He Trashed Hundreds Of Films In His Career. But 13 Years Ago, He Angrily Stood Up For One.

Back in 2002, a tiny indie film called “Better Luck Tomorrow” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Financed on maxed-out credit cards, cast with (then) unknown Asian-American actors, and directed by a n00b just a few years removed from film school, “BLT” seemed destined for a life of obscurity.

“Better Luck Tomorrow” was a film about bored, high-achieving Asian-American high school students who get caught up in the thrill of petty crime and end up in a little too deep for their own good.

By all accounts, the initial feedback was positive, but in an industry fueled by hype and buzz, a “moderately positive” audience response is the kiss of death.

It was kind of like “Do The Right Thing,” which director Justin Lin cites as an influence, in that what “BLT” does best is present reality without spoon-feeding the audience a moral conclusion. These kids are just bored suburban kids, making questionable decisions guided by very loose moral compasses.

If these were a bunch of white kids, it would have just been a typical, angsty teen movie. But with Asian-Americans in the main roles, this film was definitely bucking stereotypes.

Sundance classic

So what happened at Sundance?

After a few unremarkable screenings, the cast and crew went into their third screening knowing they needed a strong showing. And here’s the part that Sundance dreams are made of:

At the end of the screening, an audience member complimented them for a well-made film but proceeded to berate them for wasting their talents portraying Asian-Americans in such a poor light.

There’s some back and forth between the cast members and the audience, and just as the staff are about to usher people out, an unlikely spokesman stood up from the crowd and went off on a mic-dropping rant. That spokesman? Roger Ebert.

Film critic Roger Ebert stood up and defended the film:

“And what I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, ‘How could you do this to your people?’ … Asian-American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to ‘represent’ their people.” — Roger Ebert

*mic drop*

Ebert called out a huge double standard in the entertainment industry.

When Justin Bieber acts the way Justin Bieber does, he’s not considered a disgrace to white people; he’s just a plain old run-of-the-mill teen popstar burnout. Ebert nails it on the head when he says that we never hold white filmmakers to the same standard, and Asian-American filmmakers ought to be able to make whatever the hell kind of film they want to make. Nobody slams Al Pacino or Robert De Niro or Steven Spielberg or James Cameron for making ALL white people look bad.

It’s also worth noting Ebert pulls off one of the most epic executions of air quotes ever caught on camera. I mean look at that! Any kind of verbal smackdown should work in those air quotes at the end.

Instant argument-winner right here, folks.

All of this matters because Ebert’s rant made “BLT” one of the most talked about films at the festival.

On top of that, “BLT” eventually became the first acquisition by MTV Films. And? That fledgling director Justin Lin went on to direct a bunch of other films you may have heard of — like “The Fast and the Furious” 3 through 6 — and was credited with reviving that franchise.

  • Justin Lin has entered the rarefied area of directors who have crossed the billion-dollar box office mark, and he’s NOW DIRECTING THE NEXT STAR TREK. (Sorry, geeked out.)
  • John Cho went on to star in “Harold and Kumar,” another stereotype-shattering role, and the unfortunately recently canceled TV series “Selfie.”
  • Sung Kang starred in The “Fast and Furious” franchises as Han. (Which, incidentally, was the name of his character in “BLT”; many have speculated perhaps “BLT” Han grew up to become “Fast and Furious” Han.)
  • Justin Lin’s assistant Evan Jackson Leong went on to direct the “Linsanity” documentary.

The branches spread far and wide. It’s not a stretch to say this was a watershed moment in Asian-American film history.

Would Justin Lin’s talent have risen to the top anyway? I’d hope so. But because of Roger Ebert’s boldness, Lin opened the door for a new generation of Asian-American talent.

We have a long way to go, but it was a good moment.

And we’re not out of the woods just yet.

More recently, the soon-to-premiere show “Fresh Off the Boat” is already getting blowback from white people on Twitter about how poorly it’s going to represent the Asian community or how racist it’s going to be. For what it’s worth, watching the previews, it actually seems creepily close to my own experiences moving to the United States from Taiwan.

At the end of the day, it’s about allowing our people to be represented in three dimensions rather than as shorthand for stereotypes.

Sure, I knew a lot of high-achieving, smart, well-mannered Asian-Americans. But I also knew plenty of thugs, jocks, beauty queens, math nerds, saints, and sinners. We should have the right to be who we are, and we should have the right to tell our stories, no matter how flawed. It’s precisely in those flaws where life’s most interesting stories are waiting to be told. Everyone else gets to tell theirs; we just want to tell ours.

So thank you Ebert. Two thumbs up from over here.

I first heard of this story through my friend Angry Asian Man. Sundance still by Kevinthompson3221 is in the public domain. Stephen Colbert GIF via Giphy, and John Cho GIF from the NBC “Go On” Tumblr.

