Monday, April 22, 2013

Bradley Cooper is "Asian," Lives with his Mom!

Bradley Cooper  (photo courtesy of Michelle Wright)

Bradley Cooper is "Asian" and living with his Mom!  The fact that the 38 year-old Italian-Irish-American actor was living with his mother was big news in the U.S. and around the world but it wasn't surprising news in Asia or to Asian-Americans, who live with their elders. In the eyes of many Westerners,  the actor's living arrangement is unusual but it is perfectly normal in the Asian world.

Bradley Cooper is "Asian":  A Necessary Living Arrangement

Just a week ago, Cooper admitted to Details magazine that he lived with his Mother Gloria.  It was an arrangement that was necessary because of the death of his Father 2 years ago and they moved in together for "support reasons."   She doesn't live on a compound or in a guest house but in the bedroom next to his.

Suddenly, Bradley Cooper becomes more of an endearing guy than ever before.  You hear so many stars having strained relationships with their parents but for Cooper to "take care" of his Mom makes him a "great guy" among Asians and other races, who take care of their elders.

For Asians, living with your parents or extended family is common in the U.S., in Asia, and around the world.  They have strong and close family ties, so living among grandparents, uncles and aunties, and other family is not unusual.  There is a strong sense of responsibility for Asian children to care for their parents when they get older.  Living together is not only the right thing for most Asian young adults to do but it makes economic sense based on the current financial climate.

These are some of the factors why Asians live with their elders:

  • No place to live yet since real estate market not affordable in their area
  • Close to family
  • Don't want to live alone
  • Parents "brainwash" them not to leave
  • Parents are rich and the kids are taking advantage living with them
  • They got no place to go

Bradley Cooper is "Asian":  Living Together With Elders Has Drawbacks

Living together doesn't come without drawbacks.  Today, some Asian children complain about the lack of freedom, the inability to forge their own identity, and how the elders become manipulative towards their situation.  Many complain about the burden of caring for the elders and are overcome with guilt when they leave the family.

More Asian children are leaving the family, choosing to live on their own.  The separation of the family unit has caused some social problems within some families who have no one to take care of the parents.  With some households having low birthrates, there is a growing problem of families having no children to care for the elderly.

Since 1999, the Asian elderly population has been increasing in nursing homes in the U.S. according to  The news doesn't come as a surprise since many Asian families are faced with the hardship and burden of caring for the elderly and are turning to nursing homes for help. In what was seen as a "last resort" for most Asian families has become an indispensable option today.

Living With Your Family is NOT for Everyone

Living with your family is NOT for everyone, no matter what race you are.  For hunky actor Bradley Cooper, the arrangement with his Mom may either appeal or scare his prospective girlfriend(s).  Asian men and women often complain about how their living situations with their families have "scared off" girlfriends and boyfriends.

No matter, the living arrangement with the elders is a package and, in most cases, non-negotiable.  That's why I believe Bradley Cooper is "Asian" and he has the luckiest Mom in the world.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are Asian Airlines Safe?

Korean Air is one of 6 airlines cited for having poor safety records in the past 30 years.
(source; wikimedia commons) 

Are Asian airline companies safe?  That's what many people are asking after the recent crash of a Malaysian Airlines 370 that mysteriously crashed into the Indian ocean on March 8, 2014, killing 227 passengers and 12 crew members.  While the crash is still being investigated, everyone is left wondering if Asian carriers are safe and how they compare to other airlines around the world.

Asian Airline Companies Labeled "Dangerous" 

Two of the lists in which one was compiled by Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) and another by Askmen, on the "World's Most Dangerous Airlines" over the past 30 years, named China Airlines, Air India, Korean Airlines,  Philippine Airlines, Garuda Airlines, and Thai Airways as being part of a group of unsafe international carriers.  JACDEC's ratings were based on the number of hull loss accidents (an aircraft that is beyond repair) and serious incidents that resulted in injury or death.  Askmen compiled their list based on the ratio of the number of flights to the number of accidents by carriers that make transcontinental flights.

These six airline carriers were cited as having the worst safety records among the Asian airline companies.

