Grace Park is one kick-ass role model, and you can’t deny that.
When Battlestar Galactica was rebooted in 2003, I approached this phenomenon with reservation, and not a little trepidation. The original series was fairly sacred to me. I had watched all of it when it first came out with an almost religious fascination, and rewatched it I don’t know how many times. My kids had grown up watching it; we had even inherited the special edition DVD set from our friend Mik when he had to go into hospice. He made sure we got all of his most precious items to store or use, and that cylon-head set of his Battlestar DVDs was among them (a tiny few we managed to salvage from the fire, and they are precious indeed today). He would watch them with us sometimes, too, before he went into hospice, because Battlestar was one of the things we bonded over. When it was running he was living with us in our garage: that was his home for four years, and we made sure he never missed it, because he sure did love it. And as soon as the first episode was over, my husband and I were hooked, too. It was different, holy shit was it ever, but it was magnificent.
The cast of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica threw the scifi world into a bit of some rapids. Personally, I have no idea why there was such a fuss. Since scifi has been on this crazy invention called television, it has been making waves in our culture. Hello, Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura kissing up close and personal on prime time in the days of the civil rights movement. So why the casting diversity and gender reversals and transhumanism of the Battlestar reboot caused snits was just stupid to me. I chalked it up to a bunch of Sad Puppies deciding to virtue signal their point of view for the sake of being stuffy old armchair philosophers from the devil’s advocate stance. Apparently I was very wrong, and that group of snitty “but why did THEY have to CHANGE things” people actually represents a hardening, very loud, very propagandized sector of our culture that is based on autocratic, imperialistic, sexist, racist beliefs. It’s really pathetic and awful and it stinks. It stinks like rotting corpses and the blood of rape and abuse and the despairing sorrow of existential entropy. And quite frankly, I have seen it lying dormant since the great social change of the civil rights movement and the ERA, with our culture and society saying “well that was some good work, now we can pat ourselves on the back and say we have done enough.” But that is a terrible lie we have been telling ourselves for the past thirty years which has come full circle to bite us not on the ass but in the throat. That lie has gripped us so tightly we cannot breathe and it’s teeth are slipping into our vital veins. If we do not deny that lie it’s sway over us, it will snap shut and kill us; our society and culture will collapse because the violence gripping us will only get worse. It is getting worse, every day and every year. A new report from the Anti-Defamation League puts my state of Colorado third in the nation for white supremacist propaganda. The only states ahead of us are Texas and California, and as someone who grew up in and around the Inland Empire of California (where a TON of hate groups are located and spread out from) I can tell you how bad it is there. You can read about Colorado’s ranking in an article in the Greeley Tribune, which is a pretty good paper in my county seat and does a good job of unbiased news. The Tribune article gives you the bones of the data, but follow their link to the Denver Post for a lot more information, and embedded links to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has the ADL report and so much more available.
It’s particularly important to note that California is so close to the top of that list. The Inland Empire of California is not Hollywood, but it has always been called the Inland Empire for a reason. When Hollywood started out, it was a bunch of farms. The Inland Empire was farmland also, but different kinds of farms. It is too tangential to go into the geography and history of California, but suffice it to say that when Hollywood turned into a fantasyland for filmmaking, it was no longer a farming community. The Inland Empire is still a farming community, with oil and gas a second for their commerce. In today’s economy, it would be fair to say that the fossil fuel industry is pushing out farming. The Inland Empire also has a bit of the tech industry in it, because you can’t go anywhere in California without tech being there. The Inland Empire is also astronomically poor. Over half of it is desert. Desert farmers get almost all of their water from Colorado and always have. The Colorado River flows through California until it dumps into the Baja Gulf. Most of it is underground, though. The farming communities around Hollywood cannot supply enough food for the fantasyland and it’s surrounding bungalow communities of rich starlets and movie people (and now SO MUCH other industry, like a million tech things and the port/train/highway infrastructure and everpresent disaster preparation people and scientists…so many scientists and more tech tech tech, and all their families and the stuff they need to live like groceries and cars and entertainment like DISNEYLAND holy moley it’s crowded). And so over time the farming communities have had to expand, which has put a strain on the surrounding states. And as the fantasyland has gotten more bloated and enormous, the starlets and movie people have demanded more. The Old Families that owned all the land and farms around that fantasyland were some very hard and ingrained-in-their philosophies people. And most of them came there either during the Gold Rush or the Great Depression or the intervening years, and the terrible things they had to endure during those years left a very stark impression on them. Thing is, they came there to meet a bunch of abandoned Mexican-Spanish settlers and religious outposts and Native Americans living more or less side-by-side, with a bunch of leftover South American natives lingering around the fringes down south. It was a weird place from the beginning, California. Seeing a bunch of crazy-seeming, hedonistic, light-in-the-heels people from back east and all over the world descend onto the southern Californian land and just…go nuts to make moving pictures…was very hard to take. And they passed their resentments, compounded with interest, onto their descendants.
