Stop Media Lies About Transgender Kids
Last weekend, the UK’s Mail on Sunday, a publication not traditionally known for tasteful headlines, ran an especially rancid pile of shit on its cover: “NHS to give sex change drugs to nine-year-olds: Clinics accused of ‘playing God’ with treatment that stops puberty.” You know what that means, don’t you? That the UK’s NHS (National Health Service) is definitely NOT giving nine-year-olds any “sex change drugs” and won’t be any time soon.
The Telegraph, a paper that revels in being openly hostile toward trans people, is now repeating the misleading headline. And what’s with the “playing God” bullshit? As one parent of a trans child pointed out by email: “The Mail wouldn’t be questioning the treatment of diabetic children or children with congenital hypothyroidism on the NHS, so what makes it OK to print this shit about children receiving another kind of endocrine treatment?”
I don’t quite understand everything she’s talking about, but you can’t argue with an angry mother.
Papers pull stupid shit like this all the time; six of them recently admitted they got it wrong by making irrelevant references to a woman’s transgender status in a story about her nearly dying after being attacked by a buck. A buck whose antler pierced her throat, broke her spine, and narrowly missed her spinal cord and a couple of major arteries.
As far as we know, the animal didn’t attack her because she was transgender. Nevertheless, six national newspapers in England decided to print various details about Kate’s history, including her former name and the obligatory “sex swap” headlines. Admittedly the Mail wasn’t, in this instance, the worst offender, and quickly corrected its mistake. And they do run sympathetic—or, at least,neutral—articles sometimes. The point remains, though: The British media, as a whole, can be really, really shit when it comes to covering stories about transgender people.
This article is going to contain a lot of “shits,” because I give one. But does the media? I may be completely wrong, but the people arguing against so-called “sex change drugs” on behalf of vulnerable under-16s don’t, as far as I’m aware, go out of their way to combat gender-based bullying in schools. If you’re not doing anything to stop transgender kids from being beaten up—a.k.a., the most important issue here—then how the fuck are you planning to get away with starting a moralizing headline campaign about the choices they’re allowed to make?
Trans kids are some of the most vulnerable people in society; I know because I was one. Tiny violin time. It was terrible: I got bullied at school for talking like a girl and bullied at home for “acting like a poof”; I hated going to school, and I hated going home. I’ve written about this before, so forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but so long as there are still kids going through what I went through—those who aren’t protected at school and let down by parents confused by the shit they’ve read in the media—it’s a message people need to hear.
Continue

Stop Media Lies About Transgender Kids

Last weekend, the UK’s Mail on Sunday, a publication not traditionally known for tasteful headlines, ran an especially rancid pile of shit on its cover: “NHS to give sex change drugs to nine-year-olds: Clinics accused of ‘playing God’ with treatment that stops puberty.” You know what that means, don’t you? That the UK’s NHS (National Health Service) is definitely NOT giving nine-year-olds any “sex change drugs” and won’t be any time soon.

The Telegraph, a paper that revels in being openly hostile toward trans people, is now repeating the misleading headline. And what’s with the “playing God” bullshit? As one parent of a trans child pointed out by email: “The Mail wouldn’t be questioning the treatment of diabetic children or children with congenital hypothyroidism on the NHS, so what makes it OK to print this shit about children receiving another kind of endocrine treatment?”

I don’t quite understand everything she’s talking about, but you can’t argue with an angry mother.

Papers pull stupid shit like this all the time; six of them recently admitted they got it wrong by making irrelevant references to a woman’s transgender status in a story about her nearly dying after being attacked by a buck. A buck whose antler pierced her throat, broke her spine, and narrowly missed her spinal cord and a couple of major arteries.

As far as we know, the animal didn’t attack her because she was transgender. Nevertheless, six national newspapers in England decided to print various details about Kate’s history, including her former name and the obligatory “sex swap” headlines. Admittedly the Mail wasn’t, in this instance, the worst offender, and quickly corrected its mistake. And they do run sympathetic—or, at least,neutral—articles sometimes. The point remains, though: The British media, as a whole, can be really, really shit when it comes to covering stories about transgender people.

