Chinese-American Freeskiing Star Eileen Gu Set to Shine in Olympics: Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post on Eileen Gu, a short preview of the freeskiing wonder ahead of the upcoming Games. Here’s an excerpt of the piece, titled Chinese-American Freeskiing Star Eileen Gu Set to Shine in Olympics:

With the Winter Olympics set to kick off in Beijing in less than a month, the Games have become a hot topic on China’s TV networks, often spotlighting the brightest hopefuls in the run-up. And on team China, the Chinese-American freeskiing wonder Eileen Gu is among the biggest and most anticipated superstars for the competition.

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post — and if you like it, share it!

Photo credit: Martin Rulsch, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kazakh Woman, Chinese Man Get Trade Business on Track, Thanks to Trains

Love across cultures and borders can be a powerful thing, including when it leads to a flourishing international business. Recently, CCTV news reported on Anita from Kazakhstan and Yuan Chaohui from China’s Inner Mongolia, who met in Xi’an and went on to create an international trade business that relies on the China-Europe freight trains to ship goods to countries outside China, including Anita’s home country. 

According to Anita, the normalized train service has cut their logistics costs in half and doubled the speed for shipments. Yuan added that, wherever the trains go, they will sell there.

You can watch the full, Chinese-language news report in this video.

What do you think?

Hallmark Adds Asian Men, White Women in Love to Christmas Lineup

Hallmark, which has long been derided for its very “White Christmas” when it comes to representation, has started improving the diversity of holiday movies and programming. And while it still has a very long way to go, at least this season the Hallmark lineup happens to include a few Asian men and White women in love.

The movie “Christmas for Keeps“, which recently debuted, includes among its ensemble cast a married couple with kids played by Cardi Wong (Noah Wong) and Ashley Newbrough (Sarah Jones-Wong). See the two in this trailer on Youtube:

Meanwhile, a Hallmark commercial for its keepsake ornaments features a darling family with an Asian dad and White mom and their precocious little boy (who can’t help sharing with his parents just how much he knows). See the commercial on Youtube:

Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year (with, hopefully, more diversity and inclusion in the mix)!

What do you think?

TLC’s ‘90 Day Fiance’ Reality TV Show To Debut China-US Couple

An upcoming season of the “90 Day Fiance” franchise will spotlight a China-US romance through Ella, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA, and Johnny, from Ji’nan, China. 

Their appearance will mark the first time for the reality TV show — which focuses on Americans who have or are planning to apply for a fiance visa to bring their overseas partners to the US — to feature a China-US couple. 

Here’s the introduction to the couple from EW’s preview of “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” Season 5:

Ella, a country girl from Idaho with a self-proclaimed obsession with Asian culture, met Johnny — her “Asian prince” — on a social media platform exclusively for Asian men and white women. Once they started video chatting, they realized they’d found their soul mates in one another. The pandemic has made it difficult for them to meet in person, and China’s borders remain closed, but after a year and a half and a number of false starts, they’re finally preparing for Johnny to visit Ella in her hometown and get engaged. Despite having video chatted “intimately” over the past few months, Ella’s history with rejection from past romantic interests due to her weight has her worried about what it will be like when she and Johnny are together in person. Still, they’re both ready to prove that their love can conquer all, if they can overcome family skepticism and pandemic barriers.

According to a post on Screenrant, Ella and Johnny’s relationship — which appears genuine based on clips — could satisfy fans hungry for more authentic relationships on the show, which in past seasons has seen returning couples as well as plotlines and drama that don’t square with reality (despite it being called “reality TV”).

Season 5 of “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” will premiere on Dec 12. You can see Ella and Johnny, along with the rest of the couples cast in the season, in this trailer on Youtube:

Photo credit: Screenshot from Entertainment Weekly post at https://ew.com/tv/90-day-fiance-before-the-90-days-season-5-cast/

When US-China Tensions Get Personal: Intl Couples Spotlighted in PRI Story

For those couples who are a living reflection of US-China ties — such as me and my husband — recent tensions between two respective nations can feel a little more personal at times.

