Friday, 20 April 2012

Children of the elite


Pretty much most people are aware of the Bo Xilai scandal which has caught the attention of the media around the world. There isn't much I want to talk about in regards to the incident and I think most of it revolves around speculations and gossips. However I do want to bring up Bo Xilai's son Bo Guagua. I wonder if anyone remember back in 2009 about this Big Ben Award, an award 'to give formal recognition to the Chinese young people who excel in professional endeavours and contribution to the British community' (as mentioned in their website) in which Bo was the winner. This event was highlighted on the Dimsum website. Yes I'm sure like me most British Chinese was quite baffled at the time as to why he has won.

Bo Guagua's background is typical of whos parents are of high positions within the Chinese Communist Party as politicians or officials. They're part of the elite and privileged who are brought up in a rich lifestyle that majority of the population can only dream of. The reliance of their parents status and power means they're guaranteed sucess in life even without hardwork. Like Bo many of them are sent abroad to top prestigious schools and universities, the admission to these schools are greatly assisted by their parents wealth and power. Not only that many have also gained residency or citizenship in the hosted countries. So where's the patriotism that the country are so keen to promote?

In Bo Guagua's case it has clearly shown nepotism at at work. He came to England at the age of 12, went to Harrow School apparently with the help of Neil Heywood (yes the bloke who was supposedly murderd by Bo's mother). After that he went to Balliol College at Oxford. But he is also known to have a very poor academic performance. It's a disclosed fact that he lead a very hedonistic lifestyle; seen driving a Ferrari, partying with girls and getting drunk. All of it at the expense of his parents' money of course. At the momoment he his studying at Havard.

Going back to the Big Ben Award it's no suprise then that Bo's repuatation has influenced on the decision to award him. Seems like corruption has infriltrated oversea Chinese communuty. Then again the award is hardly of importance in itself. There's nothing against Bo Guagua himself as there's no reason to do so afterall he's just the resultant of his elite and corrupting parents.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The BBC Ronin's fashion study for men


I just like to break up the heavy stuff with some light hearted posts.

As I grow older I'm starting to become more and more conscious of the way I dress, something that I always neglect when I was a teen. As I'm going way into my late 20s now I've been going into a transition to improve my warddrobe (as in my clothes). Here are some useful tips (or point) I want to share with those who also wants to improve their style. These are just (very rough) guidelines not strict rules to follow and some are specifically for BBC males.

1. Dress like your age
A lot of the clothes and styles might look good when you were teen but will look ridiculous on a grown man. Basically if you're an adult then dress like an adult. That means less skater or sporty clothing. Even if you follow a certain subculture like goth or punk you should tone it down a little.

2. Proper fit
The clothes that you wear should always fit your body frame just right. Nothing too baggy that you'll look like a stereotypical rapper or too tight that your body is about to burst out. Take into account your body type as well, you need to make sure what you wear looks proportionate to your body. It's common sense but I always see people get it wrong. Since clothing sizes are based on averages you won't always find a perfect fit. The key is to try out various brands as the sizes can vary.

3. Following trends
As we're always influenced by fashion adverts and celebs, we tend to follow whatever's on trend. It's perfectly fine to take influence from magazines or whatever's popular however if too many people dress the same then you'll look like a carbon copy of each other. There's nothing wrong with wearing some trendy pieces of clothing but it's important to give your style some individuality. There are some clothes that never go out of fashion like denim jeans, leather jackets, casual boots and plain shirts that you can mix up with trendy pieces of items.

4. Dressing like a Hong Konger
Or rather don't. This is specifically refers to BBCs who try to imitate their HK cousins but usually they failed and end up looking like a half assed FOB. Although I do think that we should take cues from Hong Kongers for their effort to dress well but I find that many just blindly follow trends without considering whether it'll look good on them or not. Plus most of them just copy Japanese and Western fashion anyway.

5. Brand names
Nothing wrong with wearing popular brands however don't overdo it like you're some sort of walking billboard for fashion brands. The worst ones are clothings that have massive brand logos across them. Even if you're rich and can afford expensive clothes, showing it off will just make you look like a prat. Try and wear brands more subtlely instead.

6. Colours
Certain colours complement with each other better than others. Certainly true with clothings. Check out the colour wheel for guidance. If you don't want to be too bold then stick with neutral colours like black, white, grey or khakis but introduce a little colour to make it less boring.

7. Keep it simple
Basically don't complicate yourself with too much details like different patterns, colours and style. It's better to dress plainly than something too extravagant. Unless you want to look like a clown that is. Remember less is more.

8. The hair
Hair is something you can spend ages working on or some people don't bother at all. But it differs from one person to another. If you a bit lazy like me then you can't go wrong with short back and side. But leave some length at the top so you'll have something to work on. I've seen some Chinese kids with the 'anime' style hairdo and I think it looks atrocious no matter at what age, leave it to cosplay. As for long hair, it's not for everyone but some can pull it off. There's a whole lot to write on this topic but basically make sure the hairstyle fits your face shape and always make an effort to groom it.