On the JACDEC list, Brazil had two airline companies list--TAM #2 and Gol Airlines #4. SkyWest Airlines was the top American carrier with the poorest safety record, ranking 10th.  On the Askmen dangerous list, Cubana Airlines was the top non-Asian carrier with Iran Air at #3 and Kenya Airlines at #5.      

In the end, both surveys agreed that China Airlines was the most dangerous Asian carrier with 8 planes destroyed and 755 dead.

Here are the LAST incidents of the six "dangerous" Asian carriers:

  • China Airlines (2002) A Boeing 747 disintegrated above the Taiwan Strait, killing all 206 passengers and 19 crew members.
  • Air India (2010) Air India Express flight 812 overshot the runway in Mangalore, killing 158 passengers.  There were 8 survivors.
  • Garuda Airlines (2007)  Garuda flight 200 crash killed 22 of the 140 passengers. 
  • Korean Airlines (1997)  Korean Airlines flight 801 crashed upon arriving in Guam, killing 228 of the 254 passengers. 
  • Thai Airways (1992) Thai Airways flight 311 crash occurred when arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal.  All 99 passengers and 14 crew members were killed.  
  • Philippine Airlines had a series of mishaps that happened on the ground rather than in the air.  In 2007, an aircraft overshot the runway, resulting in 19 injuries. In 1998, another aircraft overshot the runway, plowing into houses, killing 3 people. In 1990, a plane landed burst into flames on the runway, killing 8 passengers. 

Customer Service and a spacious First Class cabin in a Cathay Pacific aircraft are some of the amenities praised by Travel magazine readers.  (source: 

Asian Airline Companies Excel in Safety and Customer Service  

Despite having a great amount of Asian carriers on the "dangerous list," there are some notable Asian airlines on the "World's Safest Airline" survey as well.  The carriers commended for being safe are Cathy Pacific (Hong Kong), Eva Airways (Taiwan), Hainan Airlines (China), All Nippon Airways (Japan), Air Asia (Malaysia), and Singapore Airlines.

Finn Air and Air New Zealand finished #1 and #2 on the World's Safest Airlines list.  Southwest Airlines was the highest ranked American carrier at #21.   

Many travel publications readers' rate Asian carriers as having the best customer service among the world's airlines.  In the 2012 Travel and Leisure survey, "dangerous carriers" Korean Airlines and Thai Airways made the list for having outstanding customer service along with Singapore Airlines #1, Cathay Pacific, Asiana Airlines, Eva Airways, All Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines.

Virgin America was the top U.S. carrier ranking #7.


Flying is Considered Much Safer Today

Aviation Safety Network called 2012 the safest year for air travel.  However, flying on a plane is not entirely risk-free.  Air traffic is expected to grow in the next decade and that means airports will be even more crowded than ever.  With air traffic up, near misses on the taxiways have become common as well as overshooting the runway like the recent incident in Bali.

Airline Experts say that planes are better-built, making it possible for passenger and crew to survive a crash.  Engines are now more durable than ever, making it possible for a pilot to land a disabled aircraft even if one or both engine fail. The technology has also improved so much that pilots can now detect severe wind turbulence and avoid them all together.  

Statistically, flying on a commercial airplane is still considered safe than driving your car on the highway in America or anywhere around the world.  Car accidents happen every day while plane crashes are considered "rare" by comparison.

David Ropeik in his article "How Risky is Flying" found that the risk of ground travel is greater (1 in 5,000) as opposed to air travel (1 in 11 million).  In addition, he found that 95.7% of passengers have survived a plane crash.  Furthermore, in the most severe plane crashes, about 76% survive on average.

Compared to car crashes, the Association for Safe International Road Travel, a non-government, non-profit service organization, found that 1.3M people die in car accidents around the world each year, an average of 3,287 deaths per day.

United Airlines jet takes off.  (source:

Malaysian Airlines 370 Crash Raises Serious Questions on Asian Airline Industry

New questions regarding safety and security in the Asian airline industry are being raised after the recent crash of Malaysian Airlines 370.  Major concerns involving the lack of airport security, possible terrorism, and the psychological makeup of the pilots on flight 370 have been raised and may prove costly to the reputation of Asian airline carriers and airports in the region.  Although the investigation of the crash of flight 370 may take months or years, the Asian airline industry must battle adversity after taking serious hits to their reputation regarding safety and security issues.