He Trashed Hundreds Of Films In His Career. But 13 Years Ago, He Angrily Stood Up For One.

Back in 2002, a tiny indie film called “Better Luck Tomorrow” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Financed on maxed-out credit cards, cast with (then) unknown Asian-American actors, and directed by a n00b just a few years removed from film school, “BLT” seemed destined for a life of obscurity.

“Better Luck Tomorrow” was a film about bored, high-achieving Asian-American high school students who get caught up in the thrill of petty crime and end up in a little too deep for their own good.

By all accounts, the initial feedback was positive, but in an industry fueled by hype and buzz, a “moderately positive” audience response is the kiss of death.

It was kind of like “Do The Right Thing,” which director Justin Lin cites as an influence, in that what “BLT” does best is present reality without spoon-feeding the audience a moral conclusion. These kids are just bored suburban kids, making questionable decisions guided by very loose moral compasses.

If these were a bunch of white kids, it would have just been a typical, angsty teen movie. But with Asian-Americans in the main roles, this film was definitely bucking stereotypes.

Sundance classic

So what happened at Sundance?

After a few unremarkable screenings, the cast and crew went into their third screening knowing they needed a strong showing. And here’s the part that Sundance dreams are made of:

At the end of the screening, an audience member complimented them for a well-made film but proceeded to berate them for wasting their talents portraying Asian-Americans in such a poor light.

There’s some back and forth between the cast members and the audience, and just as the staff are about to usher people out, an unlikely spokesman stood up from the crowd and went off on a mic-dropping rant. That spokesman? Roger Ebert.

Film critic Roger Ebert stood up and defended the film:

“And what I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, ‘How could you do this to your people?’ … Asian-American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to ‘represent’ their people.” — Roger Ebert

*mic drop*

Ebert called out a huge double standard in the entertainment industry.

When Justin Bieber acts the way Justin Bieber does, he’s not considered a disgrace to white people; he’s just a plain old run-of-the-mill teen popstar burnout. Ebert nails it on the head when he says that we never hold white filmmakers to the same standard, and Asian-American filmmakers ought to be able to make whatever the hell kind of film they want to make. Nobody slams Al Pacino or Robert De Niro or Steven Spielberg or James Cameron for making ALL white people look bad.

It’s also worth noting Ebert pulls off one of the most epic executions of air quotes ever caught on camera. I mean look at that! Any kind of verbal smackdown should work in those air quotes at the end.

Instant argument-winner right here, folks.

All of this matters because Ebert’s rant made “BLT” one of the most talked about films at the festival.

On top of that, “BLT” eventually became the first acquisition by MTV Films. And? That fledgling director Justin Lin went on to direct a bunch of other films you may have heard of — like “The Fast and the Furious” 3 through 6 — and was credited with reviving that franchise.

  • Justin Lin has entered the rarefied area of directors who have crossed the billion-dollar box office mark, and he’s NOW DIRECTING THE NEXT STAR TREK. (Sorry, geeked out.)
  • John Cho went on to star in “Harold and Kumar,” another stereotype-shattering role, and the unfortunately recently canceled TV series “Selfie.”
  • Sung Kang starred in The “Fast and Furious” franchises as Han. (Which, incidentally, was the name of his character in “BLT”; many have speculated perhaps “BLT” Han grew up to become “Fast and Furious” Han.)
  • Justin Lin’s assistant Evan Jackson Leong went on to direct the “Linsanity” documentary.

The branches spread far and wide. It’s not a stretch to say this was a watershed moment in Asian-American film history.

Would Justin Lin’s talent have risen to the top anyway? I’d hope so. But because of Roger Ebert’s boldness, Lin opened the door for a new generation of Asian-American talent.

We have a long way to go, but it was a good moment.

And we’re not out of the woods just yet.

More recently, the soon-to-premiere show “Fresh Off the Boat” is already getting blowback from white people on Twitter about how poorly it’s going to represent the Asian community or how racist it’s going to be. For what it’s worth, watching the previews, it actually seems creepily close to my own experiences moving to the United States from Taiwan.

At the end of the day, it’s about allowing our people to be represented in three dimensions rather than as shorthand for stereotypes.

Sure, I knew a lot of high-achieving, smart, well-mannered Asian-Americans. But I also knew plenty of thugs, jocks, beauty queens, math nerds, saints, and sinners. We should have the right to be who we are, and we should have the right to tell our stories, no matter how flawed. It’s precisely in those flaws where life’s most interesting stories are waiting to be told. Everyone else gets to tell theirs; we just want to tell ours.

So thank you Ebert. Two thumbs up from over here.

