A Life Less Analog

A Life Less Analog, Entertainment

Cancel culture: Cultural appropriation and the PC police

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Thanks in large part to social media, cancel culture is out of control, with cultural appropriation being one of the charges the PC police loves to raise against targets. Different celebrities have been accused of cultural appropriation, from Coldplay and Beyonce to Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Zac Efron, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift. The list goes on, and with cancel culture putting the fear of being boycotted and shunned, we’ve seen different celebrities apologizing for one thing or another.

Perhaps emboldened by what has become the PC form of a witch hunt and censorship, and the increasing prominence of Asian celebrities, the cancel culture mob is now going after Asians. Like Golden Globe Best Actress awardee — the first woman of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe in any lead actress film category — and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Awkwafina, who has been criticized for her frequent use of a blaccent. Plus as if PC people weren’t already moralizing about cultural appropriation, now it seems many of us are also guilty of language appropriation when we use slang. Because a lot of modern slang is based on African American Vernacular English (AAVE), and language appropriation “erases the influence of black culture“.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment

Lisa winning despite racist K-pop fans, toxic solo stans

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Last year, I cut ties with a college friend who had spent months finding different ways to diss my favorite K-pop group BLACKPINK — the same one who couldn’t figure out why Lisa was my bias when, according to him, Jennie and Jisoo were “objectively” more beautiful. The first time he said this, I told him that I found Lisa more beautiful, and that while all four BLACKPINK members were visuals, I preferred her Thai beauty. That’s how I first heard about Korean beauty standards, since he got into K-pop a few years before I did. He insisted that there’s an “objective” standard of beauty based on criteria that the “mainstream” agrees upon, and that it’s only because Lisa was more popular that people like me insist she’s more beautiful.

Now, obviously I like Lisa for a lot more than just her physical appearance, and there were other reasons I finally decided to cut off this person from my life. But as I’ve come to realize over all these months of being into K-pop, and especially now that Lisa has made her solo debut with her first single album “LALISA”, this person had embraced the prejudices of some South Koreans, echoing racist K-pop fans.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment

‘LALISA’: How a Thai girl became the Queen of K-pop

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“I wanna be one of… part of them. I wanna be a K-pop artist,” BLACKPINK main dancer and lead rapper Lalisa Manoban, better known by the mononym Lisa, says in a voice-over in the fan-made documentary “LALISA”. Posted on the TIN x LISA YouTube channel last year by a fan from the Philippines to celebrate Lisa’s birthday on March 27, “LALISA” chronicles the unlikely story of a young girl in Thailand who loved to dance and dreamed of becoming a K-pop artist. Who was born as Pranpriya Manoban but changed her name to Lalisa (“one who is praised”) after a fortune teller told her it would bring her prosperity. Who overcame the odds and beat 3,999 other applicants during her audition on her way to becoming the most popular female K-pop artist — in fact, one of the most popular K-pop idols around the world.

“I remember she jumped off the stage and like came right in my face and I was like, ‘Yo!’ You know what I mean? She has the courage to do that? She is confident,” says Danny Im, a former member of the Korean hip-hop group 1TYM who was a YG Entertainment producer and one of the judges when the company decided to hold its very first audition in Thailand in 2010. It was an open audition, with not only Thai applicants joining, but also South Koreans and other foreign nationals living in Thailand.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment, Technology

New Nissan Terra launch features 2 OPM legends

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Not only did Nissan Philippines launch the new Nissan Terra in the country, but also the Japanese carmaker brought together Original Pilipino Music legends Barbie Almalbis and Noel Cabangon. The new Nissan Terra was revealed to the public in a Facebook and YouTube live stream that also unveiled the music video of “Ingat Kayo” performed by Almalbis and Cabangon. Composed by Nissan Philippines General Manager for Sales Rollie Navarro, “Ingat Kayo” was produced to support the Philippine Department of Tourism’s (DoT) call for safe and responsible travel.