9. Don't be too frugal
It's true that wearing clothes that cost hundreds of pounds doesn't automatically makes you look good (see point no.5), it's all about how you wear them. However that doesn't mean you should be a cheapskate and buy all you stuff from Primark either. Sometimes it's OK to spend a bit more on certain clothings as higher end stuff tend to be of better quality and last longer. Just as long you're sensible with your budget then it's fine.

10. Layering
It takes some experiment but knowing how to layer your clothings is very important. Start off with lighter garment first and work around it. Also take into account when matching colours and patterns. But don't do the T-shirt over long sleeve sweater thing, because it looks naff on a grown man.

I hope some of you will find these tips useful. It takes some time and experimenting to get the style that you're cormfortable with but you must start doing it now. I think everyone should make a little effort to dress well because it can exert a positive impression of yourself to others and also boost your confidence. Not to mention it helps to attract the attention of the ladies too.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

BBC Identity: Chinese pride?


This will be the first of a series will explore and present some indepth thoughts on the British Chinese identity.

I've recently made a comment on one of BBC Zeitgeist's post and the point that brought forward was how proud are we of our Chinese heritage. This is a something that often concern many Chinese who are born and bred in Western countries. We live in a prominently Western cultural environment where it is quite different to the values of our parents, we constantly have to deal with the clash of two different cultures. We need to adapt to Western culture in order to survive but doing so we risk sacrificing our cultural heritage that's been passed on from our parents. The BBC identity is almost like being the rope in a tug of war. But as oversea born Chinese how should we approach cultural pride?

In BBC Zeitgeist's controversial blog the author believed that being a proud Chinese means we need to carry some sort ethnocentric ideals. Although he never said it like that but that's the kind of sentiment you get from his writings. So that means keeping our cultural practice alive, marry Chinese only, watch Chinese TV and films, limit ourselves from Western/white influences, condemn others for being white washed and selling out (but at the same time having a go at new immigrants for making BBCs look bad). However is this really what being a proud Chinese/BBC is all about? For me there's a whole lot deeper and complex meaning to pride.

Dignity and self-esteem

Being proud of your own identity is more than just living by a set of superficial criteria because any non-Chinese are capable of practicing Chinese culture. Or just like people who boast about pride like some flag waving patriotic morons, it's missing real substance behind the action. Forcing Chinese customs on your kids in the Western environment just doesn't work and sometimes can have the opposite effect. For me there are two primary elements we need to consider; dignity (尊嚴) and self-esteem (自尊). These two emotional factors are important in the development of any young persons. Racism will have a negative impact on many young BBCs' self esteem and also creating the feeling of low self-worth. This can have various effects; some will turn to self-loathing whilst others may become resentful and full of hatred.

Generally East Asian children in the West seem to have lower self esteem than their white counterpart for various reasons, which also includes racism. Also sometimes BBCs who are brought up in a traditional family (or by 'tiger mothers') are most suspect to this. When faced with racist bullies we were taught to ignore them and keep our heads down and study hard. As in the Confucius values we aught to keep things in harmony and not to cause a ruckus. This will ruin our personal development and confidence. It's important to encourage them to stand up for themselves and not see yourself to be lesser than others, that is having dignity. All-in-all parents have the responsibility to make sure the kids grow up with good self esteem thus developing a positive perception of themselves. At the same time reinforce this with teaching of Chinese culture of course.

Extremism

Of course there's also a darkside to ethnic or cultural pride. This when people turn pride into ethnocentric-ism and supremacy. Yes, this usually mean resorting to racist ideas. They also think they are the true champion representative of their own ethnic identity and any one from their own group who disagrees are deemed to be traitors or 'sellouts'. I'm all for safeguarding your own culture but when you do it with resentment and chauvinism I feel that it's very facile and it's nothing more than just arrogance. With mentality like this it's hard to hold any balance or rational way of thinking. In Chinese these people would be called fenqing (愤青) aka angry youths.

For many young people who felt rejected or outcasted from society it's a very easy emotion state to fall into. Turning to resentment and extremism is the easiest way to find a sense of mental consolation and to superficially rectify your own emotional weakness, low self esteem and insecurity. It's also a way to vent your frustrations and bitterness. This is a very unhealthy and even dangerous mentality that may even lead to tragedy. However it is unlikely that BBCs would resort to this sort of radicalism, as there isn't really an environment for us to cultivate such thing. But this may also be one of the reasons why we're very apolitical as a group. Even though BBC Zeitgeist's views are controversial it's hardly the extremism that one should fear. Nonetheless I hope that more people should recognise that self esteem is the most fundamental and positive substance of one's pride.

Genuineness

On the positive side I feel the younger generations of BBC are having it better as the younger parents are much more 'liberal' and not the old school 'feather duster regime' we used to have. Thanks to better telecommunications and greater presence of the community it have helped young BBCs to be more in touch with their heritage. In conclusion to be prideful of your identity is more than just having cutural and historical understanding of your heritage, though these are vital too. Also it's not merely about following certain customs or lifestyle just for the sake of it, whether you're too Westerinsed or not Chinese enough is beside the point. It's important that you develop a healthy mental consciousness as a foundation first and foremost. If you can embrace your identity with high esteem and confidence, then eventually you'll follow and appreciate Chinese culture with real meaning and genuine passion.