This article is going to contain a lot of “shits,” because I give one. But does the media? I may be completely wrong, but the people arguing against so-called “sex change drugs” on behalf of vulnerable under-16s don’t, as far as I’m aware, go out of their way to combat gender-based bullying in schools. If you’re not doing anything to stop transgender kids from being beaten up—a.k.a., the most important issue here—then how the fuck are you planning to get away with starting a moralizing headline campaign about the choices they’re allowed to make?

Trans kids are some of the most vulnerable people in society; I know because I was one. Tiny violin time. It was terrible: I got bullied at school for talking like a girl and bullied at home for “acting like a poof”; I hated going to school, and I hated going home. I’ve written about this before, so forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but so long as there are still kids going through what I went through—those who aren’t protected at school and let down by parents confused by the shit they’ve read in the media—it’s a message people need to hear.

Continue

Syria’s Rebel Press Is Fighting Back Against Jihadists 
Rami Al Razzouk was traveling between Raqqa and Tabaqa in northeastern Syria when he was kidnapped at a checkpoint by ISIS. The al Qaeda offshoot seized him as he was on his way to conduct an interview as part of his work as a journalist on ANA Radio. After he was taken, ISIS used his key to raid the premises of the Raqqa-based radio station later that same day. Two weeks after that, they broke in again and confiscated all of the station’s equipment and data. Apparently there isn’t much space for a free press in the Islamic caliphate that ISIS are trying to create.
Outraged, the ANA New Media Association—the network behind the station—has decided to go head to head with the extremist group’s “deliberate strategy to crush press freedom and impose censorship upon the Syrian people.” As ISIS continues to oppress the fledgling media landscape in the north and east of Syria, ANA has pledged to whip up a storm of protest every time a journalist or activist is targeted by the jihadis. This is a pretty brave step considering ISIS has beheaded so many of their enemies that they recently got confused and beheaded one of their allies.
On Monday, the network launched a campaign backed by 21 Syrian media organizations and 50 international organizations, encouraging the continued growth of Syria’s burgeoning free press. Astatement from the campaign read, “We demand the immediate release of all detained journalists and citizen journalists held by the regime, ISIS or any other group. Additionally, we call on international media and those organizations in support of press freedom to join this initiative and to take relevant action for the safety of journalists and freedom of speech in Syria.”
Continue

Syria’s Rebel Press Is Fighting Back Against Jihadists 

Rami Al Razzouk was traveling between Raqqa and Tabaqa in northeastern Syria when he was kidnapped at a checkpoint by ISIS. The al Qaeda offshoot seized him as he was on his way to conduct an interview as part of his work as a journalist on ANA Radio. After he was taken, ISIS used his key to raid the premises of the Raqqa-based radio station later that same day. Two weeks after that, they broke in again and confiscated all of the station’s equipment and data. Apparently there isn’t much space for a free press in the Islamic caliphate that ISIS are trying to create.

Outraged, the ANA New Media Association—the network behind the station—has decided to go head to head with the extremist group’s “deliberate strategy to crush press freedom and impose censorship upon the Syrian people.” As ISIS continues to oppress the fledgling media landscape in the north and east of Syria, ANA has pledged to whip up a storm of protest every time a journalist or activist is targeted by the jihadis. This is a pretty brave step considering ISIS has beheaded so many of their enemies that they recently got confused and beheaded one of their allies.

On Monday, the network launched a campaign backed by 21 Syrian media organizations and 50 international organizations, encouraging the continued growth of Syria’s burgeoning free press. Astatement from the campaign read, “We demand the immediate release of all detained journalists and citizen journalists held by the regime, ISIS or any other group. Additionally, we call on international media and those organizations in support of press freedom to join this initiative and to take relevant action for the safety of journalists and freedom of speech in Syria.”

