Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How Times Have Changed....1997-2007...時代的轉變 1997-2007...時代のかわり 1997-2007

I have been thinking since the beginning of this year how times have changed in the past decade...so much has changed since 1997, back then when I was still in highschool.

I remember back in 1997, handphones (mobile phones) were just becoming popular then and the internet was also only starting to become widespread....there was no such thing as blogs and the fad was personal websites on geocities (anyone remember those hideous primitive looking sites?? ) I mean they must have seemed so new and interesting back then but compared to our wordpress and blogspot nowadays, its really a world of difference...


On my interest and areas of concern, the past ten years have been fantastic to say the least in terms of the trend...in the area of the Cheongsam, the chinese dress, I've seen a noticeable increase in Chinese society's appreciation and admiration for the dress in the past ten years....in 2000, Wong Kar Wai's ' In the Mood for Love' came out which led to a brief but sharp increase in the popularity of the cheongsam as it became the focal attention of the movie with everyone, and I mean everyone, whom talked about the film, definitely mentioning the array of 60s cheongsam worn by Maggie Cheung....many Mainland Chinese TV dramas I've seen have also placed great emphasis on the cheongsam and you can see beautiful cheongsams worn by actresses in all TV dramas produced by China that deals with the 1930s era....Further, there is even a TV drama on the topic of the cheongsam coming out from China as well as an accompanying movie. I would never have imagined a whole TV drama on the cheongsam ten years ago!! So i'm super looking forward to this drama....the story is apparently about a cheongsam tailor and his lovers...and then there is another TV drama by Stanley Kwan which has come out which also has a character of a cheongsam tailor...so I've noticed a significant increase in the media attention given to cheongsams in the pst 10 yrs which I'm happy about...

Further, thats not the only area of interest of mine where the trend is going where i would like it to go....on the issue of Japanese warcrimes and WW2 which is another of my area of interest, there has DEFINITELY been an unmistakable clear increase in the amount of interest, research, as well as campaign movement on this issue in the last 10 years.

I remember bck in 1997, Iris Chang's 'Rape of Nanking' book had just come out and people were only beginning to know about Japanese atrocities during WW2. But still, overall interest Asia-wide was still very low and not prominent and I was thinking to myself (cos I was extremely interested in this issue bck then already, I had started researching into the issue since I was 14) why was there such injustice in the world that the Japanese could get away with what they did?? I was bitter and angry and the only people that seemed to make any noise about the war atrocity issue back in the 90s seemed to be Koreans. However, to my great joy, ALL THAT CHANGED when we entered the 2000s especially since 2003 when China became to take a great interest in the whole issue with a special multi-part series on Phoenix Cable TV on Japanese war atrocities in China in 2003 as well as well-publicised incidents of Chinese residents injured by chemical weapons left behind by the Japanese forces after WW2. Then China-Japan relations deteriorated with the Yasukuni Shrine incident which lasted for around 5 years...i mean the fact that Yasukuni became an issue was great for me as it showed that the tide had changed and that people were now finally becoming more interested and more active in holding Japan accountable for its actions....10 years ago, I didn't think Japan's wartime past would become an international diplomacy issue in the form of Yasukuni as it did in the 2000s.

Further, the 2005 anti-Japanese riots in China was a positive development for me personally (though i cannot say i condone their actions of vandalising private businesses and diplomatic Japanese establishments) as it showed that the younger Chinese were not about to forget Japan's past atrocities and that many people in China, were like me, very passionate about the WW2 and Japan issue and so the issue wasn't going to die out when the actual survivors of that war had died as the Japanese government would hope for. ....also there has been a renewed interest in the Nanking Massacre with at least 7 film projects coming out either this year or next year in memory of the 70th Anniversary of the Massacre due this coming December. It may be astonishing but there has NEVER been a single major blockbuster picture on the Nanking Massacre before in the past 70 years with the only one coming close being the 1995 Taiwanese funded 'Don't Cry Nanking' which had lack of publicity.

The comfort women issue has also raised to prominence this year attracting more attention than it ever has with the FIRST Congressional Hearing held in Washington with 3 former comfort women in February this year and a resolution already passed by the House Committee on Intl Relations calling for an official apology and educational awareness by Japan. A full house vote on the resolution is expected sometime this week or next and it is expected to pass. Many leading international newspapers such as the NY Times, LA Times, The Age, Washington Post,etc all published not only articles in support of achieving justice for the comfort women but even published editorials condemning Japan for its actions in attempting to downplay the whole issue and even going so far to suggest that the women were liars. I mean I would never in my BEST dreams have thought the comfort women issue would make international headlines or get into the agenda of the American congress even a mere 5 years ago, let alone back in 97!

