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‘Gonna be a trainwreck’: can an Asian diaspora Facebook group be good TV? | Television

Voice Of EU



When the moderators of Subtle Asian Traits announced in June that the Facebook group would be spun into an American TV series, the news was met with a flurry of cynical comments by its members.

The private group, with nearly 2 million members, labels itself as “a community that celebrates the similarities and differences within the subtle traits of Asian culture and sub-cultures”.

Some people expressed hopes that a small-screen dramatisation would not “become a negative stereotype for Asian people”, while others were more blunt. “This is gonna be a trainwreck,” read one response.

“All I see in this group are memes about boba tea, corporal punishments, abusive parents, Chinese-only memes, and self-loathing Asians,” said another.

Subtle Asian Traits – modelled on a similarly named Facebook group, Subtle Private School Traits – was created in September 2018 by nine Chinese-Australians, then high school students in Melbourne. The impetus was to share memes and jokes common to the Asian-Australian and immigrant experience. It became a place for young members of the Asian diaspora to feel seen.

The group rapidly swelled internationally, bolstered by media coverage from outlets including the New York Times and the BBC. It spawned a bevy of related Facebook groups, such as Subtle Korean Traits and Subtle Asian Eats, its own subreddit and even in-person meetups.

Today, the content shared isn’t Australia-specific: there are posts about cooking rice, eating hot pot and, yes, drinking bubble tea. Among the jokes about misinformation on WeChat and a surprising number of custom keyboards photos are heartfelt personal stories: tributes to parents and grandparents, and disclosures of successes and failures.

The group’s members include American comedian Hasan Minhaj, who did a Q&A in 2019, and the Canadian actor Simu Liu, star of the sitcom Kim’s Convenience and the upcoming Marvel superhero film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The co-founders of Subtle Asian Traits have now parlayed the group’s success into a scripted TV series. It’s hard to say what a show based on the group might look like. Not much has been revealed about the project other than it being a “college-set narrative” of the same name, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Other online sensations have found mainstream media success. The popularity of Dr Sandra Lee’s disgusting, mesmerising Dr Pimple Popper videos, for example, has led to a TLC reality show of the same name. Zola, a black comedy released in US cinemas last week, was described by Guardian US arts writer Adrian Horton as “a milestone for the virality-to-Hollywood pipeline” – the film’s storyline derives from a viral 2015 Twitter thread.

But lots of eyeballs in one medium doesn’t guarantee something will translate well. For example, a 2010 TV adaptation of the Twitter account @shitmydadsays was cancelled after one season. “After the failure of the show, many of the Twitter feeds that had been bought that pilot season died,” recalled account creator Justin Halpern. “And during the next few years, Twitter-to-TV pilot purchases went away.”

A Subtle Asian Traits–inspired series is fraught not only with the challenge of adapting an internet phenomenon, but also with difficult questions of cultural representation. How do you let a broader audience in on what are essentially in-jokes between a group of people with shared experiences? How do you poke fun at commonalities that, when removed from their cultural context, might reinforce narrow stereotypes (tiger mums, academic overachievers, etc)? Laughing at oneself and being laughed at by others are two very different propositions.

When done well, comedies about the Asian immigrant experience satirise without being reductive – The Family Law and the aforementioned Kim’s Convenience come to mind. But striking a balance between being specifically relatable and broadly appealing is tricky. Eddie Huang, whose memoir Fresh Off the Boat was turned into a sitcom starring Constance Wu and Randall Park, later said he “regret[ted] ever selling the book”.

“Fresh Off the Boat was a very specific narrative about SPECIFIC moments in my life,” Huang wrote. “The network’s approach was to tell a universal, ambiguous, cornstarch story about Asian-Americans.”

Huang’s comments are apposite when considering the context collapse that can occur on social media. Subtle Asian Traits, a group that began as a specific space for young people mainly of the east Asian diaspora, has grown into a behemoth. In an era of increasing diversity on screen, the Facebook group’s members have rightly pointed out the potential for unequal representation.

“If y’all are going to do this, please don’t call it Subtle Asian Traits anymore, call it East Asian Traits,” a person commented on the TV announcement. “We are not even going to see the diversity of Asiatic backgrounds.” (A few years ago, a lack of south Asian representation in the group led to the creation of a spinoff, Subtle Curry Traits.)

“I hope the production will reflect the origins of SAT, which was a haven for Southeast [sic] Asians and the diaspora in Australasia, until the North Americans flooded in and made it all about them,” read another, more tongue-in-cheek, comment.

