Fresh Off The Boat or Cast Away


How a third-culture kid tried to act the role

by Elliot Chan

Looking back, I realized it wasn’t just that I was Asian. I was a loud-mouth, brash, broken Asian who had no respect for authority in any form, whether it was a parent, teacher, or country. Not only was I not white, to many people I wasn’t Asian either. Eddie Huang, Fresh Off the Boat

There is much talk about cultural appropriation these days. People are trying to draw the line, but political correctness cannot be traced with a ruler; it’s jagged, squiggly, and all-round messy. Some are overly sensitive with the ineptitude of cultural exchange — or the misunderstanding of it — and will always be, while others are apathetic to the point of offensive.

But what is my culture? What is authenticity? What is a stereotype? And what is my legitimate heritage? Before I can step up and defend myself, I must understand what — correction: who — I am.

My mother demanded that I speak Cantonese at home while growing up. I’m fluent, but I use primary school vocabulary and slur my words. It makes me feel — for lack of a better word — dumb. It’s the last thing my mom can hold over me. Cantonese. If I lose it, it’s gone. Should I have children, they will not learn a word of it from me. It’s sad, but it’s true.

CBC is an acronym used to describe me: Chinese born Canadian. Respect — even though us CBCs are perhaps the first generation of Chinese people to have never felt the wrath of poverty, the injustice of forced labour and head tax, and the hardship of immigration and a life of a refugee. Yes, we haven’t done much to garner respect, but we still deserve it; the glass ceiling above us is evident, but the platform of privilege we stand upon is quite sturdy as well.

But I was more than that whole CBC business. I didn’t know it at first, because people would just put a label on me as a kid, and I accepted it. Especially when I was growing up in a multicultural community like I did in Vancouver/Burnaby, Beautiful British Columbia. My mom and dad wanted me to be one way, the school system wanted me to behave in another, and of course, I had no idea what I wanted, except to be a star on film and television.

I was a kid grasping at influences in all directions. I admired famous white people, I admired famous Chinese people, I had friends of all hues, and I had dislikes from people of all culture; douchebags — I later found out — existed on every continent, and I don’t discriminate. I was a third-culture kid. My parents were yellow, the country was blue, and I was green, not ripe for pickin’.

Eddie Huang, owner of Baohous in New York and host of the popular Fresh Off the Boat segment on Vice Magazine, also found influences in an unconventional realm: hip-hop and rap.

Pac made sense to us. He wrote in his memoir. We lived in a world that treated us like deviants and we were outcast. There was always some counselor or administrator pulling us out of class to talk. We stayed in detention and we were surrounded by kids who had no idea what we were going through. We listened to hip-hop because there wasn’t anything else that welcomed us in, made us feel at home. I could see why Milli wanted to pull a pistol on Santa or why B.I.G. was ready to die. Our parents, Confucius, the model-minority bullshit, and kung fu-style discipline are what set us off. But Pac held us down.



As a Canadian, there isn’t much to go on, especially when it presents mashed potatoes and casserole content. Good try Canadian Broadcast Company, but CBC ain’t CBC enough for me. I was proud, but of what, someone else’s culture? I caught of glimpse of Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie and absolutely shuddered.

I wanted to change it, but I had to get my foot in the door without falling to my knees. My dad would walk into my room and see me being whitewashed by the television. I told him, I wanted to be an actor. Maybe in Hong Kong, he replied. He wanted me to flee, but I wanted to invade. I was watching television so I could know my enemy.

But when a man of colour asks a white man for anything, whether it be food, work, or acceptance, there is still this raw feeling, as if something between us, as human beings, is still unresolved. Equality is having chips to play, choosing the game is the privilege.

Huang describes the emotion of watching his cousin join a frat, but I believe it relates well to every thing else a minority group goes through in this new world. You can say “please” and “thank you,” but you know that they owe you nothing; the whole process brings you down:

Something about watching my older cousin walk around with PKA hat on his fat head being hazed by white “brothers” pissed me off. It must have been how our grandparents felt watching the British or Japanese herd their people around in water lines. OK, maybe I was imposing my own meaning on the image, but there was something wrong with it either way. White people making my cousin carry their shit, wear their colours, and walk with his head down. It took every ounce of self-control not to go apeshit on his brothers and, when I was done, beat the shit out of Phil, too! It made Allen and me so mad that it finally brought us back together. Like watching William Hung sink your entire race with each word of “She Bangs,” we died every time Phil walked through the towers surrounded by frat brothers.

