Writer | Actor | Voice-Over Artist

Not Your Asian Ninja: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Keeps Failing Asian-Americans

I liked Daredevil Season 2 a lot. I didn’t like it quite as much as Season 1, but it was always going to be impossible to find someone to live up to Vincent D’Onofrio’s take on Wilson Fisk (who still effortlessly steals the few scenes he gets this season). But the writing and the acting for Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, is compelling as hell, enough tospark a lively debate about the appeal of vigilante justice and gun violence in American culture.

The tangled, messy web of corruption behind the death of the Punisher’s family, the complicity of the state and the media in creating him, his turnaround in becoming a criminal defendant in the Trial of the Century, and the moral ambiguity of Castle’s past as a soldier who exposes the American public’s hypocrisy by bringing the brutal logic of the overseas War on Terror stateside—that’s all great stuff.

The problem is all that great stuff is only half of Daredevil Season 2. There’s a whole other half that’s almost totally disconnected from the Frank Castle plot, the Nelson and Murdock law firm, and New York City politics. There’s a full 50 percent of DaredevilSeason 2 that’s total crap, and that half is the part with the ninjas.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast

The dark side of “visibility”: How we slept on trans people becoming the new scapegoats of the right

I was happy to hear about the International Trans Day of Visibility two years ago. I agreed with the sentiment that the Transgender Day of Remembrance in November being the only trans holiday was morbid and depressing and that celebrating happy, healthy trans lives was a positive goal. I was happy to be one of many allies pushing awareness of March 31 as a “day of visibility” last year.

Which is why I was surprised when one of my close friends, who is trans and who hadn’t heard of the holiday, responded with a scowl when I told her about it.

“My goal isn’t visibility, my goal is survival,” she said. “The Jews were extremely visible in 1930s Europe, how much good did it do them?”

Read the full article at Salon

Why Social Media Companies Aren’t Liable for Abuse on Their Platforms

Of everything I’ve written–and I’ve covered some pretty heavy, controversial topics–I don’t think I’ve ever gotten as much blowback as when I advocated the amendment or repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

For most people Section 230, sometimes called the Good Samaritan Clause, is an obscure piece of legislation, but for those of us who live much of our personal or professional lives online it’s one of the most significant laws on the books. Nearly every problem we have with finding solutions to online abuse can be traced back to this law or to the spirit that lies behind it.

Section 230 of the CDA is, essentially, a declaration of neutrality for platforms. It states that if a company does not actively participate in the creation of content–if all it does is provide a venue for someone to express themselves–then the company is not liable for that content. It doesn’t matter how actionable that content is–how clearly a given utterance constitutes libel, or harassment, or incitement to violence. You can sue the person who said it, if you can track them down, but the service provider–Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube–bears no responsibility and has no duty to compensate the victims or to take anything down.

Read the full article at the WMC Speech Project

Hollywood’s Asian Punching Bags: Why There Shouldn’t Be a ‘Safe’ Minority to Joke About

Let’s take it back to 2014. Let’s talk about #CancelColbert.

A few things: The Colbert Report shouldn’t have been canceled (unless it was to promote him to hosting The Late Show, which did in fact happen). Stephen Colbert isn’t a racist—or, rather, not any more of an overt, malicious racist than I am, or anyone else is. #CancelColbert was a terrible hashtag idea and showed terrible judgment.

Chris Rock shouldn’t be “canceled,” or whatever that means in this context, either. It would be great to see him back at the Oscars next year. He is and always has been one of the world’s finest stand-up comedians. He likely isn’t racist, or anti-Asian—or, rather, not any more of an overt, malicious anti-Asian than I am, or anyone else is. #CancelChrisRock would be a terrible hashtag idea and would show terrible judgment.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast

 

Chris Rock’s Oscars didn’t “fight the power”: A night of crude jokes and cynical deflection is a poor way to show progress

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Of all the people disappointed by the Oscars ceremony last night, the most disappointed were the audience.It’s a joke you can make any year, but this year is special–this is the year that all eyes were on Chris Rock to see how he’d deal with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that became impossible to ignore once several big names boycotted the ceremony, leaving the Oscars audience an uncomfortably white crowd.

Blaming Rock as host for the Oscars’ ratings dipping to an eight-year low is, of course, nonsense. The fact that Rock announced he’d directly address the #OscarsSoWhite protests is probably the only reason many people–including myself–tuned in. God knows the ceremony’s buzz would not have been improved by a white presenter who signaled they would carefully avoid any mention of race.

What did we get? I’d like to damn the night with faint praise by saying it was “as much as we could’ve expected,” but even that wasn’t true–it was on par with what we could’ve expected, but with some glaring unforced errors.

Read the full article at Salon

 

Between Fandom, Friendship, and Stalking: How the internet erases fine lines.

Everything is older than people think. In 2009 the verb “unfriend” made the news as Word of the Year because of the transformative effect Facebook had supposedly had on our language by watering down the meaning of “friendship”. But Facebook got that terminology from MySpace, who got it from the long-forgotten Friendster, who got it—from what as far as I know is the original source—from LiveJournal, founded in the ancient days of 1999.

