Tag Archives: media

why i can’t be an actress

posted by ellephanta/Celine

I told my mother that I wanted to be an actress a long time ago, and she said, I support you no matter what you do, but here are two things about it you should consider before making that decision and pursuing it.

1. A woman’s beauty is prone to constant decay in the eyes of the society, and this is extremely the case when it comes to show business, which is aggressively superficial. It wants a specific kind of beauty and as a result, my professional career will depend entirely on the judgment of others. Intelligence and wisdom, however, knows no gender and it is certain and relatively within your control. It doesn’t decay with time, it only deepens and widens, and it is certainly a better horse to bet on.

2. Being a colored person, you will not get the title roles. You will get to be the title character’s best friend or brief love interest. If you do get a role, you will often be expected to discuss your identity as a racial minority, either insultingly vaguely or painfully in depth. It will be used against you everywhere. This is painfully wrong, but it will happen because show business is a place run by people who will do that to a colored person, for an audience that will eat it up exactly as is and demand more of the same. If it’s hard to make it as an actress, it is unimaginably harder to be a colored actress.

This was really painful to hear, not because I was that invested in wanting to be an actress (I had basically wanted to be everything in those days, from a teacher to a rock star) but because I realized in my young age that the North American promise of “endless opportunities and infinite possibilities” was a gross exaggeration.

There is a reason why there aren’t enough Azn/colored people in the media, why there are so few out there for the casting directors to hire (“well, bring me a sexy Azn girl who’s right for the role, we’ll hire her for sure!”). It’s because most casting directors don’t want them.

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niqabitches: yay or nay?

posted by missmsian

Two French women–self-dubbed “niqabitches”–filmed themselves walking around Paris wearing niqab, short-shorts and black heels to protest the country’s recent decision to ban the burqa and niqab. The rationale for the ban is that these articles of clothing apparently oppress women and having old white men tell women what they can or can’t wear is liberating. Right.

The women, one of whom identifies as Muslim, wrote an op-ed about why they chose to film the video (sorry anglos, this one’s in French … English coverage here.)

The authors of Muslimah Media Watch weighed in with some insightful commentary.

So, what do you think?

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invaded: august

posted by missmsian

Another wild month for Azns in North American media. Check out July and June for more news.

Good Pakistan, Bad Pakistan

Prime Minister Harper appoints Salma Ataullahjan a senator–making her the first Pakistan-born person to hold that position–and paints her face into Duccio’s Madonna and Child. Not really. But close; she does give the standard I-love-diversity-and-integration speech. And every self-righteous liberal gives himself a pat on the back, satisfied he’s fulfilled his affirmative action quota for the year.

Not everyone is fooled by those crafty, crafty Pakistanis, though. The National Post reminds us that while some Pakistani-Canadians are diversity-loving political puppets, most are actually TERRORISTS. The best way to remind us, of course, is by running three articles called “All roads lead to Pakistan,” “Canada’s battle with radicalization” and “Don’t call it Islamophobia” in the same issue a few days after the devastating floods and basically implying that if we contribute to relief efforts, we’re funding terrorist activities. Thanks for enlightening me.

Dear Ignorant …

The opposite of blatantly racist reporting is the equally annoying “pitiful immigrant story” some newspapers like to run.

In response to a Toronto Star editorial called “Exploited immigrants,” letter writer Robert Manders opines:

“Is Ford in Oshawa treating Asian immigrants like slave labour? I don’t think so. Are the Bay or Sears hiring young Asian women to work long sweaty underpaid hours in their alterations department? No. Do stylish shops on Queen St. have secret employees toiling unseen and in distress? Highly unlikely. If the miscreant employers are of Asian origin, say so.”

Actually, yes, they are–here and overseas. Exploitation has a broader definition than you would imagine.

The Muslims are boarding!

Creepy dude films a few women wearing veils boarding a flight and extrapolates from his little vignette that the West is letting terrorists onto airplanes for the sake of political correctness.


The Tamils are landing!

Run! Away! Criminalize them before they arrive on shore! Falsely conflate a liberation movement with terrorism!

Wasn’t it John “Father of Liberalism” Locke who defended the right to revolt against an unjust government in Two Treatises of Government? So, actually, you could say the LTTE is operating within a liberal-democratic system. Okay, there may be gaps in this argument, but it’s no more flawed than this logic, which has been popular among mainstream media:

Brown people –> on boats –> terrorists

Do you speak wif broken Engrish accent?