Continue

I’m Being Cyberbullied by Corey Feldman
As some of you may have seen, I recently wrote an article about attending Corey Feldman’s birthday party. Corey told me that I was only allowed to write about the party if he had final approval on my article. I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go and just make fun of the thing, but agreed anyway because I felt that, no matter how I presented it, a post about Corey Feldman charging people $250 to attend a birthday party at his house could be nothing but hilarious. 
The day after the party, I sent Corey the article (including the photos) and he said it was a “great article!” but he wasn’t too happy with the pictures. In an email, he told me, “there’s a bunch w the only old woman I allowed into the party.”
However, after seeing a wider selection of images, Corey said, “Obviously it’s your mag and U can do as U wish.” So I ran it.
Unsurprisingly, once it was posted people made fun of him and the party. There is no possible spin you can put on a $250 per-head birthday party thrown by a former child star in an unfurnished, beige McMansion in the suburbs, surrounded by women in their underwear and “happy 22nd birthday” signage, to make it seem anything other than utterly bleak and miserable. 

When he realized people were making fun of him, Corey had a full-blown Twitter meltdown. He either tweeted or retweeted about me and the party roughly 500 times.
Despite many of the tweets containing untrue statements about me (and one with my personal phone number), I felt it was best to ignore them, because, honestly, I feel sort of bad for the guy. It must be hard to be in a place where your life is so grim that an honest representation of it can go viral because of its patheticness. 
But then on Monday he sent out a press release accusing me of “bullying” him. The press release read, in part:

Last month, he released his new single Ascension Millennium on YouTube, which has received mixed reviews and controversy from the public and media. A personal birthday party he also hosted was met with strong criticism online; criticism Feldman strongly feels is cyber bullying.
 
“Unfortunately, we have grown into a society whose belief system holds to bring down rather than to build up. Bullying is present in schools, homes, professional environments and online (cyber bullying), and here is a case no different from just that. I can take criticism, but what people are saying online as of late is far beyond that,” said Feldman. It takes a lot of balls to put yourself out there in the hot seat, so I encourage everyone to not be afraid of what others will say or think. Move forward and ignore the haters,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, antibullying experts weren’t too psyched about Corey using a serious issue to promote his new book/movie/album/party. 
Continue

I’m Being Cyberbullied by Corey Feldman

As some of you may have seen, I recently wrote an article about attending Corey Feldman’s birthday party. Corey told me that I was only allowed to write about the party if he had final approval on my article. I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go and just make fun of the thing, but agreed anyway because I felt that, no matter how I presented it, a post about Corey Feldman charging people $250 to attend a birthday party at his house could be nothing but hilarious. 

The day after the party, I sent Corey the article (including the photos) and he said it was a “great article!” but he wasn’t too happy with the pictures. In an email, he told me, “there’s a bunch w the only old woman I allowed into the party.”

However, after seeing a wider selection of images, Corey said, “Obviously it’s your mag and U can do as U wish.” So I ran it.

Unsurprisingly, once it was posted people made fun of him and the party. There is no possible spin you can put on a $250 per-head birthday party thrown by a former child star in an unfurnished, beige McMansion in the suburbs, surrounded by women in their underwear and “happy 22nd birthday” signage, to make it seem anything other than utterly bleak and miserable. 

When he realized people were making fun of him, Corey had a full-blown Twitter meltdown. He either tweeted or retweeted about me and the party roughly 500 times.

Despite many of the tweets containing untrue statements about me (and one with my personal phone number), I felt it was best to ignore them, because, honestly, I feel sort of bad for the guy. It must be hard to be in a place where your life is so grim that an honest representation of it can go viral because of its patheticness. 

But then on Monday he sent out a press release accusing me of “bullying” him. The press release read, in part:

Last month, he released his new single Ascension Millennium on YouTube, which has received mixed reviews and controversy from the public and media. A personal birthday party he also hosted was met with strong criticism online; criticism Feldman strongly feels is cyber bullying.
 
“Unfortunately, we have grown into a society whose belief system holds to bring down rather than to build up. Bullying is present in schools, homes, professional environments and online (cyber bullying), and here is a case no different from just that. I can take criticism, but what people are saying online as of late is far beyond that,” said Feldman. It takes a lot of balls to put yourself out there in the hot seat, so I encourage everyone to not be afraid of what others will say or think. Move forward and ignore the haters,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, antibullying experts weren’t too psyched about Corey using a serious issue to promote his new book/movie/album/party. 

