Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | pop culture
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asiangirlz Los Angeles-based rock band Day Above Ground made a big deal of its July 27 debut video release of "Asian Girlz," but it's backfired and led to intense condemnation from Asian and Asian American groups and individuals. Add me to the list, please. This song and accompanying video is offensive on so many levels I'm practically speechless. It traffics in lowbrow racial stereotypes and low-bro sexual braggadocio about its subject line, Asian women. The combined IQ of the group must be abut 10, given their pre-teen horniness and neanderthal attitudes. It's hard to imagine any other intent -- social satire commentary, a criticism of sexual objectification of Asian women, clumsy attempt at post-racial parody -- than a bunch of dudes who fantasize about Asian women and their "creamy yellow thighs... slanty eyes" and other body parts. I hate the ching-chong wonton font that's used for the title credits. I hate the ching-chongy intro melody that evokes Asia Hollywood-style which crops up at various points in the song. It's an aural code as immediately identifiable as buck teeth and squinty eyes. I hate the smug white privilege that oozes from the singers' faces as they croak "You're my Asian girl." And I hate the creepy strip tease participation of model Levy Tran as she goes from enjoying these pint-sized pinheads' attention as they sing to her from a birdcage to letting them jump into the bathtub with her and swim between her legs. Yuck. I mean, really yuck.

montbellodrumline-vidcap It was at Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock's suggestion that the nine members of the Montbello High School Drum Line got the chance of a lifetime -- to take the second historic flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on United Airline's new direct flight between Denver and Tokyo. The students raised money for the trip with the help of sponsors, and they performed their synchronized drumming at the U.S. Ambassador's home in Tokyo, and several times in Takayama, Denver's sister city. The news report below is a sample of a half-hour special that airs this Friday, July 19 at 9:30 on KDVR Fox31. These students were cultural ambassadors for Colorado in Japan. So the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is proud to introduce the Montbello High School Drum Line as one of the highlights of this year's Opening Ceremony. The Opening Ceremony, which begins at 10 am on Saturday, July 27, also includes a spiritual Eye-Dotting Ceremony with chanting Buddhist monks to awaken the spirit of the dragon boats; a dynamic Dragon Dance; and an Olympics-style Team Parade. The Drum Line will get the chance to perform in front of Mayor Hancock, who will speak during the ceremony.

nhkhomepage I was amused to see a recent news story about a 71-year-old Japanese man, Hoji Takahashi, who has sued Japan’s public television broadcaster, NHK. His reason for filing suit? He’s suffering “mental distress” because of what he considers NHK’s excessive use of foreign words. He’s no elderly gadfly with a silly gripe. He’s a member of an organization that is dedicated to preserving the Japanese language, so this is an organized effort to try and stop the influx of foreign words. What foreign words, you ask? Here are a few cited by news reports including from the BBC: If you tune into NHK’s news or entertainment shows, you can easily make out words such as "toraburu" for “trouble,” "risuku" for “risk” and "shisutemu" for “system.” I’ve been at my mom’s house when she has NHK satellite programming on and I’ve heard “toppu hoh-ty” for “Top 40” in a story about pop music, and many other words that I can make out as English, albeit somewhat mangled in pronunciation. My mom isn’t a member of any group fighting this trend, but she’s griped to me plenty about the same issue.

daleli Colorado's first Asian American theater company, Theatre Esprit Asia (TEA), has launched its debut season with a pair of one-person plays in repertory, and I was fortunate to see one of them, "Dust Storm," last week starring Dale Li. If you haven't seen this or the other play, "Spirit and Sworded Treks" starring Maria Cheng, hurry -- they run tonight through Sunday, and then close after next weekend. "Dust Storm" is a monologue about the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II. It's loosely constructed on a real incident, an attack on Chiura Obata, a celebrated artist, in Topaz, an internment camp in Utah. The story is told from the perspective of Seiji, an angry teenager who's imprisoned at Topaz (with his family, but he abandons them to hang with a bunch of tough teens). Like Obata, Seiji was rounded up in Berkeley, California after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the camps to be built. Anyone of Japanese descent in the Bay Area, including U.S.-born citizens like Seiji, were told they could pack whatever they could carry, and were first sent to a temporary holding center before being transferred to Topaz.