So I was thrilled to find a report by Rebecca Kanthor (who is also an American with a Chinese husband) exploring the real impact of US-China tensions on Chinese and American couples. It’s titled ‘You can’t just break up’: US-China tensions add stress for binational couples.

One of the couples featured in the piece spoke about how challenges have given them second thoughts about their plans:

Their plan was to move to the US together this year, but the pandemic canceled those plans.

“Because everything happened when it did, we kind of put everything on hold and we’re just here [in Shanghai] for the time being,” Mention says.

But it’s not just COVID-19. The relationship between China and the US has been testy, to say the least, and that’s made it harder to imagine a life together in the US.

“I think it could be much more difficult for [William] to find a job or to get a visa. We think that the hoops we would have to jump through would be much more difficult,” Mention says.

This sounds much like what I’ve observed with a number of Chinese and American couples I know. You can head on over to PRI to read or listen to the full story.

If you’re part of a Chinese and American couple, how have US-China ties affected your personal life? Or do you know Chinese and American couples who have been negatively impacted by politics or otherwise? Sound off in the comments!

Troubled Expat In Bed w/ Tokyo Gangster: ‘Lost Girls & Love Hotels’ Film

When Margaret (Alexandra Daddario), a self-destructive white English teacher in Tokyo, starts a kinky affair with Kazu (Takehiro Hira), a Japanese gangster, the last thing she ever expects to find is love — and the experience might just push her to the brink.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Catherine Hanrahan, “Lost Girls & Love Hotels” offers a seedier take on expat life through the troubled lens of Margaret, who spends her days barely hanging on to her position and her nights boozing and partying with friends, and stumbling through pay-by-hour love hotels with the Japanese men she picks up, in pursuit of unconventional sexual pleasures. But Kazu becomes more than just a one-night fling — and will falling for one of the yakuza put Margaret in even more danger?

Though “Lost Girls & Love Hotels” has drawn mixed reviews, earning less than 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Daddario and Hira have good onscreen chemistry and make for a captivating couple. If you’re the kind of person who might enjoy a moodier film that drifts through the dark side of expat life in Tokyo, with a little unusual cross-cultural /interracial romance and S&M thrown in, give “Lost Girls and Love Hotels” a watch.

See the trailer on Youtube or, if you’re in China, on Acfun.cn.

P.S.: Looking for more films to watch? Take a look at my list of critically acclaimed AMWF movies.

Phillipa Soo of ‘Hamilton’ Speaks of Biracial (Chinese/European) Family Background

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post titled Phillipa Soo of ‘Hamilton’ Speaks of Biracial (Chinese/European) Family Background. Here’s the introduction:

Call me “Helpless”, but after watching the live-stage performance of the musical “Hamilton”, I simply had to write about Phillipa Soo, who originated the role of Eliza Hamilton and also happens to have a Chinese American father and a European American mother.

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post — and if you like it, share it!

Racism in ‘Eleanor & Park’ Novel Not Stopping Film Adaptation

The YA novel Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell features a white girl and a biracial Korean boy falling in love in high school. While this sounds like just the kind of book I’d embrace and promote on this blog, Eleanor & Park is actually rather racist.

And now it’s getting made into a movie, which has renewed the criticism of racism in the book, as noted in an article about the movie on Vice:

Since the movie deal was announced, dissenters have taken to Twitter to denounce Rowell’s Cho-Chang–ass naming choices (Park is an extremely popular Korean surname, not first name, something Rowell acknowledged in an FAQ); the choice to hire a Japanese director to tell a Korean American story; her descriptions of Park as feminine; her description of another Asian boy’s “just barely almondy” eyes; dialogue between the two main characters where Park says “Asian girls are different. White guys think they’re exotic… Everything that makes Asian girls seem exotic makes Asian guys seem like girls”; descriptions of Park’s mother comparing her to a China doll that further solidify the misogynistic “exotic” stereotype; the fact that Park literally does kung fu against a bully at one point… the list goes on! And on! (Rowell and production company Picturestart did not respond to a request for comment.)

