Pictures of women’s armpit selfies in China have gone viral in social media. This trend of showing armpit hair by women has become the talk of the town for a couple of months.
Included have been a host of negative comments about it being “unladylike,” while others say that people don’t have the right to judge these women because it’s their bodies and nobody else’s decision or business.
Nevertheless, this “armpit selfie” trend is really weird.
You might think that after Keanu Reeves’ 2013 movie 47 Ronin – very loosely based on the Japanese story Chūshingura – became the second biggest box office bomb ever, Japanese people’s opinion on the actor would go down a little bit.
Well, you’d be wrong! On February 11, Keanu Reeves was spotted just walking down the street in Akihabara like any other tourist, and he was instantly mobbed by fangirls and fanboys alike, each one clamoring for the best “Keanu selfies” that they could get.
The most probable reason given for Keanu Reeves’s visit to Akihabara is location scouting for his upcoming miniseries Rain, where he will play a Japanese-American war-veteran-turned-assassin. Why the studios thought it would be a good idea to cast him in another role where he plays someone half-Japanese after the abysmal failure of 47 Ronin is anyone’s guess.
But hey! Who cares? Oh my god look! It’s Keanu Reeves!
“Maybe he came to Japan to avoid the paparazzi. How ironic.” “He plays the role of an average guy in the street so well.” “I think he’s just giving some fanservice.” “His sneaking-skills have really deteriorated for him to be caught this easily.” “Yeah, I’d definitely do a couple of double-takes if I saw him in the street.” “Why is he playing all these half-Japanese roles? Do foreigners think he looks Asian?” “Oh man, now I want to watch The Matrix again!”
If you’re in Tokyo and happen to get a “Keanu selfie” of your own, consider yourself lucky.
Selfies aren’t going anywhere. On the contrary, they’re evolving. Camera manufacturers are now catering directly to selfie connoisseurs by creating models specifically designed to improve self-portraits. And now, Panasonic is getting on board with the release of its new Lumix GF7 – a 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds ILC (interchangeable lens camera) built to help users take selfies of the highest possible quality.
The GF7 features an LCD screen that flips a full 180 degrees to help frame the shooter, a wide range of “beauty filters,” burst shooting at 5.8 FPS to help capture the optimal shot in any situation, and even a hands-free shooting mode that automatically takes a picture when the user waves. And to make sharing your selfies a seamless experience, the GF7 also includes built-in WiFi, allowing you to instantly send your photos to a connected device. Finished with a high quality leather grip and available in a range of eye-catching colors (black, brown, pink, orange), the GF7 might just be the camera that makes poorly framed, out-of-focus selfies a thing of the past.
Look for it when it goes on sale this March for $599 USD.
Fujifilm has announced the launch of the X-A2 camera which is the first X Series model to be equipped with a 175-degree titling 3-inch LCD screen, making it easier for the user to take high-quality self-portraits. The rotation of the LCD activates the new Eye Detection AF that automatically focuses in on the subject’s eyes, allowing the user to take selfies with the excellent image quality that the X Series has to offer.
Other features include XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS II lens, large 16.3 megapixel APS-C sensor and EXR Processor II image processor engine, wide array of shooting modes and WiFi capability to instantly transfer captured images to your mobile device/computer.
Priced at $550 USD, the Fujifilm X-A2 will be available for purchase starting in February.
The selfie cements itself ever further into the global consciousness with each passing day, and with each passing day comes a new accessory to spur the trend ever further. The latest is the Vibe Xtension Selfie Flash from Lenovo, which aims to solve the plague of badly-lit selfies the world over with its ring flash composed of eight diffused LEDs in a round metal casing that fits into your Android phone’s headphone jack.
A button on the back acts as the shutter button. The gadget doesn’t actually emit a flash but rather a steady light when you press the button, and can also be turned the opposite way as a flash for the rear-facing camera. Lasting for up to 100 selfies on a single charge, pick up this selfie game-changer for $29 USD from Lenovo’s website when it releases this spring.
On paper, it looked like a rough year for Asian-Pacific Islanders on network television: The Mindy Project was on the verge of cancellation. NBC axed Community, and confirmed the end of Parks and Recreation for 2015. Sandra Oh officially left Grey’s Anatomy. Glee edged closer and closer to the end of its run while slowly pushing its Asian characters out of the credits.
