Featured

Kung Fool

Why Shang Chi is the worst Marvel Film

As far as I’m concerned, the film is a dud. ALsmost no real excitement is generated from it’s bizarre time-crossing scenario. It’s been said that Marvel has a problem with featuring Asian characters, but this film fails to do for Asians what Black Panther did for black people.

Here are the reasons why I hated this movie:

  1. Slow start. What was the point of the half hour spent showing us how boring the main character’s life is?
  2. Awkwafina. What was she doing in the movie? She doesn’t provide anything to add to the story, neither does she perform any kung fu.
  3. Script. I was groaning most of the time from the leaden and clunky dialogue.
  4. where’s the kung fu? Apart from the bus sequence, where Shang uses a metal pole to take out some villains, he simply stands around the whole time.
  5. the CGI made most scenes look totally unbelievable.
  6. There’s no romance whatsoever. Compare to a film about martial arts which was full of action, spectacle and love – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
  7. Simu Liu – totally unsuited to the part. Why not cast a Chinese born actor who can convincingly speak Mandarin?
  8. The music – thumping bass heavy chords just got louder during supposedly exciting scenes.
  9. The film’s obvious pandering to Chinese audiences mean that the villain isn’t able to be seen as showing Chinese people in a bad light, so it means he comes across totally non-threateningly, and bland.
Featured

Top-notch Thai street food in Surrey

Chim’s  Thai Restaurant

There are a lot of restaurants that can serve THAI FOOD, but most of it is kind of a watered down approach. I mean, I ate in Busaba about ten years ago when it was one of the first THAI Chains, and it was nothing special, but maybe if you’ve never been to Thailand, you’d enjoy it.

A lot of food in Thailand is eaten by roadsides, because the weather is so hot, people crowd around plastic tables and sit around for hours drinking and piling tables high with plates and bowls. Even when it comes to street food, you can get some really amazing food from vendors selling pork broths and skewers. Usually, it’s just one dish that they have been cooking for years and years.

Now you can find some good Thai food if you go to Giggling Squid , but if you want something that is reminiscent of the food they actually eat in Thailand, you can go to a wonderful Surrey restaurant. Chim’s avoids the cliched image of Thai restaurants, there are no plastic buddhas or elephant sculptures. It’s just a bare restaurant with minimal design, but everything has been carefully set up for you to really experience Thai food in it’s totality.

The first thing you notice when you get the menu is how varied the food is. Most people are familiar with Pad THAI and curries. And if you want them, you can get them here. I first tasted their food when I odered their Massaman curry over the grim lockdown period. It came studded with tender pieces of sweet potato that I at first ssumed to be lumps of fat. The curry had been simmered for hours to create a velvety smooth broth.

When I came to eat last Saturday, I was looking for the kind of food I wouldn’t be able to make at home.

A common idea about Thai food is that it is very spicy, but many of the dishes here are more subtle. Take the Isaan sausage, which is fermented and served with peanuts. It’s not fatty but it was still juicy, and it turned on its head the idea that sausages are cheaply made and processed.

Picture shows Nam Sausage, Tofu and Crispy noodles

I ordered Tofu Larb, because in the right hands it can be excellent. Rather than the overused Thai basil, it came with fresh mint, and red onions – a deliciously summery salad. I remembered that larb is a popular dish in some parts of northern Thailand and I meant to ask why they had used tofu instead of beef or pork, but I forgot to ask the server. After this healthy opener, I needed something richer to follow it. I ordered deep fried squid, because you have to order at least one seafood dish when eating Thai food. The squid came in some insanely sweet tamarind marinade that nearly broke out of the batter, but was awesome anyway. And I think this one had some grapefruit segments in, maybe because they couldn’t get any pomelo (it is a challenge to find the correct ingredients). By this point I was buzzing from the Italian chardonnay and the huge array of flavours, but I wanted more.

Deep fried squid with grapefruit and peanuts

After reading the list of curries available, I was most interested in the Hinlay from Burma. It came in a blue china bowl decorated with roasted peanuts and fronds of coriander; I inhaled the fragrance of fish sauce and turmeric and my heart pounded in anticipation.

Hinlay Curry

The curry itself was gloriously thick, but what stood out were the slices of caramelised plantain that studded the dish. Beside it I had a bowl of virgin white coconut rice that I used to soak up the curry…. One glass of Singha beer on draft and that was me done, in just under two hours I had tasted the real heart of thai cuisine and I had only tried a small section of the menu. I was going to have to return.

In the end, I went back two more times. Like a film that you re-watch to get more meaning, I wanted to see what else the kitchens could offer, and it turned out there were more surprises. Street food often means food that is drunk with alcohol, so I wanted to try one of their cocktails.

