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Post Tagged with: Being British-Chinese

Why do people believe in the BNP?

Why do people believe in the BNP?


For what it’s worth, I think the BBC had to treat the BNP – and Nick Griffin – as any other politician. To set up a rule deciding on which political parties deserved coverage – and then to ignore it because you didn’t like the results – would be about as unBritish as you can get.

But the results haven’t exactly been good. 22% of people polled by the Daily Telegraph say they would consider voting for the BNP, while the News of the World’s poll of 504 people found a third backed the BNP policy that UK-born ethnic minorities should lose all benefits to pay for them to leave, whilst in a comment article (now deleted), the Daily Mail suggests that second-generation immigrants born in the UK aren’t British (while also trying to denounce the BNP). Which would include Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Stephen Fry. At least two people on my blog reading list have decried the BNP while stating that immigration is now a huge problem as far as they’re concerned.

So Pandora’s Box has snuck into the UK, and been opened. But how did it come to this?

Well, it would have helped enormously if the issue had been played, rather than everyone concentrating their firepower on a small relatively insignificant political party (although it did attract nearly 6% of the votes at the last European election).

The anti-fascist protesters seemed far more interested in making a big noise and getting on the news than actually, y’know, trying to stop Nick Griffin getting onto the programme, as their stated aim was. After all, he snuck in by the back way, which isn’t exactly a state secret – there are five entrances into the complex, after all.

The whole point of Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time was that he was meant to be regarded as a normal politician. So why have a scenario where the programme might as well been called An Evening With Nick Griffin, with every diverse person you can think of lining up to take potshots at him? If I was a disgruntled white working-class voter watching that, I’d have been far more inclined to think Nick Griffin was right. (Although the BBC said it just drew a random selection of people from where it was being recorded – West London in this case – and the questions asked were ones chosen by the studio audience)

It should have been a ‘normal’ programme, with him being asked questions about, say, the Royal Mail strike instead of letting him turn it into a bite-sized voxpop of what his policies were. After all, if the Greens or the Communists were invited on, Question Time wouldn’t be dominated by environmental or communist issues.

The political parties and the Establishment have seemed far more interested in ignoring the BNP and their associated issues, instead of perhaps engaging with the electorate. Thus, we have a situation where a few people genuinely seem to believe that the British government is far more interested in helping asylum seekers than British people.

Which flies in the face of a reality where legal routes into settling in the UK are very bureaucratic, and puts a lot of obstacles in the way of my (white British) friend trying to settle in the UK with his (Korean) wife and in the meantime the British government deports women dying of cancer, locks up the children of asylum seekers, leading to things like a ten-year-old Nigerian girl trying to commit suicide as she sits waiting in an “immigration removal centre” and the Catch 22 scenario whereby the Home Office won’t kick people out but neither will it allow them to apply for legality in the first place.

Yes, being against immigration isn’t being racist. But the talk is already moving on from “new” immigrants to current immigrants and their sons and daughters. If you saw me walking down the street, I wouldn’t look British. But I sound, feel, and am British. How long will it be before I have to carry an identity card – or a yellow star – to prove that to people?

Friday funny video: "Everybody should date an Asian man"

Friday funny video: "Everybody should date an Asian man"

One of those comedy funny songs by Asian-American comedienne Jenny Kwok, who wins kudos points because:

  • her YouTube channel is called “A Certain Jen Ne Sais Kwok”, winning the award for most hilarious use of a Chinese surname. After, that is, my soon-to-be-released TV channel BBC Wong…
  • her song “Everybody should date an Asian man” contains the immortal lyric: “Everybody should date an Asian man … at least f**k one, please please f**k one”

Watching Chinese TV

Watching Chinese TV

A while ago, I stayed with my mum for the weekend, keeping her company while she watches some Chinese-language television live via satellite. And bloody hell it’s depressing. Even if I can’t understand a word of it. We have:

  • A husband (who, after a stroke, is rendered dumb is immobile) is seen trying to commit suicide before his wife manages to wrestle the pills out of his mouth.
  • Next scene is of said wife walking in a hospital garden with said husband in a wheelchair. Wife collapses for some reason, and the husband is unable to help her or call for help. So she dies.
  • Next scene is in the hospital room, where the two sons of the husband come in, and taunt him, having switched his pills so he’ll slowly die, then they can steal his money. When the daughter comes in, they immediately switch to sobbing and grieving.
  • Later on, having had a nightmare, he wheels himself down to the mortuary and gazes over his wife’s dead body. Credits roll.

If I could actually understand this in full, I’d be slashing my wrists by now. Or demanding that the writer and co-producer be hanged for their crimes …

Another moment from another Chinese daytime drama involved a boy and girl in ferocious argument against their desperate mum in the middle of ye olde China. The mother storms out of the cafe with very sad music, all eyes on the now sobbing girl, before the mother eventually, reluctantly, comes back to the cafe. Of course she’s punished for leaving them in the first place when said girl starts developing a fever.

Fortunately, Saturday evening entertainment came in the shape of Mr Hong Kong 2009, where ten Chinese boyband members – all with black spiky hair, cheesy grins, and well-defined chests – came in and strutted their stuff dancing with a lady dancer wearing a helmet, as well as walking in slow-motion through a water fountain. The finalists also had to do some kung-fu dancing/action…

Calling Scottish Koreans

Calling Scottish Koreans

Apparently, “Scotch Koreans” don’t make “a wee bit of sense”, according to Starburst:

I would say it’s mildly annoying, but people are generally slightly surprised when I open my mouth and an English accent comes out. (or as someone once said, Ewan McGregor’s voice ?!). And I was surprised when I once bumped into a Chinese guy with a Danish accent.

Hrm…. what do you think?