And so, today, you have a pocket at first and then a swath of California with extremely horrible sentiments and opinions and confused moral and political ideals that has been festering in a crucible of resentment for generations. Add to that the fact that in the 1940s California hosted a couple of Japanese Internment camps. George Takei talks a lot about his experiences in the internment camps in California. They are not for the light of heart, and the museums and memorials in California to these disgusting institutions and horrible scars on our republic should be required visiting for all students in our nation. Just like the inhumane and revolting practice the British undertook when we gave smallpox-infected blankets to native tribes, the practice of Japanese Internment Camps is a horrific blight and stain on our nation’s history. It is a War Crime, plain and simple. As Americans, we absolutely cannot go forward in our quest to make a “more perfect union” unless we accept these faults in our past, and do our very best to prevent them from EVER, EVER, EVER happening again. Not at the cost of the present or the future, but our very best nevertheless. I was told, when I finally learned about the smallpox blankets, that kids are not taught this horror because as Americans we don’t need to mention such terrible things when it was the British who did them, and children are too tender to hear such awful details at such a young age. Best wait until they are adults, when the information can be presented in college and they can choose to hear it. At least, that is the roundabout, sort-of, halfassed answer I had to piece together on my own from the nonanswers I have been given. But kids see and hear and feel and are actual victims of such crimes every day. I mean, we have a measles public health crisis right now, so not getting your kids vaccinated is kind of similar to exposing them deliberately to deadly and dangerous illnesses. I did that once, to get my kids the chicken pox, because I had never been given the updated CDC information about the vaccine and I was very nervous. I really regret doing that, and now my kids have to get the shingles vaccine, but if I had been given the updated information from the CDC by ANY of my physicians, I would have known better. Just a simple communication error, and EVERYONE missed it. For over ten years. That is one hell of an externality someone should have thought of before now.
We didn’t use biological warfare on our prisoners of war when we caged them in World War II, but we degraded them and treated them inhumanely nevertheless. The California internment camps, located where they were in California (Manzanar is the only actual camp, but there were several “relocation centers”), had a lot to do with where the actual hate groups formed and have spread out from. Any social anthropologist or sociologist could and probably has correlated all of this. It’s just history and people. It’s not right at all, though.
That is a very deliberate mosaic.
I gathered those photos from all across the web, and I am going to do my very best to source them all. But I chose them because they mean a lot to me for various reasons. I was not so enamoured with the idea of shifting the character of Boomer away from what I knew and loved in the original series to something new. And when the character of Athena was further altered and combined in an altogether innovative way and intersectionality was explored differently at the same time, I just got terrifically excited. Terribly excited. The whole bag was amazing. Grace Park became one of my favourite actresses because she did so well. I became a fan of a great many of the cast and crew of BSG because the show just did so well on so many levels in so many levels of art. And beyond art into other aspects of human culture. Which is what art is for in the first place. Brava, bravo, bravissisma, etcetera. Somewhere along the way I got turned into an arts and culture person. I thank my lucky stars for my high school best friend Mary and her parents, because my parents sure never even considered I might be interested no matter how many times I told them. In fact, active pursuit of more than basic information at all was actively discouraged unless it aligned with their interests and goals. Thank goodness I ended up here in Colorado. Where another Battlestar actor ended up filming another show, Longmire, part of the time. Imagine my eventual glee when I watched a country cop show (I’ll visit the ubiquitous cop show later) starring Katee Sackhoff infusing her cop with Starbuck’s piracy and honour while she drove down roads I drove down all the time!
In the success of the reboot of Battlestar Galactica it was apparent that Boomer’s character shift and cultural shift was delightful to more people than just me and my family. Grace Park was definitely a skilled woman. BSG was just one of many media outlets booming in the scifi genre. Since I am and always have been a scifi consumer of the most desperate quality, I can attest to this. When I was about 11 or 12 I got into serious trouble for forging my mother’s signature on the “membership form” to join the Science Fiction Book Club. At the time, I thought I was incredibly smart for only committing the white lie of forging her name, because I honestly thought it was only like signing her name on a permission slip. And I had no earthly idea the “membership form” was a legal contract. I thought the $3.99 introductory fee was just a special thing the readers of Analog got, because I was naive and unworldly, just the way my parents wanted a pure Christian virgin girl to be. I had very weird gaps in my knowledge, even though I was a very critical thinker, because I was so very dominated and controlled and subdued by these people. When you gaslight and control and abuse a person for their whole lives, weird things happen to them. It is the basis of the cult mentality. I thought I would get the books and my special package and then I would tell my mother the allowance I got every month (five dollars) would be spent on my books. Well, the package came and she opened it (even though it was in my name), and she punished me severely and physically for forging her name without allowing me to explain myself. I managed to get some of my explanation out, but mostly I was punished further for not asking anything first, because I was never allowed to spend any of my allowance without asking her first. I just wanted my own scifi books instead of having to always carry loads and loads of them home from the library.
