Hello From Wee-Boon Tang

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RyderFlynn

RyderFlynn

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Who's "Wee-Boon", you ask? Why, that's my real name! :LOL: First name, Wee-Boon; last name, Tang. I'll be changing my username come November 5th since it feels weird that everyone's using what seems to be their real names (or at least realistic and normal names) while I'm using what's clearly a nickname. Anyway, with that out of the way...

Heya, what's up, IndyFor. I'm a 30 year old Singaporean Chinese with an avid interest in storytelling, movies, animé and (recently) American TV shows. Ever since I was a kid, I grew up on American media, so you could say that I've been somewhat influenced by its culture and general attitude, even having used its slangs frequently (much to my classmates' annoyance).

It was kinda weird, living in a country once colonized by the British but growing up on American media and its brand of English. It granted me certain false ideals about America - I always envied American summer vacations as a kid, three months of consecutive school holiday whereas our school breaks were broken up into four separate months. I remember wanting to move to America so bad because it's famously known as the "Land of the Free", and with a country as self-serious and stringent as Singapore where individualism isn't as celebrated, a kid would really envy that freedom. I'm certainly not the most patriotic Singaporean if you get the gist. It doesn't help that Singapore is really big on that "collectivism," and I would grow up as this rebellious kid who didn't really care much for what my "fellow citizens" really thought about our "proud nation" or whatever. Still am that rebellious kid, in fact. I'm not a very good Asian or Singaporean; not really big on family values or any of those Asian traditions.

I wouldn't say I regretted having my values that skewed from the norm though; American media has certainly granted me some of my most fun years throughout my childhood. It gifted me with my love of storytelling, something I'll always be grateful for. Storytelling in Singapore is petty, and our local movies are sometimes tainted with nationalism propaganda celebrating how great our country is. That's not the kind of stories I'm interested in. Instead, I was brought to fantastical worlds with so many possibilities in the realm of American sci-fi blockbuster movies. In spite of being a little before my time, the Terminator and Alien movies were very much a significant part of my childhood, alongside many other mainstream blockbusters like Back to the Future, Predator, Ghostbusters; all the stuff that made up the '80s geek culture zeitgeist. The only exception to this is that I wouldn't encounter Star Wars movies until a little later in my life.

I remember that as a kid, I would play pretend with the neighborhood kids, acting out scenes from our favorite movies or animé airing at the time. Digimon and Pokémon were popular (I was always in the former crowd). I also remember Cardcaptor Sakura, Dragon Ball, and Detective Conan; those were my first encounters with animé, but man, I didn't know how much of an influence that medium would have on me 'till more than a decade later. It was in college when my classmates started watching animé in class that I really got into it, watching many of the classic titles ever existed, from Evangelion to Ghost in the Shell to Cowboy Bebop to Death Note to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I've seen them all, and there was a time when I even thought that there was nothing left to watch, or at least no worthy titles worth spending time on.

I think even before encountering animé, I've always been more interested in animated stories than live action ones. Before technology became advanced enough in filmmaking, there was just so much more you could with drawings. The worlds you could create would be beyond anything you could ever imagine and certainly beyond anything the technology at the time could replicate. Aside from the traditional cartoons I grew up as a kid, Pixar movies were a big deal for me as a kid because they represented the kind of "entertaining art" that I would love, combining the best of both worlds in entertaining the audience while offering a didactic tale reflecting the values of society and humanity. I was amazed by what storytelling could do, how you could capture the imagination of mankind and imbue these ideas and perspectives onto them. Stories were magical for me and would play a large part in my life. I guess it made sense why I was so interested in exploring "possibilities" beyond the mundane, but truth be told, I was more interested in escapism and numbing myself with fictional worlds than face the horrors of reality I grew up with.