White people playing Chinese roles…

White people playing Chinese roles…

I’m not particularly up to date with racial and theatrical politics, but I thought it was generally widely accepted that you don’t hire white people to play non-white roles when there are perfectly good non-white actors to play said roles…. right?

Apparently not. Madam Miaow works up a firestorm of a rant in pointing out that More Light at the Arcola Theatre (written by Bryony Lavery and directed by Catrina Lear) is casting white women as Chinese women. What makes it deliciously ironic is that it’s about … the burial of Chinese women. And of course, none of the theatre reviewers have even noticed.

It’s been a long time since I even dabbled in the world of Chinese actors/actresses and theatre but I … just thought you ought to know. Not too sure what people can do about it – for the fourth largest ethnic minority in the UK, the people in power are remarkably blase when it comes to applying the same rules for Chinese people/roles as they would do to white/black/Asian roles…

Swine flu – the Asian perspective

Swine flu – the Asian perspective

Me in a gas maskNever let it be said that the Chinese do things by half.

A friend of my parents flew over from South East Asia to spend some time with my parents in the UK. Amongst the things he brought with him were a set of face masks for my parents – it seems that after the 2002/2003 SARS outbreak, many households in Asia already had one of these and he thought it might come in handy. Fortunately, despite my coughing and sneezing, nobody has yet seen fit to actually wear one in this household, at this stage.

At least, till we watched the latest news from the Chinese Channel (run by TVB, one of the two major TV broadcasters in Hong Kong). This is one of the ways in which many Chinese ex-pats in the UK get their news.

So we have a reporter standing outside a Beijing hospital where there are a couple of suspected cases. Said reporter is wearing a surgical face mask while talking directly to the camera. And there’s also live coverage from the Hong Kong hotel where 300 guests and staff have been quarantined for a week after one guest reported suffering swine flu symptoms, although this reporter was brave enough not to wear a facemask.

Of course, if a virulent virus took hold in Asia, it’d be virtually impossible to stop. If nothing else, Chinese eating customs mean that when the whole family eats, everyone grabs their morsel of food from a central dish, with chopsticks clashing wildly sometimes…

I want to be famous … but not like that…

I want to be famous … but not like that…

For a while, I’ve been looking on enviously while the powers-that-be seem determined to groom zuzula into a TV star – or at least, a journalist who appears on the television talking knowledgably about technology – and wondering if I’ll ever get my chance. This of course seems unlikely, especially considering Gok Wan (he has a BIOGRAPHY now!) has taken up the mantle of the first non-kung-fu British-Chinese person to get his own TV show. Lucky sod.

Then for work purposes, two television producers hovered round my desk today while I changed a website based on their whims. They coo’ed, ahh’ed, touched my arms and generally acted as if I was a genius. Which was most annoying because I patently am not. Then they turned to me and said “You’d be great in our diversity video!” and asked me if I wanted to be on it.

On one hand, I’d love to be in the limelight … at the same time, being in the limelight because of an accident of race as opposed to, y’know, doing something worthwhile or interesting seems a bit off. But then maybe rewriting words and putting in images on websites is a highly-skilled art and one that deserves to be lauded in a diversity film?

If someone asked you to be in a diversity video, would you go on it?

My year, apparently.

My year, apparently.

Taken from kwokshukees Flickr account

Taken from kwokshukee's Flickr account

and yours, if you are going to turn 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72 etc. this year…

This is because in the Chinese zodiac calendar, it is now the Year of the Ox. Reputably, if it’s your year’s turn in the zodiac calendar, then great things will happen for you this year. This is probably quite true for the most famous person born in the Year of the Ox. Then again, other famous Ox politicians include Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Napolean and Margaret Thatcher. Fortunately, “cool” celebrities include George Clooney, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Springsteen. Apparently.

It’s just a shame that all the long-term things I’m worrying about or hoping for happen early *next* year, just when the Year of the Ox ends.

Then again, considering Ox’s are meant to be “born leaders”, I’m not sure how accurate the whole Chinese zodaic belief is. Any more than the Western horoscope really…

On this almost historic day…

On this almost historic day…

Secret Asian Man

(It does have to be pointed out that 20 years from now, we’ll think of today in the same way we think of the Moon landings. Cool, but let’s get back to reality…)

Wax on, wax off

Wax on, wax off

When I gingerly went to a start-up group of British Chinese comedians, I didn’t actually have many things in common with the urban actors/writers before me who’d spent their formative years going to their local Chinatown.

Fortunately, one thing we did all bond on was our common experience over The Karate Kid. Not so much in watching it, but in that our playground “peers” would constantly reference it or point to it in conversations/taunts with our younger selves. Even now, catchphrases from that 25-year-old film still loom large in my head. Left-a-circle, right-a-circle. Wax on, wax off. And of course, the semi-legendary crane kick.

Looking back on it, it’s actually a semi-charming if rather unoriginal film – and the less said of the sequels the better. A lot has to do, of course, with the original casting of Pat Morita, who actually somehow managed to give the cliched idea of an Eastern old wise man a soupcon of gravitas and background.

Fast-forward to today, and Empire Online and BBC News bring the news that Jackie Chan may be cast as the wise muse in a remake of the Karate Kid. Which strikes me as terrible news for the following reasons:

– Does the Karate Kid really need to be remade? It wasn’t that brilliant an idea to begin with, what’s a 21st Century spin going to give it?
– Jackie Chan. Many things he is, but a charming wise muse, he is not. There’s no actual acting ability or charisma behind Jackie Chan – and to be fair, most of the time there doesn’t have to be one. He just usually plays hapless if nimble foreigner. But a wise muse? You might as well cast the manic Jim Carrey as that.

The whole thing is a really terribly bad idea, and I for one hope it never happens. But then I bet I’ll spot it in the straight-to-DVD shelves 3 years from now.

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