Continue

New Media Shield Law Would Only Shield Corporate Media
Recently, Americans have witnessed a barrage of scandals regarding the federal government’s extension of their surveillance powers. Following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations—which of course point to the National Security Agency’s spy programs and the FISA Court’s endorsement of broad domestic surveillance policies—the American citizenry’s right to privacy (4th Amendment) has taken center stage. The truth of these invasive and unconstitutional policies is giving rise to further argument, and laying ground for a practical forum to engage elected officials to more clearly define citizen rights in the digital era.
Yet, while Americans are engrossed in the debate over whether or not their government should be allowed to collect and examine the online data of citizens en masse, particularly without suspicion of criminal activity, the vehicle by which these revelations came to light—journalism—is now also under attack.
The trial of former CIA agent Jeffery Sterling, who faces charges under the Espionage Act, has provided Americans insight into how the federal government interprets the rights of journalists. In 2008 New York Times reporter James Risen was ordered to testify against Sterling, allegedly a source in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen. The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, condemned the order and fought the subpoena. In a two-to-one ruling this past July, the fourth circuit of appeals issued this shocking statement: “There is no first amendment testimonial privilee, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify… in criminal proceedings.” Risen has subsequently stated that he’d rather be imprisoned than reveal the identity of his source.
Continue

New Media Shield Law Would Only Shield Corporate Media

Recently, Americans have witnessed a barrage of scandals regarding the federal government’s extension of their surveillance powers. Following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations—which of course point to the National Security Agency’s spy programs and the FISA Court’s endorsement of broad domestic surveillance policies—the American citizenry’s right to privacy (4th Amendment) has taken center stage. The truth of these invasive and unconstitutional policies is giving rise to further argument, and laying ground for a practical forum to engage elected officials to more clearly define citizen rights in the digital era.

Yet, while Americans are engrossed in the debate over whether or not their government should be allowed to collect and examine the online data of citizens en masse, particularly without suspicion of criminal activity, the vehicle by which these revelations came to light—journalism—is now also under attack.

The trial of former CIA agent Jeffery Sterling, who faces charges under the Espionage Act, has provided Americans insight into how the federal government interprets the rights of journalists. In 2008 New York Times reporter James Risen was ordered to testify against Sterling, allegedly a source in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen. The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, condemned the order and fought the subpoena. In a two-to-one ruling this past July, the fourth circuit of appeals issued this shocking statement: “There is no first amendment testimonial privilee, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify… in criminal proceedings.” Risen has subsequently stated that he’d rather be imprisoned than reveal the identity of his source.

Continue

Outside the Bombing Suspects’ Home in Boston

I Stayed Up All Night Watching the Boston Bomber Manhunt
I changed the channel during 9/11.
Now, in my defense, I was 14. Also, the moment I switched channels, bleached out tit parade Jillian Barberie and the rest of her gang of early-morning yell-boxes on FOX 11’s Good Day LA had assumed that it was just some prop plane that had accidentally crashed into one of the towers. Tony Hawk was on ESPN2, and that was the type of rad shit 260-pound pubescent me was dying to relate to cool people about. My cereal had barely gotten soggy by the time I flipped back to see that a second plane had already hit, and practically every channel had switched over to live coverage of the attacks. I headed to school, unsure exactly of what the hell was happening on the other side of the country. I think I was still too young to comprehend it, but I remember laying on our football field with some friends, looking up at the planeless, cloudless sky in awe. Since that day, no matter how many times I saw the footage of the planes, no matter how loudly the logical side of my brain screamed, It doesn’t matter. Stop being so self-centered, I’ve always felt like I missed out on something, like I did something wrong. I changed the channel during 9/11.
I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
At 10 PM, I was filming an incredibly silly comedy sketch in Silver Lake, LA, with a few friends. During a break from the dumbness, I checked my Twitter feed to see preliminary reports of more explosions in Boston. I have a soft spot in my heart for that city even though I’ve never set foot in it—despite living in LA my whole life, I have more friends from Boston than I do from my hometown. Part of that is because of the transient nature of LA, but a lot of that is because of the TV production/comedy factory that is Emerson College. My high school ex lives somewhere in Boston too, I think. I don’t remember if she lives in Worcester or Watertown or where either of those cities are or if they’re even cities or just neighborhoods of Boston. 
As soon as I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and Twitter. I did not turn on my TV. If we take the senseless loss of human life out of the equation, the biggest loser in this whole catastrophe is cable news, who got nearly every fact about the bombing and the suspects wrong at one time or another. There is, of course, an argument that the New York Post is the most gaping asshole of all the media outlets, but there’s always an argument for that. 
Continue