Whisky Sour with tamarind

Tamarind Whisky sour put a spin on the classic and made an excellent accompaniment to my deep fried tofu. But on the third visit, I was most taken with the Thai Tea-rimasu. Not enough people appreciate how good Thai tea can be. Redder than Chinese tea, it’s often drunk in sweetened form with condensed milk and sugar. But here, they use it’s bright flavour in a truly brilliant dish that is in many ways nicer than a standard tiramasu dessert.

Thai Tea-ramisu

If you go to Chim’s, you get the sense of dishes that have evolved over time. But it’s nothing serious or boring, like a dish that people are too scared to adapt. The basic ingredients may not change, but each time you try the dishes you will get something new from them.

A reminder of my most recent dinner at the restaurant.
Featured

Fresh off the Boat and Kim’s Convenience

Fresh off the Boat ended its run in February, more than five years since it originally started. For being the sole representation of Asians on TV, it has left an outstanding legacy. But there has been another Asian family TV show that has been gaining followers and fans – Kim’s Convenience.

The shows are superficially similar – both examine families living in a North American city and show how they sometimes struggle to fit in. But once you actually watch Kims Convenience you start to realise that it’s wrong to look at Kims expecting it to be the same as FOTB. It’s set in Canada, for a start, and Fresh was deliberately filmed in Florida of the nineties. The style of FOTB is very ironic and knowing – we can laugh at how things used to be. Kims is very much the show of now – it’s the present after all. Most of it is very realistic – which is not how FOTB unfolds, because Fresh is the product of a writer’s imperfect memories of growing up.

However much the actual Eddie Huang (writer of the book) complained that it removed the darker moments, the first season does a brilliant job delineating the first year that the Huangs spend trying to familiarise themselves with white collar Orlando. Perhaps the earliest episodes were a little weak comedy wise, but even by episode 6 they were getting into really exciting territory – tackling racist stereotypes head-on and looking at how hard it is to remain true to your culture.

Fresh used the nineties setting to give many fans a warm glow – the colours of the clothes and the glossy neighborhood setting always make for great TV. Each episode contained loving references to popular fads of the time. Whether it was Eddie’s love of Biggie and Tupac, or Evan’s Beanie Babies, the show was a lovely trip down memory lane for anyone who can remember growing up in the nineties.

Even more importantly – the show was often laugh out loud funny – by the time they made an episode actually filmed in Taiwan there were jokes every three seconds. Another great pleasure was had in watching the three Huang brothers growing up- the show caught the boys just as they were becoming interesting, and stopped when Eddie had finally matured into a young man.

It’s hard to find as much to like in Kim’s Convenience Store. The Kims seem to be accepted by everyone in their Vancouver neighborhood. There are no real conflicts here, except of the very trivial kind. The family want to hold on to their Korean heritage rather than embrace Canadian culture. There’s nothing like the So Chineez episode – where Jessica started speaking in Mandarin and cooked Chinese dishes. The Kims don’t need to do any of that – because people already accept them as they are. It may be an example of multi-culturalism, but it’s boring to watch a show when there are no conflicts.

Maybe for comedy to be successful, you need an element of cultural snobbery, or humiliation. But the characters in Kim’s are tolerated all the time, even when they make cultural faux pas. Also , the characters are too down to earth to be really memorable as sitcom characters. If the Kims are funny , it’s mostly down to the strong Korean accents, rather than any external situations. There’s nobody as comically brilliant as Jessica Huang -who may have been overplayed but was always recognisably human.

As for the writing, FOTB was much stronger. Every episode followed a classic sitcom arc of problem, resolution, and pay-off. There were cute jokes about Evan’s toys, Eddie’s lunch, or how much Jessica loved Costco. Also, the influence of the wicked humour of Ali Wong was much in evidence. There was the ‘Asian Flush’ episode, which Wong made a brief appearance in, for example. Then there were the Christmas episodes with Jessica’s model villlage and her Lao Ban Santa costume. Some of the best involved mocking Asian customs such as Chinese New Year, and their love of Asian sports stars. There were double entendres, references to Chinese culture that would not always sink in immediately – and a whole soundtrack of old Hip-hop that would be used just at the right time.

Kims has stories which simply meander and fizzle out, there are no dramatic conclusions or very big lessons to learn. Take one episode in Season 1. An old flame of Amma’s arrives in the shop and Janet thinks that he is still interested in her. It could be exciting but he quickly explains that he is married. The storylines are weak – one episode climaxes with the characters getting food poisoning from a bad Korean stew. Episodes aren’t connected and could probably be watched in random order. FOTB was more enjoyable – it’s funny to watch children doing silly things – Kims can’t provide this – the best it can do is to have the characters learn something about themselves – Uppa realises he is too bossy, or the daughter asserts her independence.