I first heard of this story through my friend Angry Asian Man. Sundance still by Kevinthompson3221 is in the public domain. Stephen Colbert GIF via Giphy, and John Cho GIF from the NBC “Go On” Tumblr.

NASA Made The Invisible Visible, And Now I Feel A Bit Sick

Here’s a two-minute visualization of something happening on our planet that you’re not gonna forget.

For most of the world, 2014 was hot. In fact, it was the Hottest. Year. Ever.


Or at least since us humans started recording such things.

Here’s what that looked like in some places:

A major cause for all this heat is above our heads in the atmosphere.

It can be kind of hard to grasp … until now.

NASA just made it awesomely concrete. They’ve created a visualization of CO2 emissions around the world for every day in 2006.

The kicker of the visualization for me was being able to see exactly where a lot of those emissions come from.

And also, many of the places most vulnerable to climate change are the lowest emitters of CO2.


And plants play a huge role by taking up CO2 during spring and summer and NOT absorbing it in fall and winter. Yikes!


Here it is in action:

I now have a whole new way of thinking about what’s going on in that blue sky above my head.

Original by Vox and produced by Joss Fong and Joe Posner using simulation via the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Infographic by Climate Council used with permission. Thumbnail image by Geograph user william and used under a Creative Commons license.

NASA Made The Invisible Visible, And Now I Feel A Bit Sick

Here’s a two-minute visualization of something happening on our planet that you’re not gonna forget.

For most of the world, 2014 was hot. In fact, it was the Hottest. Year. Ever.


Or at least since us humans started recording such things.

Here’s what that looked like in some places:

A major cause for all this heat is above our heads in the atmosphere.

It can be kind of hard to grasp … until now.

NASA just made it awesomely concrete. They’ve created a visualization of CO2 emissions around the world for every day in 2006.

The kicker of the visualization for me was being able to see exactly where a lot of those emissions come from.

And also, many of the places most vulnerable to climate change are the lowest emitters of CO2.


And plants play a huge role by taking up CO2 during spring and summer and NOT absorbing it in fall and winter. Yikes!


Here it is in action:

I now have a whole new way of thinking about what’s going on in that blue sky above my head.

Original by Vox and produced by Joss Fong and Joe Posner using simulation via the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Infographic by Climate Council used with permission. Thumbnail image by Geograph user william and used under a Creative Commons license.

Their Ideas Used To Be Called ‘Crazy Talk,’ But Things Are Different Now

Has the end of their time finally come?

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Dam it!

For hundreds of years, the U.S. was dam crazy. In the U.S., there are about 75,000 major dams (and tens of thousands of smaller dams). That’s the equivalent of one built every day since Thomas Jefferson was president. Whoa! Many days. Many dams.

Some of them, like Hoover Dam in Arizona and Nevada, are really, really big.

We liked dams because, well, flood control, hydropower, irrigation, and water storage.

But dams choke the life out of rivers, messing up local ways of life and harming wildlife. They are really tough for fish like salmon that migrate up rivers.

Many Native people share stories about how things were before dams. People whose lives depend on healthy fisheries have advocated for years to remove dams they say do more harm than good.

Edward Abbey and a lot of other people who care about rivers have felt pretty passionate that we needed to stop being so dam crazy.

(OK. He followed that up with “as a last resort.”)

After many years of debate, a lot of these dams, many small and even a few big ones, are coming down.

This is how many have come down since 1936!

Learn more about un-dammed rivers coming back to life at American Rivers.

Patagonia‘s Yvon Chouinard and Matt Stoecker conceived of this film, directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel. There’s more exciting stuff from Patagonia. Painting “Thomas Jefferson” by Rembrandt Peale is public domain. Map from American Rivers used with permission.

Their Ideas Used To Be Called ‘Crazy Talk,’ But Things Are Different Now

Has the end of their time finally come?

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Dam it!

For hundreds of years, the U.S. was dam crazy. In the U.S., there are about 75,000 major dams (and tens of thousands of smaller dams). That’s the equivalent of one built every day since Thomas Jefferson was president. Whoa! Many days. Many dams.

Some of them, like Hoover Dam in Arizona and Nevada, are really, really big.

We liked dams because, well, flood control, hydropower, irrigation, and water storage.

But dams choke the life out of rivers, messing up local ways of life and harming wildlife. They are really tough for fish like salmon that migrate up rivers.

Many Native people share stories about how things were before dams. People whose lives depend on healthy fisheries have advocated for years to remove dams they say do more harm than good.

Edward Abbey and a lot of other people who care about rivers have felt pretty passionate that we needed to stop being so dam crazy.

(OK. He followed that up with “as a last resort.”)

After many years of debate, a lot of these dams, many small and even a few big ones, are coming down.

