I, for one, welcome our future Indian-Chinese lesbian cyborg president.
Ah, I’ve been wondering when I’d get this question. I admit that I’ve not been very vocal about my feelings on this book because as a fellow author, I don’t feel comfortable speaking negatively about another author’s book. But at the same time I have developed a growing angst over this subject and I will try to put it into words for you. When I first heard of the book, it was through friends who thought I’d be interested in the portrayal of a half-Korean boy. Of course I was! I bought it right away for my daughter. It sounded like a perfect teenage love story. I even recommended it to a friend of mine (non-Korean) who loved it. But then another friend of mine asked me if I had any problems with the depiction of Park and his mother and I hurriedly picked it up before my daughter could read it. Here’s the thing, it IS a lovely little teenage love story. But all I could keep thinking was, Damn it! Why did he have to be Korean? Why did this boy, who is so filled with self-loathing and contempt for his heritage, have to be Korean? Why did his mother with her sing songy broken English have to be Korean?
And because of this, I ended up giving this book away to someone I felt would enjoy it better, a non-Korean. Because I didn’t want my daughter to read this and get that same icky feeling I did. That same humiliating sinking feeling you get when you realize you’ve stumbled across an awful stereotype of a Korean and you cringe that this is all that anyone takes away. And why oh why of all books that could possibly have a diverse main character did it have to be this one that hits the NYT list? Why did Rowell have to include the worst racist comment in the world in this book and think it is okay? Because when Eleanor thinks it, she also at least recognized it was racist. I’m sure that’s why she thought it was ok to include the most racist comment against Asians. But I flinched when I read it. I was so angry when I read it. I hated Eleanor after I read it and I never ever forgave her. No, Asians don’t see things smaller because our eyes are smaller. That is racist. It’s an interesting point to make that you can fall in love with a person of a different culture and still be racist. That’s ultimately Eleanor.
But Park and his mother are more problematic. His mother is described as a chinadoll - a slur in itself. And Park just hates the fact that he doesn’t look more white like his brother. He is filled with self loathing to the point where he even says Asian men are not sexy. SAYS WHO?!! There was a period in my life when I was younger where I pushed away my culture and wished I wasn’t Korean. This was in direct correlation with the amount of racism I endured at the time. So I could understand Park, I could relate to him. But then I FOUND myself! I found my respect and love and pride for my culture. And I recognized just how important my Korean heritage was to me. Park never has that moment of self-discovery. And that is the greatest failure of this book. Because Rowell did not take the opportunity to really understand what it means to be multi-cultural. She wrote a character purely from a white person’s view, never thinking about how a minority person growing up in this country truly feels. The anguish of racism and the complexity of living between two different cultures was never explored. Instead, we are left to believe that Park goes through the rest of his life filled with contempt for his mother’s heritage. A person who wished he was white instead of Asian. And I find myself desperately wishing he’d been white too.
A friend (mixed-race Asian + White, like me, grown up in Australia, though neither of us is Korean), described reading this book as like being slapped in the face.
THE ROVER-Movie Trailer
In a dangerous near-future in the Australian desert, Eric (Guy Pearce) has left everything behind, but when his last possession is stolen by a gang of dangerous criminals, Eric sets off on a hunt to find them. Along the journey he enlists the help of Rey (Robert Pattinson), a naïve and injured member of the gang, who was left behind.
Directed by David Michod
The Film will premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
I do not yet have an opinion on this film, but
a) Did I mention I love Australian future dystopias? Because I love them
b) I love them
c) Of the many brown people we have in this country, they are not usually black with dreadlocks? I mean, it’s fine, they definitely exist and if it’s a prelude to moar brown I am into it, but this trailer is super white except for this one brown dude and it’s just a bit unexpected. A little evocatively-USA? There’s still time.
d) Australia’s dystopic future will not be white.
e) SUPPLY TRAIN ACROSS THE NULLABOR
A Look at Australia’s Coming Climate Change Dystopia is an article I have now up at The Toast! I love dystopias in my SFF, but I find it’s often SUPER unrealistic. So here, have some broken roads, expensive food, gated communities and drop bears, based on the CSIRO’s climate projections.
hey pal, fuck you.
joss whedon probably wasn’t out to offend me personally, no, but guess what butterplum, he did anyway.
because i grew up in a neighbourhood where the other parents told their children they weren’t allowed to play with me because i was dirty and untrustworthy and a thief.
because i had ethnic slurs hurled at me from my fellow students and other residents throughout the majority of my life. because the german word for gypsy was spraypainted onto our house wall 8 times throughout the years we lived there and, on one memorable occasion, keyed into my mum’s car.
because my mum’s mother died in a russian concentration camp and no one would help her father raise his five daughters alone because everyone viewed him as waste, expendable.
because my mother eventually had to fend for herself on the streets as an orphan when she was only 13 years old because she had literally no other choice. because she was mistreated in the orphanage she eventually went to, and because she was thrown out of three schools for “misconduct” that was really just profiling based on the fact that she had roma heritage.
because even though she managed to leave that part of her life mostly behind and found a family and get a job, her sisters weren’t so lucky. one of them permanently ended up in a mental institution after being denied healthcare by the country she lived in due to her heritage and her psychosis grew unchecked until it evolved into fullblown schizophrenia. one of them killed herself. she hasn’t heard from the other two in years and isn’t even sure if they’re alive anymore.
because 90% of roma people live in poverty. because 45% of those fall under extreme poverty with living conditions without water and electricity and basic things like food. (x)
so yes, i take it personally. because it is fucking personal.
the maximoffs were literally the only representation of romani people i’ve encountered so far that weren’t either a stereotype or a criminal. the fact that they were allowed to be heroes and stand for positive ideals despite their background was revolutional for me when i first learned about them, because my entire life i’ve been made to feel that being roma is bad and disgusting.