In the meantime, Malaysian Airlines must go through a series of lawsuits and settlements after this tragic incident and it remains to be seen if the carrier can survive since it was already on shaky ground financially.

No matter, the Asian airline industry must implement changes in their airport safety and security measures.  It is unfortunate that it had to take 277 passengers and 12 crew members to force the industry to act on these concerns.        



Monday, April 15, 2013

Will Psy's "Gentleman" Equal or Surpass "Gangnam Style?"

Will Psy's "Gentleman" equal or surpass his song and music video "Gangnam Style?"  The number of views for "Gentleman" is currently at 62.8M views on YouTube (as of April 15) after only 2 days of release!

PSY's "Gentleman" Off to Fast Start!  

The music video for "Gentleman" has already exceeded the previous video on the number of hits on YouTube in a shorter time than "Gangnam Style" which took a month and a half to attain 60M views!  What makes PSY's first video astounding is the fact that he was generally unknown outside of Korea in 2012 when "Gangnam Style" became viral.  "Gentleman" has the luxury of being performed by a now well-known performer in PSY, thanks to the worldwide popularity of "Gangnam Style" and many of his fans, who were curious about his follow-up single.

Is his sequel better than the original?  That depends on which one is pleasing to your ear.

The new song/music video is catchy, entertaining, and has some nifty dance moves comparable to the "horse dance" of "Gangnam Style" for the masses to imitate.  "Gentleman" is actually pays homage to a 2009 hit "Abracadabra" by the K-pop girl band Brown Eyed Girls (BEG).  Ironically, one of the members of BEG, Ga In, is featured in the new PSY video, playing the sexy foil to the Korean singer's ungentleman-like persona.

Too Early to Tell if PSY's "Gentleman" is A Hit!

Many PSY haters believed that the Korean singer had set himself up to be so famous that his sequel "was bound to flop."  There is long list of one-hit wonders, who could never duplicate their initial hit, and many wondered if the Seoul native was among them.

We have to admit that PSY's "Gentleman" is too early to tell if it will equal or succeed his previous hit.  Keep in mind; it's only been 2 days.

Supporters of K-pop are hoping that he continues his wave of success and that it would help the genre increase in popularity in the U.S..




Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lin Chi-Ling and Asia's Obsession with Plastic Surgery!

Before-and-after photo of a typical Asian woman's cosmetic surgery on her face.  

When Taiwanese actress Lin Chi-Ling recently denied accusations from the media that she had breast enhancement surgery, I was curious about the popularity of plastic surgery in Asia and was surprised by the facts.  Six Asian nations are among the Top 25 Countries with the most plastic surgery procedures done since 2011.  According to Economist Online, America has the most cosmetic enhancements than any other country in the world but when you factor in the population per capita, South Korea is No. 1 with Italy at #2 and Greece at #3, while Asian nations were Taiwan #6, Japan at #7, Thailand #22, China #24, and India at #25.

At 38 years-old, Lin is stunning and considered one of the island nation's most beautiful women but the Asian paparazzi has been tough on Asian celebrities, who may have some work done to enhance their looks.  The Asian tabloids have gone so far to release before-and-after photos of these celebrities which put them on-the-spot in most cases.

Like Hollywood, the Asian Entertainment industry is a tough business and there is no question that many of its celebrities have gone under the knife in order to "standout" among the beautiful people.

Check out some amazing Double Eyelid surgery before-and-after photos here    

How rampant is plastic surgery in Asia?  Asians are obsessed with plastic surgery.

With data compiled by market research company Trend Monitor, Asian nations are obsessed with nose jobs, breast enhancement, double eyelid surgery, and lipoplasty (elimination of fat).  Nose jobs are popular in South Korea, Japan, and China.  Breast enhancement is favored in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Double eyelid surgery, in which the skin around the eye is reshaped and enlarged for wider eyes, is a trend in South Korea, Taiwan, and other East Asian countries.  Lastly, lipoplasty is also popular, eliminating body fat with high-frequency sound waves.

