Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Stigma of Mental Health Amongst Asians Is Alive & Real, So Why Deny It?

**updated**: it had been reported that on the same day I had published this post, 17 -year- old Luchang Wang, a student at Yale's Silliman college took her own life & died from an apparent suicide. My condolences go to her family and to Silliman College. 


From the age of 17 until I was in my mid-20s, I had a brief period where I became depressed and unhappy with life. With that, I did some stupid things, met people in college, whose behaviour and attitudes towards me made me upset and depressed. It was an unhappy time for me, though I hated high school the most. I had negative feelings and thoughts, but I didn't speak out about them in class. Instead, I reserved those for when I saw the Councillor at college, and boy did it do me a world of good. 

I would visit the Councillor once a week to discuss my feelings. 

I spoke about how I was depressed and sad, what I was thinking and how it made me upset, and the Councillor gave me some advice to help me overcome the problem. And to this day, I am thankful to them for that, because that was when I had trust in them, knowing it would be strictly confidential and that s/he wouldn't tell anyone else about my feelings, unless I wanted them to. 

I didn't want to keep my feelings bottled up any longer; I realized that by talking about them, would make things better, which it did. 


Source: Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) from Grey's Anatomy 

I was raised and brought up in an community where if you tried to discuss mental health issues and depression with family and other members of the Asian community, they would look down on you and say you brought this on yourself. 

You see, in Chinese families, and other Asian families, admitting you have a problem, is forbidden - and if you try and do so, you are either laughed at, or get shouted by your parents. In their own repressed world, there is no such thing as depression happening, at all. It is seen as a sign of weakness and that by admitting you have a problem, you are setting yourself up in bringing shame to your 'culture', which is sad but true. 

The very notion that Asians do not experience mental health problems like everyone else, brought on by this model minority myth is not only incredulous; in addition, it is equally damaging and harmful. 

These mental health problems that Asians face are linked to external racism, identity issues, immigration, assimilation, having to live up to high standards and expectations and parental and family pressure. 

Ah yes, Asians must be so successful, so diligent and intelligent, so hard-working that there is no real need to widen access to mental health services, because it is falsely implied that because Asians do so well in education, study hard, get jobs in business, work in the medical profession, running a take-away service and not be seen on TV and movies as positive media representations of Asians; we do not experience problems and have no problems to contend with. So therefore, to them, mental health services are limited to mainly Blacks, African - Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. 

Mental health services are available and open to everyone; it's just that Asians do not , or be it choose not to take advantage of them for their own good. 

This image that Asians do not experience problems, is all a lie and a smokescreen used in covering up and avoiding the problem of mental health and suicide and tackling it, head on. 

I'll probably be accused by some people for using Luchang Wang's death as a statistic, but facts are facts and it seems these are the same people, who want to avoid addressing this problem, as to why more wasn't done to prevent young Asians from ending their life. 

Asians and Asian Americans experience high rates of suicide (according to the American Psychological Association, in 2007, Asian- American college students had a higher rate of suicidal thoughts than that of Caucasian college students); between the ages of 65 and 84, Asian- American women had the highest suicide rate, compared to Caucasian, Latino, Black women, and yet regardless, we are in denial. We ought to expose ourselves to the public to say we are not perfect, and that our community is having problems and needs help too. 

The real problem is that mental health is associated with Whites, more-so than with Blacks, African-Americans, Asians and Asian Americans; Blacks, African-Americans, especially African American women and Asian Americans are perceived to be strong-minded, confident, self-reliant. Because of that, it is believed that you can't display any signs of insecurities and worries. That everything has to be so positive people won't see through it & point out its flaws. 

So when a Black or Asian woman commits suicide or tries to kill themselves, our communities shrug it off and act like it didn't happen. 

Eating disorders, depression, body issues, lack of confidence, bi-polar, alcohol and drug addiction are not associated with Asians and Asian Americans. And yet Asians endure these exact problems, or of whom are unaware they have these problems. We have Asian doctors and psychiatrists, yes.... Asians who have depression, bi-polar disorder, do coke and drugs, well, screw them. That's not what i'd say, but that is an image that many elder Asians and Asian Americans would accept. 