Ingat, halong, ayo-ayo, mimingat po kayo,” Almalbis and Cabangon sing, as they say “ingat kayo” (which means be safe, or take care) in different Philippine languages. And safe trips for the family is precisely what Nissan Philippines is promising to Filipinos, thanks to more Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) features than the previous model, enhancing overall driving safety and confidence for drivers and their loved  ones.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment

TUDUM: From iconic sound to 1st Netflix global fan event

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TUDUM. That’s the first beat you hear whenever you watch a TV show or movie on Netflix, which I would argue has become as iconic a sound as the Nokia ringtone was for a previous age. After all, can you imagine how much worse the COVID-19 lockdown would be if we were stuck in our homes in a world without streaming? And let’s face it, without the success of Netflix, content owners like Disney and Warner Bros. wouldn’t have launched their own streaming platforms Disney+ and HBO Max, respectively. It was Netflix which took the risk by pivoting from delivering DVDs to launching a streaming platform, transforming the entertainment industry as much as Apple changed the music industry when it launched iTunes.

Now, the sound has become the inspiration for the streaming giant’s very first global fan event. TUDUM: A Netflix Global Fan Event is a massive three-hour live stream that will bring together Netflix’s biggest stars and creators from all over the world on the virtual stage on Sept. 25.

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A Life Less Analog, Technology

DeFi: Defying poverty, accelerating financial inclusion

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As decentralized finance (DeFi) becomes more mainstream, it will continue to transform financial services in the Philippines and drive financial inclusion. This was emphasized by the head of Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX), which recently raised US$12.5 million (Php630 million) in funding, led by a UK-based venture capital firm, and joined by Hong Kong-listed fintech company BC Group.

“Most of the financial inclusion problems in the Philippines have underlying infrastructural root causes. And what is very challenging for the traditional financial services space is precisely what blockchain technology and decentralized financial applications do very well. The innovations in blockchain technology are actually innovations in infrastructure,” PDAX Founder and CEO Nichel Gaba said in response to my question during the press briefing.

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A Life Less Analog, Technology

The People vs Big Tech: Vivaldi CEO on data privacy

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In the age of surveillance capitalism where Big Tech gets our data without our knowledge and permission so they can sell it, how can we ordinary citizens fight back?

“Stop using their tech. Find alternatives. Big Tech tries to convince you that this data collection is necessary to run their services. That is not true. They also try to convince you that everyone does it, and that is not true either. Even though services require data to run better, that does not mean that this data needs to be used to build user profiles and sell access to those users. Those things are not in any way tied together,” Vivaldi Technologies Co-Founder and CEO Jon von Tetzchner, who is ex-CEO and co-founder of Opera Software, told Digital Life Asia.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment, Geek Culture

‘Kotaro Lives Alone’: When home runs away from us

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Based on the manga “Kotaro wa Hitorigurashi”, the Japanese drama “Kotaro Lives Alone”, which is streaming on Netflix, tells the story of a five-year-old boy who moves into an apartment complex. His next-door neighbor, a struggling manga creator named Shin Karino (played by Japanese idol and actor You Yokoyama, who is a member of the boy band Kanjani Eight), is shocked because the apartment building doesn’t allow children. Not only that, but also it turns out that the boy, whose name is Kotaro Sato (Eito Kawahara), is living alone.

“Kotaro Lives Alone” is a well-written and heartwarming drama that rewards patience. The first episode introduces us to a strange but polite little boy who talks formally and addresses his neighbors as “Lord” and “Lady” while wearing a plastic katana. Some people might find the pace too leisurely and complain that “nothing is happening”, but I appreciate how well-written “Kotaro Lives Alone” is and how it takes the time to build the characters and slowly reveal their backstories.

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A Life Less Analog, Technology

Social media: How memes reduce protest to pastiche

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If religion is the opium of the people, then the designer drug of choice of practically everyone in the postmodern world is social media. Social media has become the most visible and widespread form of the collective hallucination that we call the internet. And while these Web 2.0 internet applications can be useful tools for communication, the problem is that for far too many people, social media has become a substitute for the real world, replacing instead of complementing real-world interactions while giving users the illusion of choice, influence, and power.