In a word, there has never been so much Asian or international public awareness or interest on the issue of Japanese war atrocities at any time in the past 60 years since WW2 ended than now...its funny how it was not an issue back in the 60s,70s,80s, but has become a major issue now as time has passed on...i think its got to do with the higher awareness of human rights amongst young asians nowadays as well as rising living standards which frees Chinese, SEA Asian as well as other Asians to start thinking about the past as they are able to live comfortably in the present...

Another issue of my interest which has really hit the spotlight is of cos, the Gay issue. No one can deny that the whole homosexuality and gay topic has shot into the limelight and become so mainstream in the past decade that it really isn't even a taboo nowadays...at least in the West and parts of Asia like Taiwan or Hong Kong...i mean i think i'm speaking for everyone that the rise of gay culture and gay rights has been simply phenomenal in the mere 10 years since 1997.

I can think almost ALL the mainstream gay Chinese films came out after 1997 with the first being that famous Leslie Cheung-Tony Leung gay film 'Happy Together' ...the positive images of gay and lesbians has increased tremendously in the media that positive representations now overwhelm negative ones in both the Western as well as Asian media. After Brokeback, which became the first gay themed film to become a blockbuster hit with mainstream audiences as well as winning its director, Ang Lee, an Oscar for Best Director, the visibility of gay characters in Western media is simply astonishing. I mean i hardly watch Western stuff ( hard to believe I know given that I've been living in Australia for the past 6 years) but everytime i turn on the TV, there is BOUND to be some gay character or person!!! Like Desperate Housewives, how one of the housewive's good friend is gay (that Asian guy..and if it wasn't already obvious by his mannerisms and clothing dress style, they had to make sure the audiences knew he was gay by having him say he went on a gay cruise) and then on Heroes there was that gay best friend of one of the heroes...and then there was two documentaries i watched, one about sex and the other on flirting in Paris, both shown on free to air TV this year and both included gay and lesbian perpectives!! I mean how cool is that...10 years ago, it would have been rather rare for a mainstream documentary to include any gay perspective...usually gay sexuality would have to be in a separate documentary solely on 'gay sex' or 'gay flirting trends' but now, documentaries are including gay views very frequently:)

On the Asian front, a gay themed film 'The King and the Clown' became one of S.Korea's highest grossing films of all time (yes! ALL TIME) which would have been unthinkable bck in 1997 and Taiwanese gay films have become such box-office draws and constant winners of awards, 'Formula 17' 'Eternal Summer' , that no one even bats so much as an eyelid at their gay theme...its no longer considered 'perverse', if anything, its considered an attraction drawing straight and gay audiences alike into cinemas in Taiwan...

I've watched some gay themed Western and Asian films recently which i mentioned before, so i'll give a quick review:

Brokeback Mountain: I don't have a clue why ppl, both str8 and gay, found it the most romantic film of recent years, i mean don't kill me people..cos i know many ppl loved it, but i personally hated it...i found it so disgusting and revolting that i even became alittle homophobic after seeing this film!! But then again, i get like that with Western gay films....the only other one i saw was this one i rented from video rental and i had to like stop watching 1/3 of the way through the film bcos I felt it was just so disgusting...

I mean the sex scene b/w Jake and Heath was sooo rough and violent it wasn't romantic in the least bit..i was actually traumatised as i wasn't expecting them to bonk each other in the freezing cold and after they had eaten all that greasy meat which isn't very hygienic for anal sex if u ask me and it happened all so fast and so violently that i was taken abck...then the way they treated their wive's was just appalling my god! I cannot feel for gay romance if it comes at the expense of women...i mean am I the only one whom felt such great pity for the wives?? I mean the only story out of Brokeback which really got to me was their wive's suffering.. and then Heath has to butt-fuc his wife when she clearly isn't liking it..ew...anyways, although i personally disliked Brokeback, I am glad at all the positive goodwill it generated towards gay people...


TransAmerica: This film by Felicity Huffman was fantastic!!! I loved it...i mean i really felt that her performance as a transgendered person in 'stealth' was very credible and believable...i think it was just great...people should all go out to see this film..it really makes people think twice about any prejudices they may have against transgendered people..