For eight years, I pursued acting as my Plan A career choice. I bought into the culture 100 per cent. I devoted myself to acting and film school. I printed myself a month’s salary of headshots, produced a demo reel, and even got myself a talent agent.

I knew I was heading down the wrong path when I saw myself waiting in an audition room, hoping to beat out my other brothers, third-culture kids like myself in every way, for a role as a minority in a half-baked television pilot. When your childhood dream was to be Hamlet, anything less than Horatio will not do. So Nerdy Guy #2 was as far as I would stretch.

Legitimate roles for Asians are so limited that the audition rooms become a tense place for those who get a call back. I remember looking around at all those familiar faces, and thinking, we should be partners not rivals. We should work together to make a new brand of entertainment for our own demographic. The industry believes they are offering a piece of the pie, but no, we are fighting each other for crumbs.

My parents believed in me, they wanted me to climb the ladder. They wanted me to land those bit parts and wait for my lucky break. In other words, they wanted me to follow orders, run with dynamite and build the CPR for little to nothing. My parents believed in me. But I was not going to misrepresent who I was in the world. Yes, I wanted to be an actor, but no, I would not be Nerdy Guy #2. If I wanted to be Nerdy Guy #2 I would have been an accountant, I would have been a doctor, I would have been an engineer. Being typecast was as bad as failing. Maybe it was me, or maybe I just didn’t understand the whole entertainment industry.

“When Gene Roddenberry gave me that role,” said George Takei, for PBS documentary Pioneers of Television, “it was a breakthrough role for me personally, as an actor as well as the image of Asians and Asian Americans on the television screen and also on the motion picture screen. And today, if you have a hospital series or a detective series, you always see an Asian as part of the diversity of that regular cast.”

And the token Asian role evolved since. Now, the succeeding Sulu has taken reign as a leading male in a romantic comedy. “Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They’re the cop, or the waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position . . . is a bit of a landmark,” said John Cho when interviewed for his television series on ABC, Selfie.

Hell, maybe I could be the best damn Nerdy Guy #2 in cinematic history, but no. Respect to Takei and Cho for continuing to inspire, but I’m taking a different route. I would not praise Asian actors for simply making it on screen. I’ll praise them if they dare to be vanguards. I’ll praise them if they can boldly go where no Orient actor in Hollywood has gone before. Some might find the “Me so sorry! Love you long time” bit entertaining, but I hate it. I cannot and will not influence people to do the same cheesy accent and stereotypical jokes.

Asian filmmakers need to take a stand for the actors. Filmmakers are the ones generating work, so it hurts to see Old Boy whitewashed, the same way The Departed took all the credit for Infernal Affairs. Can we Americanize something without changing the skin colour and the language? It appears not. But there was nothing wrong with The Godfather, was there?

Coincidently, my cousin is now pursuing acting. He’s found his style and is getting work here and there, finding far more success than I did half -a-decade ago. Yet he’s still rooted in the same third-culture I am, so I hope he represents us well; not my family necessarily, but other third-culture people. But no offense taken if he doesn’t. Paying the bills is important. We can’t all be activists. Some people just want to be “artists.”

My family would be happy to just see him sell out and live a happy life. My family is liberal like that; they’ve given up on trying to convert us. What may seem to be defeat for them appears to be respect for us. Free will. The respect to let your children create their own legacy, their own traditions, and still welcome them into the old ones.

Am I afraid of losing my heritage? I can lie to myself, but it’s already gone. So when I see a white person doing squinty eyes, when I hear mocking “Ching-Chong” dialect, and when I feel put-down by racial stereotypes, I don’t act the fool — I play the bigger man. Respect.

I have my roots, sure, but more importantly, I have an open mind. I am able to look at each culture, cultures that simply present themselves to me on a daily bases and say: “This is not my life, this is yours and if you don’t get in my way and I don’t get into yours, then no hard feeling. Hell, maybe we’ll even learn something about each other.”