Some cite the rise of Korean pop music and its stars, who routinely go under the knife, may have attributed to a surge in plastic surgery procedures in South Korea over the past few years.  The survey found that 1 in 5 South Korean women have had some cosmetic work done.

Asian women, who have plastic surgery, tend to do more work on their face and breasts, so the transformation is more noticeable than other ethnic women.  The popularity of double eyelid and nose procedures has not come without criticism.  Many believe that Asian women, who perform these two surgeries, are trying to imitate their Western counterparts and dislike "looking Asian." Those arguments may be unfair but they have an undying belief that having bigger eyes and a good-looking nose is beautiful.

Lin Chi-Ling (photo courtesy of jingdianmeinv)

Today, Asian women have more freedom and are becoming empowered to do what they want in a male-dominated society.  Plastic surgery is just one of the many options they have to improve their looks and boost their self-esteem.   Many women, who undergo plastic surgery, look at cosmetic surgery as an investment.

Lin Chi-Ling is a representative of today's Asian woman, who has the freedom to make choices on anything she pleases.  She doesn't have to answer to accusations from the media about her plastic surgery.  She can keep her secret to herself.  Besides, as long as people like the way she looks, the criticism doesn't matter in the end.

What do you think?  Does having plastic surgery matter to you?  How do you men feel about it?  How do you women feel about it?  Please leave your comments below.  





Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Hollywood Won't Cast Asian Actors to Star in Major Films?

Hollywood won't be handing out starring roles in big budget films to Asian actors, whether male or female, because facts show that they are NOT capable of carrying a major film in America.  Sad to say but those facts are true and no matter how many supporters of Asian actors complain about it, film studios won't change their minds until there is a sudden change among U.S. audiences over the next few years.

Can an Asian Actor Carry a Film?

Actor Keanu Reeves 

Hollywood executives have been saying for years that U.S. audiences are not ready for Asian actors (full-blooded Asians, not half-Asian or mixed like Keanu Reeves or Maggie Q) to star in a big budget film because of previous box-office failures like NINJA ASSASSINS (2009) starring Korean actor Rain and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (2004) starring Jackie Chan, and only in rare instances is success evident every so many years.

Most of the box-office flops during the past 10 years (2003-2013) are films that star Caucasians and non-Asians.  Almost none of these big budget flops were made with an Asian cast because of Hollywood's negative and steadfast belief that Asian lead actors are "box-office poison" and casting them in the starring role would be an absolute disaster.    

21 AND OVER is a recent example of a film starring an Asian actor, Justin Chon.  Chon starred in the film, along with Miles Teller and Skylar Astin, and it faltered at the box-office, earning a disappointing $25.1M during its entire run.  The film ranks #17 among Box Office Mojo's list of "College Movies" behind #1 NATIONAL LAMPOON's ANIMAL HOUSE (1984) which earned $141.6M and THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2011) with $96.9M.  Sixteen of the films before 21 AND OVER had an all-Caucasian cast.

21 AND OVER has been compared to  last year's PROJECT X which had an all-white cast and earned a respectable $54.7M at the box-office.

First-time Directors John Lucas and Scott Moore (writers of THE HANGOVER) took a chance on Chon to star in the film, knowing that his only previous acting experience was being part of the supporting cast in the Twilight Saga series. The raunchy comedy film surpassed its $13M budget, but overall 21 AND OVER was a disappointment at the box-office and continues the stigma that Asian actors cannot carry a film on their own.

Asian Actors Do Well in the Martial Arts Genre

Jackie Chan does a martial arts pose on the red carpet during a movie promotion

There is no question that Asian actors excel at the box-office in a martial arts-type film. The most successful Asian stars at the box-office stars are martial arts actors Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

Jackie Chan has the highest-grossing film from his RUSH HOUR series with RUSH HOUR 2 (2001), being the top earner with $226.1M.  His best performing film outside of RUSH HOUR was THE KARATE KID (2010) earning $176.5M.

