Last Sunday was a momentous evening in Hollywood for Asian Americans and Asians. When I was a teenager, I used to tell my friends "I'm going to the Kodak Theatre!" That's what the Dolby Theatre used to be called. Knowing how rare that opportunity would be for someone like me, that seemed like a near unreachable dream. But if you don't dream big, then you won't get anywhere. So, as "Everything Everywhere All At Once" kept racking up awards, and especially when Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor, followed by Michelle Yeoh winning Best Actress, and finally the biggest award of the night going to the movie, it was simply put...everything. That being said, I also hope that Hollywood doesn't look back on this night and think, okay we're diverse. We gave a bunch of the most prestigious awards in filmmaking to a bunch of Asians. Let's move on to the next underrepresented group. We really have to do better. Think about this...
"Making a Scene" by Constance Wu
A friend sent me Constance Wu's book to read, and I'm grateful I did, but for the first half the book I wasn't sure why I was reading this book. After she returned to social media and revealed what led to her disappearance from it, I was curious to know her story, but I wasn't necessarily thinking, "Omg I have to know." I loved Fresh Off the Boat, loved Crazy Rich Asians, but I didn't necessarily love her. I didn't not like her, I just wasn't like "wow, I love her." I mean, it is pretty freaking cool to be the lead in two groundbreaking and game-changing projects. But here's why I'm writing about this book here and recommending it.
Why Japanese Food and Culture Make Me Feel Connected to My Taiwanese Grandmother
I started watching The Makanai: Cooking for the Makai House on Netflix, which is a Japanese series about a young girl who moves to Kyoto to train as a cook for the Maiko (apprentice geishas), and I've found it oddly comforting. That's because, oftentimes, Japanese food and culture make me feel close and connected to my grandmother, even though she's Taiwanese. And if you understand the history of Taiwan, you may somewhat understand why I feel this way.
38 at the Garden - Watch It Now
My only criticism of 38 at the Garden is that it's too short. But after listening to Frank Chi, the director, explain why it's only 38 minutes long, I was like..."Okay, you're right." It's 38 minutes, like "38 at the Garden," but also, at this short length, there's no excuse for anyone to not watch it. So, I hope his strategy works and that more people watch it sooner than later or watch it period, because it's a must watch.
I haven't written many blogs on recommended movies or series lately, because I've started to send all my recommendations in my monthly newsletter (which you should sign-up for if you haven't!). But I had to write about this one, because it's not only so culturally significant, it also had me reflecting on my entire cultural identity journey. So, I wanted to take some time to reflect on that here.
Feminist in Different Languages
I made a t-shirt for my son that says "feminist" in different languages (which you can now shop in The Jawesome Shop), and I gained some interesting insight about feminism around the world.
I went to San Francisco for a very quick work trip, visiting the set of my Christmas movie. I was excited, but also really nervous. Throughout the pandemic, it seems like San Francisco and the Bay Area have become a massive danger zone, especially if you're Asian. Since I was only bringing a carry on, I realized I wasn't going to be able to bring my pepper spray, and I worried. Thankfully, I also have a self-defense alarm and I also thought about how my big heavy water bottle could also serve as a weapon if needed. This may seem overdramatic, but I was very concerned about being Asian and a woman, walking around this once charming city.
Well, I can tell you now that the city is still charming, and though it's still important to be cautious and attacks against Asians are still a regular occurrence, I found that especially in Chinatown, I felt safe. And Chinatown looked more beautiful than ever.
Tigertail on Netflix
I never knew a language that I don't speak could feel so comforting to me. When I watched Tigertail on Netflix, and heard Taiwanese being spoken, I suddenly felt like my mom was hugging me. Taiwanese, aka Hokkien, is the language the adults used to use when they didn't want us kids to know what they were talking about. But also, just casually with each other. I never learned Taiwanese though, because outside of Taiwan, the global Chinese dialect used is Mandarin, so that's what I learned. And unlike how many European languages of the same family have some degree of mutual intelligibility, that is not true for Chinese dialects. So, this blog post is really more about the Taiwanese language, but Tigertail inspired me to learn some basic Taiwanese Hokkien, and for anyone curious, here's a little bit of cultural and language insights...
Fusion or Cultural Appropriation
My friend posted a mouthwatering photo of a Japanese restaurant's Udon Carbonara, and I was literally salivating looking at it. Carbonara is one of my husband's favorite dishes, so I quickly and excitedly showed him. But in his French purist way, he responded with aggressive disgust. What's ironic to me is a white person being purist about food, when there's been an expectation throughout history that Asian restaurants in western countries appeal to white palates. That's what so many Asian restaurants have had to do to survive, but without appreciation for their food and cultures. Not to mention, there are a lot of beloved foods around the world that actually find their origins in China.
Anyhow , this got me thinking about fusion foods and I want to know what you think, too...
If you haven't seen this documentary, you must. It came out in 2017, but I only just watched it this week and it has really opened up my eyes to the grotesque ways of the meat industry, and has motivated me to go full vegan, or at the very least eating less and better meat. I know that sometimes as soon as someone hears that a documentary has turned someone vegan, an automatic resistance is turned on. But trust me...this is worth a watch so you know what you're actually putting into your body and how it is affecting your health as well as the health of communities suffering as a result of mass produced meat. This post isn't about me trying to convince everyone to go vegan, but I hope more people will consider avoiding mass produced meat, and instead support ethical and sustainable farms.
I saw an Abercrombie & Fitch store last weekend and I wondered how they're still in business, which reminded me to watch Netflix's documentary, White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch. Maybe because Abercrombie was such a cultural staple during my tween and teen years, I felt especially angry watching this. I think it's an important watch, because it also highlights the problem with many diversity & inclusion initiatives beyond the obvious.