By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Throughout the year, we encounter some news stories that make us go, HUH? <!–more–>
These are stories that are strange, weird, unique — or just really funny.
10. Barbie too sexy for China?
In March, the Barbie store in Shanghai shut down after only two years in business. Critics and analysts blame the Barbie store’s downfall on the fact that Mattel didn’t adjust well enough to the market.
Chinese women like cutesy, girly, and pink clothes — not skimpy and sexy.
It was a big hit to Mattel, the makers of Barbie. Mattel actually made the move to China to compensate for falling sales in the United States.
9. No Harry Potter for Indonesia
In 2011, Hollywood boycotted Indonesia. Why?
Hollywood was annoyed at a new levy on imported movies, meant to protect Indonesian filmmakers. Hollywood distributors and Indonesian film-goers, instead, saw it as a way to cash in on the Hollywood cow and another excuse for the local film industry to continue with its lax standards and second-rate products.
Normally, film-goers in Indonesia spend an estimated $6.2 million a month, but local media reported that box-office takings were down 60 to 70 percent because of the boycott.
8. You must have the same name
In a lawsuit filed Feb. 14, a couple and three women alleged that the Japanese law on surnames violates constitutional equality and a fundamental right to keep one’s name. They sought a total of 6 million yen ($70,000) in damages from the government for their distress.
Since the 19th century, Japan has upheld a law that states that married couples must share the same last name. Japan is the only one of the Group of Eight industrialized nations that requires married couples to have the same family name.
7. Dance, kid, dance
In April, the Philippines’ most popular TV game show, “Willing Willie,” faced some serious public uproar when the host, Willie Revillame, let a crying 6-year-old boy mimic a striptease dancer.
The young contestant, accompanied on the show by an aunt, earned 10,000 pesos ($230) for his dance. Revillame and others applauded as the boy performed.
He appeared to have been crying because Revillame called a huge basketball player to the stage to watch as the boy danced.
The outcry led major sponsors to pull out, including Procter & Gamble Co., Del Monte Pacific Ltd., Unilever, and Philippine fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp.
6. Want to get into Harvard? Don’t check Asian
This year, in order to get into their top choice schools, Asian American students opted out of checking the “Asian” box in their admissions packets. The rationale? Many believe that there is discrimination against Asian Americans in the admissions process.
As reported in The Associated Press, a study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400).
Espenshade found that Asian Americans needed an SAT score of 1550 to have a chance of getting into an elite college equal to the chance of white students with a score of 1410 or Black students with a score of 1100.
5. Apparently, it doesn’t pay to be a white male
This year, University of California, Berkeley, made headlines when one of its Republican student groups organized a bake sale offering pastries with prices based on gender and race.
Pastries for whites were $2, Asian Americans, $1.50, Latinos, $1, Blacks, 75 cents, and Native Americans, 25 cents. Women got a 25-cent discount.
The Republican group says the bake sale was meant to show how affirmative action is a form of discrimination.
Other students, however, said the bake sale was very offensive.
4. Super counter-intuitive: the Obedient Wives Club
Malaysia is one of the most modern and progressive Muslim-majority nations. Many Muslim Malaysian women hold high positions in the government and corporate world. However, this year, a new club was started that left many scratching their heads.
The Obedient Wives Club has 800 members and says it can cure social ills, such as prostitution and divorce, by teaching women to be submissive and keep their men happy in the bedroom.
As one of the founders put it, “Sex is a taboo in Asian society. We have ignored it in our marriages, but it’s all down to sex. A good wife is a good sex worker to her husband. What is wrong with being a whore … to your husband?”
3. Age discrimination or just selfishness?
This year, an unnamed female Asian American actor sued Seattle-based Amazon.com. Her grievance against Amazon? Amazon had revealed her true age — 40 — on its movie database website, IMDb.com. The actor alleged that after her true age was revealed, offers for roles dropped sharply.
“If one is perceived to be ‘over-the-hill,’ i.e., approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an ‘upside,’ ” her claim said.
“Plaintiff’s attempt to manipulate the federal court system, so she can censor IMDb.com’s display of her birthdate and pretend to the world that she is not 40 years old is selfish, contrary to the public interest, and a frivolous abuse of this court’s resources,” Amazon responded.
2. Guinness asks: Is this guy really 100 years old?
A 100-year-old man, Fauja Singh, stunned the world when he completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours on Oct. 16. Surely, it must be some sort of record.
Guinness said no.
Unfortunately, Guinness World Records told BBC that it won’t recognize Singh as the world’s oldest marathoner because he can’t show a birth certificate from 1911, though Singh’s British passport does show his date of birth as April 1, 1911. A letter from Indian government officials states that birth records were not kept in 1911.
1. Oregon politician leaves office in disgrace
It was a pretty sad end to a long career. On July 26, Rep. David Wu, from Oregon, resigned from his post.
Wu’s resignation came after some horrid accusations. Wu was accused of forcing an aggressive sexual encounter with a teenager, the daughter of Wu’s childhood friend.
The story broke after it was learned that the alleged victim had left a distraught voice mail at Wu’s office. In 1976, Wu was accused of sexual assault by an ex-girlfriend while he was a student at Stanford University.
Wu is also known for being the man who sent weird photos of himself in a tiger costume to members of his staff during his 2010 re-election campaign, as well as e-mails in the voice of his daughter. (end)
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.