Matt Damon, The Great Wall, and the so-called Whitewashing

NE2gJB9KB7cQ57_1_bI can’t describe this feeling but while I agree that Hollywood should stop perpetuating the “white savior complex” in movies, I am pleased that more discussion is generated about how this is tiring. Asian Americans are having more of a voice as time goes on and it’s very refreshing to see. I disagree with some Asian activists at times on certain topics, but I am with them on this issue. And despite whether I am agreeing here or disagreeing there, I am happy that Asian Americans such as Constance Wu are speaking up and hope to see more of it.

Growing up in America, I can honestly say that the media has had an effect on me, especially the way I viewed my race and ethnicity. Whenever I thought of an executive, I thought of a white man. Whenever I thought of a hero, I thought of a white man. Whenever I thought of a romantic lead, I thought of anything but an Asian man. And when I did think of an Asian man, I would think to myself, “No that is weird.” So how do those thoughts connect to Matt’s film? For one, the director is Chinese. I doubt he knows about race relations in America, particularly concerning Asian Americans. So when he said something along the lines of “I’m just respecting Hollywood” that tells me that he subconsciously thinks that a Caucasian actor ideal out of all the other races. Another, Matt is put in a lead role where he is defending Ancient China. I understand if this was England or Scottland, but ancient China? I’m sorry, I can’t cosign.

I’ve come to a point where I am above what media influences. So like I’ve expressed in this post, I am grateful that Asian Americans are speaking up and I hope in the future, I do see Asians represented in positive and major roles (along with other minorities). Despite all that is going on, we have to be the ones who build the self-esteem of our minority children at the end of the day. We need to show them that they are as valuable despite being surrounded by Eurocentric beauty standards that subliminally tell us that white is the ideal standard. Don’t me wrong, white is beautiful, but so is every other color and we need our external forces such as media telling our nonwhite children that.

Like, pray, share: Anglo-Saxon prayer memes

Such a thought provoking article

For the Wynn

So you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and one of those memes pops up. You know what I mean. Either it’s a sick child who needs your prayers (‘1 like = 100 prayers!’), or a cursed photo of a hellwraith (‘like and share or you’ll die tonight!!’), or simply an inspirational image which will give you a whole day’s good luck if you repost it, an image which has become completely detached from its original purpose. The one below is probably the most baffling example that I have come across so far.

Like share amenSo many questions ….

Medieval prayers could be a little bit like that sometimes. Some were considered to be particularly effective, so monks and nuns recopied them again and again. In my research, I have had to get my head around a complex web of prayers, tracing the connections between one manuscript and many others.  And sometimes a…

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Systemic Racism: White Jokes

So with all this talk about systemic racism and how Brock Turner had his court sentencing lenient because of his white male socioeconomic privilege, it leads me to talk about how systemic racism works when regarding racist jokes. I believe the concept of white privilege and systemic racism exists but many times, it doesn’t apply depending on the situation and I think it can often be abused and overused. Where it for sure does apply, however, is when the matter concerns racist jokes. My white friend once told me, “There are white jokes but it’s really only jokes that uplift white people.” He’s right. There are barely any jokes that demean white people as a whole. You can search the internet and there will be scores of racist jokes for  “dog-eating, bad driving, funny-accent having” Asians,  “illegal, gang-affiliated” Hispanics, “thieving, loud, ghetto” Blacks, etc. But when it comes to white people jokes, they reach farthest to the extent of “Why do aspirins work? Because they’re white.”See, that’s so uplifting and demeans other minorities at the same time. There is also hillbilly jokes but even then, they play off the satirical character of an ignorant white person from Alabama who hates black people and sleeps with his cousin. But you see, that stereotype is rooted in hatred for people of color. Prove me wrong with a hilarious joke, but I highly believe that racist jokes perfectly fit the framework of systemic racism.
I think I felt the urge to share this because as many people know, I am addicted to puns and I love jokes and comedy in all forms and I often debate whether systemic racism applies in certain situations.

Early #ThrowBackThursday Article

Here is my article from Khmerican back in 2014. It was an honor to write for Rithy Panh’s movie. Very touching, very inspirational, very creative. I hope to write more articles like this in the future.

KHMERICAN / ADMINISTRATOR
By Sidrich Chhour

Long Beach, CA — At the Art Theatre on Saturday, local moviegoers were given the opportunity to meet Rithy Panh, director of the Academy Award-nominated film “The Missing Picture.” The event also included a screening of the film, a follow-up question/answer session, and a dance performance by the Khmer Arts Academy.

mp2Misery, horror, historicity, and even reminiscence about the pre-genocidal Cambodia are themes carried throughout Panh’s latest film. Panh was 13 on April 17, 1975, the fateful day when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forced Panh, his family, and the rest of Phnom Penh’s inhabitants to flee to the countryside. Through clay-figure animation, historical archival footage, and eloquent French narration, Panh’s story comes to life. He describes how his family was starved to death in the labor-intensive camps where Pol Pot sent the upper and middle classes for “re-education” and execution. Along with depicting Panh’s family, another focus in the film is remembering the history of the Cambodian genocide to educate those unaware of it.

After warm applause at the end of the screening, there was a brief panel discussion. Panh, Randall Douc (the film’s narrator), Catherine Dussart (producer), Mark Marder (composer), Chhom Nimol (lead singer for the band Dengue Fever), and PraCh Ly (Cambodia Town Film Festival co-founder) participated in the Q&A session.

In response to one of the questions, Panh said, “One of the main reasons I made this film is because the war and killings are such a touchy subject for people who went through the tragedy. But the truth is that we cannot hide our stories. Our young people question and they want to know. That is why we cannot hide our story.”

mp1

As more questions proceeded, Panh also noted the importance of political history: “To understand the genocide in Cambodia, we cannot just blame the Communists. That is too simplistic. We must understand Karl Marx and the ideologies that influenced the rise of Communism.”

Toward the close of the event, Caylee So (co-founder of the Cambodia Town Film Festival) presented Panh with an honorary plaque for his production of The Missing Picture. “I was so touched at how the Cambodian community in America can relate to the film. And when Caylee handed Rithy the honorary plaque, I almost cried,” said Panh’s wife, Agnès Sénémaud.

The Missing Picture is in contention for this year’s Academy Awards. The film has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. In fact, it is the first Cambodian film to be nominated for an Oscar. Whether or not Panh is officially recognized, he will still be considered triumphant to those who have seen The Missing Picture, and to the Cambodian diaspora community as a whole. For a chapter in history so tragic, Panh has crafted a creative yet deeply moving representation of a lost period in history as best as he could.

The Missing Picture will be shown daily until Thursday, March 6 at The Art Theatre in Long Beach.


Sidrich Chhour is currently a student at Cal State Fullerton majoring in Communicative Disorders.