You may not be able to get job interviews, but you’re welcome to attend a diversity casting call.

No, they’re not casting for a particular show. But, hey, if there’s ever a biopic about a white woman who rescues inner-city kids or a movie that requires slumdog millionaires, murder victims, enemies of the U.S. army or an IT geek-best friend … well, you might get a call after all.

At least networks now look like they’re doing something about unequal representation in the entertainment industry–a point brought up by this report that says Sikhs are misrepresented in pop culture.

Groundbreaking research

Victims of stereotyping and racism are screwed in life. You read it here first.

These are a few of my favourite Fordisms

Trigger warning: contains racial slurs

“Those Oriental people work like dogs. … They’re slowly taking over.”

“Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?”

On a video about homosexuality in Toronto’s South Asian community: “I have no problem giving money out to physically or mentally handicapped children or seniors, but spending $5,000 on this video is disgusting, it is absolutely disgusting to spend this amount of money on this, whatever it was called, video.”

Oh, Calgary

The private deck at this home, that “will only sell to a white buyer,” won’t have “colored people peaking [sic] into your backyard.” Good to know.

Let’s face it. We’re all terrorists.

In previous months, we at least had a celeb scandal (thanks, Tiger) or exotic food story to balance out the coverage of Azns. Not this month.

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k-town reality show: jersey shore with azns

posted by ellephanta

I am devastated. How about you?


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free & cheap things to do in toronto

posted by missmsian

New to T.O.? Just visiting? A longtime-local who’s never stepped outside your neighbourhood?

Here are eight fun thangs and happenangs around the city. Not entirely ‘mainstream’ but not so far off the beaten track that you need an ice pick and bottled water to do them.

1. The Bluffs

One of the most beautiful areas in Toronto, and I’m not bluffing! Okay, that joke failed … but the view is for real. The bluffs run for 14 km along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Scarborough. Bluffer’s Park, accessible from Brimley Rd., is probably the most foot-friendly area.

2. National Film Board (150 John St.)

I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent at the digital viewing stations since I discovered the NFB two years ago. Settle down in a comfy chair and access more than 5,500 NFB films on a personal, flat-panel, touchscreen monitor. Here’s the clincher: for free.

The films are organized into categories for easy searches. My favourite search? “Cultural Diversity and Multiculturalism.”

3. Subway station tour

Have you ever ridden the entire subway system in one trip? It’s pretty fun.

Take pictures with tacky, fake artifacts at Museum station. Visit Bathurst station’s Bakery On The Go–the best subway bakery in the system. Buy half-priced books at Eglinton station. Enjoy busker performances at most stations.

Need more ideas? How about a subway dance party, some spoken word or …

4. CBC building (250 Front St. W.)

Visit the CBC Museum (free admission!) to learn about the history of Canadian broadcasting. You’ll probably run into a lot of school groups there. If you’re looking for something more grown-up, try to score tickets to a taping of The Hour or The Rick Mercer Report.

Stop by the Glenn Gould Theatre to see what’s on. There are usually cool artistic performances, but I prefer the media-related panel discussions they run every once in a while.

5. Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.)

Farm! In! The! City! Worth a visit if you’re a city snob with no knowledge of, or inkling to visit, farming communities. The farm was my first school field trip as a newly-arrived immigrant to Canada, so I have fond memories of it.

6. Heritage Toronto self-guided tours

From May to October, HT offers free neighbourhood walking tours. If you’re like me and embarrassed to be the only 20-something single person on one of these (okay, to be fair, I’ve only had one awkward experience), try downloading self-guided tours off the HT website.

I recommend the Spadina Ave. tour because it’s the only one I’ve done … it takes you through Spadina’s development as an industrial centre and waves of Jewish and Chinese immigration.

7. York University observatory

Bring a date and a camera to the University’s observatory on public viewing nights. This summer, it’s Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. On clear nights, you can try the telescope with the help of observatory staff. On cloudy nights, there are info sessions and a planetarium show.

8. The Docks (Polson St.)

Now known as Polson Pier, it’s home to concert hall/nightclub Sound Academy, go karts, mini golf and the newly-opened Oh Boy! Burger Market. But the real treat is Toronto’s only downtown drive-in movie theatre.

What have I missed?


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invaded: june

posted by missmsian

The most interesting (to me) media about and by Azns last month.