It all starts like I said by admitting our community has a real problem, and after that comes the humanization, empathizing and listening to and be attentive to his/her needs. 

I believe that the longer Asians and in particular Asian parents continue to dismiss the idea that mental health doesn't happen to our community, the more Asians, especially young Asians and Asian Americans will resort to committing suicide and ending their lives. 

Chi-Kit Ho, a social worker once said many Chinese families don't talk to their children about their problems and helping them overcome them. & that is true. You suppress your feelings and emotions, but you do not talk about them, to anyone, you don't do anything. You do nothing. Not even seek counselling.   It is saying that being depressed or having negative thoughts is your own fault. You stop moaning and get on with life. 

But is it that so simple and straightforward? No, because you're allowing those thoughts to manifest and letting it destroy you, emotionally. & not if you're faced with having to live up to a model (minority) stereotype and having to be a certain type of person by your parents. These Asian parents fear that if their son or daughter displays or shows any mental health worries, it will reflect badly on them, as well as it would -in their eyes - tarnish their entire family and their own culture.

This type of thinking, as I said earlier is harmful and deeply troubling and does the Asian community no favours, whatsoever. 

The Asian community needs to stop boosting about how self-righteous we are, that we are the superior race in society. We need to dispel the model minority myth amongst other things. There is nothing to be ashamed of by admitting that one is suffering from or has depression. In doing so, you are opening yourselves up for people to assist you in helping you get the help you need, in combating this problem. 

And more importantly, you are in a better and healthier frame of mind. 



Image source: Tie A Yellow Ribbon, a PBS presentation via Angry Asian Man and APALA

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

South vs South - London and Houston

 

*Cartoon map of Texas by Dr Makkoy & London Cartoon Wallpaper 

When it comes to world cities being compared to one another, London tends to be paired up with the likes of New York and to a lesser extent, Los Angeles in California. But how's about this Southern city of the UK verses another Southern city in America? It's the tale of the tape as I compare the largest populated city in the South of Britain with the largest city in the South of the USA; here, I present some facts of these big cities collated from a variety of sources including Wikipedia.

''Have a good one, y'all!'' 

London




  • London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom
  • It is the most populous city in the UK and Metropolitan area of the European Union
  • London has a diverse range of people and cultures
  • More than 300 languages are spoken
  • According to a 2011 census estimate, the population of London stands at over 8 million.
  • Was founded by the Romans, who named it Londonium
  • Like Houston, London is in the southern (England) part of the country.
  • It is a leading global city and a world cultural capital city.
  • It comprises of Greater London, the City of London, which covers London Bridge, Southwark & 32 boroughs in London.
  • The nicknames for London include The City for Central London and The Smoke for the outskirts of London.
  • Famous people born in London include Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Emily Blunt, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Davina McCall, Sharon Osbourne, Sam Smith and Paloma Faith to name but many.
  • If London was a country, it would be the 8th largest in Europe.
  • Greater London is an administrative area in Southeast England, that covers the capital city of London such as Leicester Square, Oxford Street and Westminster. It was created in 1965.
  • London was the first city to to reach a population of 1 million in 1811. It remained the largest city in the world, until 1957 when it was overtaken by Tokyo.
  • The London Underground is the oldest running subway in the entire world.  
  • In 2012, the summer Olympic games were held in London. It became the first world city to host the Olympics 3 times, having done so in 1908 and 1948. 
  • London came in at #26 in the top 50 major global cities in terms of global economy, according to Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase 