I Stayed Up All Night Watching the Boston Bomber Manhunt

I changed the channel during 9/11.

Now, in my defense, I was 14. Also, the moment I switched channels, bleached out tit parade Jillian Barberie and the rest of her gang of early-morning yell-boxes on FOX 11’s Good Day LA had assumed that it was just some prop plane that had accidentally crashed into one of the towers. Tony Hawk was on ESPN2, and that was the type of rad shit 260-pound pubescent me was dying to relate to cool people about. My cereal had barely gotten soggy by the time I flipped back to see that a second plane had already hit, and practically every channel had switched over to live coverage of the attacks. I headed to school, unsure exactly of what the hell was happening on the other side of the country. I think I was still too young to comprehend it, but I remember laying on our football field with some friends, looking up at the planeless, cloudless sky in awe. Since that day, no matter how many times I saw the footage of the planes, no matter how loudly the logical side of my brain screamed, It doesn’t matter. Stop being so self-centered, I’ve always felt like I missed out on something, like I did something wrong. I changed the channel during 9/11.

I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

At 10 PM, I was filming an incredibly silly comedy sketch in Silver Lake, LA, with a few friends. During a break from the dumbness, I checked my Twitter feed to see preliminary reports of more explosions in Boston. I have a soft spot in my heart for that city even though I’ve never set foot in it—despite living in LA my whole life, I have more friends from Boston than I do from my hometown. Part of that is because of the transient nature of LA, but a lot of that is because of the TV production/comedy factory that is Emerson College. My high school ex lives somewhere in Boston too, I think. I don’t remember if she lives in Worcester or Watertown or where either of those cities are or if they’re even cities or just neighborhoods of Boston. 

As soon as I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and Twitter. I did not turn on my TV. If we take the senseless loss of human life out of the equation, the biggest loser in this whole catastrophe is cable news, who got nearly every fact about the bombing and the suspects wrong at one time or another. There is, of course, an argument that the New York Post is the most gaping asshole of all the media outlets, but there’s always an argument for that. 

Continue


In Saddam’s Shadow – Part 3
VICE founder Suroosh Alvi returns to Baghdad ten years after the US invasion. In part three, we hang out with Iraqi metal band Dog Faced Corpse and investigate the struggles of emo kids and gays living in Baghdad. There have been reports of emo teenagers being beaten up and even murdered because of their hair and clothes, but how much is true and how much is media sensationalism?

VICE founder Suroosh Alvi returns to Baghdad ten years after the US invasion. In part three, we hang out with Iraqi metal band Dog Faced Corpse and investigate the struggles of emo kids and gays living in Baghdad. There have been reports of emo teenagers being beaten up and even murdered because of their hair and clothes, but how much is true and how much is media sensationalism?
Watch the video

In Saddam’s Shadow – Part 3

VICE founder Suroosh Alvi returns to Baghdad ten years after the US invasion. In part three, we hang out with Iraqi metal band Dog Faced Corpse and investigate the struggles of emo kids and gays living in Baghdad. There have been reports of emo teenagers being beaten up and even murdered because of their hair and clothes, but how much is true and how much is media sensationalism?

