Downsizing and Compromising

Written by Daniela Verde 


The film Downsizing directed by Alexander Payne, tells the story of ‘downsizing’, which is a medical procedure that humans undertake in the future as a solution to overpopulation. The procedure involves humans shrinking to a size of five inches tall. The general idea of this solution is that the smaller humans are, the less waste we produce.

 

The film intrigued me from the start as overpopulation is a very real issue in our present world. It was interesting to see a manifestation of a hypothetical solution for this global problem and how it would function in our society. Overall, the film was a good concept with a wholesome narrative. Before I start, this is not a review on the film. But, I am going to nitpick on one tiny (but, annoying) thing...

 

Ngoc Lan Tran. A strong, Asian female lead with a disability. Ngoc Lan is a Vietnamese political activist who was arrested for her activism and subsequently, forcibly ‘downsized’ as punishment. She enters the narrative having been the lone survivor of a human smuggling attempt into the United States. Suffering injuries from this incident, she had to get her leg amputated making her disabled.

 

Ngoc Lan is a rare role to see in entertainment. The character is so unique and complex with a resilient personality. However, when it came to the performance of Ngoc Lan Tran in Downsizing, there was one thing that fell short (pun intended)...

 

The accent. Ngoc Lan is portrayed with a thick Vietnamese accent. You may say, of course she has an accent because she’s from Vietnam and English is not her first language. That is a valid point. This was also my first thought.

 

Although, at the back of my head it was hard to ignore that Ngoc Lan’s Vietnamese accent was used a lot in the film for comedic purposes. Is this not another example of Asians being used for comedic purposes in films? A textbook example of this can be seen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with the portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi. Of course, it’s not exactly the same instance as there is no yellowface involved in Downsizing. But, the similarity of the Asian character being heightened for comedic purposes is notable.

 

Furthermore, I took the benefit of the doubt and assumed the actress is a native South-East Asian (meaning she has an inherited Asian accent). Upon stumbling across an interview of Hong Chau (the actress), it was disheartening to discover that she has a natural American accent. To me, this says she had to ‘put on’ the Vietnamese accent. This supports my own personal opinion that the accent was somewhat used for a gag in the film.

 

As I said earlier, I am nitpicking. The accent does not completely devalue the complexity of Ngoc Lan Tran as a character. Nor, do I blame the actress for her portrayal as I assume she also has directions to follow. It is the deliberate decision making on the accent and the implications that follow suit. Does the film assume that unless audiences hear an Asian accent they are unable to comprehend the character’s heritage?

 

Although, it is annoying that the film ticked most of the boxes into creating a complex Asian female character… apart from that one small detail. Taking into consideration that Star Wars, a huge franchise film is able to portray a strong Asian female character with no ‘Asian agenda’.

 

To put it bluntly, it’s time to shift from compromising when it comes to characters who are people of colour in entertainment.

Tinder's over? Time to swipe left...

Written by Kate King 


Having love in your pocket is something I’m certain generations before smartphones would have dreamed of. That 80’s angst solved at the touch of a button, no more sitting on the newspaper box in the rain outside the record store. The ability to pick and choose who we would interact with based on their looks and a short funny bio would have seemed wonderful to other generations. The app launched in 2012 and has become an intense way of finding love, but mostly a hook-up. Originally, I’m certain tinder’s intentions were pure, and the search for love for many had come to an end and their pain was eased. However, many millennial users have since manipulated the app solely for a hook-up type arrangement. With very few between the ages of 18 and 25 wanting to commit, it has become sex at the touch of a button, as simple as that!

Although many may feel they’re as connected as ever, building their list of lovers and what not, there is no way they’re finding a true connection. Love is meant to be about affection, trust, and a mutual respect. Tinder has certainly cut out the middle man of getting to know someone and gets straight to the intimacy. If you meet up with someone on Tinder, you’re lucky to make it through a couple of hours without them having their hands all over you. People are scared to label anything. You become stuck in this endless cycle of “do they actually want a relationship, is this just sex…” and so on. There is almost an expectation of you to hook-up with someone if they invite you over to ‘hang out’…the oldest trick in the book. A code word used by many a player well before the realms of tinder.