Other American films with a gay theme since Brokeback Mountain: Capote, another Capote film with Sandra Bullock the name of which i can't remember, Little Miss Sunshine (the gay suicidal brother), Friends with Money (they made a huge bit on whether one of the husbands was gay)...actually some of the gay jokes in them were so funny i would like to share with those whom haven't seen them yet:

There was Friends with Money, when one of the friend couple of Jennifer Aniston were discussing why their son doesn't play with balls...

'Honey, Have you noticed that Adam doesn't play with balls and other masculine toys?'

'Well, maybe he plays with the other boys who don't play with balls..' .

'.....*pause*...yah. the gay boys' ( i was laughing out hard with this comment, it was so funny)

' Actually would you care if our son was gay'

' No, i just want him to be happy' ' but i don't want him to experience pain'

' oh but we all experience pain in life'

' i mean 'gay pain' '

'oh....'

This was like the single most funny moment of the film...i loved it...

On to Asian films i saw:

Eternal Summer: I was so looking forward to this film and i wanted so much to love it...i really did..i mean it had a perfect cast, two cute hunkies, a girl in it ( i like gay films with a female character central in it) and looked extremely promising judging by the trailer i watched BUT alas, the story really spoilt the entire movie. I mean it just didn't make any sense to me!! They were so pandering to gay interest and gay men's fantasy that it was really far-fetched and unbelievable..i mean if the girl knows very well one of them is gay and likes his best friend, how can she possibly go out with the gay guy's secret crush? And also the crush best friend thinks that the girl is the gay guy's ex gf but still dates her, how can you go out with your mates girl?!!! And then there is the 'revealing' of whether the crush is really straight or gay at the end...i mean the things he did to keep the friendship is soooo unbelievable it is something that should only be restricted exclusively to gay porn storylines and not mainstream serious films...watch the film, you'll know what i am talking about....PS: Many people, like the Brokeback Mountain fans, loved this film by the way, although most complained about the ambiguous ending which i disliked as well....so i have different taste i guess...

No Regrets: I liked this film...the story was great and the ending witty and funny, one of those 'moment's you would really only ever find in a Korean film...it provided me with a rare insight into the gay scene in South Korea and especially the 'gay host' scene (gay equivalent of clubgirls)...i mean i was taken aback and my heart was pounding at all the frank and daring sex scenes...i was like this '50s housewife' seeing all this for the first time..haha..the things the hosts would do was like WOAWWWW...if this is what they do in Korea, a place not well known for its openness towards gay culture and people, then imagine what they do in places like China and Japan? Anyways, i would recommend this film only to people whom are not homophobic and can keep an open mind towards male-on-male sex cos there are a few daring scenes (no full frontal though if i remember correctly)...

Oh yeah, and then i noticed that in the Chinese New Year Special show in 2007 which all the major stations in Taiwan hold during the lunar new year, on one of them, i was very surprised they did this little skit whereby a prince is supposed to choose a wife and then its a comedy with all the weird women coming in and finally he is revealed to be gay and wants the butler!! I was surprised for two reasons: Firstly, the fact that they would include this gay marriage twist in a CNY show which is traditionally watched by the entire family and must be 'family-friendly' was incredible and further, they not only included the gay ending of the prince marrying the butler but the host repeated twice how times have changed and parents must change their thinking too and how we should all embrace a new 'happily ever after' (indicating not the prince and the princess but the prince and the prince lives happily ever after as is usual in fairytales)...i mean this single fact indicated to me how much society has changed in coming to accept gay people into the mainstream that they could overtly display and even encourage people to accept gay marriages on a Chinese New Year program..(this would be akin to a Christmas or Easter Sunday program)..
Anyways, with the cheongsam, Japan and WW2 ,as well as the gay issue all coming to the limelight in the past decade and going in the right direction, times have truly changed and I'm lucky to be born and to have come of age at this time:)

2 comments:

hari deepak said...

i was planning to watch brokeback but after reading about some of the scenes which you mentioned i am beginning to have second thoughts..oww grose....But probably the movie was so highly rated because of it's breathtaking photography........

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

hari deepak: No, i think it was the gay romance which attracted people to the film...anyways, have a watch cos many ppl liked it.i think i just analyse a film too much sometimes.