Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some of my many opinions

Mark Spitz was not invited to the Beijing olympics and is in a minor snit about it. I think he's an idiot and needs to get over himself. Seems like even the person writing the article found him annoying and couldn’t help putting in a little dig about how his show business career never really took off like he’d hoped. In any case, reading his comments make me think maybe people knew him and that's why he didn't get invited...

I find this article on Beijing gymnastics a nice piece of writing. No, it’s not War & Peace, but for what it is, I think it’s a job well done…

The Spanish basketball team is in trouble for making slanty-eyes in an advertisement.
It was dumb. Someone should have realized at some point that maybe this was a bad idea. And I would expect any number of the Spanish basketballers to be racist to some degree – pretty much all of us are. (In my experience, people who feel the need to announce that they are not racist are almost always the least educated on racial issues, the least self-aware, and the most racist people in the room.)


a) I think there are contexts within which one could highlight the eye thing -- one of the single most obvious differentiating features between our phenotypes -- without it automatically being an issue of malice, or racism. We are “round-eyes”, they’re not. Noting that is not in itself racist.

b) painting with an extremely broad brush, if we were to rank various cultures’ “xenophobic-ness” based on my limited experience/impressions, I’d put the Chinese up near the top.
I can understand Beijing’s taking offense. But I can also believe that for some players it could have been done with a large measure of innocence, and understand their suspicion that the whole thing is an issue of the media looking to stir up controversy...

I know I’m starting to sound like Ted Kasczcszcynski, but once again the guv’mint is being assholes. There are apparently a lot of people born in South Texas who were delivered by midwives and so don’t have birth certificates. Add the fact that (in exchange for cash) some midwives were apparently making false statements about who was born in the USA to help people fraudulently get citizenship. So now we have people being refused passports because they have no way to prove they’re Amerkins. But is this really where the terrorist threat lies -with people who’ve lived their whole lives here?
And what’s worse: to give someone like that – who is effectively socially indistinguishable from his neighbor who was born here – a passport when he doesn’t deserve it, or to deny a legitimate citizen a passport on the basis of paperwork that might be impossible to produce, thereby preventing him from making a living?
People need perspective.

I saw Robin Williams last weekend – he was right behind me in a crowd of people in Seattle. I have a thing about wanting to be chill with famous people and not fawn over them or bug them. So anyway...
Bryan [over shoulder]: Love your work, dude.
RW: Thanks, dude.
Guess that was my 15 minutes...


At Thu Aug 21, 01:19:00 AM PDT, Blogger si said...

re spanish basketball team gesture (i admit upfront that i'm not coming from a particularly logical or debatable stance -- pretty much a gut reaction): since that gesture has historically meant to be offensive and demeaning, mostly in the states but i'm sure not entirely (and to me personally), i'm having trouble getting my mind around what you're saying in this case.

At Thu Aug 21, 03:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

si, thx for that perspective; that history is exactly why someone should have said "this is a bad idea".
and it strikes me that what i wrote may have sounded like i thot this was an okay thing, or that people shouldn't feel offended by it. i should have been more clear that my only point is that i can conceive of growing up in an environment where these issues aren't front & center, and where this type of thing could be done without malice (ie, in an ignorant but relatively innocent way). or maybe i'm wrong, but i can visualize a spaniard not being in tune with the offensive/demeaning aspects of that gesture.
it's never occurred to me that to have slantier eyes is in any way less desireable than having roundish eyes, so that plus the fact i've never been on the receiving end of ill will associated with that gesture, i can see how someone might make the gesture without intending any offense, however offensive it might actually be to others.
or again, i could be wrong...

At Thu Aug 21, 08:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger si said...

wasn't there a post on "all look same" that discussed the slanty-eye issue? it kind of is a big deal in the asian culture (both in the states and in asia -- those who have been exposed to western society): to have the rounded/"creased" eyes is a desired thing, and to have slanty/smaller eyes is something to be shameful of. (obviously i'm also guilty of painting a broad brush across 2 continents...and who knows, maybe things have changed. i hope so.)

i think i told you of my cousins. they both had the hooded, "slitty" eyes. to mask that, they both wore an extraordinary amount of eyeliner -- even creating a crease where there was none. one of them actually had plastic surgery to create creases. sadly, the results were not what she expected, i'm sure. her eyelids were reddish and inflamed, with the "creases" looking more like surgical scars than creases. and, even after many years, she still looks that way.

that gesture has been actually made to me -- when i was a kid and supposedly because kids do/say mean things without knowing why, and once when i started working, by someone who wasn't much older than i was. this was the same person who wished me "happy pearl harbor day" on dec. 7 and asked if i was going out to celebrate. now this wasn't *that* many years ago.

i know i don't actually have the stereotypical phenotype (borrowing your phrase) -- a friend of mine who does, is always "admiring" my eyes. but obviously the gesture is not meant to be literal but demeaning (my take is most of us would say). so i guess that's where my reaction came from. getting off my soapbox now...