I ended up carrying loads and loads of them from the library, because I was not allowed to keep my “membership” in that book club, and I had to do a tremendous amount of extra chores to earn each and every single book I had ordered as part of my “introductory package”; I think it took me almost two years to “earn” all of those books. From the very first library card I ever got in second grade, I have consumed science fiction. Even before then, because sperm donor loved the stuff (but it wasn’t allowed by my mother). So I have seen how the genre has grown tremendously. Science fiction is crime fiction’s weird cousin. Humans love mysteries, and when you look back on the history of fiction, you can see the evolution of science fiction out of the mystery story. There is even the strange stepchild, Weird Fiction. But these two actors, Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim, are very well known for scifi and crime drama-type shows. I chose the photos in that mosaic because it highlights how their Korean ancestry has helped Hollywood evolve culturally, and that evolution has brought Hollywood a very lucrative benefit, and then Hollywood went and shat all over them. That mosaic represents a veritable wealth of talent and chutzpah and depth of honour, dignity, and character that a lot of Americans today loudly claim but sorely lack. I am a very sick woman right now, heading into hospital to see how sick she really is, and I am afraid. But not too afraid to say I am sick of those hollow claims, sick to death.
So say we all.
When Daniel Dae Kim made his big acting break on the series Lost in 2004, he was trying to figure out how to balance his education goals with his acting goals along with an established family life and a profound obligation to his community and cultural heritage. He started out his education life as a political science major. One of those photos appeared in a well-written article from Haverford (forgive the text glitches). The article gives a very personal explanation from a grounds-eye view on why it is so very valuable to our greater culture that we pay close attention to these very real people who play a role on our electronic devices to entertain us. Whether we enjoy that entertainment after a hard day’s or night’s work in the fields or in offices of any sort; whether it is after spending too much energy fighting a terrible fight we just don’t want to fight anymore (intangible fights are the most demeaning fights of all because we can’t physically wrestle with them)…against addictions or ageing or mental illness; whether it is after being there for our people who are working and fighting so hard and we just need a break…entertainment is necessary for all humans. It has been so since we first became humans. Whether you believe humans evolved or whether you believe humans became sentient through the Divine Gift (or a combination of both like me), we have always needed to be entertained. If we don’t take a respite from our daily struggles, we will go insane and do terrible things. Either to ourselves or one another, maybe both at the same time. It is the classic parable of Cain and Abel. Whatever names or story you wrap around the parable, it is the same. When Daniel Dae Kim talks about how his parents helped re-teach him Korean so he could portray the man Jin, the story of his own parents’ reaction to that character is telling. His parents, Korean immigrants, were so taken aback at the negative portrayal of a Korean man, that until that character itself evolved to show the depths of Korean culture, they felt the pressure and hostility of Western Culture itself. And when the members of the Korean-American community began calling those middle-aged average Korean-Americans, telling them how proud they were of their son, and how much of a positive effect it was having in their daily lives, that shows how art affects our culture as a whole. This is how sociologists measure their data; this is the way history is evaluated and historians prove things like white nationalism and white supremacy are damaging to a society, and hate crimes are in fact actions that should be punishable by law.
The woman who wrote that article is named Brenna McBride, and if you do an internet search you will find that today she works for a University in Pennsylvania and does a lot of work in her community. People like her affect positive change in their immediate communities. They do not encourage people do deny scientific advancements or to not vaccinate against common childhood illnesses or to ignore ground-level changes we can do to protect our environment from damage in our immediate environment, such as what Colorado’s Governor is attempting to do by cutting through the red tape the EPA is bound in. When our leaders do these things, they are showing that they understand how science works, not only that they read their briefs, and they are taking decisive action to change not only the damage done to whatever it is they are reading reports about, but they are cutting to the chase on how to do their JOBS. Too many so-called leaders are wasting the money and time of the citizenry doing completely nonsensical and offensive and outright bizarre things currently, and it has made a veritable parody of We The People. Never mind cold hamberders served on classical White House servingware under the portraiture of one of our most respected and philosophical Founding Fathers: we now have actual Senators spending precious Congressional time expounding on how babies are the solution to climate change, using visual aids of tauntauns and Reagan riding a velociraptor, holding a machine gun and waving a ragged American flag. I seriously do not know if that link is to a satire site or a bona fide right-wing political news site, but I deliberately linked to it while I was searching for a conservative viewpoint on Senator Lee’s party’s explanation for this completely bonkers behaviour and speech. I can’t even tell what is legitimately serious from the conservative party anymore, and what is their completely lame attempt at satire. It is just all so wrong.
