Month: February 2009

February 27, 2009 / / announcements
February 27, 2009 / / culture

by Guest Contributor Geo, originally published at Prometheus Brown

The un-anointed are always surprised at how good Filipino food is, offering well-meaning but condescending compliments I’ve long learned to accept with a smile and a lighthearted “I told you so.” Probably has a lot to do with that old stereotype that we Filipinos love dogs. For dinner. I once had a friend (a white guy, if you wondering) over for dinner in 6th grade. As my pops handed him a plate, he paused and stared at the rice and chicken adobo and asked “what is this, dog?” before he excused himself from the table. We stopped being friends shortly after.

Somehow, suddenly, we’ve become the flavor of the month. Filipino chefs have been making noise on the last couple Top Chef seasons (Dale was fucking robbed!). Still can’t forget George W.’s backhanded compliment about his personal Filipino chefs during dictator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s last US visit. And now, with the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain finally taking his No Reservations food/travelogue show to the Philippines, our sweet, salty and sour secret is out.

Though I only catch it when it happens to be on, I’m a fan of Bourdain’s show. Yes — there’s a tourist, exoticizing element to it, but you can’t front on Bourdain’s presence and palate. And when he says that our lechon is the “best-cooked pig in the world,” it almost makes me want to eat pork again.

Of course, an hour isn’t enough but the representation is respectable: Tapsilog in the opening breakfast scene, followed by street vendor foods (Chicken balls, Tofu w/ Tapioca Syrup), Pancit Palabok (”Not the greatest thing ever, but good” – and I agree), before moving onto provincial dishes such as Sinigang. Kalamansi rightfully gets its own quick feature. And when sisig makes a cameo (and is pronounced correctly) it becomes official that this episode is a pretty big deal. A redemption of that borderline-racist episode of Bizarre Foods that featured Filipinos eating bugs like it’s our national dish. Read the Post Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – Philippines

February 27, 2009 / / politics
February 27, 2009 / / academia

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Broken Mystic

When Frank Miller’s “300″ film was released, I was absolutely outraged by the racist content of the film and more so at the insensitivity of movie-goers who simply argued “it’s just a movie.” Later on, I would hear these same individuals say, “The movie makes you want to slice up some Persians.” I wrote an article about the film almost immediately after it was released, and now that I’m still noticing people quoting the movie or listing it as their “favorite movies,” I’ve decided to update my original post and discuss some points that will hopefully shed some new light.

“300” not only represents the ever-growing trend of accepted racism towards Middle-Easterners in mainstream media and society, but also the reinforcement of Samuel P. Huntington’s overly clichéd, yet persisting, theory of “The Clash of Civilizations,” which proposes that cultural and religious differences are the primary sources for war and conflict rather than political, ideological, and/or economic differences. The fact that “300” grossed nearly $500 million worldwide in the box office may not be enough to suggest that movie-goers share the film’s racist and jingoistic views, but it is enough to indicate how successful such a film can be without many people noticing its relentless racist content. As Osagie K. Obasogie wrote in a brilliant critique of the film, “300” is “arguably the most racially charged film since D. W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’” – the latter being a 1915 silent film that celebrated the Ku Klux Klan’s rise to defend the South against liberated African-Americans. Oddly enough, both films were immensely successful despite protests and charges of racism.

Media imagery is very important to study. Without analyzing and critiquing images in pop culture, especially controversial and reoccurring images, we are ignoring the most powerful medium in which people receive their information from. A novel, for example, may appeal to a large demographic, but a film appeals to a much wider audience not only because of recent video-sharing websites and other internet advancements, but also because the information is so much easier to process and absorb.