VICE founder Suroosh Alvi returns to Baghdad ten years after the US invasion. In part three, we hang out with Iraqi metal band Dog Faced Corpse and investigate the struggles of emo kids and gays living in Baghdad. There have been reports of emo teenagers being beaten up and even murdered because of their hair and clothes, but how much is true and how much is media sensationalism?

Watch the video

Trying to Report on the Sandy Hook Shooting When No One Has Anything to Say
What do you say about a dead six-year-old?
I went to Newtown, Connecticut on Monday with that question foremost in my mind. Almost every resident I spoke to there reported some kind of connection with the massacre. Caitlyn Hydeck, who sat next to me in a restaurant, said Olivia Engel and Charlotte Bacon, both six, had been students in the local theater program where she works as a dance instructor. “They were just happy little girls,” Hydeck recalled, at a loss to offer any further description. And really, what else could she say? I felt bad for even asking. Olivia was so tiny, andadorable.
When I arrived, TV crews had packed the town center, recording segments with the Honan Funeral Home in the background. One cameraperson wept. Inside, a viewing for Jack Pinto, also six, was underway. Men surrounded his small casket, wailing in grief; as I approached, I realized it was open. I hadn’t been ready for the sight of Jack’s lifeless face, which is now seared in my mind, presumably for life. On the radio that morning, I’d heard he liked swimming and the New York Giants—a woefully inadequate obituary, it would seem. But what more is there to say?When Barack Obama read aloud the victims’ names on Sunday night at Newtown High School, his utterance of “Olivia” unexpectedly did me in. I worked as a camp counselor for a summer, and there were so many little girls named Olivia. If one had been killed, I wouldn’t have known what to say either, other than that they were happy little girls. As Obama read the names, I was struck by how distinctly American they sounded. This somehow compounded the sorrow: Catherine Hubbard, James Mattioli, Madeline Hsu, Noah Pozner, Ana Marquez-Greene…
At the restaurant, I asked Caitlyn if she had considered the fact that her hometown will henceforth be associated with mass murder of children, in the same way that Littleton, Colorado, is associated with Columbine. She said she’d thought about it some, but didn’t really know what to say. “We’re definitely going to be known for this forever,” she told me, trailing off.
CONTINUE

Trying to Report on the Sandy Hook Shooting When No One Has Anything to Say

What do you say about a dead six-year-old?

I went to Newtown, Connecticut on Monday with that question foremost in my mind. Almost every resident I spoke to there reported some kind of connection with the massacre. Caitlyn Hydeck, who sat next to me in a restaurant, said Olivia Engel and Charlotte Bacon, both six, had been students in the local theater program where she works as a dance instructor. “They were just happy little girls,” Hydeck recalled, at a loss to offer any further description. And really, what else could she say? I felt bad for even asking. Olivia was so tiny, andadorable.

When I arrived, TV crews had packed the town center, recording segments with the Honan Funeral Home in the background. One cameraperson wept. Inside, a viewing for Jack Pinto, also six, was underway. Men surrounded his small casket, wailing in grief; as I approached, I realized it was open. I hadn’t been ready for the sight of Jack’s lifeless face, which is now seared in my mind, presumably for life. On the radio that morning, I’d heard he liked swimming and the New York Giants—a woefully inadequate obituary, it would seem. But what more is there to say?

When Barack Obama read aloud the victims’ names on Sunday night at Newtown High School, his utterance of “Olivia” unexpectedly did me in. I worked as a camp counselor for a summer, and there were so many little girls named Olivia. If one had been killed, I wouldn’t have known what to say either, other than that they were happy little girls. As Obama read the names, I was struck by how distinctly American they sounded. This somehow compounded the sorrow: Catherine Hubbard, James Mattioli, Madeline Hsu, Noah Pozner, Ana Marquez-Greene…

At the restaurant, I asked Caitlyn if she had considered the fact that her hometown will henceforth be associated with mass murder of children, in the same way that Littleton, Colorado, is associated with Columbine. She said she’d thought about it some, but didn’t really know what to say. “We’re definitely going to be known for this forever,” she told me, trailing off.

