Saturday Morning Documentary: Sound and Fury

29 07 2011

“If you could make your deaf children hear, would you do it?”  That’s the tagline and the question posed in the 2000 documentary Sound and Fury.  Though the choice may seem clear at first, the film explores the complex questions that also arise when deaf children have the opportunity for cochlear implants that would allow them to hear like regular hearing kids.  Two sets of parents who both have kids are both contemplating the implants– one thinking yes and the other on the fence– and debates and arguments ensue.

“If your child was blind, wouldn’t you want them to see?” asks the mother who is for the surgery, and it’s a convincing argument.  She argues that it would be a setback for her child if he were to be deaf, that he would be missing out on so much in the world like music, the sound of rain; other aspects of life, like finding a job, would also be a lot harder, she says.  On the other hand, the mother who is investigating both sides of the situation says that by giving her child an implant, they would be missing out on deaf culture and may not learn and use sign with other deaf people, and that the deaf world and culture may be wiped out completely if all deaf people were given implants.  “I’m proud to be deaf,” says her husband, and you see from the way he signs that he really means it.

I don’t think I’ve seen a documentary on deafness before but this was really insightful.  It did seem a little outdated with the choice of music and the way it was shot but the film was pretty interesting nonetheless.  A provocative film about a sense that most people take for granted.

Family Event

21 01 2011

An assignment for non-fiction class about a family dinner.

Family Event

I am told to write about an event of some sort about my family but nothing comes to mind.  I also don’t remember much of my childhood, and have even less memories involving my family; simple things like dinners at home are a blank to me, though I can speculate what may have happened.  Not knowing what else to do, I ask my older sister, Florence.

We’re supposed to be killing computer-generated people and warriors in an Age of Empires game online but instead, I stall and ask her some questions about our family before she hits the start button in the chatroom.

“Do you remember having dinner together as a family when we were younger?” I ask.

“Yes.  I made dinners” is her reply.  Florence is nine years older than me and my twin sister, Maggie.  I don’t remember her making dinner.  I can imagine it and it seems like it could be real but I don’t have any actual memories of it.

“Father didn’t cook and mommy worked often,” she continues.  This also makes sense.  It’s not that my dad couldn’t cook because I remember him teaching me how to cook vegetables one time, so I’m left to wonder why he didn’t do it for us then.

I tell her I can’t recall any time we as a family sat down and had dinner or dinners with other relatives.  She tells me how there were occasions when we would have dinner with our grandparents and someone would usually end up crying.

This disturbs me, and I know it to be true as well.  Perhaps I am only used to the mother I know now, who doesn’t yell very often and have lost touch with the one who would to yell at her children.

Florence tells me, “Maggie would start crying if she didn’t eat certain things, or if you were bad and mommy yelled at you, or if I spilled something and get yelled at.”  I ask where dad was during this and I she merely confirms what I’ve been thinking: “eating”.

I imagine my mother’s loud, shrill voice, hurling insults at me in Cantonese while I stare down at my bowl of rice, feeling powerless.  As tears gather in my eyes, I feel aversion and embarrassment of my sisters’ eyes, and my father, watching the news on TV as if nothing was happening at all.

When I ask her if there was anything else we did together, she mentions grocery shopping.  Immediately, I remember that: my father always standing by the cart, indifferent to everything, while my mother, my sisters and I would go help bring preapproved food (by my mom).  But then Florence tells me Maggie and I would go into the toy and book aisles so we “wouldn’t get in the way”, and Florence would she looked after us.

There were questions my older sister couldn’t answer and she advised me to ask my mom, which I was reluctant to do because I didn’t think my mother would give me a straight answer.  My mother is the type of person who might pretend she doesn’t remember something but would simply rather not talk about it.  But I did ask anyway, to listen to what she had to say, when she came home and sat herself down in her green, mushroom-printed nightgown, in front of some Chinese programming on TV.

“Why didn’t we do things as a family?”  My mother gives me a look.

“Sure we did.  We went on vacations and trips…”

“But dad never came.”

“That’s because he would faint on planes,” my mom tells me.  “When you were young, we took a trip to Taiwan and he fainted at the terminal, before getting on the plane.  After that, he never went on another plane.”

I ponder this.  Maybe my dad had an excuse but…

“What about other things?  Like going out or doing activities together?”

“Well, those times we went to grandma’s birthday dinners and those potlucks—

“No, I mean things with just us.”

“We did lots of things together!  We had dinner at home!”