Jet Li is second on the list with three films: FORBIDDEN KINGDOM (2008) with $52M in which he starred alongside Jackie Chan, HERO (2004) earning $53.7M, and ROMEO MUST DIE (2000) grossing $55.9M. Li

The late martial artists Bruce Lee (ENTER THE DRAGON, THE BIG BOSS, and RETURN OF THE DRAGON), who died in 1973, deserves mention here because of his iconic status and the fact that his films and numerous documentaries (like the 1993 bio-pic DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY grossing $35.1M) about him continue to bring in revenue.

Asian actors have been both blessed and cursed by the martial arts genre.  In order to be a success in U.S. cinema, most Asian stars tend to go the "martial arts" route.  Unfortunately, not all actors are trained in the ancient art of self-defense, preferring to take roles in comedy or drama instead. Sadly, serious lead roles in big budget films are hard to come by for Asian actors in American cinema today .

"Special" Films, Starring Asian Actors, Can Find Success if Promoted to the Right Audience 

The cast from the critically-acclaimed film THE JOY LUCK CLUB  (1993). 
Certain films, starring a largely Asian cast, have done well at the domestic box-office because these movies were targeted to the right audience.

LIFE OF PI (2012) grossed $123.9M with a budget of $120M and won the Oscar's Best Director award for Ang Lee. The film was a favorite among the critics and the publicity from them and the Academy Awards certainly helped. The philosophical film did not become a big hit until it became a box-office phenomenon overseas.

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) was an award-winning foreign-language film with an international cast that earned an impressive $128M in the U.S.. Of course, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language film and being a favorite among all the movie critics did bolster its performance at the box-office.

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005) was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Arthur Golden.  Starring Ken Watanabe and Zhang Ziyi, the film earned an impressive $57.4M at the box-office.

The HAROLD AND KUMAR series starring Asian actors Kal Penn and John Cho has proved to be a moderate success after releasing its sequels in 2008 and in 2011.  HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY (2008) earned $38.1M with a $12M budget while the recent A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS pulled in $35M on a $19M budget.  Unfortunately, some critics believe the film's success is based on the Asian stereotype of being "buffoons and sexually sterile."    

THE JOY LUCK CLUB with a cast led by Tamlyn Tomita and Ming-Na Wen, was released in 1993 but earned a whopping $32.9M.  The movie was based on the popular novel of the same name by author Amy Tan.

Indian-British actor Ben Kingsley starred in the epic film GHANDI (1982) which brought in a huge $52.7M at the box-office.  The Oscars had a lot to do with bolstering the film's ticket sales as it won 8 awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Kingsley.

These films are quality movies (Harold and Kumar may be an exception) that Hollywood can produce if done right.  Unfortunately, the film industry continues to make the same "mistake" when employing a Caucasian or non-Asian actor to play a role meant for an Asian actor.  Some of the recent casting errors made by Hollywood include casting actor Noah Ringer in THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010) or Justin Chatwin as "Goku" in DRAGONBALL REVOLUTION (2009) or Emile Hirsch in SPEED RACER (2008) or the film 21 (2008) that starred a mainly Caucasian cast based on a true story on the exploits of a group made up of mostly Asian-Americans.

Points to Consider for Asian Actors

Singer PSY is proof that Asians are popular on the internet than on the big screen (photo courtesy of  THE DIPLOMAT)

Ryan Wong from wrote in his 2012 article "A Billion Hits and Counting: Asian Americans and YouTube" that revealed 3 reasons why Asian actors cannot carry a film:
  • Market studies show that the Asian American audience is not a large enough group to make a big budget show or movie financially viable.
  • There are not enough Asians on the production side to recognize the potential of Asian stars and how to promote them.
  • The rest of America won't respond to Asian faces cast in big roles on the big screen.  
Wong makes a big point that Asians comprise "only 5% of the overall population in the U.S.."  According to the Nielsen Wire, the Asian population is a "consumer force" with a spending power that increased from $718M collectively to $1 trillion in 5 years, but they are not large enough to attract fans for an Asian actor to star in a big-budget film.

Has Hollywood brainwashed the public and Asian moviegoers in America that Caucasians and non-Asians are better suited for leading roles than Asian actors?