I bring this up because LiveJournal, for us Internet veterans, was a place where extremely geeky people worked out a lot of issues related to Internet drama before they exploded into the wider world, allowing us early adopters to examine social trends in microcosm, kind of like a digital Galápagos Islands.

One of the first things that people noticed about LiveJournal’s choice of the word “friend” was that in LJ-land friendship was asymmetrical. It was possible to be someone’s friend without their being your friend—which meant that you were automatically updated on their new posts without their being updated on yours. (The fact that Facebook forced “friendship” to be mutual at first is one reason Facebook grew virally faster than LJ—by providing constant pressure to reveal your information to more and more people—but also a reason it’s caused way more unintentional drama than LJ did.)

Read the full article at Everup

Why Is The Media Continuing To Sell Out Victims Of Abuse?

One of the hardest things—probably the hardest thing—about seeing your world blow up and “go viral” when you become the center of some kind of newsworthy “controversy” is the lesson that there are no “good guys” in the world—not really.

There are good people, yes, people with good values and good intentions who do good things. But there’s no unified front of “the good guys” embodied in any institution—not the government, not any advocacy or protest organization, not any political party, and certainly not the press.

Others have written about what is and is not helpful when trying to help victims of abuse online. The problem is, again and again, that incentives put people at cross-purposes. “Raising awareness” is an important long-term goal in keeping people from being abused overall, yes—but individual victims of abuse mostly want awareness decreased, they want the hypervisibility they live under to stop. Raising money, raising votes, building organizations—these are all valuable goals, but they come at the very real cost of the ability of people who actually live within these “newsworthy” controversies to live in peace.

Read the full article at The Establishment

Yes, and … that joke is sexist: Improv troupes, unchecked creepiness and the toll that being “cool with it” takes

So where are the funny women? That’s an easy question to answer today–they’re everywhere, they’re headlining shows like “Inside Amy Schumer“ and starring in sitcoms like “Broad City“ and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend“ and running publications like The Toast. They’re even, finally, hosting late-night talk shows after years of paying their dues for male hosts (even if, somehow, the Muppet universe broke that barrier before the real world did).

But not that long ago–by which I mean when I was in college, an eternity in Internet time but in reality about a decade ago–this was still a controversial question. Luminaries like Christopher Hitchens were giving pompous “scientific” explanations for why women just aren’t funny. Hell, in the long ago days of 2013 you had Norm MacDonald and Colin Quinn casually riffing on Sarah Silverman as the singular ur-female comic and all other women in comedy as imitations of her. Even though women have been behind some of the biggest comedy hits in history–going as far back, at least, as Gracie Allen and Lucille Ball in the Golden Age of TV–this question of “why aren’t women funny” is a persistent, undying meme.

The more I think about it, the more I think it’s the fault of people like Jerry Seinfeldwho talk about comedy and “safe spaces” to be opposed concepts–the obnoxious are misguided. Comedy is about safe spaces, it depends on safe spaces, which is exactly why comics have an unwritten code about treating workshopping material in small venues as a “safe space” and see taking that material out of context for a YouTube audience as a betrayal.

Read the full article at Salon

Beyoncé’s Black Lives Matter Tribute Defies the Laws of Celebrity Activism

It’s becoming a tradition that the Super Bowl halftime show generates orders of magnitude more discussion than the game itself; this year, thankfully, there was something more substantive to discuss than the unknown identity of a surprisingly uncoordinated shark.

This time the big news was Beyoncé utterly stealing the show from Coldplay as the “special guest” with a performance that simultaneously paid homage to Michael Jackson and evoked the Black Panthers, making millions of people who’d slept through the release of “Formation” earlier that weekend aware of the song and of the video, which visually references Hurricane Katrina and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The fact that Beyoncé is on the side of #BlackLivesMatter activists isn’t really news, considering her and her husband Jay Z’s past donations to bail out activists in Ferguson and Baltimore and their streaming site Tidal donating $1.5 million to the movement this weekend.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast

I like Bernie Sanders. His supporters? Not so much

I’m not #FeelingTheBern anymore. I’m on Bernie Sanders’ side policy-wise. I agree with many more of his positions than I do Hillary Clinton’s. I donated money to his campaign last year and I intend to vote for him in the Ohio primary in March. Still, the “Berniebro” phenomenon has left me feeling, well, Berned-out.

I am referring to a certain demographic of Sanders supporter – white and male – who accuses anyone who’s not #FeelingTheBern of being a member of the “Establishment.”

It’s gotten bad enough that Bernie Sanders’ campaign rapid response director had to speak up about it on Twitter. It’s gotten bad enough that, among my circle of friends (who are mostly millennials about evenly split between supporting Clinton and Sanders in the primary), the “Berniebro” phenomenon immediately comes up whenever the election comes up.

Read the full article at The Guardian