it’s bad enough that wanda maximoff was already turned into an ableist joke and fridged twice in the comics.
and joss whedon looked at their background history and how hugely important it is for minorities and deemed it not important enough to be included.
that’s especially horrible considering the fact that not only are roma people treated like scum everywhere, anti-semitism is still very much a constant threat to jewish people everywhere and anti-semitic hate crimes are on a rise.
the fact that joss whedon didn’t even waste one thought on the repercussions of his decision when he retconned the maximoff twins to be british is frankly disgusting and speaks volumes about the kind of person he is.
and if you look at his decision and find absolutely nothing wrong with it, then it speaks volumes about the kind of person you are, too.
home isn’t where you belong
it’s where your unbelonging
home is where the heart is
At Blak Dot Gallery for the opening of their 18C exhibition with my comrades from Peril magazine (thanks Nikki Lam for the pic). The exhibition is on for another 10 days. Remember that submissions on the Racial Discrimination Act proposed changes close on 30 April 2014.
So important! (So sad I couldn’t make the opening, but trying to make time to get to Blak Dot)
does anyone know where one might find the rail timetables for nineteenth-century Victoria? i’m particularly interested in finding out about trains to/from the goldfields to melbourne
also any rail bridges/viaducts that trains pass under, particularly between melbourne & castlemaine? i am writing a thing and need to know for science/general nineteenth-century train robbery vibes.
As a transport nerd I would be very interested to know the answers to these question
Short angry post about white people who learn Chinese and go on about how the language is soooo beautifulllll and they are soooo cultureddddd and then use it to banter on Facebook about how they don’t eat dogs. (And then they get upset at YOU when you defriend them, because they appreciate your language.)
Short angry post about white people who ask you to “say something in Chinese!” like you are an obedient parrot.
short angry post about white people who say ‘ugh chinese people - not you though, steph, you don’t count’
photo description: screenshot of a tweet by jessica kate plummer at twitter handle neon_jess. tweet reads, “if you’re in a relationship & all you do is cry everyday. you need to stop & ask yourself, am i dating a human or an onion.”]
this the best advice that is also the best joke I have seen in a while
While Australians face enormous challenges from climate change, put yourself in the shoes of those living on coral islands and atolls spread across the Pacific Ocean. For Pacific Islanders, land is life. Climate change is threatening this. It threatens families and the viability of islander communities and culture. The Pacific Island states of Tuvalu and Kiribati, situated north-east of Australia, and about half-way to Hawaii, are low-lying island nations experiencing some of the earliest and worst impacts of climate change.
"In the event that the situation is not reversed, where does the international community think the Tuvalu people are to hide from the onslaught of sea level rise? Taking us as environmental refugees, is not what Tuvalu is after in the long run.
We want the islands of Tuvalu and our nation to remain permanently and not be submerged as a result of greed and uncontrolled consumption of industrialized countries.
We want our children to grow up the way my wife and I did in our own islands and in our own culture.”
Climate change is happening. The scientific consensus is that human activity is warming the Earth. This is changing weather patterns, increasing the frequency and intensity of severe weather events such as droughts, floods and cyclones and causing sea level rise – all of which impact on the ability of people in Kiribati and Tuvalu to find shelter, food and clean drinking water.
as my aunty said the other day, it’s not only your house that goes when it floods but it’s also your entire community, your language, your tikanga, your culture, and everything else you could imagine. these things are near impossible to bring back once they’re gone.
Port Jackson Painter
Native Men and Women of Australia Encounter British Colonists at Sea
England (c. 1790)
London, Natural History Museum
I encourage everyone to take note that this work is in the Natural History Museum, along with drawings of plants and animals indigenous to Australia.
I highly encourage readers to heed the words of Linda Burney, a Native Australian and Minister of Fair Trading:
Linda Burney remembers her childhood well - those days when she was counted among the nation’s wildlife.
"This is not ancient history," says the state’s first Aboriginal minister. "I was a child. It still staggers me that for the first 10 years of my life, I existed under the Flora and Fauna Act of NSW."
In a speech in Wagga Wagga on the tribal land of her Wiradjuri nation, Ms Burney said the anniversary should serve as a “call to arms” to reverse the roll-back of Aboriginal reconciliation by the Prime Minister, John Howard.
"The truth is this," she said. "We are not all equal. And we are not all mates … It is almost impossible to put into words the distress being felt at the roll-back in Aboriginal affairs. Not least because you think of all those people who gave so much."
Ms Burney remembered being taught as a 13-year-old that “my people were savages and the closest example to Stone Age man living today”.
"I vividly recall wanting to turn into a piece of paper and slip quietly through the crack in the floor," she said. "Growing up as an Aboriginal child, looking into the mirror of our country … your reflection was at best distorted and at worst non-existent."
Ms Burney also attacked the Federal Government’s policies on native title and the stolen generations, which she said had a whiff of “paternalism” and “social engineering”. Her speech, at an anniversary celebration on Monday, received a standing ovation.
Works of art depicting Indigenous peoples do not belong in natural history museums. Works of art created by Indigenous peoples do not belong in natural history museums. We are not animals.
(this is an excellent article and an excellent speech and totally relevant today; just a note to any non-australians that it was not made recently)
Yumi-dai (archery stand) comprising a wooden shaft with brass and tooled leather mounts, with two bows of black lacquer bound with red-lacquered rattan bands, 119.5cm (47in); the utsubo (quiver) of roiro, lacquered in gold hiramakie with mitsu-tomoe mon containing ten bamboo-shaft arrows with gold and black lacquer details. About mid-19th century, Japan