Many of the photos in my mosaic feature Daniel Dae Kim because that man is a powerhouse. Throughout his career he has managed to maintain that balance he sought early on, and that is why I admire him so much. He went on to earn multiple degrees and he uses them. He is starring as the King of Siam on Broadway in The King and I (I love musicals; almost everyone loves musicals, and seeing them on the boards is the best…I took my husband to see a production of South Pacific in Denver one year and he looked poleaxed when we left). He left Hawaii Five-O because of discriminatory pay and lack of support from the Guild and Union, and an awful lot of fans stopped watching the show because of that. Hawaii Five-O got the start and success because of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park and they got shunted to the side and pat on the head like good little goo-goo dolls and told to be quiet and grateful for what they got. James Caan was hyped as the son of an iconic actor and the real reason for the show’s start and success instead of just the retro germ of an idea, and that just added insult to injury. Add in an actor no-one had ever really heard of before pumped up as a macho Iraqui war veteran with issues, and it ended up being a virtue-signalling flat pancake. CBS lost an awful lot of viewers.
Cop shows are about justice. They are about pushing the envelope, sometimes, in the pursuit of that. That is why they are so popular, along with the creative innovation those envelope-pushing lawmen and lawwomen use in order to pursue justice. I have already talked about Law and Order: SVU and how Mariska Hargitay does excellent work for victims and survivors of sexual abuse. When Grace Park did her groundbreaking performance as Cylon Number 8, I don’t think she ever realised what turns her life would take, and how some trauma survivor in Colorado would draw a bunch of corollaries between her characters and herself and Hollywood whitewashing and the sick state of our culture. But I am going to. And all the while I wish her the best, because she is a damn fine role model and I am proud of the steps she has taken all along. It is a big scary world out there. I picked the shot of Grace with her fellow cylon bitches Lucy Lawless and Tricia Helford because Lucy is Xena, and she is a New Zealander, and New Zealand is a pretty amazing place and Xena is…well, Xena. It’s pretty cool that Grace Park got to work with the legendary Lucy Lawless, and I hope she thinks of stuff they said and did and tricks she picked up from her from time to time. If I ever got to spend any time with Lucy, I would never forget it. Plus she is really tall, so I doubt I would be able to. I am not short, but Lucy is TALL. Tricia is tall as well, and she has an equally formidable personality (but she also likes kittens a lot; sometimes I wonder if the whole thing with Lamb’s cat in BSG was her idea). She’s Canadian like Grace; Canadians have this reputation for being polite to a fault, but that obsession with etiquette really covers a certain intractability. Remember, Canadians are really good at hockey. Canadian women play hockey, too. Look at them, there are two of them right in front of you. Even if they do like kittens a lot.
Grace Park did not say very much about why she and Daniel Dae Kim left Hawaii Five-O; she left all the speaking-out to him. He was doing a very fine job of it. He is good at it (political science major, remember? Very Good Actor of the Boards, remember?), and he had all that input from the Korean community; Grace more than likely gave him some personal global input since she still had family ties in Vancouver, and when you work with people from all over the globe you get an even broader perspective. Some of those pictures I chose because they show him working with other people from both Asian communities and other marginalised communities (such as the one of him and Malcom David Kelley, who starred with him on Lost and later became a fairly popular hip-hop star as half of the duo MKTO). Daniel Dae Kim does all kinds of stuff; one of those shots is from his fitness workout webpage, which has quite a following. He is acting all over the place as well as on Broadway; the mess with CBS hasn’t slowed him down a bit. The silence from Grace Park can be explained by her minimal involvement in NXIVM: the despicable, revolting, and unhinged sex cult run by Keith Raniere and hopefully broken by his arrest last April. If you thought “Everybody outta have a daddy like Charlie” was the most evil and chilling and depraved thing you ever heard, you have heard nothing. Victims and survivors of cults like what that monster Raniere and his henchwomen do to their “slaves” would break most people into tiny bits of insanity. And Grace Park almost got caught by him; she certainly was damaged by him. The fact that she has managed to heal from whatever mental sanity points she lost to him is commendable and we should be thankful any human recovers from such torment. When people such as Raniere are caught, you do not ever let them escape until you have learned all you can from them, and have found a means to cure what has gone wrong. Because a normal, healthy person does not do what he does to others. If you are not familiar with the NXIVM cult, I will discuss it and other cults in future and until then the reader is free to explore it beyond the article linked. It is not for the faint of heart or stomach or ethical fortitude. It isn’t surprising Grace waited until recently to speak out about why she left. Any balanced person would take their time and put first things first after coming face-to-face with a predator like Raniere. And none of us owe anyone any explanation for how we handle our own priorities, unless we ignore heartfelt concerns that we aren’t paying attention to things in perspective safely. Science is always the fallback judge on what is safe or not. Because science is impartial. Science is, for lack of a better word, God. God speaks to us through science. Since none of us can be absolutely certain the strange little voice of our conscience may or may not be the voice of god, we have to trust that if there is indeed a Divine Thing, it gave us our brains and scientific reason to read it’s words through it’s creations. Which is our natural environment, which we study through sciences, and so natural sciences and our study of them is indeed The Word of God. Handle with care and patience. Let Grace Park cope and do her awesome acting job: one of those photos is her very recently during an interview discussing a new role she feels very comfortable in as a strong woman. Grace has a degree in psychology from the University of British Colombia.
