Asian Culture in Pop Culture

  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 28, 2008 6:08 AM GMT
    When I was living in California, I'd often frequent Vegas on 3day weekends and Spring breaks... and the last time I was there, a new Asian-themed restaurant/club called TAO had just opened up. Their slogan is Spiritual Dining, Religious Nightlife... and I think a friend's response to that just about sums up my feelings correctly:

    "Come on guys, just cause we're Asian and all exotic or whatever doesn't mean we invite our spirits to the table for meals or like, pray or something while we go clubbing. I mean, wtf."

    There appears to be a trend towards more Asian fusion restaurants or just more Asian influence in popular culture in general (e.g. Tokidoki), but for me, there seems to be a fine line between flattery and insult.

    And one more thing... Asian home decor can be great and all... but it bothers me just a liiiittle when I hook up with guys who have Buddha statues all over the place... especially when that place is a tiny studio apartment. Granted, I'm nonreligious, but I come from a Buddhist family... and let me tell you... it is not hot to see Buddha staring at you from 2 feet away while getting your ass slammed.

    my 2 cents
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 28, 2008 5:05 PM GMT
    Ouch..."Spiritual Dining"? "Religious Nightlife"?

    Unless prayers are offered for the meals the customers receive, I'll have difficulty understanding how that works. I guess the Jade Rabbit could be invoked for the rice cakes, but that would still just seem odd to me. If the dining was ritualized, a la the Green Tea Ceremony, it could emulate some spiritual elements.

    However, whether it is spiritual or hokey will depend on the participants.

    "Religious nightlife" sounds like ritualized circuit partying.

    Buttsex before the Buddha? From what I can remember, there is one strain of Buddhism that advocates indulging in one's desires as a means of ending one's suffering. I don't how how accepted that particular doctrine is though.
  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 28, 2008 5:16 PM GMT
    NickoftheNorth said

    Buttsex before the Buddha? From what I can remember, there is one strain of Buddhism that advocates indulging in one's desires as a means of ending one's suffering. I don't how how accepted that particular doctrine is though.


    Haha... yeah, it's called Tantric Buddhism. Not so popular in my family icon_smile.gif
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    Mar 28, 2008 5:17 PM GMT
    Yeah, there is a hipster bar lounge in San Francisco called http://www.bambuddhalounge.com which I think helped fuel this trend. If you can believe it, outside on top of the bar is gigantic reclining buddha. It is utterly ridiculous, and culturally insensitive...but I suppose since this whole Asian Fusion trend is considered "cool" you can get away with it. I can't imagine anyone opening up a hip club in a major city with Jesus Christ on the roof waving you in. I mean, isn't that kind of respect reserved for Churches?

    BrnzRecliningTempleBuddha.jpg
  • olden

    Posts: 194

    Mar 28, 2008 5:23 PM GMT
    Vlas,
    I don't think they are trying to either flatter or insult you. They are using your ethnos. Look back and see who has gone before you - Ethiopian, Cuban, Tex-Mex, NewMex-Mex, Cajun, Hawaiian, Novelle Cuisine, and on and on. I love food and love to cook, but I hate it when a wonderful national food culture is corrupted to start a trendy cuisine.

    Gawd, aren't I a snob.
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 28, 2008 5:32 PM GMT
    vlas, perhaps you're being a bit too sensitive on the subject.

    'Spiritual Dining, Religious Nightlife'...yeah sounds lame. If I saw that I'd walk right on by because that's just too cheesy and ridiculous sounding for me.

    But it's no different than walking into a traditional Italian restaurant and ordering pizza, an Irish pub and ordering wings, or a Greek restaurant decorated to look like the Parthenon. It's all a gimmick.

    As for butt sex infront of Buddha. I think the use of religious or spiritual icons for home decor just because they're 'trendy', only to be replaced when that trend is over, is equally as lame. But you don't know how Buddhist your booty call is. I'd doubt you'd insist on a Christian booty call take down all his crosses just becasue you don't want Jesus watching.

