bye bye jie jie

Reached back in Singapore yesterday afternoon, and my sister had to fly back to US twelve hours later 😥

It’s shocking to realize that I’ve spent almost half of my life, living apart from my sister. She went abroad to study since I was 13, and ever since then, our interactions have been reduced to the 1-2 months/year visit we manage to squeeze in here and there. We both don’t do a particularly good job of keeping in touch other than sending each other random memes and photos. Granted I was fairly young when she left to study, and it’s hard to really have a strong sibling relationship when you never really had one from the start?

Not that we’re on bad terms, but perhaps our age gap, and the fact that she left just as I was maturing and becoming a less annoying sister never gave us the chance to build a firm foundation for our relationship. It’s quite a pity, because I think we both grew up to be quite similar in terms of values and what we care for.

It’s still sad everytime she has to leave, because it’s a good 2-3 months before I can even see her again for 1 week. We try to squeeze 3 months worth of socializing/cafe-visiting/nua-ing all into that one week, so at least it’s a fruitful one week? It’s also funny how quite a few of my colleagues know my sister from rgs days, and the first thing they have to say, is that they were booked by her. rgspb ftw

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On a separate note, La La Land picked up SEVEN Golden Globes awards yesterday, breaking the record for the most number of awards won by a single production in the entire history of Golden Globes. Wow. Was is really that great? I get that the whole film was a very fresh and realistic take of life, presented in a musical form which was a ‘hipster’ thang. But I was really not impressed with the singing, or the pace of the plot. I love Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, separately AND together. I guess they do deserve their respective Best Actor/Actress, but their singing honestly left much to  be desired. Even Moana’s singing was miiiiiiles better. And La La’s songs weren’t that memorable? I didn’t even come home to search for the soundtrack and that’s fairly rare for me, being a casual fan of musicals. Maybe I’m just too mainstream and don’t have a thing for non-happy endings. GIMME MY HAPPY ENDING

Meryl Streep went viral for her thank-you speech that veered political. She’s been a pretty big Hillary supporter, and while no names were mentioned in her speech, the gauntlet was thrown.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. OK, go on with it.

OK, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

It’s pretty interesting to link the xenophobic nature of Trump to the under-representation of minority races in Hollywood. It’s been a issue that’s been brought up over and over again – miscasting minority characters with white actors (white-washing), the lack of coloured leads etc. There was a viral meme in 2016 #StarringJohnCho which photoshopped Korean-American Star Trek actor John Cho as the Asian lead of many Hollywood movies. While Trump’s take on immigration policies could be fairly different from this showbiz stuff, it perhaps stems from the same societal issues and perspective. Showbiz and politics ultimately is an appeal to the majority, and if the majority is white and white is what they want, then white is what we’ll see.

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Mic drop. Peace out.

And yay Zootopia won Best Animated Film. Rightfully so.

Image credit: BBC, Telegraph

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