12-28-china-blog

Hong Kong Noir

By Susan Blumberg-Kason

When I lived in Hong Kong in the 1990s, my only interaction with the police occurred when I’d return from Shenzhen by foot. Once on the Hong Kong side of the Lo Wu Bridge, I always breathed a sigh of relief when I saw their crisp navy uniforms.  The sight represented stability, order, and safety, things that were in short supply in Shenzhen and the parts of Hubei that I often visited as well on my forays to the mainland.  Life in those places had a Wild West, free-for-all feel to them.  There, as opposed to in rule-honoring Hong Kong, the trend often seemed to be that those with guanxi (personal connections) could work the system, while others were left to their own devices. Continue reading

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VICELAND’s Desus & Mero: Late-Night Television With a Laugh (And Plenty of Thought)

By Thomas Klepacz

On the Wednesday, November 30th episode of VICELAND’s new daily program Desus & Mero, the show’s two hosts — Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez (or as Twitter and the world knows them, “Desus Nice” and “The Kid Mero”) — discuss the Charlotte Police Department’s withholding of charges against the officer who shot and killed Keith Scott, a 43-year-old man of color with a history of TBI (traumatic brain injury). As follows: Continue reading

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Journalism Without Authority: What Have We Lost?

By Steven L. Isenberg

Journalism was once cloaked in a mantle of authority, offering trustworthy information and avoiding slant. Careful reportage and vigilant editing were the building blocks. Authoritative news had personality and style, yet both were as measured as seasoning. Authority was earned and sustained by a demonstration of intelligence, knowledge, and character. Authority set the tone for a news medium; it was the essence of professionalism. We depended on its commitment to stand back from personal opinion. We could hear the clank of failure when high standards went unmet. We expected acknowledgment for error. We knew we would be made to think, and that we also held our right to disagree and be skeptical. This was the quid pro quo for loyal newspaper readership and television news watching. Our minds were our own, but we were also part of a large, broadly based, shared experience. Continue reading

12-25-korea-blog

Blade Runner 2049 and Los Angeles’ Korean Future

By Colin Marshall

“LOS ANGELES NOVEMBER, 2019.” So, with that stark title card, begins the film that presented the most fully realized vision of the city’s future in cinema history to that point — and maybe still to this day. It also fixed its setting in the Western imagination as the go-to image of urban dystopia, though when Blade Runner premiered almost three and a half decades ago, that date must have felt comfortably distant. Now, a week before the year 2017 begins, Los Angeles may have got on track to become a densely built metropolis with high-rise-lined streets filled night and day with activity (and not just of the vehicular kind) later than Ridley Scott and company imagined, but the transformation looks well underway nevertheless. Continue reading

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Remembering My Father in Trump’s America

By Catherine Biggart

On September 11th, an American freelance photojournalist ran from his apartment toward the World Trade Center after learning a plane had struck one of the towers. Four days later, his body and cameras were recovered from the rubble alongside several fallen firefighters. He was the only journalist to die covering the story and his name is one of 2291 engraved on the Newseum’s memorial to journalists who have lost their lives reporting the news. Continue reading

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A Short History of Madonna Expressing Herself

By Briana Fasone

Madonna’s moment, which was both deeply personal and unnervingly relevant, came at the Billboard Women in Music event, broadcast on Lifetime on December 12th. Accepting the Woman of the Year award, Madonna, who has never struggled to tell it like it is, delivered a blistering speech about facing sexism and  “constant bullying and relentless abuse” throughout her 30-plus year career. Continue reading

12-21-china-blog

More China-Focused Suggestions for the Bookish People on Your Holiday Lists

thesBy Jeffrey Wasserstrom

In this follow up to our December 7 post, two China Blog regulars, Alec Ash and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, recommend a quartet of titles.  These titles, which deal with everything from down-and-out residents of contemporary Beijing to a pair of American journalists who fell in love while covering World War II in Asia, would make excellent last minute presents for others — or enjoyable items to buy for yourself with any gift cards you get. I didn’t get a chance to do a full write-up for my own selections, but will slip a plug for them into this intro without extended explanation.  I’ll just note that former BBC reporter Adam Brookes is two-thirds of the way through what will eventually be a trilogy of novels of intrigue that move between China and other parts of the world, and both Night Heron and Spy Games, each now available in paperback, are unusually well crafted page-turners.  (For more about each book, see these LARB reviews of them, here and here.) Continue reading