I have always maintained that diverse writers must be included in the main discourse of subject matters, rather than seconded into special interest groups, thus making them feel like oddities, rather than fully part of the community. It was with this in mind that I was so pleased to be invited to FanfiAddict’s author livestream on How SFF is Changing, which put me on a panel with a wonderful selection of authors from very different backgrounds, all writing about and working in different styles, content and traditions. There were a few points in the discussion I did not get to address at the time, or may not have been concise on, and thought I would take the opportunity to expand on them here.
Posted in Commentary, Culture and tagged Asian, china, commentary, diversity, fantasy, fiction, literature, livestream, mythology, representation, SFF
Last week, we received the terrific news that Wuhan, a city that I and many others around the world have been cheering on for months, has officially come out of quarantine. As I watched some videos during the quarantine period, the organized volunteer help in local compounds really demonstrated to me how China’s old-style residential living have come in useful during this time of crisis. Known as the Danwei community, this remnant of the Communist Era had still been the prevalent style of living in China until the early 1990s, and it was very much part of the first dozen years of my life.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, community, Coronvavirus, culture, Danwei, life style, society
Recently numerous friends on social media have pointed out to me the shockingly underinformed or dubious ways in which the Chinese arts have been represented in the Western media. I have been impressed by your astuteness and I thank you for your kindness.
Posted in Commentary and tagged animation, arts, china, Chinese culture, comics, commentary, film, literature, novel, representation, science fiction
I have always been proud to be Chinese. Growing up in Britain during the 1990s, surrounded by a mix of Chinese family, friends of mixed ethnicity, and generally accepting people all round, it was not something I felt I needed to defend or actively promote. It wasn’t until I went to university, and came into contact with a wider public, that I began to see a problem.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, culture, ethnicity, heritage, identity, race
Whenever LGBT issues are mentioned in connection with China, they are almost always reported as negative. LGBT Apps and events being shut down, and one map published during Pride Month coloured China black, as “Persecuting LGBT”, alongside countries like Iran and Nigeria, where homosexuality is still a capital crime. This is of course an outdated and selective view of the country, and whilst it still has a way to go, I think it’s important to set the record straight as to its actual current position, and the history behind it. Like most things about China, its attitude to LGBT issues needs to be understood within the country’s very unusual and unique historical and cultural context. The ancient Chinese had passing acceptance of queer relationships, with homosexual love appearing in written records as early 650 B.C. As with most agricultural nations, where progeny are a necessity, society tolerated homosexuality mainly as a casual penchant of royalty and the aristocracy through the dynastic periods. As society modernised, the political climate during the 1960s and 70s, meant it became politicized as a “bourgeois decadence”, and was outlawed as a crime against the country. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the Chinese really began to interact with the concept of LGBT, in a way that lead to mass inherent misunderstandings. In the late 1990s, legislative progress began to be made. This was slow going, beginning with decriminalisation of homosexuality, but not extending to the removal of trans and queer issues from the list of mental Continue Reading →
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, culture, history, LGBT, Pride, rights, society
This article is dedicated to the cats of Canton. Cats were introduced into China via Persian Empire and Egypt. The Chinese term for cat “mao”, phonetically resembles very closely the Egyptian “mau”. To this day, the predominant pedigree in China, tends to be the Persian Longhair. As a child in Guangzhou, I remember spending a lot of time with a white Persian named Tao Tao, whenever my frantically busy mother deposited me at the neigbour’s for the evening or the weekend. Tao Tao, whose name means “naughty”, was anything but. In fact, she was rather timid and skittish, my over-enthusiastic playfulness sometimes sent her scuttling to a dark corner of the flat to hide.
Posted in Culture and tagged cats, china, Chinese, commentary, culture
A dramatization based on Marvel’s Iron Fist took a long time coming. The comics themselves which began in the 1970s only came into being with the craze for kungfu films in the US at the time, and even with its blatant cultural appropriation and lumping together of all non-white cultures, it was a beacon as a Western comic with a semblance of diversity. The Fraction/Brubaker series in the 90s paid its dues to diversity, nodding to a long line of warriors from different backgrounds, who held the title of Iron Fist, though still representing in quite stereotypical terms the nation the culture of which it owed so much of its world building.
In the 21st century, with the popularity of superheroes TV series, and the success of the “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage”, many have been anticipating one on the warrior of K’un-Lun, and there has been calling from fans and celebrities alike for an Asian casting of its protagonist Danny Rand. The series had been delayed, due to creative debate on the on-screen depiction of the hero’s fiery powers. At last, it was released on Netflix on the 17th of March, and I watched through it all in one go to bring you a continuous commentary on social media. Owing to the positive response I’ve received, here’s a write up of the various themes and points of interest that have come to light.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, comics, commentary, culture, diversity, Iron Fist, Marvel, Netflix, review, TV
A recent conversation on Twitter about books on Chinese history turned into a much deeper discussion of China and identities. The two issues that have come up are fractured diaspora identities, and the idea of a “unified China”.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, culture, diversity, ethnicity, history, identity, languages, migration, race