I know exactly which show I would prefer to watch. Still, i’m not complaining – it’s always good to see Asians on TV; and maybe – just maybe – Kim’s can make new episodes which are up to the standard of Fresh.

Featured

Making waves in Matsuyama

My most recent trip to Japan to Japan took me to some new and interesting places.

There was the small city of Matusyama. It’s actually the largest city of Ehime prefecture. As well as having Japan’s oldest onsen (bath house), it’s famous for a beautiful white castle high on the hill.

I arrived in Matsuyama just after dark, as the residents (and a few tourists) were getting ready for their evening bath. The view of the Onsen is very impressive, lit up by lanterns and street 20180421_170807.jpglamps. To add to this peaceful mood, you will see many visitors walking to the spring wearing brightly-coloured yukatas (a lightweight version of a kimono). Just outside the Dogo station is an old electric train and there is a robot clock that comes to life every hour.

The tram running from the main JR station connects the city’s main areas of interest. Taking line 5 allows you to pass the city’s main shopping area. Right outside Matsuyama City station is the Takeshimaya Shopping centre. The roof is home to a 50 metre illuminated ferris wheel (moved a few year’s ago from Hiroshima). In a lovely gesture of good will, the city allows foreign passport holders the opportunity to ride it for free (normal price is 700 yen). It’s 15 minutes for it to make one turn, and the views are as impressive as the structure of the wheel itself.

20180422_123921.jpg

The city is famous for udon noodles, slightly chewy and very thick soup noodles made from wheat flour. At about 400 yen for a medium bowl of ‘dons in a light seafood broth, they were some of the best value food I had here.

If you want something more fancy, the Michelin guide has for the first time published it’s ratings for the city. It covers most of the city’s expensive restaurant, but a few cheaper options are recommended. With everything from ramen places (Shiosoba Maeda) to very expensive Kaiseki restaurants, it admittedly favours places at the latter end of the price scale. But reading the guide does at least give a good indication of the range of food available.

20180422_131240.jpg

Although famous, due its age, and also its connection with the Studio Ghibli film Sprited Away, the Dogo Onsen is actually has very little options for bathing, with only one bath. There’s a much more impressive onsen near the JR station (Hibiski). There are several different waters including foaming baths. Walk around naked, but put your pants on if you’re getting a massage.

If it sounds like Matsuyama is a bit of a sleepy place (bathhouses, trams and castles) there’s a large red light area in Okkaido where you can go if you’re feeling sexy. And with some of the best looking women in the whole of Japan , this might be the number one reason to come here.

Getting there 

I flew with Jetstar, a budget airline from Narita airport.

There are many alternative ways to get here; for example by bus, train, or across the cycleway from Hiroshima.

Meetup failure

Hi everyone.

today I had the fortune (or misfortune) of attending a Japanese meetup group in London. I very rarely attend organised meetings set up online. I enjoy meeting new people but I often find these planned group activities to be fairly awkward.

I enjoyed a group called Japan dating because I was bored and I like the possibility, however small, of being able to meet attractive Japanese ladies. The meetup group in question had over 900 members in all, so I felt sure that it should have been worth my time.

Anyway, I went to London to join the group for the first time. I was having doubts of the choice of venue, which was a very rundown cafe in London somewhere. I suspect that the organiser got some kind of commission for hosting it there or something.

Because I had some commitments earlier in the day, I wasn’t able to arrive at the planned time, which was 12pm. In my experience of previous events, I have found that members can arrive at different times throughout the day without it being a problem.

I arrived before 1, to an almost empty restaurant, I was so tempted to go back but I gritted my teeth and carried on. I was led to a table where the host, Andre, showed himself to be a very strange man with a speech impediment. I immediately found it hard to accept him as the manager of the group or that he could have had much experience of dating Japanese women.

I introduced myself to the two Japanese members of the group. Everytime I tried to answer a question, Andre would cut in. Soon, I grew tired of listening to his inane questions. I told him politely that I wanted the opportunity to talk with the members, which is why I was there in the first place.

He immediately became angry, and started to berate me, asking me to explain why I was late, and that I should have let him know if I was not going to be on time.

I apologised, but he carried on in the same vein. He then told me that he would ban me from future events and that I was an idiot. I was about to walk out, but thankfully he left after that, leaving me in peace to eat my lunch and chat to my new friends. It wasn’t very pleasant, and I was left with the impression of a narcissistic individual who arranged the meetups for his own ego.

I know I should have told him that I was late, but it was still a big effort for me to attend his meeting in the first place.

I leave you to decide who was right in this situation. Perhaps you have some interesting meetup stories yourself?