Source: Julian Finney/Getty Images 





Houston 




  • It is the most populous city in Texas and fourth most populous city in the United States with Chicago third, Los Angeles second and New York first.  
  • Houston is the largest city in the South of the United States and in Texas, in addition to being the second fastest growing city in the US as of 2014. 
  • It consists of 8 counties (equivalent to the boroughs of London in the UK): Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller.
  • Was founded in 1836 near the banks of Buffalo Bayou (now known as Allen's landing) by the Allen brothers, Augustus Chapman and John Kirby.
  • It became a city in June 5 1837.
  • It was named after ex-general Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas, who won Battle of San Jacinito, where the city was established.
  • The city's population hails from various ethnic and religious backgrounds & has a ever- growing international community.
  • It is considered as the most culturally and ethnically diverse city in Texas. It currently has the fourth largest Asian community in the United States of America. 
  • Its estimated population is at over 2 million
  • If Houston was a country, it would rank as the 30th largest country in the world
  • The official nickname for Houston is 'Space City' because of the location of NASA's space center. Other nicknames include Bayou City and H-Town.
  • Famous people born in Houston include WWE wrestler The Undertaker (real name Mark Calaway) , Jennifer Garner, Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Hilary Duff, Patrick Swayze, Beyonce Knowles, Debbie Allen, Chandra Wilson of Grey's Anatomy, Phylicia Rashad and actress Loretta Devine. 
  • Houston is one of 48 counties in East Texas.
  • Greater Houston is a 9- county metropolitan area situated in Southeast, Texas. The 5 biggest cities in the area are Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Baytown and Conroe.
  • The US Superbowl XXXVIII was held in Houston back in February 1 2004. The game was between NFC champions the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots, which the Patriots won 32-29.
  • Houston was ranked #39 in the top 50 global cities.The recent rise in oil and gas production in North America explains the success of metropolitan areas such as Houston, Calgary in Canada and Denver. 


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Retro Review: The Jeffersons

Duration: 1975 - 1985 (CBS) 
No of seasons: 11
Release date: 18 January 1975
DVD release by Shout! Factory
Produced by:TAT Communications, NRW Productions, Raggamuffin Productions, Embassy Television, CBS  
Cast: Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford, Marla Gibbs, Roxie Roker, Franklin Cover, Paul Benedict, Mike Evans, Berlinda Tolbert, Zara Cully, Damon Evans, Ned Wertimer and Jay Hammer



Debuting on CBS in January 18 1975 until 1985 for a mammoth 11 seasons (3 more compared to The Cosby Show), making The Jeffersons one of the longest serving (multi-camera) sitcoms on American television, the spin-off series to 'All In The Family' documented the side-splitting exploits of an upwardly, socially mobile family, dry cleaning entrepreneur (& occasional bigot) George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley), his long-suffering wife, Louise aka Weezy (Isabel Sanford) and their son Lionel (Mike Evans) as they move from working-class Queens to a luxury apartment in the East side of Manhattan, New York. In 10 years, a total of 253 episodes were produced and aired.

George owned seven dry cleaning stores, whilst Louise worked at the help center. Everything they worked for they had to earn through hard work and determination. 

The Jeffersons was launched as a spin-off of 'All in the Family' with George and Louise as neighbours to the Bunkers led by Archie and Edith. 

George's brash and arrogant personality always landed him in hot water. Luckily for him, he's got the level-headed 'Weezy' by his side and their wise-cracking maid Florence to keep him in-check. Together, they overcome the comic challenges and culture clashes that their new way of life brings. 

The show explored issues that were rarely discussed on US scripted television at the time, such as interracial relationships with Helen and Tom Willis and race with tact. But it was the use of the N-word and h***** that shocked audiences, as well as made the series stand out from all the other Black sitcoms. Of all the African-American sitcoms from the 1970s and out of all of Norman Lear's shows, The Jeffersons was arguably the best. 

What's interesting is The Jeffersons is appreciated more by non-Black audiences, as well as elder black viewers, rather than by many young Black viewers, who prefer the likes of Bill Cosby's The Cosby Show and A Different World. I never saw The Jeffersons when it originally aired in the 70s (wasn't born at the time) and 80s (the show never aired in the UK).

I read so many great things about it from people online and when the episodes were on Youtube, I had to watch them to see what I made of the series. And I really enjoyed it. 

The incessant bickering between maid Florence (Marla Gibbs) and George helped prolonged the series longevity, the longer the show remained on air. The brilliant comedic timing, chemistry and wisecracks from the characters kept audiences laughing hard until their insides hurt. Florence is one of my favourite characters from The Jeffersons, as she never took crap from anyone, especially George, who constantly made remarks about how as a maid she does nothing and that she doesn't work. I liked that she stood up for herself (even if she does run her mouth a little too much); whereas Louise and the Willises would generally put up with George's rudeness, Florence didn't and wouldn't stand for any of it. And good on her. I mean I like George, as well as Weezy, but sometimes some of the things he said to Florence, Louise, as well as slamming the door in Mr Bentley's face, was mean & so undeserved. 



