At first, I went into watching Emily in Paris with a bit of a French attitude. My French husband had read in the French media that it's just all the stereotypes and all the French people are always smoking. The smoking part really bothers my husband since he's not a smoker. I guess it would be like if French people made a series and all the Americans were always eating hamburgers. Anyhow, I love Lily Collins and it looked like the kind of bright and fun Darren Starr series that I love watching, but I'm so over all the unrealistic romanticizations of France and especially Paris. I even wrote a sitcom about how unromantic and obnoxious it is being married to a Frenchman. Still, I decided to watch the series, because it's also in the space and genre I love writing in...so, let's call it homework. What I found is that it's the usual fashionable and super posh side of Paris that most of us can only dream of, and the show hits all the stereotypes. That being said, I found watching the show was unexpectedly therapeutic for me, because it confirmed for me that you can take the boy out of France, but you can't take the France out of the boy (even if the boy says he's not the most intolerable French person). Thanks to my husband, I now have a love/hate relationship with France and everything French, but in the end I enjoyed the series. What can I say, I'm just a bright-eyed, colorful, optimistic, loud American girl who loves a good romance and happy endings. So, let me break down some of the comically true stereotypes and cultural differences.
The Moon Festival, also known a the Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated by Chinese and other Asian cultures. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar, which falls on October 1st this year, but can fall anywhere between mid-September and early October. On this night there is a full moon. Each year, for the Moon Festival, my family buys moon cakes to eat, but that's the extent of my knowledge and experience with the celebration so I thought I'd do some digging to learn what this day is really all about.
Updated on 10.4.2020 to include information on Prop 24 in California.
I watched The Social Dilemma this weekend and you should, too. Basically, the film is a documentary in which tech industry whistleblowers reveal to us just how much tech companies are manipulating us, with a weird scripted narrative interwoven throughout, in which Vincent Kartheiser is creepy as ever. In general, we are all probably aware that our every move on social media and the internet is being watched, because we'll talk about something and suddenly get blasted with ads for that thing. The other day, I was literally watching a video in a copywriting course I'm taking, and an hour or so later during my next IG pop-in, I was seeing an ad for the company that was mentioned in the course. I had never even heard of this company or product until the course used one of their ads as an example. But I don't think any of us are surprised anymore to be "mysteriously" targeted with ads related to some obscure or random thing we may have just talked about with someone. So, here are 3 big takeaways I got from this film.
I've seen a lot of people get upset over this film recently, and say the filmmakers exploited children and made child pornography. It all started when Netflix released a piece of promo for the film that showed the young stars of the film in provocative dance positions. At first, knowing nothing of the film, I thought it was a bad poster for a tasteless cheerleading movie. So, I mostly ignored the whole thing, because I thought, I'm not watching a movie that exploits children. Isn't that what "Dance Moms" is? (I don't know, I've never seen it) Then someone shared an article that was titled "We Watched Netflix's 'Cuties' So You Don't Have To" and they were asking their friends and followers to sign a petition to have it removed from Netflix. That's when I decided I needed to watch it, because I'm not letting anyone make judgments for me.
What I mean by "new cultural discovery" is that it is new to me. A few weeks ago, in one of the mommy Facebook groups I'm in, I saw a post by one mama about shaving baby's head. According to the post and/or comments in the post, it was a Mexican cultural thing. I didn't think much more on it, until the other morning when my dad jokingly talked about shaving our baby's head and I immediately asked if that's a Chinese thing, too. He said, yes, Chinese people shave babies' heads, but he didn't recall why, so I decided to do some investigating! By the way, when I say baby, I mean months old, maybe even days old babies.
I finally watched Black is King on Disney+ and it has got to be one of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen. Following my recent post on screen time for my kid, I decided to turn the screen on. But, when I turn the screen on, I want to surround my son with art and inspiration. Black is King is everything glorious and large you'd expect from Beyonce, but more than a 90 minute Beyonce music video (which is basically what this film is, and every minute is worth it), this is a celebration of culture, history, and the beautiful and powerful tomorrow that still lies ahead. SPOILER ALERT: There's a lot I love about this and don't want to spoil too much, but I think one of my favorite things in this piece of art is seeing Beyonce and Kelly Rowland's friendship and sisterhood still growing strong.
Watching this has further inspired me to dig deeper into my ancestral history, because I'd like to see Chinese and Asian cultures celebrated and empowered this way. I've been thinking a lot about how one big misconception of Asian culture is that we are a submissive culture, especially the women. It's time to tell the truth, to show the world the truth. There's not much else to say on this, because you need to witness and experience it for yourself. So, go watch it. And then re-watch it. We all need more of this kind of magic to rain down on us.
(Originally posted on Love, Justine)
Thailand has always been a top Southeast Asian destination. Bangkok, Phuket, and some of the more well-known islands are popular among tourists, because the cost of enjoying all Thailand has to offer is friendly on our foreign pockets. I went for the first time, and we decided to spend a few days on a lesser known island, Koh Yao Noi, and had an incredible time.
Last month, Don Lemon spoke with Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University. When asked why he thought while others countries are trending down in COVID-19 cases, we are doing the opposite and trending up, Dr. Schaffner made a very interesting cultural point, that I’m not sure I ever expected an American to admit to, especially a white American. Dr. Schaffner feels our individualistic culture plays a factor in why we can’t seem to contain the virus. He makes an interesting point, especially when you think about all the people arguing that wearing a mask goes against their individual freedom. We aren't the only country with "anti-maskers," but we appear to be the only country with a lack of leadership that has lead to turning a global pandemic into a partisan issue, and it has raised some questions about the importance we place on individualism. And is individualism really a factor in our failing fight against COVID-19?
In my family, everyone speaks at least three languages, so I grew up in a house full of languages. Beyond my home, growing up in a multicultural part of Los Angeles, I was also constantly surrounded by different languages. This exposure to different languages has been a major influence in my life and as I grew older and studied more languages it was like opening up a special kaleidoscope window into the world that I wish everyone could look through. Now that I have my own child, it is all the more important to me to raise my son knowing and appreciating different languages. While I think most of us are aware of the general benefits of knowing at least a second language, I wanted to dive into this, as well as add my personal experience and perspective on being a polyglot.
I grew up in a family where my parents called each other's parents "mom" and "dad." Well, "mama" and "baba" in Chinese. For me, that was the norm and what I expected to do should I ever get married. And I like that, because to me, it suggests a closeness and warmth in the relationships. When I got engaged, I asked Chris if it would be weird for me to call his parents "mom" and "dad" or some version of it. It feels weird to me to call them the same thing I call my parents--it's just so personal. But I wanted to build a closeness with them, especially as I felt it must be hard for them to have their son permanently move an ocean and a country away. So, it was helpful we could go British with the terms, since Chris' father is British. But I was surprised by Chris' response. He said, "It's old-fashioned, but I think they'd like it." Old-fashioned? Up until then, I thought everyone did it. Then just a few weeks ago, I learned something interesting about Chinese culture that I didn't know before, and I decided to survey my friends to see how everyone addresses their in-laws.