    I think if we over analyze everything said and done, we can always find fault if that's what we're looking for.
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    Mar 28, 2008 5:43 PM GMT


    zdrew has just learned to embed youtube videos. World, look out... icon_razz.gif

    This clip was from a movie with a fictional singer doing a fictional video and thus is a parody, but it makes a kinda sad commentary on pop culture's obsessions and fads, I think.
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    Mar 28, 2008 5:48 PM GMT
    Vlas, while the butt sex in front of Buddha conjured quite a pleasant picture of you in my mind (thank you icon_biggrin.gif ), I have to say, I think you may be a little sensitive to this one aspect of your life. I say this after reading another of your posts. Not the butt sex thingy, the Asian thingy...

    Every culture has experienced some level of disrespect from the well meaning as well as the not so well meaning. I know I've made some faux pas along the way but people have been gracious enough to pull me to the side and correct me in a sensitive manner. I certainly would never intentionally insult someone but sometimes it's done out of ignorance.

    We really can't take life so seriously. I can go around finding the flaws in people all day but I choose to see their attributes instead. There are people who unknowingly insult my culture, sexuality, height, etc... everyday but I understand that most of the time it's because they are not realizing what they are doing.

    The best we can do is live our lives being the best example of what we would like to see in others. Observe others, question when appropriate and grow as individuals.




  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 28, 2008 5:49 PM GMT
    creyente saidVlas, while the butt sex in front of Buddha conjured quite a pleasant picture of you in my mind (thank you icon_biggrin.gif ), I have to say, I think you may be a little sensitive to this one aspect of your life. Not the butt sex, the Asian thingy...

    Every culture has experienced some level of disrespect from the well meaning as well as the not so well meaning. I know I've made some faux pas along the way but people have been gracious enough to pull me to the side and correct me in a sensitive manner. I certainly never would intentionally insult someone but sometimes it's done out of ignorance.

    We really can't take life so seriously. I can go around finding the flaws in people all day but I choose to see their attributes instead. There are people who unknowingly insult my culture, sexuality, height, etc... everyday but I understand that most of the time it's because they are not realizing what they are doing.

    The best we can do is live our lives being the best example of what we would like to see in others. Observe others, question when appropriate and grow as individuals.






    Well said Shorty.
    icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 28, 2008 5:51 PM GMT
    ShawnTO said
    Well said Shorty.
    icon_wink.gif


    ROFL... icon_lol.gif
  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 28, 2008 5:52 PM GMT
    ShawnTO saidvlas, perhaps you're being a bit too sensitive on the subject.


    Yes, I admit that I'm overreacting, but it is on purpose. Too many of us just take bullshit without saying a thing.

    Example: Gwen Stefani's Harajuku girls.

    Hey let's be trendy and accessorize Japanese girls, rename them, and have them follow me around barefoot. And how many people really complained about it? Sure, Gwen said that she used them out of admiration for the culture. But let's just pretend that she had 4 black girls following her around barefoot and called them the Compton girls. Oh wait... no, she's just really getting into rap and R&B!



    And hey, the gay in me wants to start drama. I'm actually really fun and light-hearted in person, I swear! icon_smile.gif
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    Mar 28, 2008 5:56 PM GMT
    Agreed, guys. On the opposite end of the spectrum, vlas, I was once ripped apart publicly as a "race trader" for not acting more 'authentic' to my ethnic heritage. Nevermind that I was raised in suburban (albeit far northern) America. icon_eek.gif
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 28, 2008 6:05 PM GMT
    vlas said[quote]

    And hey, the gay in me wants to start drama. I'm actually really fun and light-hearted in person, I swear! icon_smile.gif


    ROFL...obviously you are light-hearted if you can admit to wanting to start a bit of drama, we all do at times. I can be angry, hurt, or upset, but the most uncomfortable feeling for me is frustration, and when I feel it that's when I lash out. So I get it.

    I would just hate to think that you're walking around seeing rascism everywhere you look. That certainly isn't conducive to being in a 'happy place'. Just imagine how lonely life would be if everytime a non-asian approached you cause they think you're attractive you're seeing it as racism and playing on stereotypes.