It's hard to talk about myself without touching on that bad part of my childhood. Much of it has come to define me as a person, the social awkwardness, the insecurities, the misanthropy, the cynicism. It's kinda surprising, perhaps, to find a twisted soul in a person who has a Spider-Man avatar and a profile banner, but if you really want to get to know the real me, there's a lot of baggage that comes with it. I don't have the privilege of stating in my introduction thread I graduated with honors, or that I've had a fulfilling career doing what I love. There's none of that, and so, the only "interesting" part of my life is my trauma as a kid. I didn't practice the guitar, I didn't have any interesting hobbies other than watching movies or television. I wrote some fan fiction back then, but very few of them ever saw completion because I was constantly insecure about what I had written.

I guess if we are going to talk about my accomplishments, there's my graduation from the Singapore Media Academy for scriptwriting, but even that class was kinda a joke. We practiced very basic techniques of scriptwriting that I could have picked up anywhere on YouTube these days. Even SkillShare would have offered me more insight for a cheaper price. I also studied video effects back in college, but that class was a hodgepodge of different lessons; Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, Audition. We learned them all, or at least the very basic principles of them. It wasn't a particularly helpful class.

So yeah, I'm not really proud of my accomplishments nor am I all that interested in them. I would much rather talk about fiction or some movie or animé than my life because the truth is, my life is split between the angsts of my childhood that you probably wouldn't really care to read about and the boring insignificance of my adulthood. So instead, let's talk about Spider-Man.

Spider-Man and similarly optimistic heroes like him have an interesting relationship with me. It's pretty clear that I'm a jaded individual still bitter over my childhood, so why would such a deterministic individual be my hero growing up? But I guess it's that perseverance I admired, that immortal desire to never give up in the face of impossible odds. I guess he showed me whom I never could be, and I placed him on some pedestal of godhood as the ideal person I really admired. Then came along Captain America in the MCU and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and he would become my second hero. I guess on some level, I could relate more to Tony Stark than I would towards Steve Rogers, but Tony not only represented that ugly self-centered nature inside me that I loathe, but also the kind of arrogant bullies that I had to tolerate growing up. Much like Steve, I don't like bullies, but somewhere along the line, I got influenced into becoming one.

Like I said, it's hard to talk about my life without treading on angst.

I remember writing this fanfic as a kid, probably the longest fanfic I've ever worked on over the course of decades. It's called "The Escapist", and it probably resonates more with my personal values than anything else. It's about this troubled kid living alone who was gifted with this awesome piece of technology with the titular name. It not only allows you to interact with existing fictional worlds as you see fit, but also manipulate them like a storyteller. Or rather, I guess, like a god. Such desire to escape into fictional worlds represented much of my childhood. It was a pretty pessimistic tale in the beginning filled with controversial content I don't think you'd feel comfortable reading about, but over the years, much like myself, I guess the idea became more optimistic. Instead of being this kid with a grudge against the world, it was more about the magic of storytelling and how it influenced him to be a better person.

I guess I wanted to believe that when I grew older, that storytelling is this wonderful tool that could shape your perspectives and mold your personality. I guess that is why, whenever I review something, I'm more interested in the themes it has to present, in the ideas it has about life. Some of my favorite movies in life contain quotes that influenced my perspective on life, whether it's Toy Story 2 or Spider-Man 2. I'm particularly proud of my review of the former where I talked about its themes on the cruelty of time and how relationships would corrode away. Some of my favorite quotes from the film:

Stinky Pete: "How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy's growing up, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Jessie: "You never forget kids like Emily or Andy. But they forget you."

Woody: "I have no choice, Buzz. This is my only chance!"
Buzz: "To do what Woody? Watch kids from behind glass and never be loved again? Some life."

Woody: "You're right, Prospector. I can't stop Andy from growing up - but I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"You went to go see a comedy about toys. You ended up halfway through flashing back to sitting at your grandma's bedside as she passed away."
Drew Magary, on Toy Story 2


I've talked about how big of an influence Pixar has on me, but I don't think I could overstate just how much of that impact was. It wasn't just a game-changer for 3-D animation; it was a game-changer for animation, period. I've talked a lot in my reviews about how animé can touch on mature subjects that ordinary American cartoons wouldn't. It's a curious thing that, when I researched this, I was informed that the Japanese have considered animation a medium for younger audiences in the past, and that didn't really change until maybe the '70s or '80s. For America, such a change would seem to be more gradual, with Pixar being one of the first pioneers to really bring that mature storytelling to the mainstream market (rather than consumed by in a small amount of audiences like Watership Down). It's movies like those made by Pixar that really showed me that you could do a lot more with storytelling than just amuse a crowd of people for two hours. The didacticism of it all is powerful and inspiring. It inspired me to sign up for that scriptwriting class and aspire to be one of the storytellers in the field.