At Thu Aug 21, 10:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger anya said...

Spanish basketball players/morons issue: I didn't finish the article, partly because the fact that this happened annoys me and makes me sad, and partly because the defensive reaction of the Spanish players annoys me and makes me mad. Hello. You messed up. Out of ignorance or malice, you did something bad. Admit it. Say sorry. You didn't know. Whatever. But don't defend it. I understand that from a sort of anthropological perspective, you are analzying the situation and taking into account their culture/upbringing/whatever. That's great. But they weren't in a bar in Madrid. They're in BEIJING. Making an ad. Grow brains. Understand that your little worldview has to broaden when you are guests in someone else's world. And when you mess up, admit it.

Mark Spitz: I think he is classless to complain about it, but I bet I would privately be a bit annoyed too. Seems like it would make sense to have him on hand to watch his record get broken, doesn't it? Sounds like that is the usual practice?

Robin Williams: very cool exchange. I bet they appreciate the non-fawning, bigtime.

At Fri Aug 22, 08:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger Amy said...

Re: RW. Good job. Ask Anya about the time we were *totally cool* (except not) around Chris Isaak.

At Fri Aug 22, 11:07:00 AM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

Concerning the eye thing:
When I saw that picture of the Spanish basketball team I did cringe a bit. Even if all of them don’t have a racist bone in their body they should have had the sense to think about all of the people that consider it in bad taste and just not do it.
si,I have known some Asian women that are not happy with their eyes and try to give the illusion with makeup to make their eyes look rounder. I have also known some Caucasian women that are not happy with their eyes and try to give the illusion of an exotic Asian look with the help of makeup.
I guess eyes are always shaped better on the other side.

In my opinion I think eyes are in the eyes of the beholder.

“All in favor of this say eye”.

At Fri Aug 22, 06:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger anya said...

Haha Amy -- I haven't thought of that for so long! We sure were cool. Whew. How did he even manage not to propose to us right then?

At Fri Aug 22, 06:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger anya said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sun Aug 24, 10:08:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

so when do we get to hear about how cool you guys were with chris isaak?

At Wed Aug 27, 09:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Re: Mark Spitz, I agree with Anya. By not inviting Spitz to the Olympics the committee (presumably because they don't like him) is being just as childish as he is with his reaction.

At Wed Aug 27, 11:45:00 PM PDT, Blogger anya said...

Chris Isaak: We were at a Chris Isaak concert and afterward, he was signing CDs or T-shirts or whatever you had that was Chris Isaak-related. So we went up and got a CD signed. We were probably prepared at that point with something brilliant to say to him, but he didn't really look up or anything because there were a lot of people. Then we got the bright idea that we could get *another* signature if we separated the CD itself from the CD jacket thing (and then, I guess, buy the same CD later and split up the autographed parts so we'd both have an autographed thing), so we got in line again. The reason I explain all that is that we didn't expect him to say anything to us, because he had been so busy during our last encounter. Except this time, he looks up, smiles, gives us the autograph, and asks,"Are you two sisters?" OK we don't look anything alike but I think we had our hair the same (let me guess, long and straight) or something -- so we both look at each other dumbly and say, "No." We leave him hanging there. He says something sort of follow-up-ish like "You're not?" And we say, smiling like dumb idiots to each other and then back at him, "Nope." Then it became sort of awkward, and I think we just moved on and he just went to the next autograph, no doubt awed by our conversational skills. Here are some of the thousand things we could have said:
No, but thanks for the great show.
No, but thanks for signing this.
No, we're not, but your music is great.
No, but we can be anything you want us to be.*

Or we could have done ANYTHING, anything at all, besides beaming idiotic, brainless smiles and repeating the word "No." It's like someone had suddenly lobotomized us. Walking away, we were pretty proud of ourselves. So there you have it.

*Just kidding on that one.

At Sat Aug 30, 12:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

i laughed out loud at your story, anya. nice job, guys!

ps. unca, i don't know -- maybe the IOC is deliberately snubbing him, but if the article represents his personality, i'd be tempted to leave him out, too. kind of like a friend who technically should be invited to your bday party, but you don't because you know he'll be obnoxious and annoying... :-)

At Wed Sep 03, 01:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Amy said...

Oh Anya, I knew you had to be the one to tell it! You brought it all back for me, I laughed til I cried!

Of course, let's be real, "are you two sisters?" wasn't exactly stellar either. Although it became stellar in comparison to the response. Oh the pain.

Just give me one more chance Chris!


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