Just do a search for “Eleanor and Park racism” and you’ll find a multitude of articles that back this up, including a review in the Los Angeles Times titled ‘Eleanor & Park’: Where romance and racism seem to go hand-in-hand.

This novel dishes up awful representation of Asian characters, which will then get translated onto the big screen. And the thing is, such representation in the media does indeed matter.

A recent article titled The Psychology of Racism noted that media is one of the major areas that can amplify racism, as summarized in a post on Psychology Today:

The sixth factor the authors identify as contributing to racism in America is the media. The authors cite clear evidence that demonstrates people internalize what they watch on TV. A very early example of this research occurs in a 1963 study where preschool children witness aggression on TV and then imitate that aggression in their lives. The paper is the first in a large body of research that demonstrates how people internalize what they see in the media. The authors also cite clear evidence that the American media portrays idealized representations of White Americans and marginalizes and minimizes people who are not White.

So problematic portrayals, such as in Eleanor & Park, do have real-world consequences in terms of racism. In this case, the forthcoming film will further bolster negative stereotypes about Asians.

None of this has deterred the production of the movie — but then again, perhaps that shouldn’t surprise anyone about Hollywood, given even recent examples of yellowface and whitewashing of Asian characters in the movies.

Nevertheless, it’s just not right that Eleanor & Park became a best-seller and now will be made into a film, as noted in Vice:

…as books like Eleanor & Park continue to find success, the representation conversation will churn on with depressing regularity. It hurts to see that not only has a white author, catering to young people, has sailed along without reckoning with her racism, her fetishization and her lazy caricatures; she’s been rewarded with even more success. It’s hard to blame Asian Americans for focusing on the things that make us feel invisible, even if these debates may muffle the least visible among us.

What do you think about the outcry over racism in Eleanor and Park and the forthcoming film?

Pooja and Robbie: Chindian Couple in Singapore Vlogs on Love, Life

If you’re looking for a new vlog to watch on Youtube, check out Pooja and Robbie, a Chindian (Chinese and Indian) couple who does videos highlighting their multicultural family backgrounds (Indian, Chinese, Singaporean and American) and culture.

In a Q&A about their interracial relationship, Robbie talked about how, when the two of them are in public, people often don’t assume they are a couple due to stereotypes — something I’ve also experienced with my husband.

Pooja also meets Robbie’s Chinese grandma, who shows how to prepare a special tofu dish that has been a tradition in the family. Watching this brought back memories of spending time with my mother-in-law in her kitchen, learning how to cook all kinds of specialty foods, including my favorite flatbread.

Subscribe and watch Pooja and Robbie on Youtube.

P.S.: Are you a Youtuber with a channel you’d like to recommend? Or do you know of a good Youtube channel you’d like to see featured here? Let me know in the comments — or contact me today about it.

‘Everything I Never Told You’ by Celeste Ng To Become TV Series

The best-selling debut novel by Celeste Ng titled “Everything I Never Told You”, a dark story centering on a family with a Chinese American father and white mother living in 1970s small town America grappling with an unimaginable tragedy, will be developed into a TV series, as reported by Variety.

Back in 2014, when Celeste Ng first came out with her novel, I had the honor of interviewing her for HippoReads. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about the novel:

Everything I Never Told You touched me on a personal level. Naturally, I was drawn to the family at the heart of the story. I write about Asian interracial relationships and am married to a Chinese national, so it was refreshing to read a book featuring an Asian father and a white mother raising mixed-race children. More importantly, Everything I Never Told You perfectly captures the insidious nature of race-based discrimination in America and reminds us that Asian Americans are not in any way exempt (despite the pervasive “model minority” stereotype about Asians which I previously debunked on Hippo Reads). While Celeste Ng set her novel in the 1970s, my husband (who lived with me in the US for nearly eight years) also faced discrimination similar to what the novel’s father, James Lee, suffered in the story. When I was reading Everything I Never Told You, I felt as if the Lee family’s sorrows could easily have been my own. It was an incredibly cathartic experience.

If you haven’t yet read “Everything I Never Told You”, you can find it at bookstores including Amazon, where your purchases help support this blog.