According to the Cultivation Theory, a social theory developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross, television is the most powerful storyteller in culture – it repeats the myths, ideologies, and facts and patterns of standardized roles and behaviors that define social order. Music videos, for example, cultivate a pattern of images that establish socialized norms about gender. In a typical western music video, you may see female singers like Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce wearing the scantiest of clothing and dancing in erotic and provocative ways that merely cater to their heterosexual male audiences. These images of women appear so frequently and repetitively that they develop an expectation for women in the music industry, i.e. in order to be successful, a woman needs to have a certain body type, fit society’s ideal for beauty, and dance half-nakedly. Stereotypical images of men in music videos, on the other hand, include violent-related imagery, “pimping” with multiple women, and showing off luxury. Such images make violence and promiscuous sexual behavior “cool” and more acceptable for males. As we can see from two studies by Greeson & Williams (1986) and Kalof (1999), exposure to stereotypical images of gender and sexual content in music videos increase older adolescents’ acceptance of non-marital sexual behavior and interpersonal violence.

Cognitive Social Learning Theory is another social theory which posits, in respect to media, that television presents us with attractive and relatable models for us to shape our experiences from. In other words, a person may learn particular behaviors and knowledge through observing the images displayed on television. A person may also emulate the behavior of a particular character in a film or television show, especially if a close-identification is established between the viewer and the character. Both theories – Cultivation Theory and Cognitive Social Learning Theory – apply in my following analysis of “300.”

In order to deconstruct “300,” I will start by (1) discussing its distortion of history, then (2) contrast the film’s representation of Persians and Spartans, (3) correlate Frank Miller’s Islamophobic remarks on NPR with the messages conveyed in “300,” and (4) conclude with the importance of confronting stereotypical images in mainstream media and acknowledging the contributions of all societies and civilizations. Read the Post Frank Miller’s “300” and the Persistence of Accepted Racism

February 26, 2009 / / Uncategorized
February 26, 2009 / / links

by Latoya Peterson

Here are a couple items I’ve come across in my internet reading.

Valleywag: Was an ‘Anarcho-Transexual Afro-Chicano’ Behind the IM Worm?

Yesterday’s ViddyHo worm, which spread over Google Talk and Gmail, has been linked by some to Hoan Ton-That, a San Francisco software developer. A very San Francisco software developer.

Ton-That owns the domain name viddyho.com, now offline, which hosted a form asking people to log in with a Google account in order to watch a video. The ViddyHo worm then seized control of their chat and email accounts and sent contacts a disguised link.

Even if Ton-That had nothing to do with ViddyHo, he (or she? how am I supposed to respect this person’s deeply nuanced personal concept of gender without hearing explicitly the gender narrative he or she has constructed around a completed sense of self?) would still be an interesting character — a classically quirky yet herd-following San Francisco Web-software entrepreneur. His Twitter profile describes him as an “Anarcho-Transexual [sic] Afro-Chicano American Feminist Studies Major.”

Read the Post Longform Links – 2008-02-26

February 26, 2009 / / diversity

Ep 4 title
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

This week on SEXY TORTURE THEATRE: Noah and Mohinder, come on down!

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Mo MugAfter crunk-napping Mr. Bennet last week, Mo, Matt & Peter took him down memory lane to gain more intel on his role in Nathan’s Hero-hunting initiative. So why did Noah start playing HRG.I. Joe? The economy.

See, after Primatech was gutted awhile back, Noah ended up another recession casualty, with a (presumably) decent severance package and gold watch from Mrs. Petrelli. Sure enough, though, his old life comes calling when Nate recruits him – not to head up the operation, but to serve under the EEEEVIL Danko. Though the flashback sequences throughout the show made sense, it’s a pity that we didn’t see Noah get recruited by another prominent paper company in the NBCverse. Where’s corporate synergy when you need it?

Scoff if you will, but even a hint of humor, or something a little more relatable about Noah’s joblessness, would have livened up the multitude of flashbacks that framed the show. He even spells it out for us (and Angela) at the end of the show: “You know me,” he assures everyone. “You know I’m comfortable with morally gray.” I always enjoy Jack Coleman’s performances, but we get it, already. Hopefully Bennet’s newest gambit – cozying up to the Hunter – will yield a good payoff. Read the Post Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 4.4

February 25, 2009 / / Quoted