Ninja Assassin Trailer

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

MTV just posted the online trailer premiere for Ninja Assassin, starring Korean pop superstar Rain: ‘Ninja Assassin’ Starring Rain – Watch The Trailer Here!. He plays Raizo, a kidnapped child who is raised to be a professional killer but ends up seeking revenge against the clan that made him who he is.

The movie, directed by James McTeigue, is set for release later this year. Yes, it’s ninjas and Japanese gangsters and martial arts and all that crazy Asian stuff. It kind of looks like everything you’d expect a movie titled “Ninja Assassin” to be.

The trailer’s okay. I like ninjas as much as the next guy, and Rain certainly looks the part, and the movie promises to be a crazy all-out action-fest — which is a good thing. But something about it bugged me. Maybe it was all the CGI weapons — ninja stars, blades — flying at the camera. Maybe I’m just bothered by MTV’s crappy video presentation.

The real question is whether or not Rain will prove that he’s Hollywood leading man material. Fortunately for him, he’s chosen a role that probably doesn’t require a lot of dialogue, and a whole lot of asskicking. My feeling though, is that this might pigeonhole him into Hollywood’s silent Asian man action roles. We shall see.

Open Thread: Racism Reissued! “The Last $5 Indian Ever”

By Thea Lim

First the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves refuse to move forward into ahem, postracial America and change their team names, and now The National Collector’s Mint is cheerfully moving backwards.

coin

The National Collector’s Mint announces the private reproduction minting of the last $5 Indian Head Gold Piece ever minted by the U.S. Government. When President Theodore Roosevelt called for a new $5 gold coin design in 1908, few imagined the daring, innovative masterpiece that designer Bela Lyon Pratt would ultimately produce…It’s the rare 1929 $5 Indian Head gold piece recreated as a privately minted 24 KT Pure Gold Plated Proof. Designer Bela Lyon Pratt’s portrait of a strong Indian brave in war bonnet is incused into the gleaming obverse, along with 13 stars and the motto LIBERTY. On the reverse, the gleaming majestic eagle grasps an olive branch, symbolizing peace, against a frosted field.

Or maybe this is a perfect example of the delusion that characterises “post-raciality” – where we fetishise a culture of colour while denying actual members of that culture personhood. Like how this coin fetishises Native culture while North America continually denies both our genocidal history and Native land rights.

Peace against a frosted field my ass!

Thomas Beatie is Asian! Reclaiming Trans Histories of Colour

By Guest Contributor Mitsuru Mitsuru

thomasbeatie

So I heard a while ago that celeb transman Thomas Beatie is a mixie much like myself. He too has a white mama, an Asian daddy, and originally, an Asian surname. He too was born with all the plumbing to make and be pregnant with a baby. And like me, he too made the decision to get folks to recognize him as male.

So I get the whole need to change your gender thing. However, I’m not sure why Beatie changed his name to something rid of all associations to his Filipino heritage. I too had the option to change my name to rid myself of my Asian ethnic associations, however, I didn’t based on the fact that so often trans folks of colour are told they are doing a white thing by being trans. As if every culture has the same rules around gender binaries and the act of crossing them is only done by those white enough. Continue reading

The Dead, River Spirits, & a Magic Hat [Racialigious]

by Guest Contributor Alex Felipe originally published at AlexFelipe.com

Filipinos don’t celebrate Halloween, they instead have a day dedicated to the dead on 1 November, the Araw ng mga Patay [Day of the Dead]. It’s a holiday that is the perfect metaphor for Philippine spirituality: an imported Catholic holiday that hints at an animist past.

Having grown up in Canada I only just recently learned about this tradition, and I experienced my first Araw ng mga Patay only last year. I went to go visit my grandfathers graves, they had both died during the 90s and been brought back to the Phils.

The holiday is an odd one seen through the lens of a Filipino raised in Canada. Families head out to the cemetery to clean the tombs of relatives, bring food, flowers, light candles, and pray. But more or less it just seems like a day where everyone decides to have a family picnic—a picnic that just so happens to be in an insanely crowded cemetery.

It’s an odd sight to be honest. Drunk men playing cards on grave markers next to a family singing karaoke on a portable machine next to parents praying the rosary for a recently deceased child.

Strangely enough, it’s a generally mirthful holiday. There are fast food tents set up in the cemetery just for that day: McDonalds, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza, Ando’s Chicken, and more—all in the middle of a cemetery.

To my foreign influenced eyes, this holiday seems light and fun; a nice way to remember the past, but in the Phils—despite how casual the atmosphere is—there is a real fear that to not pay respect at the grave of a family member would have severe repercussions from the spirit world.

It’s moments like these that really help remind me of our people’s animist past, and the very real connection to the spirit world that doesn’t exist here in Canada. Continue reading

Open Thread: Remembering E. Lynn Harris

by Latoya Peterson

From the New York Times obituary:

E. Lynn Harris, whose novels about successful and glamorous black men with sexual identity conflicts (and the women and men who love them) made him one of the nation’s most popular writers, died in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 54 and lived in Atlanta. [...]

Mr. Harris clearly tapped a rich vein of reader interest with his racy and sometimes graphic tales of affluent, ambitious, powerful black men — athletes, businessmen, lawyers and the like — who nonetheless struggled with their attraction to both men and women. His books married the superficial glamour of jet-setting potboilers with an emotional candor that shed light on a segment of society that had received little attention: black men on the down low — that is, men who are publicly heterosexual but secretly have sex with men.

