Saturday, May 30, 2015

How 'Ex Machina' Abuses Women of Color & Nobody Cares Cause It's Smart

Sex slave "Kyoko" played by Japanese/British actress Sonoya Mizuno [image source]

by Sharon H Chang

Last month British science fiction thriller Ex Machina opened in the U.S. to almost unanimous rave reviews. The film was written and directed by Alex Garland, author of bestselling 1996 novel The Beach (also made into a movie) and screenwriter of 28 Days Later (2002) and Never Let Me Go (2010). Ex Machina is Garland's directorial debut. It's about a young white coder named Caleb who gets the opportunity to visit the secluded mountain home of his employer Nathan, pioneering programmer of the world's most powerful search engine (Nathan's appearance is ambiguous but he reads non-white and the actor who plays him is Guatemalan). Caleb believes the trip innocuous but quickly learns that Nathan's home is actually a secret research facility in which the brilliant but egocentric and obnoxious genius has been developing sophisticated artificial intelligence. Caleb is immediately introduced to Nathan's most upgraded construct - a gorgeous white fembot named Ava. And the mind games ensue.

As the week unfolds the only things we know for sure are (a) imprisoned Ava wants to be free, and, (b) Caleb becomes completely enamored and wants to "rescue" her. Other than that, nothing is clear. What are Ava's true intentions? Does she like Caleb back or is she just using him to get out? Is Nathan really as much an asshole as he seems or is he putting on a show to manipulate everyone? Who should we feel sorry for? Who should we empathize with? Who should we hate? Who's the hero? Reviewers and viewers alike are melting in intellectual ecstasy over this brain-twisty movie. The Guardian calls it "accomplished, cerebral film-making"; Wired calls it "one of the year's most intelligent and thought-provoking films"; Indiewire calls it "gripping, brilliant and sensational". Alex Garland apparently is the smartest, coolest new director on the block. "Garland understands what he's talking about," says, and goes "to the trouble to explain more abstract concepts in plain language."


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#RaisingMixedRace ~ BOOK UPDATE ~ May 26

Many of you know (and hopefully are as excited as me!) that I've got my first book in the works, Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World. But what many of you don't know and have been asking me a lot recently is, "What's going on? Is it done? When's it coming out?"

For sure.

First, I hear you. Second, I am SO PLEASED you're looking forward to this important book being released. Three, I value you-the-reader more than words can say. What would any of this writing be without your eyes, minds, and thoughts? Writing that is never read, lives alone. You make it worthwhile. You make the change happen by joining the conversation and spreading the word. It's so much about us together. And that's why I'm 100% committed to keeping you in the loop. So. Here's a book update especially for you...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Book Review & Author Interview: "T Is For Tokyo"

T is for Tokyo by Irene Akio, from ThingsAsian Press

by Sharon H Chang

This Mother's Day 2015 I'm so pleased to share with you an extraordinary picture book by multiracial-identifying artist, illustrator, author and mother -- Irene Akio. Her debut children's book T is for Tokyo was released by ThingsAsian Press in 2010 as part of their series "ThingsAsian Kids" (great titles btw, definitely check them out). It's a stunning bilingual English/Japanese pictorial and cultural exploration of Tokyo that children and parents of all ages will find themselves mesmerized by. Like Irene who was born in Northern Japan and spent summers there but grew up largely in Michigan, the book's narrative is built upon a child's bi-national awareness and budding identity. Little Mina asks her father in the very first pages, "Papa, tell me again about the city I was born in," and he answers:

"You were born in a city called Tokyo. It's bigger than you can imagine..."

artwork copyright 2010 by Irene Akio