CONTINUE

Life of Heems
I’m a little preoccupied with race. The first time someone suggested I read Life of Pi, the novel by Yann Martel about an Indian boy and his journey across the ocean with a Bengal tiger, I took a look at the author’s name, and my race wheels started turning. I thought, What does this guy know about India? I tried to read it, I swear. I read the first 30 pages or so and put it down. It bored me. When a friend asked to borrow the book, I gave it away and have never seen it since. 
Two months ago I saw an advertisement for the film version of Life of Pi featuring an image of a shirtless Indian male with a turban-like scarf wrapped around his head. That image reminded me of Mowgli and Sabu, those first representations of South Asians to the West, and I wondered if the South Asians were about to be set back. In recent years, South Asians have been all over American screens. And we’re no longer limited to roles as turbaned savages or man-servants or Kwik-E-Mart owners or taxi drivers or even just doctors and engineers. Actors like Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling are playing roles that aren’t quite as reductive. Stripped away of some of the stereotypes and clichés about South Asians, the roles these actors have taken, or in Mindy’s case written for herself, are turning more than half a century of otheredness on its head. Life of Pi troubled me. 
Visibility of South Asians in Western film, American particularly, has a long but limited history. It started with Sabu Dastagir, who at the age of 13 was given the role of an elephant driver in the 1937 film Elephant Boy, based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. In 1942, he played Mowgli in a film adaptation of The Jungle Book, also by Rudyard Kipling. In the 1940s and 1950s, a man who went by Korla Pandit became America’s “Godfather of Exotica,” except he was born John Roland Redd, an African-American. In the 1960s, a young man by the name of Sajid Khan starred alongside Jay North in a film called Maya. It was subsequently spun off into a series on NBC of the same name from September 1967 to February 1968. Around this time the mystique of South Asians in the West peaked when the hippies discovered Ravi Shankar.In the 1980s, all we had was Fisher Stevens, who said he went to India and learned yoga to be “method” about his role as Ben Jahrvi in the Short Circuit movies. In the 1990s there was a guy in the Sprint commercial who counted “one minute, two minute, three minute.” That actor also lost his arm when a train suddenly stopped in a Rice Krispies Treats ad. I think he’s on Glee now as a principal. With the 2000s we finally saw a somewhat humanized depiction of South Asians with actors like Mindy Kaling, Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Danny Pudi, and Maulik Pancholi on TV and in films. All this is to say, we’re relatively new at being portrayed on television and in film despite our history here since the mid-1960s. I’m a little protective of how we’re put out there.  
I got a chance to see Life of Pi at the 50th New York International Film Festival back in October, but I missed the press screening and had to attend the official premiere. Everyone was in a suit. The women wore fancy dresses. The only people of color I saw in this colossal room were myself, Suraj Sharma, the lead actor in the film, and Ang Lee, the director. I looked for Irrfan Khan, an old-school Indian film actor who was also inSlumdog Millionaire, but he was nowhere to be found. Ang Lee spoke about his film and about storytelling, and I got excited.
Continue

Life of Heems

I’m a little preoccupied with race. The first time someone suggested I read Life of Pi, the novel by Yann Martel about an Indian boy and his journey across the ocean with a Bengal tiger, I took a look at the author’s name, and my race wheels started turning. I thought, What does this guy know about India? I tried to read it, I swear. I read the first 30 pages or so and put it down. It bored me. When a friend asked to borrow the book, I gave it away and have never seen it since. 

Two months ago I saw an advertisement for the film version of Life of Pi featuring an image of a shirtless Indian male with a turban-like scarf wrapped around his head. That image reminded me of Mowgli and Sabu, those first representations of South Asians to the West, and I wondered if the South Asians were about to be set back. In recent years, South Asians have been all over American screens. And we’re no longer limited to roles as turbaned savages or man-servants or Kwik-E-Mart owners or taxi drivers or even just doctors and engineers. Actors like Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling are playing roles that aren’t quite as reductive. Stripped away of some of the stereotypes and clichés about South Asians, the roles these actors have taken, or in Mindy’s case written for herself, are turning more than half a century of otheredness on its head. Life of Pi troubled me. 