Hard(ly?) news

Chinatown grocer’s trial delayed: Toronto storeowner David Chen and two others were arrested last summer after trying to make a citizen’s arrest on chronic plant thief Anthony Bennett (yeah, I know … sounds like a bad Mary Higgins Clark novel).  Chen’s trial was pushed from the end of June to Oct. 4 to 6 after defence lawyer Peter Lindsay realized the Crown is racist. Just kidding. I spoke to Lindsay once and he was adamant this case ain’t a racial thang.

Stats Can says hate crimes up in 2008 … and they published the data in June 2010. Maybe their slowness is one big hate crime. I don’t know.


Michaelle Jean celebrated her last Canada Day as governor general in China instead of Canada. People fussed because they wanted her to be in town for the Queen’s irrelevant visit. I just hope someone in China brought up Humiliation Day on July 1.

Here’s a cute pic of Jean holding a baby panda:

Baby panda > Queen

Azn love fest

The New York Times ran a half-decent piece big-upping YouTube as a “crucial launching pad” for Azn-American artists (translation: mainstream labels won’t sign them). But they called the piece “Unexpected Harmony” (translation: the Times didn’t expect Azns to have musical talent).

The Canadian Press ran another they’re-taking-over story about South Azns but, for once, it wasn’t tinged with fear and loathing. It seems South Azns are starting to show up in mainstream media and moving away from the roles they’re always stereotyped into. I’m thinking Kelly from “The Office.” The article mentions more.


Goodbye, Japan. Goodbye, Koreas. Next Cup, boys.

Fun fact: the Asian Football Confederation is headquartered in Malaysia. True story.

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sexism or clever self-promotion?

posted by missmsian

My old feminist self wants to kick my newly non-feminist self a little for thinking this. But this week’s Kardashianesque scandal about a former Citibank worker who was allegedly fired for being too hot to handle is, well, a little hard to handle.

Debrahlee Lorenzana says her male managers told her to stop wearing turtlenecks, fitted suits and heels because they were “easily distracted” by her figure.That’s completely inappropriate. It’s their own problem if they can’t keep their eyes in check. That part’s easy.

The harder part (it usually is) is understanding the media coverage. Lorenzana has announced she wants to sue Citibank because they essentially stopped her from wearing business outfits. However, most of the news articles have accompanying photos of Lorenzana posing in completely unrelated outfits, baring cleavage.


Whether or not she was subjected to sexism at work, she’s definitely being subject to it in the media now.

“Before she was bounced by Citygroup, busty banker Debrahlee Lorenzana sent the interest rate soaring – among male fans eager to catch a glimpse of her assets.” — a New York Daily News article, June 4, 2010

Entering murky waters; cue Jaws theme.

I can’t decide if she’s been doubly victimized (by her managers and the media) or if she’s a marketing genius. I mean, she agreed to the sexy photos, right?

It’s also disappointing so few people have brought up the fact that this entire debacle has reinforced traditional Western beauty standards. Every story I found described Lorenzana’s 5’6, 125-lb frame. Her wavy brown hair. Her perfectly tanned (note: but not dark!) skin. Her bodacious bod. We get it.

Some sites are actually polling readers on whether she’s too hot to handle. The implication is obvious: okay, she’s hot, but how hot?

I post up almost the same measurements as Lorenzana, although I’m about 1″ shorter, 15 lbs lighter and have a smaller frame. I would be considered non-traditional or “exotic”. Would Lorenzana’s issue ever come up for me?

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dropping rhymes, not bombs

posted my missmsian

I feared it would come to this. The latest cause for panic regarding security for the upcoming G20 summit in Toronto isn’t the discovery of bombs strategically planted under office buildings (“hey, boss, we found the WMDs, but they weren’t in Iraq”). It’s a music video.

And since “G G20 CRASH THE MEETING TORONTO 2010” was posted on YouTube, Canadian media have been demonizing AK and Illogik, the two dudes who produced it, calling the rap a rallying cry for anarchists to firebomb T.O. Stephen Harper looks about ready to lose his toupee–errr, his cool.

Have you even listened to the lyrics?

Okay, maybe a few protestors will choose property damage as a way to spread their message. I can even imagine rich, white, suburban kids heading downtown to flip some cars for jokes.

But, from their catchy lyrics, these guys seem like they’re trying to organize a more diverse collective than that. They encourage people to raise their fists in solidarity with accessibility, gender equity, environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice. They are “against the war [in Iraq], against empire and colonization.”

Hmmm …  a group of engaged citizens with real ideas about timely, significant issues, calling for “power to the people”? Sounds like a democracy to me. I thought that’s what we like to pretend we’re all about.

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