Indonesia is the place to see this year

My travel destination this year is Indonesia. With more than six UNESCO designations it has the highest of any Asian country, and manages to provide a year’s worth of highlights in one trip.

Here are some of the places and activities I would like to see once international travel is possible in Indonesia.

Bali/Lombok

Known as a tropical paradise around the world, Bali is the most visited part of Indonesia. In fact, Bali is one of two islands that are considered to be world class – Lombok is the quieter one. People go to Bali for all kinds of purposes. Watesports and scuba diving are some of the most popular pastimes. Famous TV chef Anthony Bourdain made a documentary about the food, see picture below.

Ubud in Bali is known as a home to several famous yoga retreats and upscale resorts, in fact the whole island is home to some incredible hotels such as The Legian in Seminyak.

You can also stay very reasonably in a villa for 20 dollars a night. as well as the luxury and splendour of the resorts you can find centres of spirituality, such as the famous Uluwata Temple.

Komodo Island

Home to the biggest lizard’s in the world. Komodo Island can only be visited with a tour guide, and its very dangerous to get to close to the man-eating dragons.

Mount Merapi

The still active volcano erupted last year.

Jakarta

The bustling city is home to more than eight million people and would be a good place to start your trip, assuming you don’t mind heavy traffic and crowds. You can find some great food here.

People

“The friendliest people you can ever meet” according to Trevor Noah, who visited Bali in 2018. Indonesians are a diverse mix of ethnicities and cultures: the national language is Bahasa but Javanese is spoken in Java. There are Chinese Indonesians, moslems, Christians and Buddhists.

Music and culture

The Raid made a big impression five years ago, and the music of Indonesia that is most common is gamelan.

Japanese Big-tit play

Japanese big-tit play

When it comes to Asian women there are various fetishes around. Some men are turned on by the ultra skinny girls with tiny waists and narrow legs that are all you see in China and Korea. But for my money, I’d choose a big-titted Japanese girl.  There’s just something about the combination of their cute faces (less sharp and more rounded than other Asians) along with their soft simpering voices and huge tits that hang over their soft torsos that I can’t get over.

I met Mitsumi when I was browsing over some accessories at the Japanese centre.  I asked about the incense sticks that she was selling. I could have asked the man who was also working there, but what would be the point of that?

After thoroughly going through the various scents, I managed to lightly brush up against her arm. I could see Mitsumi’s breasts straining against the fabric of her t-shirt, and the thickness of the strap suggested that she was a D or E cup, at the very least. She was wearing an apron over the t-shirt, so I couldn’t see any cleavage, but there was no hiding from the fact that she had massive tits.

As she didn’t seem to mind me touching her, I decided to go back the following day to see if I could meet her one evening. Mitsumi was cleaning up and the manager had already gone home for the night.

Mitsumi was wearing the same outfit, and as she was sweeping the floor, the strap of her apron fell loose. Finally, she got tired of pulling it up and then she took it off and put it on the seat.

I wasted no more time and went in inside to speak to her.

“Oh, hi,” she said. ‘I’m sorry, we’re about to close.”
I walked in to the shop and shut the door.

That’s ok. I’m not here to buy anything.”

Mitsumi put the broom down and then put it in the back.

“Have you tried the incense?”

“I have. It’s great, thank you for recommending it. Do you have a few minutes so  that we can talk?

“I don’t mind.”

“Great.”

Mitsumi closed the door and flipped the sign over to ‘Closed.’

She led me to the store-room at the back of the shop.

She sat down on one of the office chairs, and leant forward slightly. She seemed to enjoy letting me have a better look at her wonderful breasts.

I decided to ask her if she had a boyfriend.

“No, I don’t have time at the moment.”

“That must be boring sometimes,” I said.

“It is.”

“You must get a lot of looks from men in the shop?”

“Oh, some of them. Like, this one guy recently who couldn’t stop staring at me.”

I hoped she wasn’t talking about me.

‘So I usually wear these t-shirts when I work here, even though at home I like to wear looser, low-cut tops, I just get too many looks if I dress like that here.’

“I would love to see you wearing those,” I offered her by way of subtle suggestion, and watched her smile at me.

“Can you be good? I’ll show you something but we need to be careful.

Follow me.”

Mitsumi led me to another room at the back that was used for storing stationery and other materials.

“Sit down.”

I followed her order and was dumbstruck when Mitsumi sat on top of me and started to thrust her chest directly into my face, so that I was surrounded by her soft tit-flesh.

“Would you like to see more?”

