2016: The Year That Music Lost Its Soul

Image result for george michael

On Christmas Day, the music world has lost yet another talented artist.  I heard that singer George Michael passed away at only 53 years old.  Even though he is no longer on this Earth, George Michael left behind a body of great music that will live on forever in the hearts and minds of people that loved him.  The year 2016 saw the passing of some of the most talented artists to ever grace the stage such as David Bowie, Maurice White from the popular ’70s R&B/funk group Earth, Wind and Fire, and Prince.  It has been a very bittersweet year for me and ironically it is not over yet.  One pattern I noticed is that many popular artists from the 1980s are slowly dying off.  As a passionate music aficionado, I become shocked when one of my favorite artists passes away.  Most of my favorite artists that I grew up listening to are now gone.  However, I came to realize that they blessed the world through their music and made it a happier place for me to live in.

George Michael was one of those influential artists that left an enormous impact on the history of pop music and brave enough to talk about topics that many people considered taboo during his heyday.  Despite the controversy that he encountered during his career over his sexual orientation, he kept doing what he did best: making great music and giving the people what they want.  Some of my favorite songs of his include Freedom 90, Faith, Everything She Wants, I Want Your Sex, and Careless Whisper.  At the end of the day, his talent speaks for itself.  He has certainly gained my respect and the respect of many fans around the world for remaining true to himself.  It is an important attribute missing in today’s music.  He might be gone, but will be never forgotten.

Listen to one of my most favorite songs by George Michael called Freedom 90 below:

 

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Eliminating Pressure for Chinese Athletes to Win Gold at 2016 Rio Olympic Games

China’s Shi Tingmao and Wu Minxia, right, pose with their gold medals after the women’s synchronized 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

During the recent Olympic Games this past summer, Chinese athletes were successful in winning twenty-six gold medals throughout various sports.  One specific event that the Chinese thrived was in the sport of diving.  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with competing among others as long as it is done in a healthy way.  I think that all athletes regardless of ethnicity should enjoy the process of preparing and competing in the Olympics.  It is an event that takes place every four years and they should be grateful for receiving an opportunity to represent their country on the global stage.  Check out the link for more stats below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_at_the_2016_Summer_Olympics

 With the emergence of China as a global superpower, there is still the belief that winning is everything.  The Chinese culture indoctrinates their children to become number one through hard work and persistence.  However, there is an advantage and disadvantage to this statement.  One advantage is that Chinese athletes get embraced whenever they win and are treated like rock stars in their own country.  It feels great to be a winner because that is a part of human nature.

Sun Yang of China celebrates during the awarding ceremony of men’s 200m freestyle swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Sun Yang won the gold medal with 1 minute 44.65 seconds.(Xinhua/Ding Xu)

On the other hand, losing does not gain them any respect.  If they lose, their culture sees them as an outcast and nobody wants to be associated with a loser.  When an athlete becomes obsessed only about winning to gain the approval of others, then it can become dangerous.  The process is no longer fulfilling and can cause athletes to cope with their struggles in unhealthy ways.  This is a reason that a majority of athletes tend to use performance-enhancing drugs in gaining an edge over their competitors not knowing the amount of harm they are creating to their body.

 I think that being number one is great and all athletes should strive for this goal, but winning should not overshadow their ability to do their best no matter what the outcome may be.  The most important thing is that athletes should strive to represent their country in a positive image throughout the world.  Chinese athletes deserve the right to have fun and compete without the necessary pressure placed on them by their culture.  They would perform better and not fear what others in their culture might think of them.  People are entitled to have their own opinion as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.  Nobody can win all the time, but as long as an athlete can compete to the best of your abilities, then they should be awarded!