According to an annual report on television diversity released by GLAAD, the number of Asian-Pacific Islanders on network television had been on the rise.
In the 2013-2014 season, 6% of broadcast series regular characters were Asian-Pacific Islander, but in the upcoming year, only 4% of characters will be Asian–the only ethnic group to see a decrease in diversity from the previous year.
“Aside from the need for more representation despite the real progress we’ve made, I was disappointed that we lost some really great Asian-American representation this past year,” Philip Chung, co-founder and blogger at YOMYOMF, said, listing Oh and Community’s Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong as examples.
But while the number of Asian characters appears to be shrinking next season, the quality of roles, Chung points out, has noticeably changed. Asian-Pacific Islanders in 2014 were cast in more prominent roles than the previous year, giving actors like John Cho, Ming-Na Wen, and Nasim Pedrad (who previously made headlines as Saturday Night Live’s first west Asian cast member) opportunities to step beyond smaller supporting and guest appearances on TV.
The leaps forward in casting choices have not come without their setbacks. After months of anticipation among critics and bloggers about the casting of John Cho, an Asian male, to play the lead in a romantic sitcom, his show Selfie was canceled after just seven episodes.
“It’s rare to see an Asian-American male as a lead in a comedy, especially one that has romantic possibilities,” said 8Asians editor Joz Wang, who called Selfie’s cancellation the biggest disappointment for Asian Americans on TV in 2014. “While the show didn’t catch on as quickly as the network would have wanted, many Asian Americans watched the show specifically for John Cho.”
“Getting [a show] about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle.”
Even though Cho never received top billing in Selfie, many felt ABC’s choice to cast him as the show’s male romantic lead was long overdue. His elevation to “leading man material” appeared to be the first step in seeing more Asian-Pacific Islanders as true television stars, not just supporting characters.
To date, few Asian actors have ever been cast in lead roles on a network level. The first to break through was Pat Morita, in the 1976 show “Mr. T and Tina” (it was considered a flop, and went off the air after five episodes).
Today, Lucy Liu plays a prominent character in Elementary, though not the lead, as does Kal Penn in the upcoming CBS drama Battle Creek. Even Hawaii Five-O, which Wang noted has been “great because it’s set in Hawaii and there are many opportunities for Asian-American actors,” stars two Caucasian leads. “All the Asian Americans still play second fiddle in terms of billing,” said Wang.
The last network show to cast an Asian male with top billing was CBS’ Martial Law starring Sammo Hung in 1998. Hung, who spoke little English, had just a few lines in each episode, and was reportedly paid half of what his co-star Arsenio Hall made.
Currently, the total number of Asian actors to receive top billing on a network primetime series is one: Mindy Kaling. Since the 2012 premiere of The Mindy Project, Kaling has received praise for being the first woman of color to write and star in her own show since Wanda Sykes in 2003.
But Kaling has come under fire for what some see as her failure to leverage her influence for push for more diversity on network television.
In a letter to Fox, Media Action Network for Asian Americans President Guy Aoki said the show lacked diversity–particularly when it came to romantic interests. “We are concerned that in the course of two seasons, [Kaling’s] character, Dr. Lahiri, has had a ‘white-only’ dating policy involving about a dozen men,” Aoki wrote. “And except for this season’s addition of African American Xosha Roquemore the cast continues to be all white…She’s creating the impression that by surrounding her character with mostly white people and dating only white men that Lahiri’s become more accepted by the white population.”
Kaling defended the show at a SXSW panel early in the year, saying, “I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women of color, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things.”
Despite any criticism and low ratings, Kaling herself saw a year filled with successes in her own career, from being named a Glamour Woman of the Year to the announcement of her second book, Why Not Me?, which will be released next year. In November, Fox also added six episodes of The Mindy Project, stretching the season from 15 episodes to 21, and fueling speculation that the show will be renewed for a fourth season.
Kaling won’t carry the mantle for Asian network primetime leads alone much longer. She will soon be joined by Korean-American actor Randall Park, who will star in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat–the first network show to feature an all-Asian American cast since Margaret Cho‘s 1994 series All-American Girl, which was canceled after one season. Following a slate of recurring roles on television (including The Mindy Project), Park will receive top billing when the series premieres in 2015.
“Getting a television series on the air is an incredible feat,” Park wrote in a post for KoreAm Journal online in June. “Getting one with no bankable name stars in today’s television climate is damn near impossible. Getting one about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle.”