I nodded silently as she lifted up her t-shirt to her neck, and I gazed at her breasts as they sat upright in her pale blue bra. Her hair was loose and she gave her tits a little shake for me, letting her black fringe swish over her round face. I was about to get the greatest strip of my life – a one-man porn film starring me was about to start.

Mitsumi turned around and revealed her back to me, the thick band of her bra was within reach, and she took my hands and placed them on each of her breasts. I gave them a squeeze and lifted them up under the cups so that her breasts were as high as her chin.

Mitsumi gasped gently, and I felt her nipples stiffening beneath the gauzy material of her bra.

“Are you going to kiss them for me?”

Mitsumi used my hands to unclasp them, and squeezed her arms together so that her bra fell down to her waist.

The curves of her tits were overshadowing her upper body, making perfect round arcs.

“Kiss them for me.”

I turned her around and she lifted her right breast up so that I could suck it, and I used my tongue to stimulate her nipples gently.

“Oh, yessss,” she sighed.

She was moaning a lot, so I let my hands roam over her breasts all the while using my tongue to give her more caresses.

“Mmmmm, you are so good at that.”

‘Well, I am a breast –man. So, I’ve always wondered…. can you cum just from having your tits massaged?

“I sometimes do. They are quite sensitive.”

I slowed down with my tonguing as I didn’t want to get tired, not that I wasn’t having the time of my life!”

“Did I make you excited?” she asked, eyeing the bulge in my trousers.

“Let me help you with that.”

I was really turned on now, especially as she had become aroused enough for her nipples to have turned completely stiff from all the sucking and fondling.

“Would you like a tit-wank?”

She positioned herself higher than me and used some spit to make her breasts smooth and slippery.

My erection bulged out of my trousers and I let it pop out of my fly.

Mitsumi gave it strokes with her palm and I let my hands wander back to her massive mammaries.

I was almost spinning. My cock was smushed between her tits and her hands were on my balls. Mitsumi moving her tits up and down was creating the most perfect sensations. I felt an aching sensation inside and cried out.

Ahhh!!! Fuckkkk!!!!

“Ohhh, sorry.”

I watched my cum spread out of my cock, flooding her chest, and dripping down.

“No need to apologise. I’m sorry I didn’t give you time to come.”

Mitsumi looked at my slyly and said

“How do you know I didn’t? Here, I’ll clean you up.”

She pulled some tissues out of her bag and rubbed my penis gently.

As we sat, she propped my head against her chest so that I could enjoy the view one more time…..

Ahhh!!! Fuckkkk!!!!

“Ohhh, sorry.”

I watched my cum spread out of my cock, flooding her chest, and dripping down.

“No need to apologise. I’m sorry I didn’t give you time to come.”

Mitsumi looked at my slyly and said

“How do you know I didn’t? Here, I’ll clean you up.”

She pulled some tissues out of her bag and rubbed my penis gently.

As we sat, she propped my head against her chest so that I could enjoy the view one more time…..

EGG FRIED NICE

  • a guide to some of the best places in Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter.

People visit Birmingham for many reasons. Some come for the sporting events. Others might visit because of the massive indoor Expos that are held at the NEC. Personally, I visited Birmingham because of it’s Chinese Quarter, or Chinatown. England’s 2nd largest city has an area of three streets which are full of Asian restaurants, bars, the occasional nightclub, and even a Wetherspoon’s.  The area is located just outside the city’s main train station, Birmingham New Street. After a night in the chaotic Broad Street area, I wanted to experience something more authentic. True, there are some Indian restaurants there which were doing a good trade, but most of the restaurants near my hotel were exactly the same chain-type places you will find up and down the country.

Getting there

As you leave the station, you can see the brown tourist signs directing you to the Chinese Quarter. it’s easy to go the wrong way, but if you come out of the station at the main entrance you can see Hirst road right in front of you. This is where the Chinese Quarter proper begins.

There is a rather lovely looking restaurant with a green-tiled roof (China Court Restaurant) on Edgbaston Street. Next to it is another traditional Cantonese restaurant – Chung Ying.

Chung Ying was the first Chinese restaurant to open here

As you walk along Hirst Street, you notice that most of the buildings have Chinese characters. You can’t miss a very large three-storey building houses Ming Moon, which caters to the Chinese love of gambling.

Further along, there is a branch of the very popular Happy Lemon bubble tea café.

Perhaps you wouldn’t expect to see a traditional pub, but that is what you get, although the styling of the Wetherspoon’s in this area blends in with its name and building’s façade.

If you feel that the street has a slightly faded air, which it does, you can take a left to the modern Arcadian area in Ladywell Way. This is a car-free zone. The restaurants cater to a younger crowd, with a few non-Asian venues such as Las Iguanas.