I’d like to believe that most third-culture kids have this forward thinking attitude, I mean, they sort of have to. It’s those who have a reserved, conservative mindset that are keeping future generations back from reaching a common ground. Just look around the world and see the strife; the cultures are diverse, but the attitude is similar.

If you are from a third-culture like me, you can have intelligent conversations about science and religion without feeling defensive. If you are from a third-culture like me, you can welcome people with different values, sexuality and lifestyles with almost zero hesitation. We have lost a bit of ourselves, but we have found something new.

Tradition, whether it be in the form of an industry that teases a minority or a closed-door ritual, we can’t just take it at face value, we need to analyze them, assess what they mean to us, and ask if it holds any value to the future generation and ourselves, then we must protect it like we protect a five-year-old’s belief in Santa or make the child face reality and grow up. If people forget about Chinese New Year, then there won’t be one. Simple as that. Traditions are sturdy anchors, holding us boat people together, but it might also be the shackles holding us back in this new culture.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about perception and every Asian actor understand one thing and that’s how the Western world perceived us, and Huang notes it in his memoir:

My cousin Allen was the first to point it out to me one day when we were still kids: “Yo, you notice Asian people never get any pussy in movies? Jet Li rescued Aliyah, no pussy! Chow Yun-Fat saves Mira Sorvino, no pussy. Chris Tucker gets mu-shu, but Jackie Chan? No pussy!”

So remember, if they are mocking us, they probably aren’t celebrating us.

I quit acting. I felt a bit of shame, but it faded. There were no roles for me. Because not only am I white washed, I’m also acid washed. I watch television today and I’m glad I’m not a part of the industry. I might not be the solution, but at least I’m not part of the problem.

I have assimilated with North American culture; there is no denying that. But I’m content. I can learn from my parents and I can defend their honour. But I cannot live a life trying to change ignorant SOBs, CBCs and FOBs. I accept that there will always be a polarizing opinion toward cultural appropriation and other BS. I cannot guarantee that I won’t offend another. None of us can. We all have our home team. It’s not about being born white, black, yellow, green, or anything anymore. We in Canada have the liberty to find our own identity, instead of having it branded on us at birth. For now, I’ve chosen my side.

My mother told me to speak Cantonese.

“Who would I be speaking to?”


See original piece on Medium

Top 10 Crazy Car Concepts That Almost Made It


Posted by  | July 08, 2014 |
Originally published in

Car concepts, like fashion, can be creative, innovative, evocative and occasionally a complete faux pas. You can take a look at some failed vehicles on our list of the ugliest cars ever produced, if you need proof of how bad some designs can be.

During auto shows, concept cars are presented to both the public and the industry. It is there that car companies and designers get a chance to measure the overall reaction of their imaginative prototypes. It’s unlikely that these ambitious and unique vehicles would become the next Bugatti Veyron, but it’s a chance for the manufacturers to show everyone what is possible.

While some concept cars actually make it onto the assembly line, others fade away, only to be found in the obscure history books. Here are 10 crazy car concepts that came, went and even foreshadowed the next generation of automobiles.

10. Toyota RV-2 (1972)

Toyota RV-2

The Toyota RV-2 was a four-person camper and standard station wagon all in one. Inspired by the Volkswagen camper bus of the ‘70s, Toyota was trying to appeal to outdoorsy hippies as well as drivers who just wanted a practical vehicle. The innovative, yet far from revolutionary, clamshell roof opened up, revealing a canvas tent that offered a sleeping arrangement that was more comfortable than most backseat at the time.

The emerald green concept car made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1972 and received positive response from the public. However, it was not popular enough to be worthy of mass production on a wide market.

9. Honda Fuya-Jo (1999)

Honda Fuya-Jo

The Honda Fuya-Jo was built to be a “mobile sound studio,” even though it looks like an oversized purple toaster oven. Translated, Fuya-Jo means “Sleepless City” in Japanese, which make sense, because who can really sleep in this four-seater dance floor on wheels? Taking inspiration from modern clubbing culture, Honda has attempting to replicate the DJ’s mix table and offer a ride that simulates the nightlife experience.

Unfortunately, many feared that the Fuya-Jo might be sending a message that drinking and then driving to the after-party was all right, thus keeping it from the production line.