The series, based on the memoir of celebrity chef Eddie Huang, has received its share of praise and criticism since ABC added it to its mid-season lineup. Park is one of the targets of the early backlash because his character is Taiwanese (not Korean like Park is) and speaks with an accent (which Park does not naturally have).
But in the same KoreAm post, Park acknowledged he raised that same issue himself, but was repeatedly assured he was the right actor for the role.
“Hopefully audiences and the network will give it a chance.”
“In an ideal world, I would never have to play a character with an accent,” he wrote. “But this is a character based on a real person. So it’s something that I have to honor and try to perfect as the series moves forward.”
Early viewers of the pilot have been defensive of the series, hoping to save it from suffering the same fate as All-American Girl and Selfie. “I thought it was very funny and despite some of the early backlash from people who haven’t yet seen the show,” YOMYOMF’s Chung said. “Hopefully audiences and the network will give it a chance.”
On December 5, the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles nightlife was alive and well on the chilly winter night. On the outskirts of Koreatown stands the Legendary Park Plaza Hotel, the venue of Audrey Magazine and KoreAm Journal’s 13th annual Unforgettable awards gala.
When entering the hotel, guests were greeted with a giant, brightly-lit Christmas tree which was not only the perfect picturesque backdrop, but it also elicited a sense of holiday spirit. Curious as to what our guests had planned for Christmas, we asked a few to see what their responses would be:
Actress Ming-Na Wen, the recipient of the “Actress of the Year” award for her role in ABC’s hit television show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., stated, “We’re going to Hawaii, but I’m going to decorate the house. I love decorating the house.”
A performer that night, David Choi attended the event along side YouTubers Arden Cho, Anna Akana, and Philip Wang. When asked how he was going to be spending the holidays the singer/songwriter simply replied, “I’m just going to spend it with family, visit my aunt with all my cousins.”
For his main role in the romantic comedy television series, SELFIE, John Cho was awarded “Actor of the Year” as well as Royal Salute’s “Mark of Respect Award.” Having just had his second child last year, he replied, “I’ll be around; the kids are too young to travel right now.”
Canadian-British actress Karen David, Princess Isabelle in ABC’s Gavalvant, is also going overseas, “For the holiday season, me and my hubby are going to Australia this year because my friend is getting married. I promised my parents that when we get back that we’re going to do a sort of post-Christmas celebration with them because it’s all about time with the family and having good food. And quite frankly, I miss my mother’s Chinese cooking, so I’m going home.”
Star of Disney’s newest animated film Big Hero 6, Ryan Potter answered matter-of-factly, “I have a bunch of videos to put together for my portfolio for CalArts, so that’ll be it. I’ll just be shooting and editing throughout the holidays, but I’ll still see my family. We’ll have a honey baked ham, so ya.”
Actress and YouTube personalityAnna Akana’s response was a change of pace: “I’m going to Italy in ten days! I’m really excited. Me and my boyfriend are going to for seven days over there and then we’ll come back to spend Christmas with my family.”
Known for her powerhouse vocals, The Voice winner, Tessanne Chin performed two amazing songs that fully displayed her talents. With the mention of the holidays, she sprung right into things, saying, “I’m so excited to see my family because we have been traveling so much this year. I actually get some special time with my husband, my sister, my daddy and my nephew. I can cook up some good food and just do nothing for at least a week or two. That sounds like bliss to me right now.”
In addition to John Cho and Ming-Na Wen, Arden Cho and Ki Hong Lee both received an award for “Breakout Star of the Year.” And this night wasn’t just about awards. There were a number of live performances that kept us on the edge of our seat.
Urban dance group KINJAZ kicked off the night with captivating moves followed by a performance by Tessanne Chin, whose powerful vocals left the entire audience in disbelief. Choreographer/dancer Mike Song and beatbox champion KRNFX teamed up for an equally entertaining and humorous performance followed by another duet courtesy of David Choi and Arden Cho. The audience sang along with the sweet duo before G.NA dazzled them with K-pop. Following an opening act by Howard Chen, Yoon Mi Rae hit the stage and brought the audience to their feet. This was followed by an unforgettable encore performance with Tiger JK and Bizzy.
Living up to its name, this night was truly Unforgettable.
–STORY BY AMBER CHEN All photos courtesy of White Rose Production.