Watch YouTube video below for further information about changing attitudes among Chinese athletes winning gold medals at the Olympics:

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Colin Kaepernick Takes Bold Stand Against Standing for National Anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick walks off the field after warm ups before an NFL preseason football game against the San Diego ChargersThursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been causing controversy in the media recently.  However, he is doing it for a good reason.  One thing that people might not understand about Colin Kaepernick is that he has the right to speak his mind especially when it comes to race relations in this country.  Black professional athletes should not be afraid to speak up when they see something wrong.  As an individual, I respect Colin Kaepernick for standing up for what he believes in similar to the way Muhammad Ali spoke out against his will to fight in the Vietnam War.  Even though Colin Kaepernick did not suffer the same consequences that Muhammad Ali did for speaking out against the injustices occurring during the 1960s, I think he still did a good job of opening up dialogue among the public.  Getting the public to think critically about racial issues in America continues to become an ongoing struggle, but these conversations are necessary if we ever want to reach the root cause of this problem.  Having the ability to speak one’s mind intellectually is a skill that should be embraced.  Just like the saying goes “Leaders are made, not born.”

Unfortunately, many black athletes that speak out against racial discrimination are looked down upon in our society.  It is easy for an athlete to ignore the issues that affect black people on a daily basis.  Colin Kaepernick was brave enough in identifying an issue that many other athletes are afraid to speak out about because they do not want to lose endorsements or their ability to ever play again.  In my opinion, one similar characteristic that exist between Colin Kaepernick and Muhammad Ali is that their willingness to go against the status quo and suffer the consequences.  He knew that the issue of race was bigger than football and made a conscious decision to sit during the national anthem.  Also, Colin Kaepernick understood what the American flag truly represents.  Therefore, he was not going to salute a flag that represents oppression and racial hatred black people continue to face in this country on a daily basis.

Colin Kaepernick sets a very clear example of an individual that symbolizes integrity, truth, and justice.  He should be acknowledged for speaking truth to power when it is needed the most.  Black people should take the time to understand his views on racism and police brutality before judging him.  The issue that I have is that black people are misinformed about certain issues that happen in this country through the media and do not take the time to do their own research.  At least, Colin Kaepernick is making an effort to educate the public about the untold history behind the National Anthem and how detrimental it continues to become for black and brown people in America.  I am not surprised that many people took it the wrong way, but I support him for standing up and telling it like it is.  People could learn a lot from this man if we took more time to pay attention to what he has to say.

Check out the Youtube video below from a recent interview that expresses his feelings about the ongoing struggles of racial injustice in America:

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Japanese Culture Continues to Flourish in Brazil After Their Arrival Over A Century Ago

 

The torii, Japanese arch, that marks the entrance to Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The torii, Japanese arch, that marks the entrance to Liberdade, Sao Paulo

Brazil Flag Olympics

This past Sunday marked the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  Many people might not know that Brazil has had a strong relationship with Japan for over a century.  The Japanese migrated to Brazil back in 1908.  It is similar to the way other immigrants came to America from other parts of the globe in creating a better life for themselves and their families.  Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.  They live in the Sao Paulo district of Liberdade, which means “freedom” in English.

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I think that Japanese-Brazilians have the best of both worlds.  The ability to claim both cultures is empowering despite cultural differences that may exist.  Therefore, they do not have to abandon one culture to feel accepted by the other.  Having the ability to become multicultural allows them the opportunity to embrace both cultures equally and view the world from a broader perspective.  Another interesting fact about Liberdade is also home to many diverse cultures including Chinese, Korean, Lebanese, and Italians.

Here is a Youtube video featuring the enormous impact of Japanese culture in Liberdade and it effects on other cultures around the globe.  Check it out and I hope you will love it:

The 2016 Olympic Games featured Brazilian athletes with Japanese roots.  Some of these athletes are Charles Koshiro Chibana(judo-men’s 66kg), Mahau Camargo Suguimati(athletics-400 meter hurdles), and Paula Harumi Ishibashi(women’s rugby sevens).  Overall, Japanese athletes Mashu Baker and Haruka Tachimoto won gold in the sport of judo.  For more information about these accomplishments, click on the articles below:

http://www.sportstarlive.com/rio-2016-olympics/tachimoto-baker-make-it-a-double-for-japan/article8970532.ece

Celebrating Japan’s multicultural Olympians

See you in the next four years when Japan hosts the 2020 Olympic Games from Tokyo, one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world!!!!!!