This is how many have come down since 1936!

Learn more about un-dammed rivers coming back to life at American Rivers.

Patagonia‘s Yvon Chouinard and Matt Stoecker conceived of this film, directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel. There’s more exciting stuff from Patagonia. Painting “Thomas Jefferson” by Rembrandt Peale is public domain. Map from American Rivers used with permission.

She Noticed A Huge Problem With Condoms. There. She Fixed It.

I would carry these in a heartbeat.

NOTE: We were NOT paid to feature this. This is just one of those occasional products that comes along that’s so awesome we can’t not spread the word!

▲▲FACT CHECK TIME ▲▲

Actually, it’s even worse than 1 in 4 contracting an STD. The American Sexual Health Association estimates that more than half of all Americans will have an STD/STI at some point in their lifetime!

Original video here. Want to make this awesome idea a reality? Want to get your own tin of these fabulous little disease-shielding-force-fields? This is the link you are looking for.

She Noticed A Huge Problem With Condoms. There. She Fixed It.

I would carry these in a heartbeat.

NOTE: We were NOT paid to feature this. This is just one of those occasional products that comes along that’s so awesome we can’t not spread the word!

▲▲FACT CHECK TIME ▲▲

Actually, it’s even worse than 1 in 4 contracting an STD. The American Sexual Health Association estimates that more than half of all Americans will have an STD/STI at some point in their lifetime!

Original video here. Want to make this awesome idea a reality? Want to get your own tin of these fabulous little disease-shielding-force-fields? This is the link you are looking for.

A Girl On Facebook Said, ‘Black Lives Matter? All Lives Matter!’ So This Woman Responded.

Next time you see someone use the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, you’ll know what to say.

The movement behind the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter started a couple of years ago.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created the hashtag around the time George Zimmerman was being acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Some people disliked the hashtag and responded with #AllLivesMatter.

No matter the intention of #AllLivesMatter, the hashtag is still a problem.

Yes, all lives do matter — or *should* matter. The sad reality is that not all lives are treated equally or treated as though they matter, as slam poet Sarah O’Neal lays out perfectly.

Racial discrimination happens in the U.S. That is a fact. And it is strongly correlated with heavy policing of black communities. That policing has often ended in the deaths of black lives. But even when black lives are lost…

You’ve got to ask — when so many unarmed black people have died and their killers have been acquitted, why do so many people get angry when there are protests?

Eric Garner was killed after being placed in a chokehold for allegedly having untaxed cigarettes, and we heard his last words on video.

Michael Brown’s dead body was left on the street for four hours after he died. He was shot at least six times.

These are just two of the many black people who have died by police violence whose killers have walked free.

When protestors point out the injustice of this through demonstrations, why do so many people scoff at their reactions? Why do we prioritize our mild annoyance at traffic jams over black lives?

“How many more must there be for you to finally call this a genocide?”

Listen to Sarah O’Neal explain it poetically.

Fact-check time!

Original video by AJ+. The spoken word poem is by Sarah O’Neal. Photo of Black Lives Matter protest by The All-Nite Images used under a Creative Commons license. GIFs from video made by me.

A Girl On Facebook Said, ‘Black Lives Matter? All Lives Matter!’ So This Woman Responded.

Next time you see someone use the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, you’ll know what to say.

The movement behind the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter started a couple of years ago.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created the hashtag around the time George Zimmerman was being acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Some people disliked the hashtag and responded with #AllLivesMatter.

No matter the intention of #AllLivesMatter, the hashtag is still a problem.

Yes, all lives do matter — or *should* matter. The sad reality is that not all lives are treated equally or treated as though they matter, as slam poet Sarah O’Neal lays out perfectly.

Racial discrimination happens in the U.S. That is a fact. And it is strongly correlated with heavy policing of black communities. That policing has often ended in the deaths of black lives. But even when black lives are lost…

You’ve got to ask — when so many unarmed black people have died and their killers have been acquitted, why do so many people get angry when there are protests?

Eric Garner was killed after being placed in a chokehold for allegedly having untaxed cigarettes, and we heard his last words on video.

Michael Brown’s dead body was left on the street for four hours after he died. He was shot at least six times.

These are just two of the many black people who have died by police violence whose killers have walked free.

When protestors point out the injustice of this through demonstrations, why do so many people scoff at their reactions? Why do we prioritize our mild annoyance at traffic jams over black lives?

“How many more must there be for you to finally call this a genocide?”

Listen to Sarah O’Neal explain it poetically.

Fact-check time!

Original video by AJ+. The spoken word poem is by Sarah O’Neal. Photo of Black Lives Matter protest by The All-Nite Images used under a Creative Commons license. GIFs from video made by me.