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Something New...

So, a great idea popped off in my head a while ago about the writers directly interacting with our lovely readers here. Originally, the idea was to conduct a Google Hangout but schedules and other complications arose. So, here is the idea, something new (roll credits) that I am excited to share. And you get to be a big part of it.

Once a month, all of the writers will give their personal opinions on a current topic or issue through several questions (to keep it from becoming too elongated). We will also answer a submitted question or submitted topic from any of our readers.

Our hope is to display a wide array of opinions and to encourage dialogue among our readers and contributors.

In the comment section below, leave any topics, questions, or anything you would like us to answer or discuss in the comment section below. If yours is chosen, we will give you credit.

So, lemme encourage you to write away and leave us plenty to discuss.

-Chrispy AKA Kon
Blog and Twitter

Note: We will keep you posted on when we will start soon :)


Marco Polo, or Why Asian Dramas Should be Handled by Asians

Benedict Wong as Big Boss Pimp Daddy Kublai Khan

Like many of you here at the Narrative, I love watching historical dramas from Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines, and wish I could watch more from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.  You could say people like us have gotten spoiled by sites like Viki, DramaFever, and the Korean section on Hulu.  And sometimes even Netflix.

I was going to wait and watch the whole Marco Polo series before I said something.  But what I've seen this far warrants addressing.  Like...right now.

Warning: When you watch Marco Polo, a few things happen very quickly.

1) You will stop giving a shit about Marco Polo.  You realize right away that the only reason the show was named after him and he's chosen as our protagonist is that someone wanted to do a project about Mongols but wanted to make it about a white dude...when they should've done a damn series about the Mongols and had done with it.

2) You will love the settings but despise the writing.  Once again, you're made patently aware that white dudes are running the show, drafting dialogue in a way Asian dramatists generally don't.


Autumn Asian Men: Karl Yune on #Arrow

You can't go wrong with having a Yune in your project.

TVLine has learned that Karl Yune has landed the major recurring role of Maseo Yamashiro, who will be introduced in flashbacks as Oliver’s handler. Over time, he also will evolve into a teacher and a friend who helps Oliver step ever closer to becoming the superhero he is today.

Maseo is the husband of Tatsu Yamashiro aka DC Comics superheroine “Katana” (to be played by Sin City‘s Devon Aoki), and is a skilled martial artist in his own right
. (Source)
I'll be honest; I generally don't watch Arrow except for The Flash crossovers.  Don't get me wrong; it's exactly the type of show I'd watch.  It's dark, gritty, and edgy - or at least, it's intended to be.  I'm sorry, but Arrow strikes me as the kind of show that belongs on adult channels where people can curse their hearts out and die visibly gruesome deaths.

But Arrow keeps coming up with reasons for me to watch (archers, John Barrowman, Byron Mann, Kelly Hu, Manu Bennett, Nick Tarabay, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Katrina Law*, and now Karl Yune....), so I'm thinking I might as well just give in and watch the whole damn thing.

*For real though...with all these Spartacus Alumni, why isn't this show on Starz?


Zun Lee on "Getting Lost in the Shuffle"

Zun Lee
I haven't posted in a week - I needed a week off from it all. Part of me was exhausted and frustrated. Another part of me needed to regroup to get back to basics.

I appreciate the energy and inspiration provided by the national movement for justice, but the original problematic context is beginning to get lost for me. We keep focusing on case-specific details and legal or procedural technicalities. We focus on bad police practices and excessive use of force. Sometimes, these conversations are contextualized by race. Often times, race is denied as a factor in the case-by-case analysis. As the movement grows in to a national conversation, I’m witnessing a gradual dilution of the conversation re. the factors that led to where we are now.

This wasn’t just about outrage in response to the killing of Eric Garner or Mike Brown. Many souls were lost before them, and unfortunately, many will be lost after. There are long-standing frustrations in response to decades or even centuries of continued overt and insidious forms of oppression that are systemic and structural. Police brutality and racial profiling are manifestations of the issue but they aren’t its root cause. Failing, under-resourced schools are one aspect, but not the root cause. The prison-industrial complex. A media and entertainment industry that glorifies ignorance, dysfunction and pathology. The unequal lack of access to quality healthcare and healthy food options. Redlining practices and access to affordable housing. These are all symptoms, but not the root cause. It all goes back to one issue we are still unwilling to confront or talk about, and that issue is white supremacy. (NB: if you’re conflating white supremacy with the stuff that certain bedsheets-wearing individuals think and do, please stop right here and unfollow me.)

There are very specific reasons the Mike Brown killing persisted as a lightning rod in ways other similar cases didn’t. Many cities in the US are microcosms of all the above issues but based on how the specific history of St. Louis and St. Louis County shaped Ferguson’s present-day reality, the effects of white supremacy happened to be magnified there for the entire world to see.

As we move from wearing hoodies, to “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” to “I Can’t Breathe”, and – undoubtedly – on to the next catch phrase in a few months, I fear that context is not only shifting, it is getting lost in the shuffle. And moreover, we keep our eyes glued on the ultra-engaging protest drama, but lose sight on what this was originally about. And again, as much as Trayvon Martin’s case wasn’t about inappropriate clothing, or Jordan Davis wasn’t about “loud music”, the current fatalities are not just about use of excessive force by trigger-happy police.

I’m not interested in visuals of the knee-jerk reactions or temporary band-aids. I’m hoping to shed some light on the wound that continues to fester underneath. That work is not dramatic. It’s not sexy. It’s not “protest-y.” But I realize that’s always going to be what I’m about: The untold, forgotten, non-newsworthy stories of those on whose behalf we profess to protest.