Back in the 1980s, I used to watch this really iconic cop show called Miami Vice. I loved that show. By now the reader will get the picture that I have a Thing for Pop Culture. I grew up in a house with that one television set, and when my parents divorced each household had one set each. The television was The Center of the home. Normal homes have the kitchen as the center of the home because humans bond over food, but in mine it was always the television because no-one ever talked, they just escaped into the shiny screen. Everyone loathed everyone else; the resentment was actually the Head of Household and there was a daily argument with it and it usually turned violent. The television was the preferred method of escapism and since I was the low person on the totem pole when it came to the device’s usage, I rarely got to use it (hence me always carting around loads of books, because books are the original television). In fact, for several years I was actually forbidden to use it because it was decided I “abused the privilege” due to a normal pre-teen’s curiosity and avid joy in…a science-fiction program (V…I was such a fangirl of V). My mother and stepfather put a hacker’s lock on the cable so you needed a special key in order for the television to turn on. This was called “tough love”, according to some bizarre combination of Southern Baptist teachings and “children only get what we give them” morality. But my mother loved Miami Vice and so I was allowed to watch it. It came on Friday nights, so it was my Friday night escape into the fantasy of Miami with these posh guys who wore completely inappropriate clothing (but such fashion, wow!) but were such intersectional badasses! I had no idea what intersectionality was, but I sure thought it was cool. The Friday Night Videos played afterward were really cool, too. One of the actors on the show caught my eye because he was so unattractive but SO INTENSE. The fact that he was not conventially attractive was actually attractive. I have a penchant for actors with intensity, because when I was nine I fell in love with Laurence Olivier and decided I was his Katherine and he was my Heathcliff forever. So Edward James Olmos reminded me fiercely of dear Laurence, and I instantly fell in love with him like a nine year old (and also something like the seven year old me that fell passionately in love with Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein; I carried around a picture of him from that film clipped from TV Guide in my wallet for years). When Edward James Olmos appeared in Blade Runner in 1982, I was eleven. Eleven was a really, really bad and awful year. That was the year sperm donor had to go to court and he lost custody of me temporarily because it was discovered he was molesting me. My mother today says she doesn’t know he did stuff to me. I had to escape her abuse to go back to him, but she says she doesn’t know, and she did the best she could. That kind of attitude, the one that says “I am not going to look back at all” is why Hollywood is whitewashing and why they are not even admitting the people they whitewashed are rising above their indignities. It is why we have a whole culture in our society refusing to admit their bias has damaged very good and respectable people.