On show in the centre of the square was a stunning lantern display. As part of the marketing for the film Over the Moon (based on a Chinese fairy tale) Netflix has designed 26 handmade lanterns with characters from the film. Far from being showy and over the top like the Christmas lights in London, these were intricately decorated and looked even more magical in the evening when they were individually illuminated. At nighttime this would be a wonderful place to eat, especially if you can sit outside.

This area is home to a wonderful patisserie with cookies and cakes form Taiwan and Hong Kong – which are clearly made fresh everyday.

Coming back to Hirst Road takes you to an excellent Chinese restaurant which offers Dim Sum in the mornings and then Sichuan cuisine. This region of China is known for its red and black pepper which is pleasantly numbing. Many of the dishes incorporate tofu – eg mapo tofu or Salt and pepper tofu.

Walking still further down, you come to Korean and Japanese restaurants. It’s quite likely that these are still owned and run by Chinese restaurateurs who want to cater for those in the area who happen to like other Asian cuisines as well as traditional Chinese.

As the road goes down past the Glee club, there are student bars and nightclubs, and it seems to have become home to the gay population of Birmingham.

Whatever your thoughts on that, make sure you come to this part of Birmingham when you next visit.

Asian Crush

The Asian ‘girlfriend experience’ in two American movies

If we take a look at depictions of Asian women is some famous American films, we can get an idea of how certain ideas and stereotypes have gained a hold in people’s understanding of Asian women. I want to look at two American films that show relationships between a white man and an Asian woman.

Wayne’s World.

Released in 1992, the film is a full length feature about two slacker types who run their own TV show from their basement. The men are typical of the audience the film was presumably aimed at. Whilst Garth has his own dream woman in the form of a blonde fantasy goddess, it’s Cassandra (Tia Carrere) who is the object of Wayne’s affection.  That the actress  playing Cassandra Wong is not Chinese but Hawaiian is beside the point – most of the time Hollywood will choose actresses who look only part Asian rather than look for an Asian-born actress who can speak fluent English.

Cassandra, Wayne’s World

Cassandra is by no means a submissive Asian woman, but it’s interesting to see how her Asian-ness is at times highlighted in the film. For example, she wears a traditional Chinese dress when meeting her father with Wayne. This is a very curious scene since it plays into the fears white men have of dating an Asian woman. Most commonly these relate to feeling inadequate, especially in the eyes of the girl’s family.

When Wayne meets Cassandra’s father, he needs to show him that he is good enough for his daughter.

In another scene, Cassandra orders Wayne a Chinese takeaway. She’s far from an ‘easy’ woman, in fact she’s not terribly interested in Wayne until he shows that he has the ability to be successful. At the same time, Cassandra is seem to be in every way the perfect girlfriend. It doesn’t hurt that Carerre looks gorgeous in the film. She looks good in every scene, whether it’s the red lace dress she wears performing on TV, the bikini she wears in a dream montage, or the leather outfit for the video shoot. These aren’t the clothes that would normally be worn by a rock singer, even a grunge singer would wear much less revealing outfits. In case we had an idea that Asian women are submissive, the film has Cassandra executing a perfect flying kick to a drunk gig-goer who gets in her way.

scene from a fantasy sequence showing Cassandra as the partner of Rob Lowe

The Social Network, 2010

The second example of an Asian woman girlfriend comes from the film that covers the origins of Facebook. Brenda Song plays Christy, a student at Harvard who meets Eduardo Saverin when he is at a speech given by Bill Gates. Although Christy is not the main character in the film, she makes quite an impact. The film has already explicitly mentioned Asian women as being attracted to Jewish guys, “and you don’t need an algorithm to work it out. “They’re not Jewish and they can’t dance,” says Eduardo at a party scene.

If Cassandra is in many ways the ideal Asian girlfriend, Christy is the exact opposite. Firstly, she is shown to be jealous and controlling of Eduardo to the point that she openly accuses him of being unfaithful because he hasn’t changed his relationship status from single on the website he co-created. In another scene, Mark asks Eduardo how his relationship with Christy is. ‘It’s terrible, she’s controlling and incredibly jealous. I’m scared of her.’ In the next scene, Eduardo gives his girlfriend a gift in an attempt to mollify her. Instead, she flies into a rage and then sets the scarf on fire. It’s as if the film is sending out a warning to viewers that they shouldn’t become romantically involved with Asian women, unless it’s to have fast and exciting sex in restaurant wash-rooms.

Brenda Song as the vengeful Christy Lee (The Social Network)

I draw these as examples because I feel that the cinema is a strong cultural indicator of society. It may not have quite the range that it did, but films are still a global force. What I’m really interested is how films shape and help us to make sense of the world. If you wanted to understand what it’s like to date an Asian woman, you could watch Wayne’s World and it would give you a good indication of what to say, the kind of things to do and just as importantly, the things you shouldn’t do.

