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Asian Migration and Global Cities

Anne Cong-Huyen, Jonathan Young Banfill, Katherine Herrera, Samantha Ching, Natalie Yip, Thania Lucero, Randy Mai, Candice Lau, Authors

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L.A. Songs: Happy

With all the talk of the past and future Los Angeles, there is one question that remains: what is the most representative text of the Los Angeles of right now, in the present of early 2014. To answer this, one thing comes to mind, a music video released this past fall that captures the full scope and diversity of the city. This is the 24-hour long video for Pharrell Williams’ Happy, which films hundreds of people dancing to the song in various locations throughout the city.

Log onto your computer and the website reads the time and takes you to that point in the video, but of course you can skip around. Each three minute long section shows a person, or group of persons, simply dancing to the song. The camera follows them as they move through wherever they are. It could be the middle of the street in Hollywood or Downtown, or inside a bowling, or in a park at dawn. The people come from all backgrounds and ages, some are famous but most are not, and they all move with joy to the song. The song itself is simple, though it took Pharrell a long time to nail it down, expressing a simple and powerful sentiment. 

The city that is shown in this amazing video is the city that I hope I am living in, one filled with a diversity of people, of spaces, and of life. One that is full of happy people inhabiting it with joy, 24-hours a day.

As the lyrics go:

Clap along if you think that happiness is truth!
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Discussion of "L.A. Songs: Happy"

The City of Angels and the Beverly Hills Chihuahua

The trailer to the 2008 family comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua opens with the unmistakable cha-ching of a cash register followed by
the enduring line “Welcome to the land of the rich and famous.” Cut to a
two-way sign – one for Rodeo Drive, the other for Wilshire Boulevard – and the Chihuahua
Chloe is trying on several outfits. Her owner, talking on the phone, coos “I’ll
get you anything you want” before snapping into her blue tooth “no, not you,
Patrick!” A kid-friendly mix of PG humor, adventure, and “impossible” love, the
movie also speaks to some characteristics often associated with the setting of
Los Angeles itself. Material wealth, race, and class the aristocratic,
snow-white Chloe, voiced by Drew Barrymore, against Papi (George Lopez), a
brown Chihuahua and companion of Chloe’s owner’s gardener, who evokes the Mexican-American
stereotype and in turn receives some disdain from his later love interest, Chloe’s
temporary guardian Rachel (Piper Parabow).

Furthermore, thinking back to Davis’ book on LA Sunshine and Noir?, we may see Chloe as
a product of deracination when she is dognapped to Mexico. “Why would I speak
Spanish?” Chloe asks in response to her fellow inmate at the pound, who speaks
with a Mexican accent. “Hellooo,” he points out, “you a chihuahua, mi hija.” The most beloved pet of an
heiress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Chloe is deracinated in the sense that in the movie’s
racialized world of dogs, she has been removed from racial and ethnic influences
with which those she ridicules engage on a daily basis. Employing the
human-centric concept of color as race to dogs subtly reinforces race as a
social construct; Chloe and Papi are the same species, but their color marks
them as different on a social level. Thus, Beverly
Hills Chihuahua
achieves a little more than entertaining its audience with
talking dogs and dog jokes. With humor, it grapples with the question of how we
treat others based on appearance, and situates this narrative in a city where
this question is a daily struggle. 

By Samantha Ching

Posted on 17 March 2014, 11:31 am by Samantha Ching  |  Permalink

L.A. Songs: Sunshine, Santa Monica, and Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow’s song “All I Wanna Do” speaks to the easy,
laid-back vibe often attributed to Los Angeles and Southern California at
large. The omnipresent Los Angeles sun, the health-boosting rays of which drew the
first boosters to this coastal paradise in the late nineteenth century, here
indicates the limit of Crow’s fun-making. In the chorus, she repeats three
times the line “All I wanna do is have some fun, until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevard.” On a surface level, Crow’s desire to be entertained,
which the city characteristically satisfies, will fade when the sun rises, when
she must face the new day. On the other hand, in regulating the schedule for
Crow’s diversion, the sun itself wields a certain power. Its ascent over one of
the city’s main thoroughfares joins the fun-seeking Crow and the man William
she meets in the bar with the ordinary people washing cars in skirts and suits on
their lunch break.

By Samantha Ching

Posted on 17 March 2014, 11:32 am by Samantha Ching  |  Permalink

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