Image result for tokyo 2020 olympic games

 

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Taiwanese Pride Shines at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Weightlifting and Archery

Chinese Taipei Olympic Flag (中華臺北 奧運會旗)Chinese Taipei Olympic Flag (中華臺北 奧運會旗)
                                                                                                  
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Image result for national flag of taiwan
Taiwan’s National Flag

While I was watching the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janiero, I noticed that one of the countries that participated was Chinese Taipei.  It was one of the weirdest things to me because every other country was given the opportunity to use their national flag during the Olympics.  In reality, Chinese Taipei is not an actual country.  Going back to the point that I made in my previous blog post, I strongly believe that the International Olympic Committee should just change their name to Taiwan (also known as the Republic of China).  It would make more sense since Taiwan is an independent country separate from mainland China.  Also, the athletes should have the right to carry their national flag of their native country similar to all other countries competing during the Games.  

Unfortunately, the Chinese government has the belief that Taiwan still belongs to them despite the fact Taiwan broke way from the mainland in 1949.  I just think that the Taiwanese people need to have the freedom in not only representing their country, but also allowing their athletes the same opportunity to compete on the same level without other people marginalizing them.  People that were born in Taiwan should be called Taiwanese and not Chinese even though both cultures speak Mandarin.  Maintaining and protecting one’s cultural identity should remain a priority especially when you are competing on an international level.  

For more information about this topic, I posted a YouTube video below discussing the reasons that the International Olympic Committee does not use Taiwan’s national flag and anthem.  

However, Taiwan has produced a few gold metal athletes during their Olympic history.  Chen Shih-hsin is the first Taiwanese female athlete to win a gold metal in women’s taekwondo along with Chu Mu-yen becoming the first male athlete to win gold in men’s taekwondo during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.  In 2016, Hsu Shu-ching won the first Olympic gold medal in weightlifting and Kuo Hsing-chun won a bronze medal in the same sport.  Also, the women’s team won a bronze medal in the field of archery consisting of Tan Ya-Ting, Lin Shih-Chia, and Le Chien-Ying.

Tin Ya-Ting, Lin Shih-Chia, Le Chien-Ying

Chinese Taipei’s women – LeLin and Tan – became the NOC’s first medallists of these Games.

Seeded fourth, they first beat Mexico in a shoot-off before losing to Korea in the semis. They beat Italy 5-3 for bronze.

Hsu Shu-ching

Hsu Shu-ching

 

Kuo Hsing-chun

 

 Former Olympic Gold Medalists from Taiwan (Republic of China)

Chen Shih-hsin

Chu Mu-Yen

Chu Mu-yen Chu Mu Yen sportsblcom

 

 

 
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MTV Reaches Its 35th Anniversary This Year

Image result for mtv logo 80s

Today marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of MTV(Music Television), the first music video channel ever broadcasted.  MTV debuted on August 1, 1981 and become the first time music fans can listen and see their favorite artists on screen.  Unlike the MTV of today’s generation that shows primarily reality shows, it originally showcased music from rock, pop, and New Wave acts.  As the channel evolved throughout the years, it exposed audiences to artists from other musical genres such as hip-hop, R&B, and alternative rock.  Before the creation of MTV, people could only hear them on the radio and see them live in concert.  The power of video forever changed the way that the music industry would promote their artists.

MTV was the first time in history that an artist’s image would become just as important as the way they sound.  Therefore, the image became the focal point and could improve or hinder their career.  During the early 1980s, the music industry was going through a transitional period and many artists knew that they had to adapt with the times or get left behind.  Artists that were the most successful were able to share their talents through this new medium called music video.  Some of these legendary artists included Madonna, Boy George, Cindy Lauper, Duran Duran, Men At Work, George Michael, David Bowie, RUN DMC, and many others.

