Author: Bailin Zhang

Do you like “exotic beauty”?

Social media has always been a dictator for how young adults view themselves or view others. However, lately it seems to be dictating the younger and older generations. Social media has changed not only generations, but cultures as well. All the “do’s” and “don’ts” are given to these people through social media as well as control on who to accept and who should be “outcasts.” Based on how much people weigh, how tall they are, the color of theirs skin, creases in their face are all factors into how society views them, and sadly, how they it is congruent to how they view themselves. As mentioned in the Illusionist video, “we are trying to embody ‘exotic beauty,’ the westernized image, because that is where power comes from.” It is explained in this video that white supremacy has influenced many parts of the world through social media, commercial and ads.

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Top is a poster of native Chinese brand. Bottom left is the magazine cover of fashionable life showing a white female, and topic about how to choose brightening skin product. Bottom right is a commercial billboard showing two white males on street of China.

Especially in Asians, people are obsessed with “exotic beauty”. In China, girls with typical westernized characteristics are the paradigm in mainstream media. Oftentimes, media producers even make white models as the cover of a magazine, on a billboard, or on the posters of native cloth brand. The media influence is so profound that even my mom always scold at me because of my sunspot, which is a big blemish on my face. In Korea, the situation is even severe. A lot of girls and even some guys put on makeups that make them look more “white”. According to this article, a lot of male Korean superstars also wear makeups. Korean guys want to look like them either because their girlfriends like the superstar or themselves want to be like them. In addition, probably due to the long history of most Asian countries, Asians incline to place everyone in a social hierarchy. The “exotic beauty”, such as “White skin” with tall nose bridge, and big eyes emblematize upper class with good education, lots of money, and higher status. Therefore, everyone wants to squeeze into the procession of being more surpassed, even if the person is ostensibly more superior.

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Korean superstars with makeups.

 

Social media standards portray what an ideal image is for people of all ages, race and gender. People aim to reach these standards. In doing so, they might engage in behavior such as unhealthy dieting, skin bleaching or undergo dangerous surgeries. It is signaling to them that anything less than is not acceptable. According to CNN, being different or looking different is one of the common reasons why kids get bullied.

It is really an issue because as students, we are aware that social media consumption is increasing among all people. Therefore, it should not provoke insecurities about our bodies that could negatively impact our physical or mental health. It is important to involve people in conversations about consuming social media because we need to be reminded that we can fight back unrealistic standards.

 

By Wen Yung Keh, Sovisal Sen, Bailin Zhang

🍎⬅️🔥😫 Apple Emoji Got Backfires! 👨👩🏼👱🏿

Emoji, an ideogram used to convey ideal or concept, was originally contrived by a Japanese software engineer in 1999. Apple has adopted this new way of non-verbal, non-literal communication, and made it take the world by storm.

In order to increase its racial diversity and inclusiveness, Apple launched its racially diverse emoji in its IOS 8.3 update, which incorporated versatile color skin tones (6 color in total) to represent different races. The new emoji reformation should earn Apple a big applaud; however, it pissed off a lot of Apple users, especially the Asians. People in China alleged that the bright yellow tone is so stereotypical, and it is very offensive to Asians. A twitter user, Jade Tran, wrote “Is the yellow emoji supposed to represent Asians because I have never in my life seen an Asian looking like that.” 

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“A Yellow person,” is usually associated with many historically stereotypical words in the western culture, such as coward, short height, small eyes, feudalism, etc. In reality, not every Asian is superstitious, coward, has small eyes, and short height. (Well, I admit I have small eyes 👀, but all of my friends have big, bright sparkling eyes like this 👁.👁) Also, Asians think it is not fair to call them “yellow”, not only due to the stereotypes, but because Asians do not have such skin color in reality. Therefore, yellow skin is mischaracterization. Referring to this article, if two Asians are in a conversation, do they have to specifically choose the yellow skin emoji to represent themselves? Or do other people should feel compelled to send the yellow skin emoji to their chat people if they are Asians. The racial diverse emoji exacerbates racial distinctions even more, since a person sending a yellow emoji accentuates his/her identity, making it more conspicuous. 

Nonetheless, some colored people in U.S. harbored completely opposite opinions. They think Apple is so attentive that the racially diverse emoji, indeed, well-represented their identities. Apple has changed the idea about “white is superior and normal,” according to the quote of Matthew Johnson, MediaSmart director, “Players who are not white and male have to essentially leave some of their self behind and take on this white/male identity in order to participate in [a video game].” Emoji is the first small step towards a more equal, diverse, and powerful society. 

From my perspective, I felt awkward, when I used bright yellow emoji at first time. I think it was unnecessary and meaningless to include such diverse skin tones, and I did hesitate about choosing the skin color. I used to think if I use the white emoji, will anyone think I am weird? Nevertheless, I understand the intent of Apple was good, it was aware of underrepresentation of colored people. In fact, it did explain that the bright yellow tone is the default setting, the color did not refer to Asians. However, I still think this reform is hasty, it is much better if they did a survey before releasing the new emoji. 

