Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cultrual Stereotypes and Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda, one can immediately grasp the essence of the movie before even watching it. Having a cute panda with Chinese Kung Fu would surely make a Hollywood block-buster. But the movie is pretty much confined within Hollywood's self-defined, so called "main-stream", perception of Asian Americans. We are already at the dawn of a new era where America is considering a black president. However, we still have yet to see a Hollywood movie with a positive (normal) portrait Asian American male as the main actor, not as martial art master, not as a villan, not as a nerdy geek, but just as a normal person. Is that so hard for America?

BTW, it seems my perception is not the only one. The following blog also highlight a similar opinion:

Here is a quote:
kirk: My point wasn't quite about racism, it was more about exploitation of a culture that is routinely treated as "exotic."

And since Asian Americans aren't always as mobilized as black Americans, they sometimes don't throw down over these sorts of things, even if they annoy them. This obviously wasn't worth a full assault. It's more of a minor infraction.

Most Asian's love Mulan because Disney worked closely with the Asian community to make it and it was based on their history. It's about what's tasteful and what isn't. It's a fine line. And Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan are routinely criticized in the Asian American community for the choices they've made in American cinema.

So my point really wasn't so much about the film, but how Asian Americans don't see representations of themselves as just people, not kung fu masters or cartoons, but just people in cinema.

That doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad movie, but it is part of a cycle that continues to only dramatize the parts of Asian culture western audiences are most fascinated by.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ethics in Academics

A recent article in the Nature magazine [1] suggested that scientific misconducts in the United States may be more prevalent than those reported through official channels. The article also suggested a few approaches to improve the status quo:
  • adopt a zero tolerance policy
  • protect the whistle blowers
  • clarify the reporting mechanism
  • training
  • provide alternative mechanisms
  • promote role models for ethical behavior.
The editorial in the same magazine issue [2] also discussed the ethics problem, and suggested that people should focus on solutions rather than pointing fingers. But who is really pointing?

[1] Sandra L. Titus, James A. Wells, and Lawrence J. Rhoades, "Repairing Research Integrity", Nature, volume 453, number 7198, pages 980-982.
[2] Editorial: "Solutions, Not Scapegoats", Nature, volume 453, number 7198, page 957.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

social networking is slowing down

After several years of rapid growth as illustrated by MySpace, Bebo, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, etc., recent reports indicate that social networking websites are experiencing slow down. A recent article by Creative Capital indicate that several well known social networking websites are seeing a decline in the amount of time that users spent on these websites, and in the number of unique visitors to these websites.