Blade Runner is such an iconic film that film critics don’t even call it an iconic science fiction film anymore. Based on Philip K. Dick’s novella “Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, it explores the concept of transhumanism: a concept that was wildly fringe and philosophical in 1982 but today is scientifically imminent. Today, in our world, in laboratories and scientific papers all over the world, transhumanism is being sought and vied for by a great many people. A great deal of money is being pumped into this technology right as you read this. Current prosthetics and technology to help spinal cord injuries and other neurological injuries and illnesses are even in the early stages. Think of what Christopher Reeve, a real life Superman, was striving so hard for and almost saw before he crossed the veil. And the people who are spending that money are very wealthy indeed. They are in every country. They are from every single faith and none. They ascribe to every single political philosophy. Sworn enemies pursue this technology with fervor and passion and obsession. They all want to be first, and some at the expense of others. Some of them avow with believable certainty that they would never pursue such a thing, and that they find it abhorrent. And they are lying through their rotten teeth with their forkèd tongue. Transhumanism is inevitable for our species, because as a species we are pursuing it, and as a species once we decide to pursue a certain thing we do not stop until we get it or it proves so destructive that it will end us (and it does indeed end us). Blade Runner was an exquisite film on this concept, and it riveted us. Graff, played by Edward James Olmos, was again a pristine display of his craft. I loved him even more, so when sperm donor bought tickets to see the immediate next showing (something never done before), I did not protest at all. Escape into future Megalopolis (a word I learned whilst watching for the first time) for a second time. Since his success, Edward James Olmos has never forgotten his humble and rough-and-tumble beginnings in East LA. East LA is not a nice place; when I moved from the High Desert to LA when I was 13 I moved on the other side of Dodger Stadium from East LA into the Glassell Park neighborhood. The East LA gangs don’t just stay in East LA. Edward James Olmos is known more for his activism work than for his acting; he spends about half of every year talking in jails, juvenile detention centers, in inner cities, and other at-risk places discussing his youth and ways people can break the cycles of repression, abuse, and all the other externalities that keep marginalised people in the boxes created for them. And it works really well. All you have to do is see how he himself has grown, and how he impacts the people he works with both on camera and off, and how he touches his fans and their families. All those people are real, regular people, and they have real stories just like mine. I was told the other day by a gentleman that he is not obligated to share his trauma stories, and I told him that of course he is not. But he is also not permitted to tell other survivors and victims that they cannot share and inspire others, because that is how other wounded and repressed people find out that it is ok to be strong enough to tell their stories if they want to. Every human being has free will; it is not a limited item. We are all born with it, and it is silly to ask that we restrict that unless it harms another human or living being (within reason).
It is an interesting side note that Edward James Olmos had one of his very first roles as a young actor doing a bit part on the original Hawaii Five-O. How ironic that he would start there and end up mentoring one of the stars of it’s reboot who was to quit because of inequality. Especially as a woman in an age where we have a wage gap anyway, and he mentored her on a scifi show where things like gender wage gaps and race inequality are myths. He was the magnificent leonine Commander Adama on Battlestar Galactica, coming from the enigmatic Gaff in Blade Runner to land such a role on iconic Miami Vice to only get small parts throughout the next many years. His portrayal of Adama was righteous, like everyone on that masterpiece. I chose to put the photo of him with Grace Park last because it is a pretty poignant photo. Adama always stuck by Park’s noble cylon model in that show, and their solidarity in the face of Hollywood disparity and whitewashing needs to be noted. Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back and reap the rewards of the decisions it makes when it does well, but not pass those accolades and rewards on to the very people who make it possible. They hold up the good works those people do to expand social awareness of society’s faults, but Hollywood itself is still the same old toxic pit of hypocrisy and greed and usury it has been since it showed up in the early days of the 1900s and started treating the farmers and the locals like garbage. And, incidentally, getting all the starlets hooked on whatever narcotics and booze they could so they would be more tractable and easy to control. The historical hedonism of Hollywood is well-established and no-one can say it has changed much. I have lived on the streets of Hollywood, and the slimy predators are still there, trolling for easy meat of whatever gender or kink is professed, just to make a fast buck.
These amazing actors are doing excellent work, and their careers and lives seem to be going well. Daniel Dae Kim is going to be in the new Hellboy. Personally, when it comes to comics I will give anything a fair chance, and this looks just delicious. Go comics. If it gets people to read, I am supportive. If it involves art, I am supportive. If it combines the two, I am supportive. Read things. Look at art. Be happy. Shift your perspective.
I specifically put one other picture in that mosaic, and that is the one of Athena and Helo; Helo was played by yet another Canadian actor, Tahmoh Penikett. The fascinating thing about the character Helo is that he was meant to be just a sort of one-off. A filler. But the fans loved Helo so much after the introductory miniseries the writers gave him an arc; an arc that turned out to be very instrumental in the Cylon Mythos. Tahmoh’s skill as an actor really came out in Battlestar. The man himself is very private, and that’s ok. As the Public, we should never expect from these very human beings anything they are not willing to give; it’s anathema to the very free will they and we ourselves are born with. But he is from northern Canada, and his mom is a native of the Yukon where he was born and lives. If you know anything about the indigenous people of the Yukon, you know they are very fierce. Fierce in their passions, in their appreciations, in their pursuits. They are also a stoic people, because as a tribal folk dependent on the land you must endure an awful lot in the Yukon. It is very Big there, from what I have heard and seen and read and just felt from the people who have experienced it. When I watch Tahmoh in his acting (and the intensity and fierceness of the Yukon comes through in Dollhouse too), he is very believable in whatever role he takes his time in. I had the opportunity to work a grunge job as a teenager with some aspiring actors who were seriously learning their craft at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena. The link takes you to their LA school, which is really cool, but when I was a teen it was in the first west coast expansion in Pasadena. I only remember the name of one of the folks I knew back then, because I was madly in love with him for a little while (he was one of those collection of pen pals, too, and a really good one); the rest of the names have been mostly lost to the depravities of abuse, drugs, and booze. But I remember them all discussing the finer points of learning their craft, and practicing it, and it was a joy and wonder to behold. Some of them had already done stuff in the industry, like the guy who sang Phantom of the Opera songs to me while we cleaned up at night: he had been a stand-in body double for Tom Hulce in Amadeus and how’s THAT for picking up some pointers on the side (while getting PAID FOR IT?). So I just bet Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett and everyone else working on Battlestar Galactica learned an awful lot just being around Edward James Olmos.
