who is a delight to read, and makes me feel guilty about Being Chinese and Not Speaking Mandarin Very Well. Tomorrow, in an effort to actively make myself a better person, instead of reading HP+HBP at work, I will be reading HP+PS in Chinese. (PS KoalaTheMarsupial: icons from Muppet Christmas Carol. Text is a bit crap, but the bases are lovely, and I thought of you)

Okay. So.

There is no possible way for Katie Leung to get any cuter.
AWESOME miscellaneous icons

on het; and on women (and on what makes the strong and obvious and such)
The Crossover Ficathon

A Black and White World: The Joker and Batman, drawn by Simon Bisley and written by Neil Gaiman. And it IS AWESOME.

Miscellaneous Things:
Police Hunt Oxy Morons. This is possibly the best news headline ever.
'Abuse video' outrages Malaysia. ALSO ME. I just. The rant I have, about being Chinese in Malaysia, is perhaps for another time.
Jareth the Goblin King: the toy, comes with three of his magical crystal balls, a riding crop for disciplining disobedient goblins, and his magnificently intricate necklace.
This article is stupid, but While it’s become conventional wisdom they’re all trooping off to Hillsong, the fastest-­growing religion in Australia isn’t pentecostal Christianity but Buddhism. HAHA WE WILL HAVE YOUR CHILDREN.

PS [ profile] shleemeri is not allowed to go on fandom hiatus.

bantha_fodder: ([aussie] i love a sunburnt country)
I'm from a small island in South-East Asia, and a couple of months ago I went to visit the rellies (and shop). I'm feeling a bit unwell, so rather than doing anything productive, I've been sorting photos. Please find a handful (with attached stories) under the cut.

When the tsunami came last year, it washed many of the houses in this kampung away. The death toll in Malaysia was much higher than international media reported: according to K, the government didn't want the tourists to be scared away. The reason why no tourists got washed out to sea was because the hotels are on a higher part of the island, and the staff could see the wave coming and called the tourists all in from the water. The part of the island where many people were washed away is about two kilometres from the tourist stretch, and much lower down, and they weren't warned. Not that it would have saved them.

It was lucky, says K, that the tsunami hit at daytime, when everyone was out, rather than at nighttime, when they would have been in their homes.

i can't convince him to stay )
bantha_fodder: ([hp] katie + robert - amazedxgraphics)
Last year, I was wandering around online, and discovered that there are people who exist who don't think that Cho Chang is Chinese. This was before the casting of Katie Leung as Cho (which I think, as a move, confirms Cho as being canonically Chinese, so now hopefully the debate has ended). AND I discovered that there are people who, not only do they not think of her, or not really like her, but that actively hate her. There are hate listings.

The Cho that I see when I read the books or read fic is so Chinese that this has never been an issue for me. And now I'm going to talk about her, both in canon and in fanon. Because as you all know, my love for Cho Chang knows no bounds.

The Problem with Cho (and why I love her) )
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