Link Lineup – March 2021

Getting to know Korean modern and contemporary art with RM

Until this point, we have mainly discussed paintings, but they are not the only works of art that embody Korean history and traditions. That is not to suggest that works that inherit from tradition are always excluded from the list of artistic genres, but no list would be complete without the ceramics of Kwon Dae-sup. RM, who uploaded a picture of himself with one of Kwon’s moon jars in his arms on his social media, admiringly referred to Kwon as a master of Korean aesthetics while viewing his work s at an exhibition. 

I have this absolutely irrational fear of museums that I will never address. As a result, I do a lot of my art-learning through art criticism and the flurry of coverage that comes whenever BTS’ RM goes to a new museum exhibit or purchases art (that he or the artist then posts about on social media). I’m super grateful for this piece by art critic Jangno Lee because it looks at the art RM has looked at and what he’s loved enough to purchase and then puts all that art into its contexts for a wider audience and reveals information on the techniques that many average fans who aren’t art nerds wouldn’t know. Now, I’m holding out for some uh… hip-hop focused content? Because I desperately need to know RM and Suga’s thoughts on M-net’s latest hip hop offerings and the general state of Korean hip hop… Just saying.

Dear Hollywood: Where are the Black queer romance movies?

Watching both of these films, I began to craft some semblance of what life could look like for me in terms of love and career. But as I grew into adulthood, I realized that doing so was a foolhardy mission. Not because I couldn’t possibly achieve what these characters had, but because these characters didn’t walk around their fictitious worlds the way I, as a Black queer person, walked around my very real one. I couldn’t truly put my feet in their shoes and imagine life beyond my circumstances because I was wearing a size 12 heel. Now, as I come more into my particular brand of queerness, I look for media representations of Black queer folks in love.

I read this in February and came bac to it this month as I thought about how hard it was to click with classic queer media. It doesn’t really click for the kind of queer person I am. Not really. And it’s not valued as hard. I’ve had better luck with fan fiction and romance novels than I have with queer romances… because Blackness – queer Blackness at that – isn’t represented fully or with nuance. (One day I’m going to rewatch Queer as Folk and Noah’s Arc and put those into conversation so y’all can see how drastically queernesses were conceived back then… Because shit was uncomfy at best, babes.) At the end of the day, we want to and deserve to see ourselves fully realized on screen. Making our own is a start of course, but it’d be nice if we didn’t always have to.

Minari and the Real Korean-American Immigrants Who Have Farmed U.S. Soil for More Than a Century

While the biggest Korean-American populations in the U.S. can be found in cities like Los Angeles and New York, the first wave of Korean immigrants were actually farmhands. At the start of the 20th century, the Japanese colonization of Korea had led to widespread oppression and poverty there. At the same time, the U.S. was looking for cheap Asian labor to develop its newest territory, Hawaii, especially due to the fact that Japanese workers there had begun to strike for better wages.

You know how anyone who grew up in the US/went to school here is like “wow I didn’t learn that in school” because they teach us NOTHING here? Yeah, I loved this piece because I didn’t know any of this. Aside from how it reminded me of my thoughts on how US curriculum needs to be accurate and teach us all history as it happened, I loved learning about what the initial waves of Korean immigrants’ lives were like and how Minari spoke truth to their experiences and a history many people didn’t know until they saw the film.

Black BTS Fans Share Why They ‘Purple’ This K-Pop Group

“Like me and many other ARMYs love to say, as long as they decide to be here, we will be here,” said Odusanya.

These five Black members of BTS ARMY open up about stanning the group, share who their bias and bias wreckers are, unpack the line between cultural appreciation and appropriation in K-pop, and more in the video above. You’ll purple it.

Obviously, I’m here for anything that acknowledges BTS’ Black fandom and fans. A lot of people talking about international Korean pop fandoms kind of just zero in on white fans – excluding not just Black fans who do eventually get their shoutouts from smaller bloggers and through outlets like The Root, but the Korean diaspora, other Asian fans from different communities and cultures, Native fans, and the wide range of fans from Central and South America. I want more well-rounded coverage of what brings different fans here… and why they stay. This isn’t perfect – it’s more celebratory than I tend to go for regularly – but it is a start and I’d like to see more!

Stories of Slavery, From Those Who Survived It

While many of these narratives vividly portray the horror of slavery—of families separated, of backs beaten, of bones crushed—embedded within them are stories of enslaved people dancing together on Saturday evenings as respite from their work; of people falling in love, creating pockets of time to see each other when the threat of violence momentarily ceased; of children skipping rocks in a creek or playing hide-and-seek amid towering oak trees, finding moments when the movement of their bodies was not governed by anything other than their own sense of wonder. These small moments—the sort that freedom allows us to take for granted—have stayed with me.

My paternal grandparents were born in the 1800s and by the time my father was a preteen in the 40s, were in their middle age at the youngest. My maternal grandmother, was born almost a decade before the island I would be born on became a territory of the United States. Sometimes, I think about how close they were to slavery on the Caribbean islands of their birth. Because slavery in the US only ended in 1863 – and then Black people in the US and in US territories were still subject to the Jim Crow era policies and the long spectre of lynchings and firebombings. I am probably just four or five generations away from the triangle trade. That is horrifying.

Crime noir comic The Good Asian explores the identity, struggle, and history of Asian-Americans

The only place you could find Asian-American detectives in the ’30s was Hawaii, so Edison Hark, like Charlie Chan, was inspired by real-life Hawaiian detective Chang Aparna, who very much policed other Chinese people. In that sense, he was a race traitor. So here you have a detective who became a cop because he wanted to do the right thing only for his community to see him as a traitor – and for him to wonder if he just might be one.