Hell, he was Graff. Graff stuck through it by making origami cranes out of everything while he watched the pro sort out the big picture. I bet Tahmoh Penikett learned some good stuff from Adama. He went on to do another role that I have to make a brief mention of, even though it is a tangent from my main topic, simply because of timing and because it is relevant in many ways and I am a fangirl nerd. Tahmoh got a role right off Battlestar and Dollhouse (I am so sorry, Joss!) on Supernatural. Supernatural is a right phenomenon in itself, and this is my tip of the hat to a show that was only supposed to run for five years, and instead has run ten years beyond that classical story arc of the Hero’s Journey. Done all sassy in a muscle car. That likes to go meta and break the fourth wall to itty bitty bits. It seems maybe Kripke, who is no stranger to scifi or Pop Culture or comics or good acting or deserving actors himself…made a deal with a devil at the crossroads. I hope he got to hear some good blues, at least. And at least he got to see some good acting along the way, like Tahmoh playing Gadreel. I love Supernatural with a part of my being only some people know: Sam’s animus Jared Padalecki created the mental health support campaign Always Keep Fighting for people just like me. And it worked, because I found out about it about three days after I came home from the mental ward the last time. And that was right after Jared started the campaign, so it felt particularly poignant and profound. I met my best friend(s) in the entire Universe through that campaign. My daughter asked me to fight to live and handed me the links to the campaign and so I have decided to live every day since then. Thanks for the impetus, guys. Good show.
There is one more actor that I have to mention before I leave this feast. And I left him as a silent witness to all of this, because he has been a silent witness to all of the Asian whitewashing that has gone on since his death. He should not have died. He was a brilliance. The film he died creating is a lasting brilliance, a celluloid masterpiece of a dark comic star of such throbbing presence it is a singularity. His father was his own brilliance, and when the world lost him, it was a loss to us all; he was also a victim of Hollywood’s greed and petulant racism, although his contributions to the film industry are monumental and he is greatly admired. Reading my bitter sarcasm and remonitions we should all feel ashamed, those of us who are culpable through either ancestry or silence or gods forbid outright support of this behaviour. The people who raised me espoused this behaviour. As I write the story of my life I am realising just how terrible the permissive slighting of anyone not like me was growing up, even in the shadow of the Civil Rights Movement and the ERA. In California. Right outside and then in the depths of Los Angeles. We, America, can tell ourselves all we want that white supremacy and white nationalism is not a myth and it’s just “somebody” playing pranks and jokes for vague media attention, but it really is not. In Costa Mesa this month, students were making some very horrific Nazi “jokes” at a booze-infested house party after a parent had invited a Holocaust-survivor to speak to them. Let’s just skip over the bit where there was a parent (who refused to be identified) at a house party where there was a bunch of minors drinking booze. And their excuse is that the inappropriate jokes is because the kids got too drunk. And since there was a Holocaust survivor talking to them earlier that evening, it was just a natural drunk response to make stupid inappropriate Nazi jokes because when you are stupid sloppy beer drunk you do that. Feel free to want to go kick some sense into a recalcitrant brick right about now, because when people have a truth staring them in the face and they refuse to adapt and change because that truth is about to bite them like a venomous snake, I want to kick bricks as well. I do not anymore, because I broke a toe that way once, and it cured me of wanting to kick bricks. Now I choose more healthy and productive ways to channel my frustration.