    As far as Gwen Stefani goes, I have no idea what you're talking about, so it would be hard to comment on. Looks like I'm so out of the loop (does that mean I'm getting old?). But yeah, if you put it into perspective, I can hardly see her being followed around by a group of barefoot black girls, and not expect some sort of negative backlash.

  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 28, 2008 6:06 PM GMT
    zdrew78 saidAgreed, guys. On the opposite end of the spectrum, vlas, I was once ripped apart publicly as a "race trader" for not acting more 'authentic' to my ethnic heritage. Nevermind that I was raised in suburban (albeit far northern) America. icon_eek.gif


    Oh, same here... although mine was done privately and by my parents. Sorry Mom... I hate playing piano, I'm average at math, and I'm not going to be a doctor
  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Mar 28, 2008 6:15 PM GMT
    ShawnTOI would just hate to think that you're walking around seeing rascism everywhere you look.


    Hey, someone has to see it. Not all of us have squinty eyes you know icon_razz.gif
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 28, 2008 6:23 PM GMT
    vlas said[quote][cite]ShawnTO[/cite]I would just hate to think that you're walking around seeing rascism everywhere you look.


    Hey, someone has to see it. Not all of us have squinty eyes you know icon_razz.gif[/quote]

    LOL...really? I thought you were all the same.
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    Mar 28, 2008 6:28 PM GMT
    Careful, ShawnTO, one of the squinty-eyed asians will run you over for saying stuff like that...you'd best stay off the sidewalks. icon_razz.gificon_razz.gificon_razz.gif
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 28, 2008 6:32 PM GMT
    Hehe, I'll guard my knees well.
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    Mar 28, 2008 6:53 PM GMT
    I totally agree with vlas. That shit is totally bananas...

    I visited the Tao myself at the Venetian. I hit vegas like twice a year. Its suppose to be a "Venetian" themed, Italian kind of feel when you step into the hotel. Then when you walk through the entrance you see buddha to your left. And I totally dont get the many bath tubs with the flower petals in them at the entrance of the Tao. Totally whacked out! LOL. I remember a cute caucasian guy wearing a jade buddha pendant around his neck one time when I was there and he was obviously gay from the way he was all "g'd up from the feet up." Well anyways he came up and flirted with me but I couldnt stop staring at the piece of jade he had around his neck ... I mean how many white guys do you see sporting a buddha as his blingage ... if you know what I mean.

    ... And I guess I do live up to the asian nerd stereotypes ... and then some HA HA! ... dont even get me started about the squinty eyes ... god you should see me when i'm drunk ... I look like a damn anime character ...
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    Mar 29, 2008 12:45 AM GMT
    I don't mean to be the sore thumb, but I still disagree with the way "orientalism" is used as a fad. The fact that people don't realize that they are insulting a culture by taking up religious symbols or icons as fashion statements is a larger crime than everyday ignorance. I'm not going as far as to call it the subjugation of minority cultures, but it still is a reflection of Western haughtiness. If someone opened up a Christian themed club and said that you could experience "spiritual dining" and "religious nightlife" I'm sure a lot more people would be upset. It's not that I'm picking at the details that don't really matter, but I do think there is something wrong with fetishizing the "exotic" in main stream culture, because then it becomes a reflection of society's values and how we view minorities. What you do in your own bedroom though is your own business.
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Mar 29, 2008 1:34 AM GMT
    It's the allure of the oriental mystique. It's been going on since the discovery of Asia. And studying East Asian culture and Chinese language only show you how prevalent it really is and how inaccurate it is at the same time.

    And you can really do is educate people.

    And tell that guy to put a blanket over his Buddha statue. icon_wink.gif
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    Mar 29, 2008 1:42 AM GMT
    Ray788 saidgod you should see me when i'm drunk ... I look like a damn anime character ...