8. Dodge Kahuna (2003)

Dodge Kahuna

The Dodge Kahuna made some waves at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show, but has never really earned the approval of surfers, soccer moms or the free-spirited drivers who live along the coast. The six-passenger van, with its bulky cartoon-like exterior and its Stow N’ Go seating, was meant to take surfers and athletic types from the street to the beach with ease.

The polarizing impression that the Dodge Kahuna left on critics and the public sank the vehicle’s production potentials. You can even say that the van “wiped out.”

7. Aurora Safety Car (1957)

Aurora Safety Car

The Aurora Safety Car may just be the ugliest car ever conceived. The strange ameba design, with a smiley face grille and oblong windshield, is enough to disgust even he most tolerant drivers. The Safety Car was the first Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) to be manufactured.

But the story of Father Alfred A. Juliano, a Catholic priest and automobile manufacturer, was even more upsetting than the Aurora Safety Car’s appearance. Juliano funded the $30,000 prototype with some help from his congregation, but it ended up bankrupting him and the Aurora Motor Company.

However, the vehicle is now restored and can be seen in the Beaulieu Motor Museum in England.

6. Saab Aero-X (2006)

Saab Aero-X

The Saab Aero-X is the stunning and simplistic iCar that might have originated from Steve Jobs himself. The 180-degree canopy and fluid design gave the Aero-X the look of a fighter jet. Unlike the rest of Saab’s lineup, the Aero-X was simply not the direction the company wanted to gear towards. Yet, it was reassuring to know that the Swedish manufacturers were capable of making an elite vehicle that could reach 250 km/h.

5. Audi Avus (1991)

Audi Avus

The Audi Avus was ahead of its time in more than one way. The futuristic design with a 6.0-litre engine capable of producing 509 horsepower turned heads, but wasn’t able to change people’s mindset at the time. Few were convinced that Audi was capable of creating the super car, the Avus claimed to be.

The silver bullet that is the Avus was never meant for production since it was built mainly to prove that Audi was a powerhouse brand that towers above most car manufacturers. Today, the original Avus can be seen in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.

4. Lincoln Futura (1955)

Lincoln Futura

If the Lincoln Futura looks familiar, it’s because it was the Batmobile in the 1960’s television series. The clear-top bubble glass canopy is the defining feature of the UFO-like Futura. The concept car ended up bringing a lot of publicity for the company. Replicas were created for television and media appearances, and few were sold off for novelty sakes.

Although the Futura was a star at the time, it never saw production. However, it did serve as inspiration for other Lincoln vehicles such as the Premiere and Capri, which had a respectable run on the market.

3. Toyota EX-III (1969)

Toyota EX-III

The Toyota EX-III, modeled after the EX-I, is designed for the high-speed commute of tomorrow. Sadly, tomorrow has never really materialized for the EX-III, EX-I or any of the EXs afterwards. The flat body with semi-rear wheel covers, bumperless front, fish gills and tacky headlights remind us of all the design relics of yesteryears.

2. Mazda Furai (2007)

Mazda Furai

The Mazda Furai was the punk-rock speed demon that car lovers have dreamed of, but sadly, the vehicle’s legacy ended in a nightmarish fiery death. During a showcase at Top Gear’s road test in 2008, the Furai’s Batmobile fire-breathing exhaust caught fire with the engine bay. The whole vehicle was engulfed in flames, and in eight minutes, the beautiful concept was scorched. There was no resurrecting the Furai, as the horrible image had made sure of it. The resting place of the concept’s carcass is still unknown.

1. Ford Nucleon (1958)

Ford Nucleon

The Ford Nucleon, deemed the Atomic Car, was one of the most influential and iconic concept cars in history. Capable of running on nuclear power, the car was perhaps more of a mobile nuclear bomb than an energy saving initiative. Inspired by the functionality of nuclear submarines in the military, the vehicle was essentially an ironed-out red pickup truck. Still, you can imagine the chaos of a highway pileup or a congested urban accident, if all the vehicles involved were nuclear-powered, like this one was. Innovative, yes, but the Nucleon was just not meant for our rational world.