 


George Jefferson is in many ways part- Archie Bunker from All In The Family, part - Louie of sitcom, Taxi; a loose cannon, a control freak, ill- tempered and stubborn to boot who can explode at any time. He would call Tom and Helen 'zebras', i.e. Black and White and he also didn't like it when his son, Lionel chose to marry Jenny, Tom and Helen's daughter. In addition, he often does the right thing, mainly thanks to Louise who points out his flaws and issues. He was mostly a Grinch on the series, but he was also funny too. And thank God for Louise, who was the complete opposite to George: kind, considerate.... and beautiful! Both physically and as a human being as well, who would put him in his place. 

The Jeffersons was essentially a shared, collective experience of the American dream from a Black perspective; here, we have an affluent African-American family who grew up poor, yet worked their way up to achieve financial success and moved to Manhattan. And from there on, in spite of their economic status, they remind themselves not to forget about their past and their roots. George's friends would turn up at the apartment and embarrass him, offend his wife, Louise - only for George to kick them out. 

Shervin Malekzadeh remarks that for George, materialism and money was the best defense against racism; if you were affluent and someone was racist towards you, you could (and would) come up with a verbal dig about you being Black and rich and the other person, who is White, and poor. The Jeffersons were the opposite to the Evans family in Good Times

The show ended without a resolution when it was cancelled in 1985, and the cast members were not informed of this until the episode, Red Robins & Sherman found out by reading a newspaper. 

The show's success opened the doors for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Diff'rent Strokes, A Different World and The Cosby Show and many other African-American sitcoms & was proof that Black sitcoms can appeal to and resonate with wider audiences. The all-round performances by the cast were excellent; Sherman Hemsley and Isabelle Sanford had wonderful chemistry as the show's husband and wife pairing, George and Louise. Despite their arguments and fall-outs, like all couples, they manage to stay together and see things through regardless, no matter how much they get on one another's nerves. 

The supporting characters on the show were Lionel, George and Louise's son, his wife Jenny Willis, whose parents are Tom and Helen Willis, the Jeffersons next- door neighbours. Tom (Franklin Cover) is Caucasian and Helen (Roxie Roker) is Black, making them the first interracial couple to regularly appear on a US TV series. Florence Johnston was the sarcastic, smart - mouthed maid and Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict) was the polite British neighbour, who worked for the UN as a Russian language interpreter. He was known for addressing George and Louise Jefferson as Mr and Mrs J. & lastly Ralph the doorman (Ned Wertimer), who I didn't really like much, as he kept expecting a financial incentive, whenever he is expected to do a favour for someone.  

Mother Jefferson (Zara Cully) would occasionally drop by, much to Louise's chagrin and make disparaging remarks towards her. She was never accepting of her son, George marrying Louise, and ever since then, she has held a grudge towards her and would drop names of George's ex-girlfriends, just to annoy Louise. And Louise doesn't like her either, which makes it even! 

My favourite moments and episodes from the show that stick out for me the most are 'Brother Tom', where Tom tries to act 'Black' to impress Helen, George, Louise and their Black friends, The Old Flame, The Last Leaf, George and Louise in a Bind parts 1-3, Louise's Painting, Me and Billy Dee, A Bedtime Story, The Freeze In, A Night to Remember, Put It On and I've Got A Secret. 

It was a great show up until season 9. From then onwards, it was still enjoyable, but it just wasn't the same any more. 

The Jeffersons was and has always been overlooked in favour of The Cosby Show, which is a shame, because whilst the latter show had its moments, I thought it was a tad too sugar- coated and avoided topics such as racism. Whereas The Jeffersons was arguably more realistic and tackled issues such as racism and civil rights head on. The idea of having an affluent African- American family with 2 working parents on the show, was something totally different and unique, and it happened way before The Cosby Show

As sad as many of the cast have passed away, the show will live on in memory as one of the best sitcoms, as well as Black sitcoms of all time; it may not have been appreciated as much, especially by fans of other Black sitcoms, such as The Cosby Show. Yet The Jeffersons had a certain charm and quality to it that can be appreciated by many people.