The greatest advantage that MTV offered many artists was getting the opportunity to create innovative music videos.  Music videos were considered “mini movies” containing elements similar to a major Hollywood production such as characters, plot, and setting.  For example, one example of a music video that featured all of these elements was the Michael Jackson classic Thriller in 1983.  At that time, he was known as the King of Music Videos due to his unique and creative ways of coming up with storylines that would capture the audience’s attention from start to finish.

During the inception of MTV, it did not play any music videos by black artists.  It was originally designed to play rock videos at that time.  The first black artist that broke the color barrier for other black artists to receive airtime on MTV was Michael Jackson AKA “The King of Pop.”  Over time, the channel started to evolve and gain massive exposure in other parts of the world such as Latin America, Europe, and Asia.  It will always hold a special place for my generation that grew up on MTV and would go on to became a huge cultural phenomenon that has shaped the lives of young people around the globe.

Watch this YouTube video below to find out more about the history of MTV and leave your comments:

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Ongoing Struggle for Taiwanese Independence Continues to Remain Problematic in Mainland China

madonna taiwan

Over the last few years, Asian celebrities have been speaking out against Taiwanese independence from mainland China.  Everyone knows that celebrities can utilize their power to promote change in society if they really want to.  At the same time, celebrities are also considered targets for voicing their political views on certain issues.  In this situation, some Asian celebrities have got in trouble for speaking the truth.  Even American celebrities such as Madonna and Katy Perry were brave enough to promote the Taiwanese flag during their performances in the capital city of Taipei.  Whether they were making a political statement to mainland China or it was just a part of their stage routine is another matter altogether.  I think the important factor is engaging the audience to think for themselves and make their own conclusions.

Katy Perry Wears Taiwanese flag in Taipei Arena by Albatross Chen on 500px

Even though we should not treat entertainers as political figures, they should be given the right to inform the public about what is going on.  As long as it does not hurt anybody, I do not see anything wrong with expressing their opinions.  It becomes harder for some Asian celebrities to maintain their professional integrity while staying committed to issues that affect them the most.  The problem is that mainland China does not like any celebrity to speak out against their government because it will jeopardize a celebrity’s ability to work there again.  No individual has the right to control what a person should or should not say.  Unfortunately, celebrities have to become more mindful of what they say and do or risk losing their reputation.  Only a few people are willing to suffer the consequences and risk losing the lifestyle that they worked for.  For more information, you can click on the articles below and read about certain celebrities that these issues affected from Taiwan:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/taiwan/10432084/Taiwan-singer-upsets-China-with-flag-stunt.html

http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2016-07/22/content_38936562.htm

Unlike the United States of America, China is still considered a Communist country and people have to remember the things they say or do can get them thrown in jail and even killed.  The history between mainland China and Taiwan continue to remain a turbulent issue since 1949.  To this day, China believes that Taiwan still belongs to them.  However, Taiwan should be considered an independent nation that has its own culture, traditions, and customs separate from the mainland.  Just because a popular Taiwanese artist proudly promotes independence by displaying their flag with pride while performing at a concert should not be something that others look down upon.

Earlier this year, one celebrity that caused enormous controversy for waving the flag is Taiwanese singer and member Chou Tzu-yu of the K-pop girl group Twice.  She was seen waving the flag on a Korean television show causing greater tensions between China and Taiwan.  As a result, Chou Tzu-yu was forced to apologize for her actions that took place.  Watch the Youtube video below of the singer apologizing to China over the incident:

Unfortunately, people are punished for speaking the truth at a time when many of us need to be aware of our reality in the world.  I think that it is unfair for mainland China to make somebody apologize for expressing their viewpoints different from their own.  Developing a groupthink mentality among mainland Chinese people will only make things worse among their ability to improve relations with Taiwan.  Also, they will remain in a constant state of confusion and paranoia.  When a person cannot think for themselves, they are more likely to become slaves to what society wants them to be.

I strongly believe that people have the right to represent where they come from and no one should feel ashamed for doing so.  At the end of the day, no one should be threatened by what a flag symbolizes.  In my opinion, there are more productive things that the Chinese government can focus on their attention on to make their country better.

 
 
 
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