Office hours: Tuesday to Thursday

Would you rather have three-day workweeks or early retirement?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Originally published in The Other Press. Aug 5, 2014



Go figure: a Mexican billionaire is suggesting that we should all convert to a three-day workweek—11 hours a day—in exchange for a later retirement at 70 or 75 years old. Business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, Carlos Slim, one of the richest people in the world, has gone on record in saying that people would live much happier lives if they were given four days to recover and relax.

I believe it! I know I would be much happier, spending four days lounging around not worrying about work, though granted I have never been employed in a nine-to-five kind of job. The hours add up, and working takes up a significant part of life. It would be a shame to waste it all, regardless of when your hours are and what your schedule is like.

Overall, I totally agree with him. I know personally that I am more productive after a long weekend than I am when my schedule is fully loaded and I’m rushing from one responsibility and obligation to the next. I like the idea of having an 11-hour workday, because I have a the-sooner-I-get-it-done-the-sooner-I-can-rest attitude. I also rarely ever consider retirement: I like what I’m doing and I hope I progress and pursue my career for as long as possible.

In North America, it’s not easy to get time off. We live in a work-first-rest-later society; a place where making money is the number one priority. Just look around and see how many people are sleep deprived. There is no doubt that a three-day workweek could change that workaholic mentality. I think we would all benefit from a little more time for socializing, a little more time for exercising, and a little more time for simple contemplation.

A 2008 survey conducted by the Families and Work Institute showed that 46 per cent of those given an option to have a condensed workweek chose to use it at one point or another, and 59 per cent of those who weren’t given such options, wished they had it.

The general public is split on that matter, because so many people are working for retirement. That is the ultimate goal in life, and I think that is the wrong mentality. Waiting for retirement to me is a scary gamble, because who knows if one will ever reach that finish line. Regardless of retirement, I think one needs to focus more on finding a work/life balance, regardless of the workweek.

We live our first 25 years without the fear of labour—if we are lucky—as we have our parents taking care of us while we get an education. Then we live the next 40-45 years working. After that, if we are really lucky, we get to retire and live for maybe another 15 years. That is a common reality to many.

Yes, I like Slim’s idea of a three-day workweek, but I prefer the Stefan Sagmeister’s way of thinking. Sagmeister, a graphic designer, spoke about taking five years out of those 15 retirement years and interspersing them in the 40 years or so of work life. He too believed that people needed breaks from working, but they shouldn’t be force to work well into their seniority either. Rather, people should be able to enjoy the world while they still have some semblance of youth. By having a yearlong sabbatical every seven years to relax, travel, pursue personal projects, rediscover career callings, and reassess life’s values, we can become healthier citizens and happier workers.

Time Traveller Magazine


It’s time to get away!

In a fantastical world where time travel is a reality, Time Traveller Magazine is the go-to source for the best non-linear time travelling and vacationing content.

The Time Traveller Magazine was conceived as a school project for my professional writing program at Douglas College in 2013. It was arguably the assignment I was most passionate about. Time Traveller Magazine offered me an opportunity to stretch my imagination and experiment with publishing and design tasks that I would have otherwise removed myself from in normal settings. Coming from a hands-on filmmaking background, working on this magazine brought me back to my hankering for visual editing. I worried less about vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures and focused more on the layout, the images, and the storytelling techniques that didn’t involve words necessarily. It was a rewarding experience and I am happy to share it with you all today.

Click Here to View the Time Traveller Magazine!

– Elliot Chan

Vancouver’s Unravel Brings Businesses and Customers Together Through Apple’s iBeacon

Vancouver-based Unravel recognizes that in our content-heavy world, consumers are often bombarded with irrelevant content—content that has imminent expiration or is calling to an improbable action. These types of engagement are fruitless for the brands and businesses and are annoying for everyone.

The old paradigm is that it was up to the brand to attract and nurture the consumers by reaching as far and wide as possible, but Unravel is enabling the consumers to meet the content and data halfway.

By using iBeacon technology developed by Estimote, Unravel is creating a new avenue for companies to communicate with the public. People with the Unravel app on their smartphone can one day walk up to a restaurant and instantly see the menu or approach a movie poster and get the nearest theatre location and show time.

Unravel offers three different models of content upon their dashboard: Webpage link that will show up as a browser, image that will tell a story through mobile swipe and a simple message such as “Welcome!”

