Think Piece Roundup

Think Piece Roundup: Crazy Rich Asians

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For the record: I loved the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel. I’m a self-professed romantic comedy junkie who frequently gets suckered into watching any movie even remotely resembling the genre. On top of that, I’m an Asian American constantly tip-toeing the line between being “too Asian” in some contexts and “not Asian enough” in others. I am this movie’s target demographic.

That said, I also grew up in the Philippines during the era of Flor Contemplacion. For those unfamiliar, Contemplacion was a Filipino domestic worker who was charged with murder and executed by the Singaporean government. Her death caused a political firestorm, souring relations between the Philippines and Singapore for years after, as well as sparking a renewed interest in the treatment of OFWs and the intersection of class, ethnicity, and power in the geopolitical sphere. Needless to say, I’m always curious to see how—but more often than not, if—filmic portrayals address this tangled web of issues.

And so, although I cherish the opportunity to watch a glitzy Hollywood rom-com starring a bunch of people who look a lot like me—I think it’s worth spending the time to take stock of the discussions surrounding Crazy Rich Asians, both good and bad. Because even if it didn’t rake in over $160 million at the box office, the film still has all the trappings of a movie that launches a thousand think pieces—and thankfully not the kind that has to explain “Whitewashing 101.” Read on for a small, curated slice of these conversations, from articles criticizing the film’s treatment of ethnic minorities in Singapore to writers celebrating the fact that this movie has moved us along just enough that we’re now able to discuss the delicate nuances of Asian identity in a global context.

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Think Piece Roundup

Think Piece Roundup: This Is America

CW: Video contains graphic violence.

ICYMI—Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover) dropped a new track last week, and its accompanying music video has driven the internet’s think piece generator into overdrive. With the video’s overt political themes, surrealist—if extremely violent—imagery, and over 107 million YouTube views and counting, it comes as no surprise that a lot of people have a lot of thoughts about Gambino’s latest offering. Read on for some deep cuts about the video, from its use of “kinesthetic empathy” to criticisms regarding the video’s intended audience.

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Social Justice

Guilt, Historical Amnesia, and the Question of Empathy: Appendix

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Talk is cheap. If we want change, we have to do something about it. Something substantive. Something that doesn’t co-opt the cause for our own benefit, even if it is unintentional. Something that doesn’t obscure the very reason why we fight but instead shines a light on the issues. Something that can be of help for those who need it the most. Here are some starting points…

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Social Justice

Guilt, Historical Amnesia, and the Question of Empathy

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Lately, I seem to hear the same voice every morning when I turn on the radio during my daily commute. I can practically feel the pent-up anger, like a suffocating cloud of smoke, filling up my car as Donald Trump’s gravelly voice huffs and puffs through another grandiose yet substantially wanting speech. A few weeks ago, he said he could “relate” to police brutality against black people. Yesterday, he rehashed the subject of building a wall to stop illegal immigrants. Today, the topic was tax reform.

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