Even though The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Diff'rent Strokes and The Cosby Show - which were all on NBC- got plenty of air time, here in the UK, it is a bit of a shame it was never televised in this part of the world. The Jeffersons is an absolute classic. 

This was one of CBS's fewest hit sitcoms that managed to sustain longevity that rivals the likes of NBC's other longest running comedies, The Fresh Prince, Frasier and Friends. You can't go amiss with The Jeffersons.  

Catch it if you can. 

Final score (out of 10): 9 






source: Strickler Celebrity Autographs


Amazon DVD link here 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I've Got 99 Asian Problems

Ok, maybe not 99 of them, but here are some of them that resonate with me, in particular....

  • Being asked where you are from or what you are ethnically
  • 'Where are you from?', (my answer: London), 'no, like where are your parents from?' (my answer: my mum's from China and my dad's from Hong Kong)


  • Your parents want you to be the perfect grade - A student
  • Your parents only want you to become a lawyer, doctor (curse you Grey's Anatomy, ER, no not really), accountant, IT person, and not become an actor, singer, dancer, artist


  • Being given a dumb Asian nickname by your parents
  • Your parents judge your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or friends, because they are a different race or ethnicity to you
  • Your parents only want you to marry a person, who is the same race as you and thus, don't want you to marry a Black, White, Latino person 
  • Going to a family reunion and barely knowing anyone there


  • Not knowing how to speak your native language well
  • Experiencing native Asians picking on you because you are were not born in an Asian country, technically meaning you're not 'Asian enough'
  • You can't dress up as a superhero for Halloween or fancy dress without being an Asian Superman, Captain America or Wonder Woman
  • Being asked if you know math(s) and to help them with their math(s) homework


  • Your parents buy you only Jade - related jewelry, bracelets and bangles, earrings and necklaces 
  • If you are of Chinese origin, people ask if you are Japanese (I get this all the time) & vice - versa with Japanese, Korean
  • 'What type of Asian are you?' - actually, it's good they ask of this, as they are asking a specific question which deserves a specific answer
  • Asians eat dogs - I don't. Never have done and never will
  • Being asked to read or write Chinese, Japanese, Korean and yet you can't - I can't read Chinese
  • 'How do you say (enter phrase or saying) in Chinese, Japanese etc?'
  • You must be good at karaoke - I like a sing-a-long, but I wouldn't go on American Idol or X Factor or become a singer 
  • Being labelled submissive or passive and not being able to answer back  
  • 'You Asians are so smart' #1 - yet this doesn't account for say, the lack of positive Asian representations and characters appearing in the media, movies and TV
  • 'You Asians are so smart' #2'- and yet we read of cases of young Asians and Asian Americans committing suicide and killing themselves because of the pressures they face at home and by society


  • Because you are Asian and like drawing, some people assume you draw Manga and Anime characters. I draw a lot, but I do realistic art  
  • Because you are Asian and are into music, it's assumed you must be good at playing the violin or the piano 
Yeah so, model minority my arse 



Image source: Imgur 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Cast The X-Men With Photos part 2

Second part of my cast the X-Men wish-list. I omitted Wolverine and Gambit from the list: Wolverine, because Hugh Jackman IS Logan and it is the role that best defines his status as a Hollywood movie star. I couldn't think of anyone else at the moment who could play Wolverine other than Hugh. Gambit was another character I was totally unsure of, and no I didn't go with Channing Tatum. So I left him off. Should I find other actors who could play Wolverine and Gambit, I will make another list and add them.

But for now, these are my selections.





Chloe Grace Moretz (of Kick-Ass) as Magik 
Born February 10, 1997 




Maggie Q as Karma
Born May 22, 1979

Actress and model who achieved international fame on CW's Nikita. Maggie was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father is of Irish and Polish descent & her mother is Vietnamese. X- Men mutant X'ian (pronounced as Shan) aka Karma was born in the central highlands of Vietnam.