It does seem that way because the television industry has placed Asian actors in roles that play to the same stereotype as being "emasculated and village idiots."  With TV being a powerful medium, U.S. audiences are hypnotized into believing these Asian stereotypes.  The "brainwashing" has systematically programmed the public and Asian-American moviegoers into believing that Asian actors are not "believable enough" to star in a big-budget role.    

Sadly, studies find that Asians are more inclined to click on a YouTube video starring an Asian (e.g. PSY or Ryan Higa) rather than go to a theater to watch an Asian actor on the big screen.

Where do the Asian Actors Go from Here?

There is no telling where the Asian actor can go from here, except to hope that there are more film studios and writers/directors like John Lucas and Scott Moore, who are willing to take chances with Asian actors.

Movie Studios must look for high-quality, best-selling works from such prominent authors like Amy Tan, Lisa See, Haruki Marukumi, Khaled Hosseini, Kazuro Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, and all writers from America and around the globe, who write about the Asian experience or just plain old good stories that could involve an Asian actor in a starring role.  If a studio employs the same promotional tactics like they did for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON or MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, a film with an Asian cast and good writing can flourish at the box-office.

Top Asian filmmakers like Ang Lee and John Woo along with top Asian film executives and producers like Chris Lee and Dean Devlin must change the mindset of the film industry to offer more opportunities for Asian actors.  Film studios have to learn how to promote and cultivate the up-and-coming Asian talent which will eventually land in big roles for future films.

Overall, American cinema must rethink their stance on Asian actors and there is hope that great films like LIFE OF PI and GHANDI won't come once every 5 years but every year.




Friday, April 5, 2013

The Asian Help, Unlikely Celebrities?

The Asian Help, who cater to Hollywood celebrities, are becoming celebrities themselves! This is a phenomenon that I find fascinating and surreal at the same time.  How could someone become a celebrity, who caters to an actual celebrity?  Only in America.

Adam Levine and his Asian Help

Adam Levine, lead singer of the popular band Maroon 5, released a photo with him and his Indonesian maid Ani late last month. The news of the Indonesian maid catering to the rock star exploded all over the internet.  Indonesian tabloid IndoBoom found out her name and her biographical information that made her into an instant star not only in Indonesia and Asia but even in America too!

Maroon 5 fans, mostly women, talked about being jealous of Ani, wishing for a chance to exchange places with the maid.  In her home country, there is talk of newspapers and TV shows wanting to interview her once she returns to Indonesia.

Charlie Sheen's Asian Help Helps Herself! 

Charlie Sheen, former star of TWO AND A HALF-MEN and now starring in ANGER MANAGEMENT, brought fame for his personal chef Khristianne Uy when she competed on ABC's competitive cooking program THE TASTE.  Sheen promoted his chef through Twitter and urged his large following to watch the TV program.

To her credit, Uy showed why he was hired by the "Ma-Sheen" when she eventually won the title on THE TASTE.

Sharon Stone in Trouble with Her Former Asian Help  

Unlike Levine and Sheen, the case of the Asian Help and actress Sharon Stone involves a lawsuit.  The Asian help was her former live-in Filipina nanny, who is suing the actress for harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination.

Erlinda Elemen claims that the actress told her not to speak in front of the children because of her accent. She said that Sharon did not want her children to talk like her.  In addition, the actress believes "being Filipino is being stupid."

Elemen is also suing for unpaid wages when she accompanied the actress on numerous trips and claimed that Sharon said "she had no right for overtime pay."

Blame It on the Social Media!  

Thanks to the Social Media, fame can fall upon anyone, who would have not been recognized in the first place by the conventional media (television or print media).  Today, all it takes is a viral photo or video of a person on the internet and fame comes instantly.

I am fascinated at the fact that the Asian help are being recognized but in the most unlikely manner.  I do support Asian celebrities in every shape and form but the internet has taken it a step further in a bizarre way.

Hey, if Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians can gain fame, why not the Asian Help?  

What do you think?  Has the internet taken stardom to an extreme level?   Should these unlikely celebrities be recognized as stars?   Please leave your comments below.