I Am An Asian American And 'The Forest' Offends Me

I Am An Asian American And 'The Forest' Offends Me

Suicide should not be a form of entertainment.
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"The Forest" is a new horror movie that will be released on Jan. 8, 2016 in the United States. It is directed by Jason Zada. "The Forest" is about a young woman whose twin sister goes missing, and she has a gut feeling that something is wrong. The story takes place in Aokigahara, Japan. "The Forest" is an actual place in Aokigahara. It is known as the "Suicide Forest" or the "Aokigahara Forest." The Forest is known as a place that thousands of people have gone to, to commit suicide. It is known as a place of death. The movie describes how Sara (the main character), enters the Forest in search of her sister's fate, and she comes across many strange illusions and angry souls of the dead.

"The Forest" is actually quite offensive. As an Asian-American, I can see how this movie is warped. One writer, who takes the pen name of "The Love Life Of An Asian Guy," has written his thoughts and opinions relating to the movie, and you can find it on Facebook. This writer's page is "A discussion of race relations, politics, decolonization, Asian-American and POC identities and pop culture analysis." He describes how the movie is much worse than whitewashing (according to Wikipedia, "whitewashing" means "to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data." It is especially used in the context of corporations, governments, or other organizations). The writer explains that "The Forest," "a horror movie which stars a BLONDE WHITE GIRL, takes place in Aokigahara. So not only did they whitewash a movie and sidestep the opportunity to cast an Asian actress, they completely disrespected the fact that Suicide Forest is a REAL place where the Japanese go to end their life. And it's not like these suicides happened 400 years ago. This is happening right now. Over one hundred bodies are found in Aokigahara every single year."

What really sparked my opinion on this movie is what the writer explains here:
"['The Forest'] had an opportunity to address an issue that is literally killing Japanese citizens by the thousands. An issue that would have hit home with many Asian-Americans who also suffer from mental illness and depression. But instead of reaching out and confronting a problem that exists and is on-going, Hollywood turned it into a horror movie and whitewashed its cast, thus dehumanizing not only Asians around the globe affected by mental health, but those who have already committed suicide."

I absolutely agree with what "The Love Life Of An Asian Guy" has to say about "The Forest." Although it is a movie, it's true that this movie could have been made into something more accurate or more respectful. Since Aokigahara Forest is an actual place, I feel as though this movie might spark hatred for those who have history with the forest (such as having friends or relatives that have died there). Instead of approaching the story in a way that could be seen as a sort of respectful memorial for those that have committed suicide there (in reality), or educating people about suicide, it was made into a horror movie, to scare and entertain people. Suicide is extremely important, and many people need to be more educated about it. It is an issue that is significant all over the world and should not be taken as a joke or as a form of entertainment (by making one of the places with highest suicide rates into a horror movie).

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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​'When They See Us' Is The Tough Show Nobody Wants To Watch But Everyone Needs To

Justice was not served.

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Netflix just released a limited series called "When They See Us." The series is based on the Central Park Five. The Central Park Five were five young boys who were convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park on April 19, 1989. These young boys did not commit the crime they were convicted of though, they were set up by the prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein, along with her fellow detectives.

On April 19, 1989, a huge group of boys went out to Central Park one night "wilding." Cops came and arrested a bunch of the boys who were out. Linda Fairstein came to the scene where the rape happened, with the women attacked hanging on for her life. When Fairstein got to the precinct, immediately she said the boys in the park were the perpetrators. She had the police go out into the neighborhoods and find every young, black/Hispanic male who fit a description they drew up and brought them in for questioning.

What the detectives then did was extremely illegal.

They questioned these 14, 15 and 16-year-old boys without their parents. These boys were minors. These detectives took these boys in the rooms for questioning and started to plot a story in their head, making them say they committed the horrific crime. The boys were saying it wasn't them but the detectives would not let down. They started beating the kids until they "admitted" to this act of rape. One of the boys, Antron McCray, was with his mom and dad when they started to question him. Kevin Richardson was questioned without his mom until his sister came and was basically forced to sign the statement the detectives wrote for him so he could go home.

Yusef Salaam's mother came and got her son just before he signed his Miranda rights away. Raymond Santana was coerced by detectives for hours and hours, along with the others. Korey Wise, who was not in the police's interest at first, was taken and beaten by a detective until he agreed to the story they drew up. These boys didn't even know each other, except Yusef and Korey, and were pinning the crimes on one another because they were forced.

Donald Trump was even supportive of bringing back the death penalty for this case. He wanted the death penalty for five teenage boys. Teenagers. The boys were barely in high school and were being attacked with the death penalty.

At the trial, the lead prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, called in the victim of the attack, Trisha Meili. Meili had no recollection of the night after being in a coma for several days. The DNA evidence that was presented at trial did not match any of the defendants. There were no eyewitnesses. They showed the recordings of the interviews of the boys, but they were forced into telling false stories, which none of were merely similar. The case had no supporting evidence whatsoever. But the jury still convicted all five boys, who had to serve out their sentences.

The charges were exonerated in 2002 after the real rapist confessed. But exoneration does not make up for what these young boys had to go through. They were tried as adults at the ages of 14, 15 and 16. Korey Wise was in a maximum security prison at the age of 16. These boys went through something they should have never gone through at such a young age. There was no justice served for the boys or the victim. The detectives pinned a crime on five innocent young boys. These boys had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of actually working to find the real rapist, Linda Fairstein pinned it on five boys and did not do anything by the book while the boys were in question.

The show has brought back outcries about the case, even causing Linda Fairstein to step down from her charity boards. Our justice system still isn't what it should be today, and this show helps with showing us that.

The Netflix series shines a light on the racism of these detectives and the injustice that was served. Ava DuVernay did a tremendous job with this show. It is moving. The four episodes are very hard to watch, but it is so important that you do.

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