Sunday, August 19, 2018
A while ago I tweeted this:
It was in response to a thread by Huffington Post Asian Voices editor Kimberly Yam. In the thread she detailed the many indignities she suffered growing up in America. She talks about "not wanting to be Chinese," because people made fun of the way her father talked and made racially insensitive jokes. She talks about how she hardened herself to fit in but then rediscovered her Chinese identity in college and came to greatly appreciate her heritage once she found a clique of Asian friends as a young woman. It's one of those cheesy emotional self-congratulatory Twitter threads meant to bypass the intellect and appeal to emotion, somewhat evocative of the classic liberal professor copypasta.
I reacted to it by pointing out that her thread is a powerful argument against multiculturalism. I will elaborate a bit on what I meant.
The essence of Yam's post is this: The melting pot is bullshit. She tried to assimilate and adapt, and absolutely hated it. She rejected her identity and was miserable. It wasn't until she discovered her ethnic tribe as a young adult that she felt whole as a person. In other words, she endorses the alt-right position on white identitarianism.
This sentiment has become common and it contradicts the most common defense of mass immigration. On the one hand Americans are told not to worry about immigrants because they will assimilate. Then on the other hand Americans are lectured about how racist they are for not understanding the norms and nuances of immigrant cultures. So, "don't worry, the immigrants will assimilate," but also, "you're racist if you actually expect them to do so."
This is precisely why Japan does not want to accept too many Chinese immigrants, why China doesn't want many African immigrants, and why any sensible country carefully limits the number of foreigners it imports. They don't want ghettos of disaffected foreigners complaining that the majority culture doesn't cater enough to minorities. Multiculturalism inevitably creates endless tribal tension. Even in western countries that bend over backwards to be inclusive and make a god of diversity, those foreigners will be loathe to abandon their ethnic tribal loyalties. It is a fundamental part of their self-concept and identity. Unless they are strongly self-motivated to assimilate into the new culture, it cannot be taken for granted that they will.
Numerous other Chinese kids went through Yam's experiences. Many of them responded by fully embracing their American identity. They love grilled cheese, don't speak a word of Chinese, love movies with all white casts, and maybe even vote republican. They are Americans through and through, not hyphenated malcontents.
However it is important not to dismiss Yam's feelings. They represent the default given our species' evolved tribal nature. Taken seriously, the only way for someone like Yam to grow up without resentment would be for all of the other white kids she grew up with to abandon their own ethnic identity. In order for those white kids to feel that there was nothing unusual about Yam's father's accent, or Yam's racial appearance, or the behavior of Asian tourists, those white American kids would have to have no unique majority identity of their own to which to compare their experiences.
This is precisely the goal of progressvism - the deconstruction and replacement of traditional white European American identity with a void to be filled by every other ethnic gang and their various demands. Yam's piece implies that this is the only thing that would have made her happy.
Are we at all surprised the vast majority of Americans wish to greatly restrict legal immigration as well as illegal?
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Movies: Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs. Beware: There be spoilers.
Avengers: Infinity War
This was a big dumb spectacle. I was pretty thorough in explaining exactly how dumb in my recent YouTube video on the movie's fight scenes. However the spectacle portion more than makes up for it. Ten years ago if you had told me I would see Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Thanos, Gamora, Thor, Spiderman, and Black Panther all together in one big budget live action movie, I would have laughed in your face. Yet here we are. MCU deserves a lot of credit for pulling this off and coming away with a reasonably coherent film with an ending that, while predictable, was an interesting change of pace. Brolin's Thanos really made the film. After the next film I suspect it is all down hill from here. We shall see.
I have no strong opinions about this movie at all even though it went out of its way to be as over the top, zany, and offensive as possible. The action was decent and there were a few laugh out loud moments. But the story was forgettable and none of the performances left much of an impression. Brolin did alright as Cable but he didn't have much interesting to do. I didn't like the race-swapping of Domino nor did I like the fact that she is another entry in a recent trend of boring, invincible Mary Sue type characters. Ryan Reynolds did his damndest to carry this movie from scene to scene, but what felt effortless in the last movie came across as insufferable and try-hard this time around. I would still say it's worth seeing once. Your mileage may vary on the humor.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Since the second movie the Mission Impossible franchise has basically just been "The Tom Cruise Show." This one is no different. It offers some very cool set pieces. We get one of the best "Tom Cruise running really hard," scenes ever and an amazing helicopter chase at the end. Yet the movie never rises above simply being another iteration of the same old tropes. Even worse, the villains are lame. Lane does not even come close to feeling like the threat he did in the last film. Cavill's tough guy character never gets a moment to show up Ethan Hunt. He gets embarrassed on the HALO jump and in the bathroom fight. What they should have done is have Ethan lose the bathroom fight and then have Cavill win it, showing he's a better fighter. This would have created tension for the final confrontation. But nope, instead, it's another episode of "The Tom Cruise Show." A pleasant diversion, but not really worth a second watch like some of the better flicks in this series.
This would have been much better received if it had come out 13 years ago. Don't get me wrong; it's entertaining as hell. Jack Jack the baby steals every moment he is on screen. There are also some truly heartfelt moments with Mr. Incredible serving as a stay at home dad. Far from feeling like a Feminist screed emasculating Mr. Incredible, the quieter parts of the movie highlight just how challenging and valuable the work of a stay at home parent really is. In spite of all that, the movie just feels unnecessary. The plot is identical to the first film right down to the villain's motivation. The only difference is that the villain this time around has even less competence and charisma. The movie ends with a feeling like nothing really changed. It's all too safe. Would that they had taken a risk and actually showed the Parr family 13 years in the future, with Violet and Dash as adults dealing with a changed society. That would have been a riskier and more difficult film to make, but certainly a more memorable.
Isle of Dogs
This was excellent from start to finish. I went into this with zero expectations knowing nothing about it, and what I got was, well, a bit of everything. A great kids' movie, a timeless adventure story, a subtle comedy, an exploration of Japanese culture, and an emotional ode to man's best friend. I have never even had a dog and yet I teared up at a few moments. The voice cast alone makes this a must-see - Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, and Harvey Keitel, to name a few. The animation is artful and fitting for the mood. There is an amazing sushi making scene that stood out in my mind. It also portrays Japanese society honestly and with real care. It gets a lot of little details right regarding physical mannerisms and language. I can't understand how anyone would criticize Wes Anderson for "Cultural Appropriation" (which is bullshit by the way). The experience of the movie is a bit different if you happen to be fluent in Japanese as I am. You catch a few more details, but really, non-Japanese speakers aren't missing very much. Do yourself a favor and go see this.