Monday, March 14, 2011

Asia Is Not A Country

In case you haven't gotten the mood of this blog lately, I'll make it clearer. It's irritated mood. And this post is going to reinforce that mood just a little bit deeper.

On top of everything I haven't been fancying lately, there's another thing. It's talking about Asia like it's a damn country. Notice when people say Asians, the things that come to their minds are yellow people with slitted eyes wearing big cone hats holding chopsticks speaking in an undecipherable language consisting of only two words : ching and chong.

It's one thing to stereotype Asians with only one look. It's another thing to group them into one people of the same culture. Don't they realize they're generalizing about 3.879 billion people? That's more than half the population of the world. It's okay to be stupid, because God doesn't bestow everybody with the same intellectual capacity. But to be ignorant is just unacceptable.

Asians are not all Chinese. Neither are we all Japanese. And not all of us speak in Sino-tibetan languages. We don't all have pictogram-based writing systems. A lot of us have double eyelids. Eating with chopsticks is not cultural to most of us (ask the 1.2 billion people in India for example, or people from the Middle East). Not all of us are Buddhist or Taoist or Confucians. We are not all good at maths. We don't like singing that much. Okay, we do. But not all of us, aside from Indians, Koreans, the Chinese, the Japs, Filipinos, Malaysians, Thais and Indonesians. Haha.

Self-deprecating jokes aside, we are not all just 'Asians'. If you want to seem less ignorant, say East Asians when you're referring to people from China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia and Taiwan. Or even better, specify the country. But don't just guess. Just because I speak a language you don't understand and I have slitted eyes, doesn't mean I'm Chinese. For all you know I might be an Inuit person from Alaska. And just because I smile a lot doesn't mean "Asians love to smile".

Once I read this article about 'How To Do Business with Asians' and it made me laugh out loud. Tips like 'Bow down lower than a person with a higher ranking than you in the office hierarchy', or 'Avoid direct eye contact' are ridiculous. In Malaysia, we don't bow down... ever. Unless you're talking to the king, which most people don't get the chance to do in their whole lifetime. It's like the author just went to Japan for a month and clumsily concluded that Asians = Japanese.

In short, Asia is not a country. Stop saying "Asians do this, Asians do that". Because only some of us might do it, and I'm pretty sure most of us don't. Asia is a fucking continent, literally, because Asia's population has quadrupled in the past century. If that's not a fucking continent, than none of the continents are.

Osama bin Laden is as Asian as Kim Jong-Il, but you wouldn't see them as people from the same culture now would you?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How To Be Adults On Facebook

First of all, use your real name. Or, if you're one of those people who are completely paranoid about aliens seeking your personal data (but still can't help wanting to use Facebook), you can use your most common and easily recognizable nickname. But don't use cartoon character names, names combined with celebrity surnames (like "Bustamam Bieber") or names that are just plain stupid like "Jalan Mati" and expect people to accept your friend request.

Secondly, use a recognizable profile photo that makes people know it's you. Of course, you can distort the image any way you like, or photoshop the hell out of it to make yourself look like a million dollars because let's face it, our Facebook profile picture is the antithesis of the driving license picture. Why settle for a bad JPJ-conform picture as your default photo on Facebook when you can have complete control of the lighting, the pose, hairdo, and, being Photoshop savvy, are able to eradicate the smallest blemish on your face and destroy all proof that you possess skin pores. You can do anything you like with your profile picture, as long as you don't put a photo of a trash can. People who put trees and pots and cats as their profile pictures combined with stupid names such as "Perigi Buta" are so annoying they should be shot and steamrolled.

Thirdly, don't be passive aggressive on your status. I just hate it when people say "I love it when my room mates drink all of my apple juice", although he/she is aware that they're friends on FB. Drama will ensue in the comment section, although the rest of the people on their friend list don't give a shit. If you don't like something about someone, write a personal message directly into his/her FB inbox and talk it through. And by personal message, I don't mean writing "Hi roomie, could you please lower the volume when you watch porn late at night, because the walls are paper thin and I have early classes, thanks!" on his Facebook wall for all the world to see. Embarrassing people on Facebook is one of the easiest things to do, and the most childish too.

Fourthly, pretend to have a real life. A lot of young people spend more than 3 hours per day on Facebook #fact. But you don't have to update your status every 5 seconds, share EVERY funny video you stumble upon on the net, comment and like everything people put on their page, join every group imaginable, and change your profile picture so often your page looks like a Powerpoint slideshow.

Fifthly, stop stating the obvious. Writing "It's Saturday night!" on a Saturday night is just... dumb. Every Friday evening I see people putting "Finally it's the weekend" on their status, as if to reassure people that today is the last weekday of the week, because you know, some of their friends might not have a calendar. Stop doing it unless you have friends who, for some reason, are locked in a windowless basement room without a watch and/or a mobile phone, where the nights and days are a blur and they lose track of time and the only indicator of time at their disposition is their friends' FB status updates. ONLY then you're allowed to do it.

Lastly, don't exaggerate. When people put 1435 photos from a party they had last night, with status updates ranging from "excellent partyyyyyy!!!" to "the most amazing gathering in the whole worrrrllllddddd!", while I know for a fact that the party wasn't all that, it makes me puke. It's like Facebook is being the messenger of your made up happiness and your all-around awesomeness. Even if the party was great, you don't need to put up all five thousand pics on Facebook because a) most of the images have the same people in it, only with different facial expressions, and b) no one actually gives a shit. And please don't put photos of mundane everyday happenings like going to the supermarket etc. I don't get it when people post photos of them buying a watermelon, simply because well, buying watermelons doesn't deserve three thousand photos. If you think people are going to browse all of them one by one (or even ANY of them at all), you're one deluded, self-centred sonofabitch.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Damien Hirst is full of shit

Damien Hirst is full of shit. He's like the Lady Gaga of the art world, selling shock value instead of bona fide works of art. Of course art can be anything. You can spit onto the pavement and call it art. You can tear a piece of cloth in two, sew the pieces back together, name it "Patched Love" and consider it art. Art is everything and nothing, so where do we draw the line? I don't have the slightest idea, but I still think Damien Hirst just full of shit.

