February 29, 2012
Xenophilia

I usually post three links just before I go to bed. Usually I post brief snippets from things I’ve read earlier in the day. Sometimes I have nothing, and last night was one of those days. But at about midnight I was in the middle of watching a Vietnamese film Lost in Paradise and thought to do three links on the theme of the movie. 

I enjoyed watching the movie, which is saying something given my limited attention span, but by the end of it I felt a bit disgruntled by the melodrama. I went to be without posting anything.

I stopped enjoying going to the movies when they got so loud. Ha! I’m that old guy who yells: “Get off my lawn!” Anyhow, most of the films that interest me never come to the suburban cineplex near me, and I hardly ever go to town. So when it comes to movies, I’m really out of it.

One of my favorite blogs is My heart’s in Accra written by Ethan Zuckerman. Zuckerman is an outstanding public intellectual, if you’ve never heard of him, he’s worth checking out.

Zuckerman has written widely about the Internet. One of the ideas he points to is that people being people are like birds of a feather which flock together. The fancy sociological term for that is homophily

So many of the issues people face today are global, like resource depletion and catastrophic global climate change. But along with these frightening global challenges is a dawning awareness among many people everywhere of a feeling and sense that we are all global citizens.

Zuckerman points out that the problem with too much homophily—only paying attention to people like ourselves—is it makes us stupid. That is, stupid in the face of the global challenges we face as people on this blue planet. So he writes about the opposite of homophily which is xenophily. He’s got about 45 post under the xenophila category on his blog.

Sometimes my dash makes me feel old and very out of touch. Nah, I ain’t gonna be young again, but I can still listen to what younger people are saying and look at what they are doing. So Tumblr is one way that I try to cultivate my xenophilia. Many of the posts I see point to pitfalls, for example how white privilege operates. But posts that point to pitfalls are exactly the sort that help to make me less stupid—I’ve got a long way to go on that score.

Anyhow, the three links posted point to links about Asian Gay films. A little while back I stumbled upon how Singapore had banned the 2004 film Formula 17. This was old news, but whenever governments are banning books, films and music it’s a good sign there’s something interesting going on. I didn’t watch the film, but was very interested in the sensation that the film caused and that I’d never heard anything about it.

It’s very cool that the Internet allows us to share culture. And it’s a privilege to be able to participate in a world culture. Too often I leap to a judgement that I’m not interested in this or that. It was just a quirk that I started watching Lost in Paradise last night and that it kept my attention. But things like that, quirky things I stumble upon online, help to suppress my knee-jerk expectation that some foreign subject will not interest me. It helps to reign in my raging homophily. And in turn perhaps makes me less stupid. 

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