Pandora, Last.fm and being half-Asian

So, I’ve been listening to a lot of internet radio lately, and the best site that I have found so far is Pandora, as far as a station that will play what you want to hear and that is good at predicting what you like to hear.

I think the only problem that I have noticed is that because they are breaking down songs into parts (i.e., “dynamic female vocal”), a person has to listen and categorize all of these songs, so they are missing a lot of very good songs.  And of course, there are things mislabeled.  When you type in Cocco (as in the Okinawan J-pop artist) you get some band that is really called Coco and is totally unrelated.  

Another huge flaw is that Pandora does not have my favorite J-Rock group, GLAY, aka “The Japanese Beatles”.

They do have a fairly good selection of music from around the world, so I will give them kudos for that.

 

Last.fm is fun because it “scrobbles” your music, and tracks everything that you listen to, so that you can share compatibility with your friends.  I was also able to easily upload my music to Last.fm, where Pandora does not currently have an option for that. 

The issue that I have with Last.fm is that it seems to categorize artists by popularity (major label vs. not) when you want to listen to a specific genre.  And if you listen to a genre station for more than an hour, it will literally start playing the exact same songs over again.  Probably the worst thing is that if you want to listen to Ben Folds, for example, and you type his name in the search box, it will play music that they think sounds like Ben Folds, but will NEVER actually play a Ben Folds song.  Which is really frustrating.

 

But I found out a weird thing the other day.  I guess people started tagging artists… according to how Asian they are!?

So under the “half-asian” tag, I am one of the top artists. (Second row from the top, on the right)

 

straight from last.fm

straight from last.fm

 

I will say I don’t think that this tag is entirely accurate; I’m sure some of the women (and it is all women on this page for some reason) are entirely Asian.

Strange…

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I have discovered a terrible website

Here is the story of how I discovered the terrible website.

I’ve been trying not to eat so much junk food or eat out at restaurants as much.  So, I decided that a fun project would be recording everything that I eat.  I typically eat lean pockets for lunch at work because they are cheap and I cannot afford to spend an average on ten dollars a day on meals acquired in an expensive shopping mall.  Anyway, I was looking online for the nutrional contents of hot pockets and what do I stumble upon…

The hot pocket dojo.

No, I am SERIOUS.  The official website for Hot Pockets is http://www.hotpocketsdojo.com.

There is a old “Asian” man, dressed in Chinese clothes, with fortune cookies laid out nearby.  There is a disco ball over his head.  He asks you “Why you so stupid?!” in broken English if you click on some parts of the site.  I have provided screenshots for proof (and for your viewing pleasure/displeasure.)

Let's Disco at the Dojo

Let's Disco at the Dojo

Here we go again.

As an Asian-American and as a scholar of Japanese studies, the lame amalgamation of these “Orientalist” stereotypes is readily apparent.  Although I think it is humorous in kind of a mildly offensive way.

Dear Hot Pockets,

Did you know that dojo is a Japanese word?  Generally speaking, a dojo is a place where people study martial arts.  How do the fortune cookies and Chinese clothes the crazy old man is wearing make sense in that context? Ya’ll are freaking crazy!

Love,

Nancy

But I digress.  It is easy to see that they are doing some kind of parody of the Karate Kid with the old man being a “master” (who will “answer questions” for you but most likely just tell you that you are ugly – no seriously he says that).

This site also offers online games you can play with the master!/end fake enthusiasm.

I played a game of shells – my Mandarin is not so good, but the “shells” appear to have the traditional (not simplified) Chinese character for food – 飯.

Don't you love the Hanzi/Kanji styled text?

Don't you love the Hanzi/Kanji styled font?

My guess is that they were trying to do a kung fu type of Chinese master and got confused.  This is wrong in so many ways, and unfortunately, I don’t have time to thoroughly examine and critique each inane act of stereotypification that exists on that website.

However, I can’t say that Asians themselves, do not at times, help to perpetuate the stereotype that the vastly different countries and cultures of Asia are interchangable and/or identical.

For example, many of the local Japanese restaurants in the Metro Detroit area are run by Koreans, but a lot of people are under the impression that the restaurants are run by Japanese.  A co-worker of my once told me about this great little sushi place that he swore was Japanese owned, because they had spoken to him in Japanese, but when I walked in the door there was a huge stack of Korean newspapers and ads in the vestibule.  The waitstaff spoke… in Korean.  The music… was in Korean.  They served Korean food alongside Japanese food.  And I don’t think there is anything wrong with people opening Japanese restaurants when they are not Japanese.  I think that they may think that it is in their best interest to pretend to be Japanese to give their restaurant some kind of sense of authenticity to the unsuspecting locals, but really… how is that helping anyone?  If the food is good, it’s good!  You don’t gotta pretend.