    Sorry, but the geek in me just reached gay Nirvana for a second icon_razz.gif

    lol just kidding guys
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    Mar 29, 2008 2:02 AM GMT
    Hmmm, you probably shouldn't come over to my house then... on the wall of my bedroom I have a rubbing from a Mayan pyramid depicting Quetzalcoatl, a reproduction of a Tlingit wood carving of a whale god, and a shadow puppet of Lord Krishna (or are you only sensitive about religious images from your own personal culture?). All of those were sold to me as souvenirs at their points of origin - the Yucatan, Alaska, and Bali - and I don't remember ever signing an affidavit promising I wouldn't buttfuck a Meso-American, a native Alaskan or a Hindu in front of them.

    So who exactly is selling these statues of Buddha for us to treat impiously? Are they made in a factory in Des Moines? Or are Asians ready and willing to sell their spirituality for our entertainment?

    Having travelled quite a bit in Asia, I think I know the answer (yes, I've seen the shopping center in Tokyo called the "Zen Mall" - sickening, really). The only country I've visited that seems to honor its culture more than making a quick buck is Bhutan.

    But don't get the idea it's only Asian religions that get treated so flippantly. I've also been to a House of Blues in a building that used to be a Baptist church - Christian imagery everywhere in contexts that would make born-agains turn blue. And there's no shortage of Christian icons being co-opted for the sake of modern art, in much more sacrilegious ways than having a statue of the Buddha in your bedroom.

    In short - lighten up.
  • ShawnTX

    Posts: 2484

    Mar 29, 2008 2:12 AM GMT
    Aug2ndLT saidI don't mean to be the sore thumb, but I still disagree with the way "orientalism" is used as a fad. The fact that people don't realize that they are insulting a culture by taking up religious symbols or icons as fashion statements is a larger crime than everyday ignorance. I'm not going as far as to call it the subjugation of minority cultures, but it still is a reflection of Western haughtiness. If someone opened up a Christian themed club and said that you could experience "spiritual dining" and "religious nightlife" I'm sure a lot more people would be upset. It's not that I'm picking at the details that don't really matter, but I do think there is something wrong with fetishizing the "exotic" in main stream culture, because then it becomes a reflection of society's values and how we view minorities. What you do in your own bedroom though is your own business.


    I agree with your distaste regarding the use of religious symbols or icons as home decor just because it's trendy. I don't, however, agree with your entire statement.

    Something foriegn will always have a certain attraction, and I'm not just talking about western culture's love of the exotic. Blondes in the middle east can be fetishized, North American accents can be fetishized in Europe, and white people are fetishized in Asia.

    By your post, it's almost like you're suggesting one culture should not influence another. If that's the case, 'western' clothing should not be worn by anyone in Asia. But that's ok because it's become common dress in much of the world, but the Asian influence that comes and goes in western culture is 'fetishizing' and therefore insulting.

    At one time 'western' dress was exotic to Asian peoples, where it became trendy to do away with tradition dress and become Americanized. It happend so long ago, and has become so common, that it's ok. But heaven forbid an American following the trend of Asian influence in fashion...how insulting! There is a double-standard there.

    So if it represents North Americas and Europes negative views of Asians, does that mean that Asians had a negative view of North Americans and Europeans when all things American and European was a fad there?

    I don't mean to bash what you're saying, but if it's ok for one why is it not ok for another?
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    Mar 29, 2008 2:19 AM GMT
    I like eastern art and philosophy. I imagine if you think of Buddha as a religious figure it might be like having a crucifix with Jesus over the bed while gettin' nasty. But I would rather a serene Buddha be there than a suffering Jesus.

    Since Siddhartha Gautama practiced the middle path and did not even profess concern for deities or the afterlife I think he would be indifferent to the sex thing. But maybe you can suggest something like a Tantric Buddha for the bedroom ..

    zf64.jpg

    I know that there are many Buddhas, but I wonder how many people know that Siddhartha Gautama was Nepalese or Indian?

    I would like to add that I think that western people express interest in Buddhist thought for its peaceful serene nature as opposed to the oppressive and restrictive nature of some Christian or Western Religion.