Mr. Harris, who was openly gay but who lived for many years in denial or shame or both over that fact, was able to draw on his own experiences to make credible the emotional conflicts of his characters, and his readers, many of them women, were drawn to his books because they addressed issues that were often surreptitiously pertinent to their own lives.

Continue reading

The Method, Madness, and Marketing of Street Lit [Response Essay]

by Latoya Peterson

The best article I have read to date on street lit was published last month in Elle Magazine.

Author Bliss Broyard – who explored her family’s complicated racial past in her book One Drop – presents the story of Miasha, a force in her own right and the subject of envy by other street lit authors.

Miasha, a 28-year old novelist, is walking through the Los Angeles Convention Center, home to the 2008 BookExpo America, an annual publishing conference. Sporting large diamond hoop earrings, sequined Manolos, and a short, lime green dress with a keyhole neckline that reveals impressive cleavage for her tiny frame, Miasha, an African-American novelist who is one of the biggest names in urban fiction, looks as if she wandered by mistake into the crowd of predominantly middle aged white women clad in comfortable flats and faded lipstick. [...]

Although Miasha has sold a respectable 200,000 books, she flies herself to the BookExpo and all the other literary and African-American festivals she attends. She prints (and pays for) T-shirts and tote bags she gives away. She maintains her website, produces a webcast featuring scenes from her life, and has begun staging “street plays” of her novels – all on her own dime. She foots the bill for lavish red-carpet release parties – complete with naked-models-in-body-paint re-creations of her book jackets – which sparked a trend among her urban fiction compatriots. “People in the game always commend me for that,” she says.

Boyard’s article fascinated me for a number of reasons. In addition the Miasha’s story, which is engaging in its own right, Broyard also adds her own history to the mix, draws a comparison to the work of Miasha and Kara Walker and sheds a light on the struggles of black authors working within the publishing industry. Continue reading

Lying on the Cover

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger

There’s been a great firestorm of controversy over Justine Larbalestier’s cover for her recently released novel, Liar. Ms. Larbalestier is the Australian-born author of How to Ditch Your Fairy and other fantasy/sci-fi titles. She has a wide fan base. She is married to Scott Westerfeld, best-selling author of the Uglies series. Together, they are a veritable, YA fantasy/sci-fi powerhouse.

The frukkus around Liar is because, in the book, the character describes herself as “black with nappy hair” which she wears short and natural. The cover image is of a white girl with long, straight hair.

Some have argued that the model could be of mixed race, or just a light-skinned black woman. The fact of the matter is that regardless of what she could be, within a racist context, most people looking at that cover would assume the model was white. Besides which, she clearly does not have short, nappy hair.

On her blog, Larbalestier has a picture of WNBA star, Alana Beard, who she thinks is more like what her character should look like. According to a report on Mediabistro’s Galleycat blog, Larbalestier was initially thrilled with her cover. They state that, back in April, she put this up on her blog:

“This cover was so well received by sales and marketing at Bloomsbury that for the first time in my career a cover for one of my books became the image used for the front of the catalogue . . . Apparently all the big booksellers went crazy for it. My agent says it was a huge hit in Bologna. And at TLA many librarians and teenagers told me they adore this cover.”

If this is true (I haven’t gone through her backposts), as an author I can relate to the excitement she must’ve felt at all the hoopla surrounding her book (okay, not really relate, because I haven’t ever experienced that, but it must’ve been awesome). But as an author of color, I’m saddened that the first thing to occur to her wasn’t how inaccurately her main character was depicted and what the implications of this could be. Continue reading

Ain’t That a Shame

By Guest Contributor Justine Larbalestier, originally published at justinelarbalestier.com

liar USIn the last few weeks as people have started reading the US ARC of Liar they have also started asking why there is such a mismatch between how Micah describes herself and the cover image. Micah is black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short. As you can see that description does not match the US cover.

Many people have been asking me how I feel about the US cover, why I allowed such a cover to appear on a book of mine, and why I haven’t been speaking out about it.

Authors do not get final say on covers. Often they get no say at all.

lair AUSAs it happens I was consulted by Bloomsbury and let them know that I wanted a cover like the Australian cover, which I think is very true to the book.* I was lucky that my Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin, agreed with my vision and that the wonderful Bruno Herfst came up with such a perfect cover image.

I never wanted a girl’s face on the cover. Micah’s identity is unstable. She spends the book telling different version of herself. I wanted readers to be free to imagine her as they wanted. I have always imagined her looking quite a bit like Alana Beard,** which is why I was a bit offended by the reviewer, who in an otherwise lovely review, described Micah as ugly. She’s not!***

The US Liar cover went through many different versions. An early one, which I loved, had the word Liar written in human hair. Sales & Marketing did not think it would sell. Bloomsbury has had a lot of success with photos of girls on their covers and that’s what they wanted. Although not all of the early girl face covers were white, none showed girls who looked remotely like Micah.

I strongly objected to all of them. I lost.

I haven’t been speaking out publicly because to be the first person to do so would have been unprofessional. I have privately been campaigning for a different cover for the paperback. The response to the cover by those who haven’t read Liar has been overwhelmingly positive and I would have looked churlish if I started bagging it at every opportunity. I hoped that once people read Liar they would be as upset as I am with the cover. It would not have helped get the paperback changed if I was seen to be orchestrating that response. But now that this controversy has arisen I am much more optimistic about getting the cover changed. I am also starting to rethink what I want that cover to look like. I did want Bloomsbury to use the Australian cover, but I’m increasingly thinking that it’s important to have someone who looks like Micah on the front. Continue reading