“A great thing about this is that when you leave a location, you don’t leave all that content behind,” says Amit Aujla, cofounder of Unravel. “All the content gets compiled into the [Unravel] feed, so if there was something that you were interested in that popped up on your phone, you can come back to it later.”

Once the individual “Beacons” are implemented in a given service location, it will be capable of functioning in three different zones: Immediate (one meter), intermediate (five meters) and very far (25 meters).

“The main one that will be used by businesses will be the Immediate Zone,” Daniel Khatkar, cofounder of Unravel, told Techvibes, “because when you start going into the larger range, the radius gets really big. If you are on the other side [of a business] you might not necessarily want to receive information there.”

Unravel is not only using the iBeacon to send messages and entice customers, there is a lot of big data that can come from such a little device. The iBeacon can measure temperature and evaluate the number of occupancies in one area for a length of time. All this data can be instrumental for companies such as transportation, retail and event hosting that are seeking optimal costumer services and internal performance.

Currently Unravel is preparing to host a series of scavenger hunts in collaboration with established businesses. Participants will get to experience the new technology first hand and have a chance to win gift cards and event tickets. The app will be available shortly on the App Store and the scavenger hunt is set to commence in August.

“With the scavenger hunt, we want to show people how the technology works,” said Khatkar. “It’s an opt-in technology, if they don’t want to use it, at least they will know the purpose of the technology and what it is.”

Unravel offers brands and advertisers a broad platform to inform, promote and keep in touch with consumers. The scavenger hunt is the initial step for Unravel to gain traction, but the potential seems promising for this young company as they continue to educate the newfound value of iBeacon.

“I want businesses to contact other businesses and say, ‘I want to advertise on your Beacon in your store,’” said Khatkar. “Or if I’m an advertiser and I want to contact Uber or a cab company and put a Beacon in there—based on the demographic—then I’ll have a target audience.”

Format’s Relaunch And Rebranding Takes Online Portfolios To The Next Level

Earlier this month, the popular online portfolio platform 4ormat underwent a rebranding and relaunch.

Since 2010, Toronto-based 4ormat—now Format—has been the choice for tens of thousands of creative professionals across 125 countries. Showcasing work is a vital part of every creative’s business and life, so the platform becomes an extension of what the person does. Like a suit for a businessman, the webpage needs to look good and feel good.

Many web-building applications have immerged on the scene since then, and users are beginning to identify new demands: mobile flexibility; fluid, clean and speedy presentation and enhanced managing features. Format, of course, is all about accommodating those needs.

“Our goal was always to run a sustainable business,” Lukas Dryja, CEO of Format, told Techvibes, “and by having that goal, we needed to innovate everyday, so that we are building the best product possible.”

Still Format stresses the importance of customizability and simplicity, understanding that most photographers, illustrators, painters and artists aren’t fully capable of designing, building and managing a website without a little handrail to guide them.

“Late last year we reviewed every interface inside our app. Based on our findings we decided the best solution is a fresh start,” said Dryja. “Basically, we looked at the entire system holistically and designed the solution that appealed to users as well as provide a framework for us to use down the road.”

Format prizes itself by having a shallow learning curve and an easy to grasp usability. Users begin by selecting a theme, a style in which the work will be displayed. It could be a slideshow, an album of thumbnails or an interactive scrolling feature. Included in the interface is the theme editor, a feature that enables users to fine-tune detailed elements of the portfolio. Not only is the background and colour customizable, but also the size of images, how visitors interact with the content and what the padding, spacing, etc. looks like when published. And all that is accessed through a simple drag-and-drop design that makes adding and modifying works quick and easy.

“The need was always to create a professional website,” said Dryja, “and the way that someone would have to get there—previously to Format—was a very long and rigorous process. With Format, someone can have a website up in five minutes. And that was the unprecedented jump for people.”

So how does Format balance the demand for more customizable features and the straightforwardness of the application? That is a question the team at Format ask each other, and that is the fine line the design-oriented company walks on a daily bases.

Artists are known to experiment and try new things, and Format is taking some inspiration from their users. The platform’s relaunch, coinciding with the rebranding and redesign, is a wonderful reminder of what artist, entrepreneurs and designers can do when they all work together to present truly moving works and create new standards across all industries.