I particularly like the way Wayne at some point in the film realizes that he may be losing Cassandra to the smarmy TV executive, so he has to work harder to get her back. In this way, the film is as positive in in it’s summation of how it is to date a sexy Asian woman. It’s mostly fantastic of course – the film shows us exactly why Wayne has such a thing for Cassandra and gives the idea that the most unconventional of men can attract their very own Asian beauty to be their girlfriend.

Sadly, there are other ideas people have about Asian women that aren’t nearly as positive. If you ask some men what they think of Asian women, they might say something along the likes of ‘Asian women are easy‘ – meaning I guess that Asian woman are easy to have sex with ( as long as you are a white male to begin with).

Unfortunately, Asian women have been portrayed as little more than sex objects and certainly no more than thinly sketched love interests for the main character. In most action films where the male visits Asia there will be a minor character who might provide some extra exoticism to the film. You can see this in franchise movies such as ‘Tokyo Drift’, or some of the Bond films set in Asian countries such as ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’.

Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama) in You Only Live Twice

You do wonder why Hollywood has been so reticent when showing interracial relationships. Certainly it’s unusual even now to see films where the couple are of different nationalities. Even as international marriages become so common as to be not worth mentioning, the movies are such a long way from catching up that the movie that is closest to the reality of dating an Asian girl is still good old ‘Wayne’s World’ from 1992.

The Asian Crush in two American films

On being different

although you might look at me and assume that I am perfectly normal and look in my eyes and get a proper response, I’ve lived my life being made aware that other people find me strange and difficult to get along with. I’ve often had a tough time making friends and even though I’m rarely shy, I still find it hard to interact with people and really struggle to understand exactly what someone is saying. I have to make an effort to read between the lines when someone tells me something that’s not meant to be interpreted at face value.

10 years ago I was diagnosed with adult ADHD and moderate Aspergers syndrome. The label meant that I now had a handy category to put myself in. All the behaviours that were considered so hard to understand could now be put down to being autistic – not perhaps in the classic sense, but certainly with a lot of the traits of the condition. Still, even with a diagnosis, I was left with the realisation that I still had to work hard for myself to live with the condition. Autism never goes away, but you can learn how to deal with it to a degree that your life is easier.

If you have autism or any kind of spectrum disorder, does it make a difference where you live?

If there are certain jobs that autistic people are more suited towards, it makes sense that there would be countries that are more appropriate for me, since autism can make life in ENGLAND very difficult for me sometimes.

When you have a kind of disorder that no one can see, it can make life difficult in all kinds of ways. From making friends and interacting with others, to simply following instructions at work; these are things I have definitely had problems with to some degree. Like most people with conditins like mine, I don’t always tell people, employers included.

But for me the possibility is that Japan will be a lot easier to live in than trying to struggle in England. Whilst many people consioder the style of humour known as banter to be one of the defining features of English culture, it can be damned hard to fit in if you don’t quite understand the subtleties of it. that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy making fun of someone in a light-hearted way, but its hard to judge how much is innocent joking and whne it becomes more malicious.

I can see that for those of other countries, they also struggle to understand just how much of banter is innocent and when it is more mocking.

Thankfully, it’s less of a problem in Japan. Sarcasm isn’t particularly common. Jokes tend to be more wacky, and there is a love of puns, similar to what we would call ‘dad jokes.’ On the whole, Japanese culture is more accomodating to those on the spectrum. you can take people at their word, everyone is friendly to each other and there is less of the back-biting and talking at cross purposes. it’s a country where people are quick to follow the rules of the roles they have been given.

The japanese are said to be very eager to please; sentences are usually designed to facilitate smooth communication, and most conversations end in agreement.

Whether people are more tolerant of those on the spectrum or not, there’s no doubt that life is hard for people with unseen disabilities. A world of greater tolerance and understanding is something we should all push for.

Racist Korea

In 2017 I started working in Korea. I was full of excitement to visit the country I had learned so much about. But after living in Korea , I started to notice subtle forms of racism. The classic example that I can give is when I went to a restaurants and was refused entry as a solo diner. I never saw this happen to any Koreans. In fact, the only time I ever saw anyone denied entry was when they were foreign.

It got worse at work in the hagwon. Whilst a few of the Koreans made an effort to be friendly, a lot made it clear that they didn’t want anything to do with us. Perhaps the worst thing that happened was when a large bottle of air freshener was left on our desks – implying that even our body odour was offensive. I looked around to see if anyone had left any air-freshener anywhere else , but no. ours was the only desk to have a large bottle placed none-too subtly on our desk.