The title “The Good Asian” is an allusion not just to the model minority myth Asians deal with, but also brings up the idea of what constitutes a “good Asian?” To what degree, should you show loyalty to the place you’re living in and its laws? To what degree, should you show loyalty to your people or your culture or your heritage? That conflict between the place you’re living in and the culture you come from resonates deeply to me as an Asian-American and I hope it does with other children of immigrants.

I love crime noir so much. You may remember my whole thing about The Shadow and The Spider and how my favoite Image comics have been their crime noir series. The Good Asian comes out May 5th and I’m really excited to see what it looks like and how it sets a new standard for the genre!

Representation heals: How watching K-dramas lifted the weight of white supremacy and freed my tongue

In America, Asian actors are often strangled by ethnic restrictions placed on us. So many casting notices indicate that one must match the role, ethnically speaking, in order to audition. As an attempt at correcting such wrongs of the past as Blackface and yellowface casting, I’m sure it’s a well-meaning gesture. But I can’t help but notice my white American friends who get to play Russian, German, Irish, American, British etc. roles with impunity. The same decision makers also had no problem with casting me in roles like Shin the Gangster with the ubiquitous-for-Asian women “edgy” colored hair extensions. In drama school I was Lady Macbeth but in the industry I was Lotus the Massage Therapist.

I just really appreciated reading this piece on the way representation matters and how the author, Hannah, was able to reconnect with her Korean heritage and feel represented against the weight of a racist Western world, by becoming invested in K-dramas. It’s just a lovely, very touching piece and I wanted to share it!

This week in TikTok: David Dobrik and YouTube’s distorted culture of consent

(Content Warning for sexual assault, coercion, a lack of consent, and bigotry.)

It’s not the first time the Vlog Squad has been described this way. Francois, the Black former member, said in a podcast that he was always fearful of being seen as a curmudgeon if he wasn’t willing to be game for a video. “It was an unwritten thing where you see a pattern of people saying, ‘Yo, I’m uncomfortable with this,’” he said. “All of a sudden they disappear and they’re not in videos anymore.” The reason it sounds familiar is because it’s applicable to nearly every toxic workplace in any industry: The risk of potential exclusion is made out to be worth the price of staying silent.

I don’t watch a lot of popular YouTubers in part because… you never know who you’re watching. I’ve been burned by celebs before and so I tend to stick small and try not to be weird about it. YouTubers – who have no common sense or media training as a rule it seems – are too much. Learning more about what these celebs get up to was… kind of distressing and disturbing. Especially realizing that someone can put up that kind of violence on their channel, edit it so it looks consensual and fun, and well… profit. Yikes.

What It’s Like to Run the Most Powerful Beyoncé Fan Account on the Internet

Today, you can expect every major recording artist to have a fan account. Beyoncé has more than a dozen on Twitter alone, but Beyoncé Legion is in a league of its own. According to BL, a lot of the platform’s success is owed to their dedication to Beyoncé and the Beyhive. “We’re very dedicated and feel responsible toward the people that depend on us to keep up with the biggest artist in the world.”

I am in awe of BNFs on stan twitter. I don’t want to be one, of course – what little visibility I have has been unpleasant at best-, but I am in awe of big accounts who don’t just run their own segment of the fanbase they’re in… but have fanbases of their own. Learning about BL was super cool because this is a decade’s worth of work and they’re so good at it. It makes me think about the long-term BNFs in my primary fandom and how much they do to uplift our center of stan twitter.

another black girl in south korea cafe hopping, stanning brave girls, and eating bibimbap

My Twitter pal Tiwa is in South Korea and she has a vlog series where she just lives her best life! She’s super cute and cool and I’m glad for the chance to see her experience and this part of her journey!

Covid-19 drove hundreds of Africans out of Guangzhou. A generation of mixed-race children is their legacy

While there is no official data on how many Africans in Guangzhou married Chinese women, a walk through the strip malls of Little Africa in recent years made it clear: scores of shops are run by an African husband and his Chinese wife, with their children running down the corridors.

Yet that sense of belonging was rocked for many last April when Africans across the city were evicted from their homes and hotels, and forced to live on the streets. After a handful of Nigerians tested positive for Covid-19, Guangzhou authorities quarantined and tested Africans all across the city, sparking unproven fears that Africans were vectors of the virus.

Ever since early 2019 when I started researching in connection with hip-hop performed in Asian countries (and by Asian Americans in their respective diaspora communities), I have learned a lot about worldwide, how Blackness is seen and antiblackness is performed. It’s.. not always great to go through. This article is hard to read at times because it talks about some of the antiblackness that African Migrants and Afro-Chinese people have faced historically, but also with the spread of COVID-19. I remember seeing threads sharing videos and photos of Africans being mistreated early on in the crisis and worrying that people were being scapegoated there and… that’s covered in this article.

I am grateful to the author for all of it, but especially for the chance to get the perspective from Zhong Fei Fei, a young woman who was on Produce Camp 2020. Zhong Fei Fei caught everyone’s eye in my fandom circles because well… she was really cool and Black idol fans gravitated towards her. However, her experience with stardom was also partially colored by antiblackness and she talks a little bit about that in the quotes used for the article. It’s definitely an interesting read and a topic that I really want to learn more about in order to think about worldwide anti/blackness and how I can be informed and as helpful as possible.

About Zeenah

Zeenah writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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