 


Cillian Murphy as Banshee
Born May 25, 1976




Lady Gaga as Dazzler
Born March 28, 1986 

Real name Alison Blaire, Dazzler was originally developed as a cross-promotion between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics, until the tie-ins were dropped in 1980. Originally commissioned as a Disco singer, the character shifted to other musical styles, including rock and Adult Contemporary pop. Was briefly a member of Excalibur but since re-joined the X-Men.

As much as this sounds silly and yes, you may laugh, having pop star Lady Gaga play a pop star/superheroine, makes a lot of sense from a casting point of view.


 


Ian Somerhalder as Cyclops 
Born December 8, 1978


 


Amy Adams as Jean Grey 
Born August 20, 1974






Michael C Hall as Beast
Born February 1, 1971



 


Christina Hendricks as Rogue 
Born May 3, 1975



         
                 

Marisa Quinn as Mirage





Nathan Jones as Juggernaut
Born August 21, 1970


 


Rinko Kikuchi as Armor
Born January 6, 1981 

Japanese actress whose Western works include Babel and Guillermo Del Toro's 2013 sci-fi flick, 'Pacific Rim' alongside Idris Elba.



 



Serena Varghese as Summer Omega Sentinel
Born October 10, 1981

Actress and voice actress of Indian descent born in Houston, Texas.



Rodrigo Santoro as Sunspot 
Born August 22, 1975

Brazilian- American actor who appeared in movies such as Love Actually, Rio and was a regular on ABC drama, Lost.





Chiwetel Ejifor and Rachel McAdams as Cloak and Dagger
Chiwetel was born on July 10, 1977, Rachel was born on November 17, 1978 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Ghost In The Shell Race-Bending Furore & Are Asian & Asian American Actresses & Actors Really Not That Bankable?

Despite the West's love for Japanese culture and its cultural properties, such as Anime and Manga, this hasn't stopped their attempts in their refusal to cast Asians and Asian- American actors, actresses, presenters and hosts in movies and TV shows. 

The term 'race-bending' refers to situations where the creator of the media content, changes the ethnicity of a character. This practice has been used by Hollywood on countless occasions to discriminate people of colour. Black-face and yellow-face had been employed by Hollywood to prevent Black and Asian actors from undertaking roles in TV and film. 

It has also been criticized for perpetuating racial and ethnic stereotypes that have long persisted in Western media and entertainment, particularly in America. 

Ghost In The Shell isn't the first Japanese Anime feature where Asian characters have been replaced with White American versions; the live action versions of Dragonball Evolution, Speed Racer, and the infamous Avatar:The Last Airbender all fell victim to race-bending.




The controversy over Scarlett Johansson's casting in the Ghost In The Shell movie that later blew up online via social media this week, doesn't just expose the hypocrisy of Hollywood casting a Caucasian actress in a role of a Japanese character. There is a much bigger problem lying in the heart of all of this: 

That Asian and Asian- American performers are not as financially bankable as White and Black and African-American actors and actresses. It is an admission of truth, as sad it may be, but also that it's not that Hollywood isn't ready for an Asian- American actor or actress, because they have done so for quite some time.

This is Hollywood saying that Asian faces don't sell movies and help make millions of dollars at the box office. 

It pretty much underlines that we still have a long way to go in ensuring that Asian- American actresses and actors are on the same level of success and wave length as their Black and white peers. And of whom are treated with as much respect as them as well. 

And if they don't help sell movies, the less likely Asian faces will appear in movies and television. And more worryingly, the less Asian and Asian American celebrities for the Asian and Asian American audiences to look up to as role models and positive representations.  


 

Above: Ming-Na Wen in Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Lucy Liu who plays Dr Jane Watson in Elementary


Thankfully, the TV landscape is a lot more brighter to say the least; with Asian American characters as regulars on prime-time television in the US.  

The Elementary situation is interesting - if a little bit baffling and confusing at the same time; Dr Joan Watson is an Asian- American woman, as opposed to a Caucasian White British man in Dr John Watson. So not only do we have a case of race-bending, we also have a case of gender-bending as well. The producer of the series did go on record to say that as far as cultural differences and race go, the series wasn't going to play into it, nor will it have much of a bearing. 