 Now I know you might be wondering why all this matters? Maybe it’s just a few companies that are like this. And I understand that the majority of Koreans will not be racist.

But here’s the thing. With millions of fans of Korean music, food and culture, Korea is positioning itself as the cultural capital of Asia. For example, the images you see on the Korean tourist board are of beautiful geography, food and costumes which are hard to match up to reality. Less developed Asian countries have bought into the Asian wave that the Korean government worked so assiduously to  build. Yet people from South-western countries are often discriminated against for being darker-skinned and coming from poorer countries. It can’t be right that a country with so much cultural power should be able to be so backwards when it comes to acceptance of other races.

Now another thing that makes it hard is when foreigners come to work in Korea without being able  to speak much Korean, they get taken advantage of, not just that they miss out on a lot of experiences that would be available to them if they knew the language, but there’s this uncomfortable feeling that a lot of Koreans will speak abusively about foreigners who they assume cannot understand them. I know that foreigners could make a greater effort to learn the language – but where’s the motivation? If I knew that a lot of Koreans would refuse to acknowledge me or talk to me in Korean , I would never have gone to the trouble of learning the amount of Korean language that I did.

For a lot of foreigners living in Korea, the level of Korean that they have learned already won’t be enough to make them easily understood to people. You can bet that this makes them an easy target for even more discrimination. You see, Koreans don’t really expect you to be able to speak Korean. Even if you can, they might act like they don’t understand you. Or laugh and simply ignore you, or speak over you without listening to anything you have said. So you can’t blame the foreigners who want to study and learn Korean only to lose motivation and interest. It’s too easy to give up; there aren’t decent resources available and Koreans refuse to speak to you in their language.

Right now, you could be thinking that I should be giving up. And it’s true that Korea is less of an interest to me these days. But its sad when I think that Korea was the first Asian country I visited, my girlfriend was Korean, and I studied Korean for years.

You often hear it said that Korea has the world’s fastest internet speeds. But that hasn’t led to Koreans becoming as developed in social affairs. But if you have ever bought Korean products, listened to K-pop, or even owned Samsung, you might want to take another look at the politics of the country that is behind them.

Wearing a kimono; cultural appropriation or not?

These days, there’s so much talk of what’s appropriate or not that you worry precisely when you’re going to be called out for some lack of political correctness.

Remember when Katy Perry wore this to the American Music Awards? Some of the comments at that time ranged from ‘she looks so pretty’ to cries of outrage and a sense that the outfit was cultural appropriation. There were some who felt that Perry had no right to wear the kimono – a Japanese cultural emblem that dates back to the Edo period. Most of the haters failed to realise that it was just a performance – nothing different from a stage show , or let’s use Madame Butterfly as another, slightly different example wherein white singers play the parts of Japanese characters.

Katy Perry’s infamous Geisha dance

Scroll through the negative comments on Youtube and you won’t find any from Japanese people. It seems that nearly all Japanese people are pretty much fine whenever someone not Japanese decides to wear a Kimono. Yet, many still feel that whenever people step outside their culture to wear ethnic clothing they are committing a crime tantamount to racism, or at the very least, cultural appropriation.

I got my own taste of this recently when I borrowed a kimono to wear for the day. Most people understood what I was doing but I was blind-sided by the comments of some. What right did I, as a privileged white male – have wearing a Japanese garment that Japanese people have been mocked for wearing? The argument being that I can never wear a kimono with good intent? Did it make any difference that I was wearing it correctly? Or that it was assembled and sewn by a Japanese person? Apparently not. By this point, I couldn’t think of a good argument that would sufficiently counter these claims.

My head was spinning. Were these people actually saying that people of certain races should be prevented from wearing the clothes of other races? Weren’t they guilty of the same racism and intolerance that I was being accused of? Still more fantastic was the argument that those of true Japanese culture had no say in the debate because they couldn’t appreciate the discrimination that second generations of Japanese had to face in America.

the good news is that I went away with more enthusiasm for the kimono than ever, and I resolved to wear it again as much as I can. I looked for examples of people like me who love wear Japanese clothes (plenty, it turns out). And I looked at examples of famous people over the years and found so many. David Bowie proudly wearing one as ‘Ziggy Stardust’; Bjork for her album cover ‘Homogenic’. Perhaps there are many more for those who care to look. The kimono has permeated our clothing habits so much that we are not aware that a dressing room is a simplified kimono – see Obi Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars film. No-one cried ‘cultural appropriation’ then, and they shouldn’t now. If we aren’t careful, we risk creating a world where no-one can ever really understand the culture of other countries or experience it – something that would make the world a much less diverse and interesting place. I say let everybody wear whatever they want.

%d bloggers like this: