Tag Archives: survivor

Vote: Should We Read Octavia Butler’s Survivor?

Survivor Cover

So, Book Clubbers, I need to resolve a little problem that’s popped up.

Over the weekend, I read Survivor using the link that commenter FtrYBFMD provided.

On one hand, I can see why Butler hated the novel. Her novels are generally known for complicated morality – this one reads pretty clearly. There aren’t really good guys but there are clear bad guys, and it’s more in line with a lot of the other sci-fi I read. (As a matter of fact, it’s forcing me to reflect on how easily I accept the idea of colonizing other planets, lands, and worlds – and how easily authors accept human superiority, even when they question it.) Jo Walton, writing for Tor, provides some context for Butler’s distaste:

Survivor (1978) is part of the Pattern series, but has not been reprinted since 1981. Butler repudiated the novel and refused to allow it to be reprinted:

    When I was young, a lot of people wrote about going to another world and finding either little green men or little brown men, and they were always less in some way. They were a little sly, or a little like “the natives” in a very bad, old movie. And I thought, “No way. Apart from all these human beings populating the galaxy, this is really offensive garbage.” People ask me why I don’t like Survivor, my third novel. And it’s because it feels a little bit like that. Some humans go up to another world, and immediately begin mating with the aliens and having children with them. I think of it as my Star Trek novel.

All I can say is, she clearly watched a better grade of Star Trek than I ever did. I can understand her problem with the biology, but what she seems to be saying there is that Survivor is a dishonest novel. Well, I kind of like it. I’m sorry you can’t read it.

Oh, but we can. In addition to the link, Racialicious readers have emailed in and volunteered to scan their copies. So if we wanted to, we could. But there’s a couple ethical questions here. Continue reading

The Words of Asian American Men

by guest contributor Jennifer Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

A little less than a month ago, a panel discussion was put together by The Asian Society focusing on Asian American male identity. The panel, consisting of three prominent Asian American men in pop culture today: The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi, the single best Asian American writer of contemporary pop culture, Jeff Yang, and the ever so swoon-worthy Yul Kwon of Survivor: Cook Islands (whom this blog dubbed the real Super Asian Man back when his show was on the air). These three men chatted for a night on issues affecting Asian American men, and The Asia Society graciously put an edited “clip show” of the event on YouTube for us to view.

One of the central thrusts of the discussion was the emasculation stereotype. I agree with all three panelists in their emphasis of Hollywood as being the primary source of the asexualization of Asian males, and how this perception has a deleterious effect on developing young Asian American boys. Kwon said,

When I was growing up, I was very much influenced by what I saw, and more importantly what I didn’t see, on television. Whenever I saw an Asian American man on television, he was inevitably a kung-fu master who could kick ass but he couldn’t speak English, or a computer geek who could figure out algorithms but couldn’t figure out how to get a date. And for myself, I really think I internalized a lot of these images.

All three panelists emphasized the need to change Hollywood’s depictions of Asian Americans, viewing mainstream media as the primary source of the stereotype. After all, the true insidiousness of APIA male asexualization is its effect on the self-image of young boys, which is communicated to them beginning at childhood. In this way, the asexualization stereotype is no different than anti-feminist socialization that promotes gender roles for young girls; in both cases, the images are designed to control those who are principally “The Other” in American society.

Exposed to image after image of Asian Americans as nothing more than the Perpetual Foreigner and the Geek diminishes the self-esteem of boys and introduces an internalized racial self-hatred where one associates one’s racial identity with limited personal and social success. Particularly damaging, however, is how this diminished self-esteem actually discourages radical activism to change the root source of the problem; race and masculinity become linked. This internalized relationship is problematic because Asian American men rarely challenge the association between race and masculine self-worth. They advocate changing the stereotypes of Asian American men (a solution destined to failure as it still promotes dehumanization and objectification), rather than to advocate an elimination of race-based sexual stereotypes altogether.

As a community, we should not prioritize advocating for a hypersexualization of the Asian American male body, but for a humanization. To define us based on race is still to limit our evolution as people to pre-defined narratives externally applied to us based on our race. Stereotypes limit us because it stifles our own self-growth and opportunities, regardless of whether those stereotypes are “positive” or “negative”. As Jeff Yang said in the panel discussion,

…[C]oming from my own perspective, every time I hear people say Asian American men shouldn’t be portrayed as geeky-looking and having glasses and being nerdy and all this, and I’m like, “you guys are all protesting in front of my mirror”. It’s kind of unfair to hold us all to these standards, as incredible as it is to see people like yourself and Daniel Dae Kim and Aasif transcend the historical representation of what Asian American men are, there’s also a sense in which it leaves some of us behind. And I think the notion of manhood is changing. Continue reading

The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006: Part 3 of 3

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This is the last in my series breaking down the top trends in race and pop culture of 2006. If you missed it, check out Monday’s trends 10 through 8 and yesterday’s trends 7 through 4 . Here’s the final list:

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments
9. Hipster racism
8. The continuing obsession with interracial relationships
7. The new minstrel show
6. Racism on college campuses
5. Fear of a Latino takeover
4. The return of the white man’s burden
3. Colorface everywhere!
2. Celebrity racial slurs
1. Race baiting

3. Colorface everywhere!

It seemed like blackface, brownface and yellowface was everywhere in 2006, even in the most unexpected places. Some of these blackface incidents we’ve already covered. For example, Kate Moss in blackface for The Independent’s Africa issue, the many “ghetto parties” and blackface incidents included in racism on college campuses and the Tyra Banks Show episode where she had Angela Nissel go on dates with three men both as a black woman and as a white woman .

Liberal blogs Firedoglake and Billmon (who has since stopped blogging) both decided to use blackface images to mock people they didn’t like/respect. Firedoglake blacked up a photo of Joseph Lieberman in a post accusing him of race-baiting. Billmon blacked up a photo of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after he complained about Lynne Cheney being uncooperative during an interview. Both issued the standard “I’m sorry you’re offended but I’m just so brave and un-PC” apologies, leading ebogjonson to create a flowchart for those bloggers asking themselves if they should use blackface on their blog. In case you were wondering, if you answer yes to being white, the answer is “STOP! You CANNOT use blackface EVER under any circumstances.” Also, be sure to check out Kai Chang’s series on racism in the liberal blogosphere .

A movie based on the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu” is in the works. As you probably know, biracial Asian/white protagonist Kwai Chang Caine was played by David Carradine in the series. And he’s been milking the virtual yellowface gig ever since, from his role in Kill Bill to his stupid Yellowbook.com commercials. The question is, which white guy are they going to get to play Kwai Chang Caine in the movie version? Who has enough “Asian flavor?” I’m putting my money on Steven Seagal. ;) Continue reading

The Tao is up thanks to a rise in Asian male stocks

by guest contributors Tripmaster Monkey editors, originally published at Tripmaster Monkey

The Tao is up, according to TMM’s Asian Image Index. Leading the rally were a number of undervalued Asian male stocks, which outperformed Main Street’s expectations. Here’s a round-up of the biggest movers.

SOLE SURVIVOR
Though “Survivor: Cook Islands” was off to a controversial start (with teams divided by ethnicity and the Asian tribe given low odds of winning), vindication came as hunky Korean American strategist Yul Kwon took home the $1 million prize on Sunday’s finale. Ultimately, race proved to be a non-factor in the competition, though rice might have played a role—two of the final five just happened to be Asian.

GOLDEN GLOBE CONTENDERS
Japanese American actor Masi Oka, who plays the sweet-faced time-traveler Hiro Nakamura on the hit TV show “Heroes,” was nominated for a Golden Globe as best supporting actor in a TV series. Clint Eastwood’s Japanese-language movie “Letters from Iwo Jima” starring Kobe beefcake Ken Watanabe was also shown some love.

TOP DOG OR LAP DOG?
South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon has just been sworn in as the new UN chief. Not only does he bear the weight of the world, he’s also a beleaguered representative of Asian masculinity. The media is already calling him unassuming and inoffensive—a wimp. Will he turn out to be more of a secretary and less of a general? Only time will tell. Dubbed a “slippery eel” by the Korean press, he’s no doubt a smooth operator.

OUR VERY OWN JESSE JACKSON
Instead of rolling over as usual, the Asian American community got all up in Rosie O’Donnell’s face about her racist joke on “The View.” Leading the charge was none other than the Asian American Jesse Jackson, hard-charging New York City Councilman John C. Liu, who pulled no punches when he called Rosie on her “stupidity.” Rosie finally kowtowed. Chalk one up for Team Asia.

MATCHMAKER TO THE STARS
The youngest power broker in Hollywood, Maddox Jolie-Pitt was instrumental in bringing Brangelina together. In recent interviews, his mom has confirmed, “One day Maddox just out of the blue called [Brad Pitt] Dad. That was probably the most defining moment, when he decided that we would all be a family.” Against a Cambodian orphan in search of a father figure, Jennifer Aniston never stood a chance!

NINTENDO’S MEN IN BLACK
Nintendo’s new game console is a big hit with gamers, thanks to its nifty motion-sensitive controller, which allows users to swing the device like a tennis racket or a sword. But we think it’s also due to the product’s TV pitchmen, the two Japanese dudes in suits and shades who drive across America like high-tech evangelicals from a Tarantino movie. Wii like!

Racism in the advertising industry

by guest contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”

That’s a tough question to answer, based on the last few weeks in the advertising industry.

Anheuser-Busch pulled the plug on its Bud Light campaign starring Zagar and Steve. Native American groups complained Zagar — who bears an uncanny resemblance to a Yanomamo tribesman — displayed stereotypical and racist characteristics.

An Ohio auto dealership sparked outrage by trying to air a radio commercial with blatantly anti-Muslim messaging. The announcer copy proclaimed the car seller was “declaring jihad on the automotive market.”

The Chicago Creative Awards sunk to new lows with Master of Ceremonies Tony Little, accompanied by two scantily-clad, large-breasted bimbos. The lecherous Little literally groped female award recipients when they stepped onto the stage. Next year, maybe the Chicago Creative Club will book Neil French to host.

CBS reality TV series “Survivor” segregated contestants by ethnicity, ultimately polarizing advertisers as well. After two episodes, the producers switched to a multicultural merging with no explanation.

Plus, a contender in Advertising Week’s annual icon contest is none other than Aunt Jemima.

The continuing diversity soap opera inspired plenty of ugliness too.

Advertising Age conducted a poll that showed 93 percent of respondents did not think the agreements signed by New York shops would solve the exclusivity problems.

Advertising Age followed through with a cynical editorial that stirred controversy when the iconic publication declared The Human Rights Commission is “asking the industry to lower its standards” by hiring minorities. Subsequent “clarifications” by AdAge were delivered with a bumbling incompetence reminiscent of the infamous Al Campanis perspective on Blacks in sports. Continue reading

Survivor: Cook Islands episode three recap

by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger

survivorTWO FOUR SIX EIGHT
THIS IS HOW WE INTEGRATE

And that’s that. Just three episodes into the made-for-media-outrage spectacle of Survivor: Separate But Equal, the tribes have been forcibly bused into a Red Team and Blue Team. The method used to Benettonize the castaways was painfully ordinary–two male captains and two female captains were selected, and each picked teammates like a sandlot Wiffle Ball game, with responsibility for the next selection passed to the just-picked person.

The caps: Our sassy boy Brad from Puka and poultry-pilferin’ Jonathan from Raro, plus Latino risk consultant Cecilia and flirty Raro “boxer” Parvati (her bio says she throws fist in that Most Extreme of bloodsport federations, Perfect 10 Model Boxing).

You’d think they could have at least required them to explain why they were making each choice, like in Dave Chappelle’s inspired “Racial Draft” skit: “I pick Yul because he defies the Asian ‘geeky male’ stereotype, while epitomizing the Asian ‘model minority’ stereotype.”

In any case, the elimination of the ethnic rivalry motif has taken with it any real interest I have in the program, other than seeing how long it is before someone actually punches Cao Boi in the mouth–as I noted in my last recap, it was only a matter of time before his teammates realized that his problem isn’t the dumb ethnic jokes, it’s that he can’t keep his piehole shut for more than five minutes at a time. Given that, I guess this is my last formal Cook Island recap…unless Burnett decides to throw more racial MSG to the Survivor stirfry, or until the other Survivors form a cargo cult and begin worshipping Yul as the incarnate god he is.

Still, it’s been fun. Can’t wait for next year, when Burnett debuts Survivor: Pirates! Ninjas! Monkeys! Robots!

My money’s on the ninjas.

Survivor: Cook Islands episode two recap

by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger

survivor cook islandsThe first taste is always free, right? Then comes the downward spiral of shame and self-destruction. That’s what was running through my mind as I flipped through the recordings on my ever-faithful TiVo toward the second episode of Survivor: Cook Island. I watched the first installment rationalizing that it was for work, every penny goes to my son Hudson’s college fund, yessiree, but episode two? Lurid fascination, no excuses.

It struck me that it felt very much like sneaking a peek at, say, Playboy’s “Girls of the Ivy League” issue. One might reason that you’re just, uh, checking to see if there’s anyone you know in there– HOLY CRAP, THAT’S MY SECOND COUSIN!–but it’s mostly just prurience, isn’t it?

And this season’s Survivor is essentially pornography–the pornography of race. Fetishized situations, featuring idealized, archetypal and stereotypical performers, coupling and decoupling, and, well, people screwing each other. Figuratively. But probably, given the humpity-humpity flashes we’ve seen of the Caucasian Team, literally as well. (Burnett’s got footage, no doubt. One of these days, he’ll unleash an uncensored library, Survivors Gone Wild, and he’ll be rich, beeyotch! Oh wait, he already is. Beeyotch.)

So, anyway. This week is between columns for me over at SFGate, and yet, now that I’ve watched episode two, I figured I might as well froth about it somewhere. Thanks to Carmen and Jen for the temporary digital lodgings on the (presumably, by the time this hits) redesigned site–love what you’ve done with the wallpaper and drapes, guys.

I’m not a hard-liner against this show, as those of you who’ve read the results of my column last week, wherein I and a clutch of friends groupblogged the initial episode. As misguided and exploitative as the show is, I felt it at least had the possibility of forcing the American mainstream to address and debate aspects of race that all too often get swept under the rug. Like racial stereotyping, for example (although its M.O. seems to be framing entire story arcs around the depiction of stereotypes, then giving contestants five-second soundbites to testily repudiate them). Or the patent absence of Asian Americans on network TV, underscored by the recent release of the Asian American Justice Center’s latest annual primetime audit. Survivor: Race War essentially doubles the number of Asian lead roles on network primetime (this, counting Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, Ming Na on Vanished, and the Puka Puka Tribe’s spiritual godparents, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim of Lost ).

In short, I think the show is dumb and crude, but potentially useful–if it makes people think-talk, and not just trash talk. And…well…it’s kinda fun. Measured against most of the rest of network TV, Survivor: Cook Island is far from the first show I’d vote off the island.

So what gives for episode two? Continue reading