The contradiction of Tinder is feeling connected in that you’re talking to five people at once... how social am I. Flirting with them, texting them sweet nothings, sending them raunchy photos while we do our laundry at home. And if you’re funny, it’s a sure swipe right because we all value this stand-up comedy humor that attempts to surpass the digital fourth wall. These promises in the bio’s, absurdly sexual or not, configure this person’s confidence, gives you an ‘idea’ of their supposed personality and gives this false sense of closeness. Us women create this completely unrealistic scenario of what our lives would be like with Nick, the 24-year-old funny bartender who’s brutally honest but have ‘integrity’, all the while knowing it would never happen but continuing to be self-destructive. And any woman who says she doesn’t over think things or create fake scenarios in her mind is lying. We all do it, and I have no doubt in my mind somewhere along the line, men do it too. This false relationship we create with this plethora of people lulls us into this false sense of belonging and being wanted. All the while, Nick is talking to ten other women, but he would never do that, right?

Most feel that tinder is the only way nowadays to find love or some strange form of it, but we’ve lost the need for effort. No one is going to send roses to your house or workplace as a sign of their affection when they can send an emoji, which we have been brainwashed to believe is just as special. The need for basic human interaction seems to be dwindling, particularly for millennials. I say we disconnect, meet people the ‘old fashioned way’. A little non-digital face time can only do us good. Or better yet, be single! This absurd idea can be just as nourishing as being with someone. Fall in love with yourself first.  Tinder is outdated and will remain as such until someone develops a bigger and better dating app. 

Sexy and Sun Safe

Written by Daniela Verde


Sexy and sun safe are not a typical pairing. But within the interest of self-care… maybe they should go together.

 

No matter where you are in Australia it’s not a question of if, but varying degrees of how hot is it? It’s like there’s a competition describing in many different and creative ways of how hot it is where you are currently standing.

 

Everyone should be exercising some concern about sun safety. Admittedly, we all ignore the very real facts about the detrimental effects of sun damage (it’s more common than you think). You’ve heard it all before, so I won’t repeat it. Personally, sun damage wasn’t in my area of concern until it became anecdotal. As I have naturally tanned skin, it wasn’t until another friend of mine with tanned skin told me that they’ve had to get a melanoma taken out… more than once. It was then when I realized that I wasn’t superhuman and that a similar fate could be brought upon me.

 

So, how do you become sexy when you’re being sun safe? Simple, your skin won’t look like dried fruit. If that isn’t enough motivation, imagine where the money you spend on remedying sun damage could go to… A coffee and avocado on toast?! Think of the possibilities…

 

Once you’ve incorporated something to protect yourself from the sun as part of your everyday routine, it will be like brushing your teeth. Given that you do brush your teeth regularly…

 

Here are a few ways of incorporating sun safety as part of your everyday routine:

 

Applying sunscreen before every daytime outing.

This one is extremely obvious, but few actually do it. Forget all the misconceptions that justify you not having to put on sunscreen every time you leave the house. Those UV rays will find a way. Understandably, it’s hard to find a sunscreen that won’t make you feel sticky, with a high SPF. Mecca Cosmetica has a sunscreen range for face and body, ranging from SPF 30 and 50. They’re lightweight, non-oily, and doesn’t leave a white cast.

 

Invest in a pair of UV protected sunglasses.

My mum always nagged me to always wear my sunglasses. Although her reasoning was more for beauty preservation measures. Which was to prevent crow’s feet. Crow’s feet are the wrinkles in the eye area, usually caused by contracting the muscles on your face like, squinting. UV protected sunglasses not only shield your eyes but it’s also more comfortable not to squint, surprisingly. Most sunglasses are UV protected but you should double check that they have a sticker saying so (UV protected sunglasses range from category two to four), or ask a staff member at the store. A good rule of thumb is buying sunglasses from a retailer. It’s very likely that those knock off Ray Bans from a stall in Bali are not UV protected.

 

Add a hat to your outfit.

Hats are becoming more versatile and can dress your look up or down. Gone are the days when it was just caps or wide brim. Even bucket hats are back. With each type of hat, there’s heaps of stylish designs to choose from. It doesn’t have to be from some trendy store either, department stores are catching on. Personally, hearing anything under $10 is music to my ears.