When I was a young and feisty punkrocker, I hung out in areas like Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and other areas where those kids are now making drunken Nazi salutes and then throwing up their beer bong toasts in someone’s parent’s bedroom’s bathroom. There were skinhead punk jerks back in my day with pink shaved heads and dirty ears and terribly ill-fitting Doc Martens and showy spikes in all the wrong places so they looked like they moshed but when they went out onto the floor and tried to get in the pit, they were instantly tossed to the side because they had no idea how to actually mosh. If you tried to put these Nazi punks today into a mosh pit they would be instant jelly, and the actual people who mosh these days would pick them up and cart them off to the cops. Old school punks hate Nazis. What do you think punk is about anyway? And all of us old punks and goths and fringe weirdos tried to tell everyone back in the 70s and 80s and 90s that if you don’t listen to the youth and the artists and the actors and the writers and the philosophers and the scientists and the people actually listening to them and learning from them…there’s gonna be trouble on the home front. Well, there is trouble on the home front, and if Walter Kronkite had to read these home front headlines, he would take off his glasses and give America a stern talking-to. And not about what they are wearing or who they are taking to bed or what they are treating their mental illnesses with or what church they go to. Goodness. Mr. Kronkite delivered the facts. Mr. Kronkite would tell you Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are big stars in Korea (South Korea, that is, since North Korea is one big huge prison and all it’s people are slave labour overseen by a seriously disturbed man-child who is sort-of controlled by insane dictators). Mr. Kronkite would tell you nonequal pay is factually present, and he would tell you American history is full of perilous misadventures when nonequal pay has been present, especially when the people providing the service have done Good Works or gone through Terrible Things.
And the fact is, Brandon Lee should be with us today instead of his image, his spirit, his inspiration, his reminder. But he isn’t. He was the victim of a terrible accident on set, a stupid set of circumstances. It is a sad mirror of his father’s death, whom it is theorised died of a combination of several things no-one could have known about at the time. Brandon Lee had so much promise. Bruce Lee (his Americanised name) was incredibly gifted far beyond film (although it was his Hong Kong father, an early pioneer in film, who started him on this path): a philosopher who practiced all tenets of his martial arts, he never neglected the equally important inner work necessary to become a true master. And that is why he had such a profound and long-lasting impact on our culture and people; any person truly good at their craft, whatever it may be, will have a positive impact. As Americans, we cannot deny these wonderfully talented individuals their equal, just due simply because they are…different than a lot of us. That is both antithetical towards our founding beliefs and ethics of “all men are created equal” and unscientific from a sociological viewpoint. I don’t have the time to gather massive amounts of data to crunch it, but I bet there are sociologists and historians out there who have. It is also quite immoral to stand upon any faith or ideology and say one group of ethnicity should get paid less than another. It’s pretty gross. It’s also very slimy business.
So Say We All.
Noteworthy photo sources from mosaic:
Third row (R) and Fifth row (far R): Daniel Dae Kim as Raymond the lab assistant in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2
Eighth row (L): Daniel Day Kim as a military aide in the 2003 Marvel production of Hulk
Sixth row (bottom L) and Eleventh row (R): Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy
I wanted to make sure all the comic nerds got to give him fist bumps for all those comic roles, and I want to give a special shout-out to Comic Icons, a fellow blog I found while looking for shots of Daniel Dae Kim alongside the comic character Ben Daimio from Hellboy and their blog had exactly what I wanted; the photo in my mosaic comes from their blog, and if you are a comic nerd you will love their blog.
Seventh row (bottom L): Daniel Dae Kim in front of the camera on The Good Doctor, which he also works on behind the camera. This show is a fabulous example of how people who are neurodivergent are just different, and with the proper nurturing and care and acceptance, can and regularly do become very productive members of their communities and of society. There is nothing abnormal or malfunctioning about autistic people.
Tenth row (L): Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim during one of the best side story arcs of Hawaii Five-O, when Kono builds a traditional Hawai’ian boat and goes on an epic native Polynesian traditional journey around the island. It is a very touching and soulful arc, and the boat and sea are lovely. I had some Hawaiian friends when I was a girl, and they were welcoming and warm people, and told me stories like I watched Kono perform on that show. That Korean Canadian did a spot-on job. It’s no wonder both of those actors love Hawaii so much. I have been invited to the islands many times, but I am spooked by anything on the Ring of Fire. Pele intimidates me mightily, because I firmly believe I once lived in Herculaneum and died there when Vesuvius blew half of itself into the air one fine August day in 79 AD. I have been back to Vesuvius and climbed it and stared down into it’s steaming maw and yelled at it that I’m back, and then I bought a bottle of wine at the wine vendor at the crest. I was too terrified to drink it up there, so I just took a bunch of pictures and then almost ran all the way back down and enjoyed Pompeii (at the time you had to have special permission to get into Herculaneum, and they still don’t allow just any old peasant in there). That bottle of wine eventually broke trying to get it back to America, so I really don’t think I am supposed to vacation around any volcanoes. I live on top of a supervolcano, just about. I think that is tempting fate enough.