In (Sort of) Defense of Yellowface

The most recent episode of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother was panned by some fans as tasteless and racist when it depicted three of the shows protagonists what critics characterized as "Yellowface." People on twitter had words to say:

Blonde Ambition: How Xinhua Used A Foreign “Reporter” To Sex Up Its Propaganda

Nikki Aaron
Xinhua host and moonlighter for the Daily Mail’s venerable China Bureau Nikki Aaron has been blissfully peddling the British tabloid yarns of her “China adventures” for the last few months. All well and good. Here’s her latest, on dating, a subject she has visited before. The extremely confessional tone of the Mail piece begs the question: who is Nikki Aaron?

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Climbing The Father Of Ice Mountains

Mustagh Ata-With Muhammad
In his book The Gift the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov describes the mountains of Northwest China as a “transparent and changeable setting” where “the dryness of the air produced an amazing contrast between light and shadow: in the light there were such flashes, such a wealth of brilliance, that at times it became impossible to look at a rock, at a stream; and in the shadow a darkness that absorbed all detail.”

Driving The Volkswagen XL1, The World’s Most Efficient Car

XL1 with Ali
I test drove the Volkswagen XL1 on Friday at the Chaoyang Sports Center. What’s the XL1, you ask? Only the most efficient car in the world — efficient in every way, from weight to energy usage to fuel consumption (it can go 100 kilomters on one liter, thus the 1 in XL1). ”Are there any areas in which you think you can do more optimization?” I asked Dr. Volker Kease, technical project manager.

A Giant Rubber Duck In Beijing

Rubber duck in Beijing by Chris Clayman 1
“Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!” – Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being ~ "It's not just children who like it. The core value of the rubber duck is to bring back childlike innocence to all of us, especially weary adults." – Zeng Hui, head of the Beijing Design Week Organizing Committee

Tino Sehgal At UCCA Is The Can’t-Miss Art Exhibition Of The Year

Tino Sehgal at UCCA
Tino Sehgal is a pretty big deal. And undoubtedly, 2013 has been his best year yet. In June, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale – for an artist, this is comparable to an Oscar or an Olympic gold medal. Earlier in the spring, he was one of four artists shortlisted for Tate Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize. At 37 years old, he's amassed an impressive resume of institutions where he's exhibited, including a solo show in New York’s Guggenheim Museum in which the main spiral of the building's interior was emptied out for one of his tightly choreographed “constructed situations.”

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Chen Zhifeng, Billionaire, Patron of the Arts

Chen Zhifeng featured image
Chen Zhifeng is a “self-made” billionaire, founder of the Western Regions Photography Society, and a major force in Xinjiang’s art scene. He is part of a newly minted cohort of Xinjiang capitalists: the Xinjiang 8 (or 9), who have taken advantage of Chinese-Central Asian market development and the post-Reform oil and gas economy. His Wild Horses Corporation brings in an annual income of $700 million selling Chinese-made women’s underwear and TVs in Russia and Kazakhstan. Yet, unlike some other Xinjiang elites, Chen has reinvested his wealth in Xinjiang.

“Film Is The Most Dangerous By Far”: An Interview With “Cancelled” Beijing Independent Film Festival Artistic Director Dong Bingfeng

Dong Bingfeng
After a handful of English-language publications declared that authorities had "shut down" the Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), many people likely dusted their hands of the matter, thinking censorship had once again triumphed over artistic expression. But as James Hsu discovered more than a week after the festival’s supposed cancellation, BIFF held a successful, albeit quiet, closing ceremony following a full program of screenings and panels. So what happened? A few days after the closing, I met with artistic director Dong Bingfeng to ask him about that and other issues on censorship, film in China, and independent festivals in the future.

The Creamcast, Ep.11: Therese Mendez Of Boulder, Colorado On Living The Single Life In Beijing, And Dirt

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
Therese Mendez (Amy's roommate!) speaks to John Artman and Amy Daml about teaching young -- very young -- children in China, getting peed on, biking under the influence (BUI), and getting mugged. She also talks about her culture shock after arriving from Boulder, Colorado in 2009 -- her first time out of the country -- and takes us inside a women's locker room in Beijing. The shower orgasm story is at the 27:30 mark.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Gendered Futures, “Mother Tongue,” And Berna The Uyghur City Girl

Berna pt 2
Last week I wrote about the way endearing child stars such as the seven-year-old Berna are being mobilized as a method for securing the future of Uyghur ways of knowing and speaking. Yet Uyghur “mother tongue fever” has a long legacy. The famous Uyghur poem Ana Til, or “Mother Tongue,” was composed by the poet Haji Qutluq Shewqi in the mid-19th century when a love of Uyghur was directed in opposition to the dominance of Persian and Arabic in Uyghur education. While the vectors of linguistic force have found new centers of gravity in the past few decades...

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Memories And Berna, A 7-Year-Old Pop Star From Ürümchi (Part 1)

Uyghur Memories And Berna, A 7-Year-Old Pop Star From Ürümchi
As has been well documented in discussions of the cultural situation in Xinjiang, many minority people in Xinjiang feel the future of their language and culture is insecure. Efforts to replace Uyghur-medium education begun in 2004 have intensified as the capillary spread of Chinese capitalism embeds its network and ideology deeper and deeper into southern Xinjiang.

Chug-Off For Charity Recap: Congratulations And Thanks

Chug-Off for Charity champions featured image
A big thank you to everyone who attended Chug-Off for Charity at Great Leap Brewing on Saturday. We raised 5,000 RMB for Magic Hospital, which will continue its excellent work providing happiness to sick, orphaned, and neglected children in Beijing. The tournament featured 16 teams, but unfortunately we could only have one winner. Congratulations to Go on the Pikies, consisting of Colin (a Dubliner visiting from London) and Tiggi (from Leeds, the manager of Paddy O’Shea’s).

The Creamcast, Ep.10: Lesley Sheppard Of Magic Hospital On Her Organization And Chug-Off For Charity

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
The beneficiary of tomorrow's Chug-Off for Charity at the new Great Leap Brewing is Magic Hospital, a 10-year-old organization based in Beijing that organizes activities to cheer up sick, orphaned, abused, and generally neglected children. They're a wonderful foundation, and to tell you more about it, here's Lesley Sheppard, Magic Hospital's volunteer communications director.