#blacklivesmatter because #wealwaysmattered, not just now. But as the media circus moves on from Ferguson to elsewhere, the local community is realizing that after months of world-wide attention #weallwegot
. (Source)


Where Are the Lies Though?

There's nothing funnier than a socially conscious comedian, and Aamer Rahman is no exception. 

His takedown of the fallacy behind the concept of reverse racism was hilarious, brilliant and poignant.  It was also on time and blunt as hell.  He definitely has The Narrative's attention.


Autumn Asian Men: Christopher Larkin in #The100

Christopher Larkin was born on October 2, 1987 in Daegu, South Korea. At four months old, he was adopted by parents of Irish and French-Canadian descent. He was raised in Hebron, Connecticut.

In 2000, Larkin was discovered by director Martha Coolidge and cast in the lead role of Hallmark Entertainment’s
The Flamingo Rising. He then went on to train at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts before entering Fordham College at Lincoln Center as a theater major. Midway through his sophomore year, he made his professional theater debut in the off-Broadway production of Back From The Front. Prior to graduation, he took off the fall semester of his senior year to play the titular character in Kafka on the Shore at Steppenwolf in Chicago.

Larkin relocated to Los Angeles after booking several off-Broadway productions, multiple appearances on One Life to Live and a recurring role in The CW pilot
Cooper and Stone. Additional television credits include guest-starring roles on Awkward and 90210.

He currently portrays Monty Green on The CW's
The 100. (Source)
I'll admit it: I didn't watch all of Season 1 because dude right here wasn't in every episode. I remember skipping ahead to the end after a few eps and wondering what the hell happened to Monty.  Season 2, however...whole new ballgame.

The thing I like most about Larkin (aside for his obvious adorableness) is his beautiful acting style.  This guy is the living definition of "nuanced".  He doesn't overdo his facial expressions, but instead uses his eyes and voice a lot to convey the appropriate emotion.  I'm also digging the subtle ruthless streak in his character, Monty; it emerged in last night's episode quite unexpectedly...and was a very delightful surprise.

While I'm not sure The 100 will be the vehicle which really blasts off his career, I do hope it gets him where he needs to go.  A talent like this - and like so many others - would be a terrible thing to waste, and I want to see him in a lot more projects.


The Dead Lands (2014)

There's not enough *squee* in the world right now; I'm straight up dying to see this film.

The Dead Lands is a Maori feature film notable for being entirely set within their precolonial history.  And it's in Maori.  And it has Maori in front of the camera.  And it has Maori behind the camera.  And that's just a recipe for pure awesome.

The synopsis is not complex and doesn't need to be: Dude is the son of a chief, Dude's tribe get's slaughtered, Dude goes on a mission of revenge, and starts by making a pact with the dead.

Dude is also a long-haired shirtless hottie surrounded by other shirtless hotties (hellooooo James Rolleston!!!).
Teen star James Rolleston is building for the future. His latest film, Maori action flick The Dead Lands, shot to No1 at the New Zealand box office last week*, leapfrogging Brad Pitt's World War II movie Fury. (Source, 11/9/14*)
Needless to say, I love, love, love the culture of our Maori siblings.  I was reading some critiques of the film and noticed that the more complex, spiritual aspects of Maori warriors went right over the heads of many critics.


Storytime: My Uncle, Siddig El Fadil, and Appeasing Ancestors through Names

So the Uncle and I have this weekly ritual; on Saturdays, I try my hand at some rather creative recipes and he acts as my willing guinea pig.  Over meals, we chat about shows and dissect their writing.  We also have a lot of sociological conversations which tie back into our TV show dissection.

So I recently got him watching Deep Space Nine, and this past Friday, actor Siddig El Fadil (Dr. Julian Bashir) celebrated his 49th birthday.

Me: By the way, check out his full name - Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi.

My Uncle: Wow. That's like 17 ancestors. *blinks* Read that again?

Me: (laughing) Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi.

My Uncle: *nods* Sounds like the parents on both sides didn't want to leave anybody one out. They probably didn't want to offend anyone.


#Selfie, Social Alienation, and a Tale of Two Nerds

Selfie and Social Alienation

I've recently learned that Selfie's cancellation has been confirmed and much to my surprise, and I'm quite disappointed.  The show has slowly grown on me, the characters were becoming more recognizable, and the episodes were getting increasingly funny.

My main reason for rooting for this show is obvious; I'm a John Cho fan.  Always have been, always will be.  I've already lost count of how many canceled shows he's been on now and I loathe just to think of adding this one to the list.  A commenter on this article even remarked, "America wasn’t dying for a rom-com about a redhead being romanced by an [sic] John Cho? Go figure."

Now, I'm obviously more partial to Blasian romances (obviously), and I'm tired of the (also tired) POC/white pairing trend but I accept that not everyone will agree, and I hate to see such good (and rare) chemistry go to waste.

To be honest, I don't get why the show was canceled once people were finally "getting" the show.  Once the theme of social alienation became fully defined within the narrative, not only did the title Selfie somewhat gain a new level of meaning, but so did the series itself.  The episode "Even Hell Has Two Bars" sealed it when Eliza and Henry are sharing an intimate conversation out in the middle of nowhere, and they withdraw once their phones pick up signal.  Suddenly, they break eye contact, physically move apart, and start skimming emails and texts, eyes glued to their separate screens.

The social alienation brought about by modern technology is a worthy topic with several sub-themes to explore, and once I realized that, I realized how and why Selfie had a potential for longevity.