 

—–Bailin Zhang

 

Flop movies, Great hit!

 

 

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Source from Google images

 

Wonder woman‘ is considered as the biggest blockbuster of Hollywood this summer, creating a new history that overwhelmingly overrides all the other movies including ‘The Great Wall’. Although the budget of ‘The Great Wall’ cost nearly as the same as ‘Wonder Woman,’ it was considered as a big flop in the U.S. Yet, it still got a great hit in China. 

How could such big flop in U.S counterattack in China? You might discover the substantial difference is due to the disparity of cultural ideology and media exposure in the two countries. ‘The Great Wall’ is the first China-Hollywood co-production, which is designed to conquer the world audiences. Matt Damon played the main actor William Garin, who was an Irish soldier in the movie, fighting with Chinese legion to save the world.

Despite blowing big bucks on the movie, the result of box office in the U.S. was far from satisfaction, and the movie aroused public criticism, especially among Asian Americans, about “whitewashing,” and the stereotype that only white man can save the world. Nevertheless, most Chinese people love this movie, and there was no single concern about “whitewashing”. The clash between native Chinese and Asian Americans is largely influenced by social ideology.

America is composed of diverse races, in which the Asian Americans count as minority. As being the minority, people are usually not treated as fairly as the majority. For example, more white people are likely to be rewarded in huge event, such as last year’s Oscar, and Academy Awards two years ago. Asian Americans are awfully underrepresented in the U.S. media and tied with negative stereotypes. Thus, they are more sensitive about racial issues. Compare to China, which is a monoculture that far fewer white people live in China. Even people have noticed their negative stereotypes existing in Western cultures and they think it’s frustrating. In reality, they rarely experience discrimination from a white counterpart in China. And the media, people usually consumes, is mostly presented by Asian actors/actresses. They refer the presence of white actors as a connection to the world. Therefore, a lot of Chinese people love this movie from the perspective of international debut (presented by an Asian America who analyses the movie from both sides), as the movie did show plenty of Chinese elements.

Another critical factor that caused such difference is the way how media propagandized this movie. Carefully scrutinize the posters available in the two countries, posters in U.S. emphasized greatly on Matt Damon, whilst posters in China had a more balanced feature. Chinese characters had approximately the same scale as white characters.

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Sources are from google images and baidu images.  Upper left and bottom right are Chinese posters.

Again, as I advocated in my previous post “‘Evil’ or ‘Angel,’  How do you think about Vladimir Putin?” that media is a profound factor. Sometimes it distorts and selectively report the reality by introducing a single side of information, which triggers strife even when people descended from similar culture. Therefore, media pluralism is an indispensable requirement to reflect the real world.

 

By Bailin Zhang

 

“Evil” or “Angel,” How do you think about Vladimir Putin?

Media is the most profound agent, which has been used to disseminate information,  ideas and strife. Vladimir Putin, current president of Russia, is one of the most controversial political leaders in the world. He is portrayed by various media in different countries as both an evil dictator and a great president.  

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An interview conducted by myself about impressions of Vladimir Putin among US and Chinese students. Two typical answers are cited.

A high-profile event — the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held in Astana, Kazakhstan this year, claiming to establish the goals such as fostering economic cooperation, improving regional security, etc. to boost world peace and stability. Due to the prominence of this event, many websites published relevant news and opinions about it. In the English version of ChinaDaily online news, the event described by a Chinese journalist as an indispensable opportunity to strengthen the world peace, and the solidarity between China and Russia is necessary to achieve this purpose. However, many American socialists treat this event as a conspiracy manipulated by Putin, which can threaten the leading position of America in the world. An author in the World Socialist Web Site wrote the SCO led by China, but mainly espoused by Putin goes beyond the goal of pursuing world peace, instead it intensifies the global tension by diminishing the power of US. 

We can see how discordant the two illustrations are regarding to a single event. According to my research, most of American media focuses on representing negative political opinions of Putin, and vast majority of Chinese media portrays more on his private lives as well as how he supports China. Thus, from perspective of most Chinese people, Putin is very personable, and a powerful supporter of China. From the aspect of vast Americans, Putin is imperious, who is a strong opponent, always harasses and stifles U.S development.

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Sources from Google Images

From my own perspective, a viewpoint from an international student from China who receives both positive and negative information regards Putin. I think he is both an evil and an angel. I don’t like how he treats homosexuality and his opinions about Ukrainian war, but I think he is cute about loving dogs, and I respect him in supporting China. Media can have prodigious impact on the development of social ideology of a person. The inoculation of solely negative/positive information by media can spur a person to look the world in a narrow perspective as the person can have entrenched stereotype either bad or good towards a person, an event, or a country. I want to say that the world is being illustrated in a diverse way, so it is really important not to absorb information from just one side. Actively searching for multiplex media can help understand the world better.

By Bailin Zhang