Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Last Word (Or Is It?)

My reaction to most things these days.

It's officially at the midpoint of summer, and it's also around the time when the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer. Instead, all my brain wants is play with my niece, have sangria and make strawberry cake.

Which is why I have been meaning to write this post earlier, but then I couldn't quite wrap my head around what I wanted to say about the topic in question. Because the humidity makes 85 degrees feel like 100, I feel like my brain is one hop, skip and a jump away from melting into a giant puddle. Not to mention the fact that on Twitter, a lot of people had many things to say about it, some very emotional, others very astute, others all of the above.

But this past week has been an interesting one for criticism and it's made me ponder one question: Who has the last word these days?

First, let's recap. A critic named Lily Janiak for "HowlRound," a theatre blog that is read primarily by theatre artists, wrote a review of "American Nights" at California Shakespeare Theater. Criticism of said review came from staffers of the theatre (including the artistic director Jon Moscone), and other artists. Criticism of the criticism also followed.

And then editor Polly Carl posted up an apology, saying that, "There is a way that the tone of Lily's piece can be read as disrespectful. This is not a tone we want to promote on HowlRound." I initially saw the apology as an abandonment of the writer, because in the journalism world, to quote Mitt Romney, there are "no apologies," unless you spell someone's name wrong or report a false fact.

But in the ensuing hubbub, I now just see it as an editor's comments to her readers. And for those who read "HowlRound" regularly, this kind of clarification of intentions is common on the blog. Call it transparency.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Victim Blaming and Trayvon Martin

Jim Morin, The Miami Herald

A lot of artists use the term turning point when they talk about that moment where they knew they wanted to pursue being a painter, a director, a playwright. For me, one of the turning points of when I knew that a career as a reporter was the right one for me was this article, by crime reporter R. Scott Moxley for "OC Weekly" (where I interned for and wrote a couple of pieces back in 2009).

It was a profile of Gunnar Jay Lindberg, who, with an accomplice in 1996, brutally murdered the 24-year-old Vietnamese-American Thien Minh Ly in Tustin, CA as he was rollerblading on an evening in January. What the story told me was that, 1) unfair things happen, especially when you're a person of color, and 2) journalism can be a way to bring light to that kind of injustice.

What brought this old case to my head again was Travyon Martin and George Zimmerman, and how Zimmerman, despite killing Martin, was acquitted of 2nd degree murder and manslaughter. This isn't 1996, it was 2013 and injustice is still alive.

Of course it's false to equate a pre-meditated hate crime with manslaughter, but the reason Thien Minh Ly came to me now was because of the racial motivation. Zimmerman followed Martin because he was black. Lindberg targeted Ly because he was Asian.

But I'm not going to go into whether I think Zimmerman's acquittal was the right decision or not (it wasn't), or whether he had the right to shoot a teenager (he didn't). Instead, I want to go into discourse, or whether, the state of discourse in this country about race and victim blaming.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I Want to Be Lois Lane When I Grow Up

"Man of Steel" Lois Lane, hard-hitting investigative report
who is not fooled by a pair of glasses.

When I was little, I wanted to be many things. I wanted to be Belle, I wanted to be Snow White, I wanted to be the Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers, I wanted to be Hermione and, I wanted to be Lois Lane.

She's the female comic book character I looked forward to seeing at the theaters when the superhero films started making a come-back in the early 2000s. Superman was an inevitability and the only thing that made me bite my nails was seeing who would play her. And Amy Adams was my perfect Lois Lane.

I am a big geek, which means I grew up watching the DC Comics cartoon versions of "X-Men," "Spider-Man," "Batman," "Batman Beyond" (which I believe is next to "Gargoyles" and "Animaniacs" as the best cartoon show ever written) and "Superman." And out of all the superhero girlfriends, I wanted to be Lois Lane.

The main reasons were two-fold: she was a writer, I wanted to be a writer, and she was female. Considering the utter lack of female heroines who were not princesses, I took what I could get. Side note: I never wanted to be Mulan, because even at that age, I could see that me being a Chinese warrior was a little too on the nose.