Visibility of South Asians in Western film, American particularly, has a long but limited history. It started with Sabu Dastagir, who at the age of 13 was given the role of an elephant driver in the 1937 film Elephant Boy, based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. In 1942, he played Mowgli in a film adaptation of The Jungle Book, also by Rudyard Kipling. In the 1940s and 1950s, a man who went by Korla Pandit became America’s “Godfather of Exotica,” except he was born John Roland Redd, an African-American. In the 1960s, a young man by the name of Sajid Khan starred alongside Jay North in a film called Maya. It was subsequently spun off into a series on NBC of the same name from September 1967 to February 1968. Around this time the mystique of South Asians in the West peaked when the hippies discovered Ravi Shankar.

In the 1980s, all we had was Fisher Stevens, who said he went to India and learned yoga to be “method” about his role as Ben Jahrvi in the Short Circuit movies. In the 1990s there was a guy in the Sprint commercial who counted “one minute, two minute, three minute.” That actor also lost his arm when a train suddenly stopped in a Rice Krispies Treats ad. I think he’s on Glee now as a principal. With the 2000s we finally saw a somewhat humanized depiction of South Asians with actors like Mindy Kaling, Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Danny Pudi, and Maulik Pancholi on TV and in films. All this is to say, we’re relatively new at being portrayed on television and in film despite our history here since the mid-1960s. I’m a little protective of how we’re put out there.  

I got a chance to see Life of Pi at the 50th New York International Film Festival back in October, but I missed the press screening and had to attend the official premiere. Everyone was in a suit. The women wore fancy dresses. The only people of color I saw in this colossal room were myself, Suraj Sharma, the lead actor in the film, and Ang Lee, the director. I looked for Irrfan Khan, an old-school Indian film actor who was also inSlumdog Millionaire, but he was nowhere to be found. Ang Lee spoke about his film and about storytelling, and I got excited.

Continue

On Monday, the 16th of July 2012, we published an article entitled: “The Eight Dumbest Things About The Daily Mail’s Laughing Gas Article”.
In the article, we erroneously implied that The Daily Mail's use of the term “hippy crack” was both lame and inaccurate:
"There are few things in this world more horrifying than when a Daily Mail journalist attempts to use slang. Over the course of the article, the term ‘hippy crack’ is used three times, and ‘sweet air’ once. Which is more times than either of them have ever been used by an actual genuine young person, ever.”
Many of you have since been in touch to let us know that this is simply not the case:




In light of this feedback, VICE Media regretfully acknowledge that our claims were false.
Unfortunately, all members of our global slang fact-checking department were away on the day the article was made live (through a combination of illness and pre-booked annual leave), so the article was unable to be scrutinized to our usual standards.
We at VICE strive to substantiate any and all claims made by our editorial staff on our website and in print, but sometimes mistakes do happen. And for this, we apologize.
In lieu of this oversight, we decided to head out onto the streets to apologize.
CONTINUE

On Monday, the 16th of July 2012, we published an article entitled: “The Eight Dumbest Things About The Daily Mail’s Laughing Gas Article”.

In the article, we erroneously implied that The Daily Mail's use of the term “hippy crack” was both lame and inaccurate:

"There are few things in this world more horrifying than when a Daily Mail journalist attempts to use slang. Over the course of the article, the term ‘hippy crack’ is used three times, and ‘sweet air’ once. Which is more times than either of them have ever been used by an actual genuine young person, ever.”

Many of you have since been in touch to let us know that this is simply not the case:

In light of this feedback, VICE Media regretfully acknowledge that our claims were false.

Unfortunately, all members of our global slang fact-checking department were away on the day the article was made live (through a combination of illness and pre-booked annual leave), so the article was unable to be scrutinized to our usual standards.

We at VICE strive to substantiate any and all claims made by our editorial staff on our website and in print, but sometimes mistakes do happen. And for this, we apologize.

In lieu of this oversight, we decided to head out onto the streets to apologize.

CONTINUE

← Older
Page 1 of 2