I don't care about his shark preserved in a tank. That's not art. That's just... fish, in a tank, preserved in formaldehyde. Just because some stupid rich guy commissions him to do whatever he likes and is willing to fork out millions of dollars for it doesn't make it art.

And the diamond-encrusted platinum skull? I could have done that, if I had enough money to buy 14 million pounds worth of diamonds, and a platinum skull. Whatever happened to modest sculptures conveying emotions and meaning? Art shouldn't be expensive to produce, it should become expensive due to people's appreciation. Today, artists throw insane amount of money down the drain so as to spark people's interest, urging them to say "I could feed my whole country with the money from that diamond-encrusted skull", creating some sort of awe around it thus further increasing its value, while one extremely crucial matter is completely being overlooked: the beauty of the so-called piece of art itself. But sadly, it doesn't have any. It's all about the money needed to produce it. Which is why Damien Hirst is full of shit. And Charles Saatchi is full of shit for being the enabler of this lunacy. And Tate Modern is full of shit for feeding off of Hirst's madness by displaying his stupid works.

If you're not sure why I'm ranting, here's a link you should check out :

If those are not shitty works of 'art', I don't know what is.

p/s : Haters like me are probably perpetuating the buzz about Damien Hirst because let's face it, good reviews or bad reviews, still all press is good press. And ranting haters are the positive factor in a celebrity's longevity, because once people stop hating you, it's because you've fallen into irrelevance and people no longer care. But still, I felt the need to vent about Damien Hirst because for so many years I've been bugged by the mere mention of his name, and naturally, it all snowballed into extreme hatred over time.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


I don't really collect anything, and that seems stupid since I travel (relatively) often. I started collecting key chains, decorative plates and mugs a long time ago, but after a while I realized the plates were completely and utterly useless and took up a lot of space. And key chains are just tacky, especially since most of them are made in China, so what's the point of buying key chains from a bunch of different countries if they were all made in the same factory in Chairman Mao's land. And mugs? Well, they are pretty and very useful since you can never have too many mugs at home, but I always find a way to break my mugs. And I figured that given my clumsiness, plastic glasses are a safer bet.

I used to like collecting shirts too, especially the ones from Hard Rock Café. They are expensive, pretentious and are made from a very low quality fabric, but somehow I thought they are a quintessential symbol of a well-travelled person and I must buy one in every country. I even had friends who would order Hard Rock Café shirts when I went travelling, which was really weird considering they didn't go to the country, so why should they pretend to have been there?

Everything changed when I went to this shopping mall in Jakarta, and saw a stall selling bootleg Hard Rock Café shirts from every country in the world (even those that didn't have one). They also had Starbucks shirts, Planet Hollywood, United Colors of Benetton etc, from every frikkin country, each one sold for not even 10 ringgit. That actually got me thinking, I went to all these countries and overpaid for my original Hard Rock Café t-shirts, while other smarter people had been buying all of them here for a fraction of the price. And once worn, who could tell the difference anyway? No one's gonna check the label. Besides, the fabrics used were pretty much of the same quality (for real). So why did I bother collecting these stupid shirts?

So I stopped. And that's one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Souvenirs are just for bragging, period. You buy a mug from Paris to use at home, so that when people come over they'll see it and say "You've been to Paris?" and you are able to say yes and continue gloating by recounting your travel. If someone gives you a souvenir from Argentina, you're still able to say "My parents/brother/best friend went there and bought this for me" and for some reason you are entitled to a certain amount of gloating.

I've even stopped taking a lot of photos. I've come to a point in my life where I don't think I need to prove to people I've done something or I've been somewhere. If I say I went to Portugal, and they're like "pictures, or it didn't happen", I couldn't care less. Why do I need to prove to someone that I've been to a country? If I lied, then I lied. It's not a crime unless it's perjury. The reason why I don't like taking photos anymore is because they are always deceiving. The best views I've seen are not always the most photogenic. So when I tell people about this scenery, they'd be like "Did you take photos?". When I show the photos to them, they'd be like, "Yeah, it's kinda nice." It's not the reaction that I wanted, because somehow when I was there, I felt a lot more, but the feeling and the ambiance didn't translate well into photography. And you'll be stuck with the image on the photo for the rest of your life, and that's extremely disappointing.

But there's still on thing I collect though. TV and movie memorabilia. I like collecting movie posters, anything with quotes from my favourite movie or series, Coca-cola glasses from the 70's, and t-shirts worn by actors in movies or series. I lost a lot of my posters when I moved last year, and I've broken almost all of my precious Coca-cola glasses since I'm maladroit and they are so frikkin fragile, which is a lethal combination. But the t-shirts I still keep. I have this one shirt from Fox River Penitentiary with Michael Scofield prison number. I also have a New York Herald Tribune t-shirt, like the one worn by Jean Seberg in Godard's A Bout de Souffle (not the same fit, of course).

And now I'm looking for Sheldon Cooper's Green Lantern shirt, very nerdy but very cool. Geeks are the new jocks anyway. I'm broke, so I don't think I'll buy it anytime soon, but I'll get my hands on it in the near future.