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I don’t know if there’s any harm in being upfront with the mission, though I’ll certainly wonder. It’s nice to tease these things out, you know? I might just be speaking into a microphone, but I think in narrative, and perhaps we all do. There’s no intrigue if I just say everything at the start, but maybe that’s the difference between narrative and good narrative. No filler. Well, you’ll have to be the judge on that one. With Eyes East is a multimedia adventure with the aim of promoting Asian cinema and culture. It’s not a very ambitious aim, so I’ll endeavor to keep it that way.
One of the key questions I’ll be asking as part of the research for With Eyes East is “What was your first experience with Asian culture?” because what I need to know is “How did that culture reach you?” And then, how can we use that data to formulate better approaches to recommendation? Unfortunately, it’s a complicated question for me, because I don’t have a very good memory. And also, I don’t know that there’s one answer. Was my first experience with, say, a movie from Hong Kong meaningful enough that I went on to explore other Hong Kong movies? Or did a fixation on Godzilla or anime make me a Godzilla fan or an anime fan? Oh, God, fandom. That’s been a problem, hasn’t it? Something we’ll have to navigate, I’m sure.
Probably the first Asian movie I ever saw was Disney’s Mulan, which is about as Asian as, well, maybe the VHS cassette was made in China? Indeed, I was not moved to explore other movies about period China, so let’s fast-forward to high school, during my John Woo fixation. This is good, because I can see the on-ramp. I was already a big fan of action movies, and one of the great action directors just happened to be this John Woo guy. The Killer, Hard-Boiled, Bullet in the Head, A Better Tomorrow and its better sequel, too, A Better Tomorrow 2. These movies are amazing — to me. God, I had the hardest time getting people on board with the Woo. “It’s not realistic.” That’s what makes it good!
Fast-forward again to college, and I’m already a fan of anime, though I’d never self-identify as an anime fan, no, no. And like with John Woo from action movies, I got into anime because of science-fiction. That’s my genre. Yes, because of The Matrix, I saw Ghost in the Shell, and that’s how I met my one true love. The Major — uh, Ghost in the Shell. I went to film school, so by this point, I’m in full cinephile mode. I can show people the original Ghost in the Shell as well as Akira, and those count as movies. Varying success there. Did no one love share my love for the Maj — uh, Ghost in the Shell? Well, judge not, thouest, the plank, and all that. Maybe I was falling down a fandom rabbit hole after all.
And that brings us to the present day. I’ve actually been here before, starting podcasts — because who hasn’t? I didn’t want to do another one, never mind a multimedia adventure, but regardless whether or not I “think in narrative,” my mind needs structure. I’ll try to be funny – charismatic – charming – and entertain you, but I’ll be honest, With Eyes East is for me. Let’s just say that when it comes to Asian culture, I have a lot of catching up to do, and I think this is gonna help. So two questions for you, darling: do you remember your first contact with Asian culture? Let me know at witheyeseast.com. I just feel like there’s so much to discover, so much to share, and I’m finally ready. Are you?