Imagine if social media as we know it had existed in 1986 during the first EDSA Revolution in the Philippines, or had replaced the text brigades that helped mobilize people during EDSA Dos, the Second EDSA Revolution, in 2001. Many people would have shared, liked, retweeted, and commented on Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin’s post if he had used social media to call on Filipinos to take to the streets. Probably many of them would have also created their own posts and tweets to express their support, and shared, liked, retweeted, and commented on user-generated content (UGC) by their fellow supporters. Sadly, most of them would be content with online activism and “amplifying” the on-ground event, and few would actually show up at EDSA. In fact, social media is changing collective human behavior so much that biologists have issued a warning.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment

‘Money Heist’: ‘Bella Ciao’ and the spirit of resistance

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La casa de papel” (“The House of Paper”), more popularly known globally as “Money Heist”, is a beautifully-made Spanish TV series whose success is filled with ironies. One of which is that it was actually a flop when it came out in Spain, and its creators had wrapped up the series in two seasons and thought that was the end. Then Netflix bought the global streaming rights to the series without any expectations, and was shocked when it became the most popular show on the platform and gave birth to a global phenomenon.

So popular is this show that not only did it revive the Italian anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao”, but also made the iconic Salvador Dalí masks and red jumpsuits worn by the Professor’s band of thieves recognizable symbols of resistance worn by protesters for different causes around the world. Another irony, because while Dalí was unquestionably a brilliant artist, his politics was problematic. While he started out as a communist who was anti-monarchist and anti-clerical, he later refused to denounce fascism and supported the dictator Francisco Franco when he emerged victorious in the Spanish Civil War in 1939. Which is why he was condemned by his fellow Surrealists. Then again, Nazi Germany corrupted the Indian religious icon of the swastika, while conversely Christians transformed the cross from an instrument of capital punishment used by the Romans. So I suppose it is also fitting to turn the Dalí mask into a symbol of resistance — and that “Money Heist” drew flak from the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation because the show creators didn’t request permission.

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A Life Less Analog, Entertainment, Geek Culture

‘Loki’ finale: Sylvie’s choice and the problem of free will

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The “Loki” finale has these powerful lines as food for thought: “Free will? Only one person gets free will. The one in charge.”

It helps that this was delivered by Ravonna Renslayer, played by the brilliant actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, best known for portraying Kelly in the Emmy Award-winning “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero”, which incidentally is my favorite one. In a Disney+ series overflowing with talent and incredible performances, Mbatha-Raw makes Judge Renslayer one of the most compelling characters. In fact, more than the hero’s journey (or villain’s journey, since this series is about Loki), time travel shenanigans (reminiscent of “Doctor Who”, where Mbatha-Raw also appeared), and identity, the “Loki” finale shows us that the central question around which this series revolves is: “Does free will exist?” And if it does, would people choose free will instead of their own salvation? Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t watched the “Loki” finale.

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A Life Less Analog, Geek Culture

X-Men #1: Mutantdom’s champions are saving the world

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New York has a giant Treehouse that’s over 18 stories tall and a new resident superhero team protecting the planet — the mutants known as the X-Men.

The X-Men has been my favorite superhero team since I was a kid, and over the decades I’ve seen all the triumphs and tragedies of this band of outcasts “sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them”. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, the X-Men introduced the concept of mutants to the Marvel Universe — individuals who gain super powers because of a genetic mutation. No radioactive spider, gamma radiation, or Super Soldier Serum. They were born this way. Because they were different and seen as the next step in human evolution, mutants have faced discrimination, persecution, and even extinction. This anti-mutant sentiment became a way for Marvel to create stories that were also allegories tackling real-world struggles and issues, including the civil rights movement, AIDS, apartheid, religious bigotry, white supremacy, and the LGBTQIA+ community. But what happens now that Jonathan Hickman has created a vastly different status quo for mutantdom with the landmark House of X and Powers of X limited series whose crossover storyline relaunched the X-Men in 2019? A status quo that has seen mutants becoming “new gods” and uniting as part of a sovereign nation recognized by different countries, and whose power now extends beyond Earth? Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read X-Men #1.

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