Justin Ching, one of the writers attached to the TV series, seemed to acknowledge the blowback in a tweet last week. “I know the tribe has questions and concerns,” he wrote.

Criticisms about a lack of representation are valid, but it’s also difficult to expect a single show to be all things to all Asians everywhere. Similar expectations were foisted upon Crazy Rich Asians, a film that had more than 70 speaking roles for Asian actors, and was the first Hollywood film in 25 years with an entirely Asian diaspora cast. (People didn’t feel personally represented by a family of Singapore’s wealthiest property developers? Quelle surprise.)

Personally, I’m interested to see what a TV version of Subtle Asian Traits will look like. It will be a litmus test of the challenges inherent in converting culturally specific online virality into mainstream appeal. Even if it does turn out to be a “trainwreck”, anything that contributes in good faith to on-screen diversity is surely something to be welcomed.

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Bridie Connell: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Comedy

Voice Of EU



Ah, the internet. My reliable friend. I turn to it when I need to smile (cute pet videos), when I need to cry (war veterans being reunited with their kids), and when I need to destroy what’s left of my self-esteem (Instagram). There are plenty of arguments about why life would be better without it, and honestly? It probably would be. But it also wouldn’t be as funny. Here’s a bunch of things from the world wide web that never fail to make me laugh.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than people trying to make the world a better place. Particularly when they make the world better in a way they’d never intended. I can just imagine the conversations that took place in the drafting process for this campaign:

“We need a catchy and educational campaign to tackle the horrors of addiction.”

“Yes, one that shows we’re in this together, as a community.”

“One that doesn’t stereotype addicts.”

“I’ve got it!”

The result is what I believe they call a “swing and a miss.” A+ for effort, though.

If there was an award for best award acceptance speech, this would win. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is brilliantly funny (while accepting an award for being brilliantly funny) and she remains my hero.

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Here’s one for my fellow theatre kids. This pitch perfect sketch is from comedian and writer Jacob Kaplan. Does it make me laugh? Yes. Does it make me tense every single muscle in my body and hold my breath while I try not to think about the time that 14-year-old Bridie wrote a play about the dangers of DRINK-DRIVING and also DRUGS, which inexplicably culminated in a peppy dance routine? … No comment.

Amber Ruffin is one of the most versatile and talented comedians around. I love a lot of what she does, but this song is a special favourite. Hilarious, a little creepy and downright catchy: a winning combo!

This sketch from the late 1990s sketch group Big Train still delights me. Short, sharp, silly. Please and thank you!

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Adrian Bliss, Certified Internet Star™, is a go-to for inventive sketches (and a seemingly endless supply of costumes). Many of his skits feature historical characters, like this one about a Greek soldier inside the Trojan horse. That layer of awkwardness that the Brits do well drives this skit, and now that I’ve seen it I can only hear The Aeneid being read in Bliss’s voice: “I sing of arms and a man, innit.”

Now this, THIS is some relatable content. Don’t pretend you’ve never tied one on and woken up on a golf course/boat/gold lame suit, because I won’t believe you. Perfectly encapsulating the delight of a great night-turned great story, I give you this hungover Scotsman who woke up in the wrong house. Of course, it’s made all the better by the Glaswegian accent.

*Assumes elderly wizard voice* I have been studying and performing improv since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, so the Whose Line crew are some of my longtime heroes. This game is one of my faves, not just because it’s so funny and clever, but because the “mistake” that happens around the 2:20 mark encapsulates the joy and collaboration that good improv is all about. Oh dear, this got more earnest than I intended. Just watch it!

A masterclass in physical comedy, from one of the greats.

Last but not least, here’s a video to save for a day where you need a bit of a pick-me-up. This is my favourite of all “laughing baby” videos, a classic in a crowded genre. And sure, if we’re measuring “funny” by incisive satirical commentary or well crafted punchlines, then this is a fail – but no other video fires up my mirror neurons and makes me laugh as much as this one.

Seriously, if you watch this and don’t feel at least a little bit better, then call a cardiologist because you have NO HEART.

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North Korean ransomware dubbed Maui active since May 2021 • The Register

Voice Of EU



For the past year, state-sponsored hackers operating on behalf of North Korea have been using ransomware called Maui to attack healthcare organizations, US cybersecurity authorities said on Wednesday.

Uncle Sam’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the Treasury Department issued a joint advisory outlining a Pyongyang-orchestrated ransomware campaign that has been underway at least since May, 2021.

