No extended invitation for selfie sticks

Image via Thinkstock

Music festivals deem photography tool narcissistic and unsafe

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. April 7, 2015

To Coachella and Lollapalooza, well done. Way to take a stand against the selfie stick—an abomination. In a world where we are so self-centred, snapping images of our daily features, our meals, and our mundane everyday tasks, it’s about time we sever the need to turn all the attention on us.

Music events like Coachella and Lollapalooza are the settings for memories (at least, you should try to limit your alcohol consumption so you can remember it). They’re grand spectacles, but they’re also events you have to share with thousands of other people. The concerts are not just for you, even though you’ve paid to attend and participate.

Perhaps selfie sticks have gotten a bad rap for being self-indulgent and the people using them are often seen as being inconsiderate. However, I believe the main problem with selfie sticks is the cultural acceptance of them. Many of us have accepted the fact that if you want to take a good picture of yourself, an extending stick with a little grip at the end is the apt tool to do it. First of all, you don’t need a good picture of yourself at a music festival or anything else. What good does a picture of your face and a blurry background do?

If you want to take pictures, capture candid moments, not contrived compositions. If you want a group picture, invite someone to help you take it. Most people are eager to help you capture a genuine moment between friends. More often than not it turns out better too. If you want a true memory of the event, you shouldn’t be taking pictures of yourself, you should be focussing the camera the other way, capturing your surroundings and the people around you. Or better yet, put the camera away for a bit and just savour the moment.

Admit it, it’s already bad enough that so many people are holding cameras and smartphones above their heads to record concert performances. There is no way to stop that. We have already sunk too deep into that realm to reverse the habit. But there is still time to keep selfie sticks out of our cultural norm. We don’t have to be slaves to our own narcissism. It’s time we use forward-facing products to enhance our experiences, not the kind that fish for compliments and are designed for bragging rights.

Harold “John Cho” Escapes From Cinematic Barriers

Asian actors in Hollywood are often marginalized—appearing on screen as the nerdy sidekick, the straight lace academic, or the unappealing best friend. When they are casted as leads, they are commonly playing goofy-ball characters (Ken Jeong) or action heroes (Jackie Chan) and rarely do we see them in the foreground.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a legitimate Asian male actor appearing on a poster or a billboard, promoting their film? Almost never. Because such a case almost never happens. While the Ryan Goslings and the Joseph Gordon-Levitts out there winning the hearts of North America, Asian actors are left holding the scripts in slight disappointment. It’s clear that even in 2014, there is a glass ceiling for such talented performers.

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Well, all that is changing now… at least for the moment, thanks to John Cho.

South Korean actor, Cho—famous for his works in the cult-stoner flick Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and its subsequent sequels and, of course, the rebooted Star Trek movie—is paving the way for young aspiring Asian actors. As more and more casting directors are leaning toward colour-blind casting, Asian actors may never have to do demeaning accents ever again.

“I would call this revolutionary. It’s certainly a personal revolution for me,” said John Cho. “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.”

Cho, who began his career in 1996 as a member of LA’s Asian American Theatre organization East West Players, will be co-staring in a new television series entitled Selfie on ABC. The 42-year-old actor will play the romantic lead, Henry, alongside Karen Gillan from Doctor Who.

What do you think about Cho’s new gig? Will the floodgate of work open up for other Asian actors? Or is Cho a token in a discriminating industry?

Will you watch his new show Selfie this fall?