The Dr Joan Watson character is a character that doesn't have an Asian- sounding name, but neither does she strike the odd Kung Fu pose. In fact, she's just a person - not a person of color or of Asian descent, even though her race is different, and people will make a deal about it, this is not the integral part of the show. She's just Watson doing her job.  

Still, people will say this is an example of double standards in race-bending. That it is racist if a Caucasian actor or actress commit acts of race-bending, but when an Asian or Black person does it, they don't get called out for it. 

This is the first time where race-bending, in this instance, has been applied to a fictional character that was and is traditionally male and of White British descent. 

But Lucy has received backlash before over her casting as Dr Joan Watson in ElementaryAnd really, when I think about Elementary, it is not the same show as Sherlock Holmes. I don't think of it that way, well I try not to - it's just a modern twist on an old formula by making it contemporary, but also the casting of Lucy Liu is an example of race-casting done right, without further diluting the character. 

Things such as race-bending, casting non-Asians as characters of Asian origin in movies, generally do a lot of damage-control to the Asian and Asian- American community, as well as towards the wider communities, inasmuch as the stereotypical roles and portrayals of Asian characters themselves.  



*above: Rila Fukushima, actress who appeared in The Wolverine with Hugh Jackman

I was watching an interview with George Takei (of Star Trek fame) and he mentioned that the challenge is that whilst on TV, there is an Asian nurse (by that I presume he means Sandra Oh on Grey's Anatomy) and detective (Lucy Liu in Elementary), there isn't an Asian-American actor of the status of Denzel Washington to sell movies. Which is very accurate and true. 

The global society we are living in today such as the US and UK for example is made up of various ethnicities, cultures and where the entire populations is not 110% White. One would assume the film and to a lesser extent, TV industry would reflect these populations, but unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to the lack of representations of ethnic minorities within the media. 

And yet they make up for this by resorting to race-bending by taking a fictional person of colour, keeping their name and turning them White by casting a White actor or actress. 

There are lots of - if not that many East Asian and Asian-American actors and actresses that could play Asian characters on screen, so why try and take that opportunity away from them, and thus, drag their industry further down the ground? 

It's like that other race-bending situation with Michael B. Jordan being cast as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movie reboot - you can change Johnny Storm's ethnicity, from White to Black, and yet one can still change an Asian character into a White one by casting a White actor or actress? No, absolutely not. It just reeks of double standards. 

The differences between Lucy Liu being cast as Dr Jane Watson in Elementary and say that disastrous Avatar: The Last Airbender live- action movie is the casting of white actors in Asian roles in Avatar, were used to heavily distort the ethnicity of the characters from the original cartoon series. Jane Watson's ethnicity might have been different, but it wasn't done to offend the original source material of Sherlock Holmes.

Because of the twist of making Watson Asian and as a woman, in addition to moving the location to New York from London, one may argue these changes were made to reflect contemporary American society for the show's benefit. 

The White-washing is worse in movies than it is in TV, and still, Hollywood insists that it happens, because it is a business and that as a business, their aim is to get as many bums on seats as they can and make as much money as they can. 

Well that answers it then: they don't care about the demographics or ethnographic of the people attending their movies, or about embracing diversity. 




Scarlett Johansson is a good actress - her role in Lost in Translation from 2003 is still her best to date- and whilst she has undertaken action roles before, such as Black Widow in The Avengers, for me, the main character in Ghost In a Shell should be played by a female of Asian descent, preferably Japanese or Japanese-American. 

There have been few occasions where race-bending characters have been utilized to positive effect to add diversity or enhance diversity, or just to change the dynamic of the narrative slightly, such as Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in The Avengers. And Lucy Liu's Jane Watson in Elementary. But other than that, it further discredits or lessens the actor's contribution, as well as further discriminating against the racial group s/he is supposedly conforming to. 

Yet Hollywood continues to operate in a way that unless you are of the caliber of Will Smith or Denzel Washington, they will continue casting Caucasians, and actors of other ethnicities in race-bending roles.  

I'm all in favour for racial diversity in movies and television.... but at the expense of sacrificing and swapping the character and/or actor's ethnicity, and making it come across as being so forced? Just no. 
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