The initial access vector – the way these threat actors break into organizations – is not known. Even so, the FBI says it has worked with multiple organizations in the healthcare and public health (HPH) sector infected by Maui ransomware.

“North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors used Maui ransomware in these incidents to encrypt servers responsible for healthcare services – including electronic health records services, diagnostics services, imaging services, and intranet services,” the joint security advisory [PDF] reads. “In some cases, these incidents disrupted the services provided by the targeted HPH Sector organizations for prolonged periods.”

The Feds assume the reason HPH sector organizations have been targeted is that they will pay ransoms rather than risk being locked out of systems, being denied data, or having critical services interrupted.

Maui, according to Silas Cutler, principal reverse engineer at security outfit Stairwell, is one of the lesser known families of ransomware. He says it stands out for its lack of service-oriented tooling, such as an embedded ransom note with recovery instructions. That leads him to believe Maui is operated manually by individuals who specify which files should be encrypted and exfiltrated.

The advisory, based on Stairwell’s research [PDF], indicates that the Maui ransomware is an encryption binary that a remote operator manually executes through command line interaction. The ransomware deploys AES, RSA, and XOR encryption to lock up target files. Thereafter, the victim can expect a ransom payment demand.

According to SonicWall, there were 304.7 million ransomware attacks in 2021, an increase of 151 percent. In healthcare, the percentage increase was 594 percent.

CrowdStrike, another security firm, in its 2022 Global Threat Report said North Korea has shifted its focus to cryptocurrency entities “in an effort to maintain illicit revenue generation during economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.” For example, consider the recent theft of $100 million of cryptocurrency assets from Harmony by the North Korea-based cybercrime group Lazarus. But organizations that typically transact with fiat currencies aren’t off the hook.

Sophos, yet another security firm, said in its State of Ransomware Report 2022 that the average ransom payment last year was $812,360, a 4.8X increase from the 2020 when the average payment was $170,000. The company also said more victims are paying ransoms: 11 percent in 2021 compared to 4 percent in 2020.

The advisory discourages the payment of ransoms. Nonetheless, the FBI is asking any affected organization to share information related to ransomware attacks, such as communication with foreign IP addresses, Bitcoin wallet details, and file samples. The advisory goes on to suggest ways to mitigate ransomware attacks and minimize damage.

Last month, the US Justice Department outlined its Strategic Plan for the next four years and cited enhancing cybersecurity and fighting cybercrime among its objectives. One of its key metrics for success will be the “percent of reported ransomware incidents from which cases are opened, added to existing cases, or resolved or investigative actions are conducted within 72 hours.” ®

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Revolut banks on Stripe tech to expand payments globally

Voice Of EU



Soon to launch in Mexico and Brazil, Revolut joins a long list of Stripe users including N26, Ford and Spotify.

Revolut will now use Stripe’s financial infrastructure platform to power its payments in the UK and Europe.

Stripe’s international reach is also expected to accelerate the global expansion of Revolut, helping it enter and grow in new markets. The UK neobank is soon planning to launch in Mexico and Brazil.

With this latest partnership, Revolut joins a long list of tech companies that have turned to Irish-founded Stripe to power payments, including German neobank N26, Swedish fintech Klarna, US carmaker Ford and streaming giant Spotify.

“Revolut builds seamless solutions for its customers. That means access to quick and easy payments and our collaboration with Stripe facilitates that,” said David Tirado, vice-president of business development at Revolut.

“We share a common vision and are excited to collaborate across multiple areas, from leveraging Stripe’s infrastructure to accelerate our global expansion, to exploring innovative new products for Revolut’s more than 18m customers.”

Founded in 2015, Revolut has become one of Europe’s biggest fintech start-ups. The London-headquartered company now offers payments and bankings services to 18m customers and 500,000 businesses in more than 200 countries and territories.

Last month, the fintech made its debut in the highly competitive buy now, pay later market in Europe, with roll-out starting in Ireland. It also revealed this week that it is moving into in-person payments, launching a card reader for businesses in the UK and Ireland.

“Revolut and Stripe share an ambition to upgrade financial services globally. We’re thrilled to be powering Revolut as it builds, scales and helps people around the world get more from their money,” said Eileen O’Mara, EMEA revenue and growth lead at Stripe.

Even though Revolut has 1.7m customers in Ireland and is rolling out banking services here, the fintech is set to face stiff competition from Synch Payments, a mobile payments app venture from some of Ireland’s pillar banks. Synch recently took another step towards launch by picking a technology partner for its app.

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