If the first thing my mother answers when I ask her about things we do together is dinner, then I know there’s probably not much else we were all there for.

“No, that doesn’t count.  Other things.”

“We did lots of things.  You just don’t remember,” she replies vaguely, before conveniently getting up and walking to the kitchen.


Perhaps my mother’s right; I just don’t remember the things we used to do.  Or perhaps the memories I’ve been searching for don’t exist.  Whatever the case, I know now that if I am to ever raise a family, I am determined to give them memories – memories they can write down and remember as good ones the rest of their lives.

The Common Multiples Theory

26 06 2010

In math, fractions can be divided by other numbers called multiples; some numbers have more common multiples than others (this is about the extent of math skills as evidenced by my near-failing grade in Math 11). This can also be applied to people, I’ve found.

He’s young, outgoing, and really good-looking. As much as people in general frown upon (okay, more like hate) racism, it still goes on quietly, with little or no backlash. It seems that if you’re white, it’s almost the “standard”, or the most common denominator, at least among gay men (I don’t know about the heteros, but I”m sure it’s at least similar). Being a denominator with many common multiples means you’re divisible by more people — more people are into you, essentially.

Take my friend Dan. He’s intelligent, outgoing, and good-looking and the kind of guy that a lot of people would be into — Asians like him because he’s, well, white and attractive (another topic altogether of how/why Asians are into white men); the other caucasians like him since he’s probably holds the same ideals, has had a similar upbringing, and can speak English (though of course, that’s an assumption nonetheless); and everyone else… well, North American society is so saturated with white folks — think of all the movies, music, tv shows that feature prominent white characters or have an all-white cast — that it’s become the standard of beauty. Dan is a common multiple amongst many, many people but it works both ways too. He sees past the color of your skin, and he doesn’t hold any sort of sexual racism. As easily as people are into him, he’s into them the same; the greater amount of multiples (in this case, people), theoretically, the greater the chance of liking.

With that principle in mind, the laws of sexual racism come into play. Browse the men for men personal ads on craigslist and you’ll find the most unabashedly open racists there. Nothing suggesting death or a one-race by any means, but something different. I particularly like how, in an attempt to cover up their racism, some guys write “Sorry, it’s just a preference” after stating something like, “Not into Asians”. The term “Asians”, in this case, encompasses those of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean backgrounds and it appears that most of the people who say such things are caucasians or other races. Rarely do you find ads saying, “Not into caucasians” (I won’t delve too much into sexual racism because I could go on and on and since this is about The Common Multiples Theory, I had to mention it briefly).

Does this mean that being Asian automatically puts you at a disadvantage to having multiples? Not necessarily. Take my friend Matt. He’s quirky, humorous, and fun to be around. He’s also half-filipino and half-vietnamese and although not “Asian”, he is clearly is. But he’s had relationships before (how many, I don’t know but they all seem fairly significant); and having been born and raised in Vancouver, he has an air of Western culture to him that make him seem more “white” than traditionally Asian. I believe Matt and others similar to him are the exception — not because they are white-washed but because they are outgoing and charming enough to allow others to see past their skin and into their personality. It also probably doesn’t hurt that he dresses not flamboyantly, but attractively, in the sense that people would notice him on the street. Matt strikes me as the kind of person who doesn’t have to look very hard to find someone who would like and want to date him, and despite the fact that he is Asian, he also has many common multiples.

So where do I fit into this theory? Shortly put, I feel like a prime number, only divisible by 1 and itself (one being my left hand and itself being me).

I’m not as outgoing as Dan nor Matt (or at least not upon first meeting), and I don’t feel like I particularly stand out against a crowd like Matt. I’m not super Asian, having grown up here in Vancouver, so I don’t hold those traditional beliefs nor am I taking any ESL coursese. Though Asians are attracted to other Asians, I’ve found that a lot of them are closeted or looking for someone more like them/a white boyfriend, and I’m not that. Caucasian guys probably rule me out because of how I look (unless someone tells me otherwise, that’s what I’m going with because honestly, very few have actually even replied to my messages or whatnot). At the same time, I’m not super white-washed — I’m sort of this in between hybrid of the two. At times I feel like an anomaly while everyone around me and their multiples are out getting it on.

Perhaps I’ve failed to taken into account another common factor between Dan and Matt — that both go out clubbing. Though this may seem trivial, clubbing is equivalent in the gay world as Comic Con to the geeks. It’s the meeting place (among other things) for the queers to go and meet others like them, and where I don’t particularly have fun.

Whatever the case, I remain a prime number, at least for the time being.