However, the film industry in Singapore is small and uninspired, so I didn't really have many opportunities to really get into the game. Over time, I guess that spark went out, and I was satisfied settling for something less like reviewing movies and TV shows on my free time. I don't think a lack of ambition is necessarily a bad thing though. An artwork is wasted if there's no one to appreciate it.

To end this post, I'll leave you with another inspiring quote from Spider-Man 2 that also had a significant influence on my life and my perspectives about the heroes in fiction that keep us believing in hope and humanity. I think you know which quote.

"Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they'll tell how they stood for hours in the cold rain just to catch a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer. I believe there's a hero in all of us who keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams."
 
JGaulard

JGaulard

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This is the most interesting, outstanding, inspiring introduction (or bio) I've ever read in my life. I can't overstate how excellent it really is. I am so impressed. At first, I was going to tell you how I enjoyed reading about the differences between cultures in America and Singapore; individualism and collectivism, but as I continued reading, I found your discussion of your childhood beyond compare. I feel like your childhood and what you went through developed you into an insanely compelling and captivating person. Your writing is remarkable. Whatever you experienced must have planted the seeds of who you are today and I'm not sure anyone can deny your talent. Nobody in the world could write a bio like this. This one is unique and special. You put a lot of thought into it and it shows. I am proud to have you writing on this website. I've already shown friends and some family members a few of your posts. They've all been impressed. And now to know just a bit more about what goes on inside your head makes your writing even more valuable. How you were able to put these thoughts together in such a coherent and well crafted way so fast is beyond me. Thank you for sharing. Nice job my friend!
 
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RyderFlynn

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JGaulard said:
This is the most interesting, outstanding, inspiring introduction (or bio) I've ever read in my life. I can't overstate how excellent it really is. I am so impressed. At first, I was going to tell you how I enjoyed reading about the differences between cultures in America and Singapore; individualism and collectivism, but as I continued reading, I found your discussion of your childhood beyond compare. I feel like your childhood and what you went through developed you into an insanely compelling and captivating person. Your writing is remarkable. Whatever you experienced must have planted the seeds of who you are today and I'm not sure anyone can deny your talent. Nobody in the world could write a bio like this. This one is unique and special. You put a lot of thought into it and it shows. I am proud to have you writing on this website. I've already shown friends and some family members a few of your posts. They've all been impressed. And now to know just a bit more about what goes on inside your head makes your writing even more valuable. How you were able to put these thoughts together in such a coherent and well crafted way so fast is beyond me. Thank you for sharing. Nice job my friend!

Thanks, JGaulard. I really appreciate that response.

I hope you won't take offense to this, but I've always been a bit doubtful whenever people shower me with praises because I'm doubtful of my own talent and eloquence. I can't tell you how many times I've made the mistake of making a foolish remark due to my poor choice of words; I even had "Socially Awkward" as my custom title over at Buffy-Boards because I know that I'm not the best at expressing myself accurately and fluently.

But with that being said, I really appreciate what you've said. It means a lot for someone to acknowledge what I've said, considering how most of my reviews (if not all) have been ignored over at Buffy-Boards. They're nice people, but that specter of insecurity would come haunting me occasionally whenever I put up something I wrote online, especially a review I've put in time and effort to work on (and even rewrite). There were times when I wondered if I should just put up a brief review of two or three sentences and just call it a day, spend my time doing something more meaningful. And that's why it's great to know someone like you and your friends are reading them! :D That means a lot, truly.

Ideally, I'd like to think that my childhood has strengthened me as a person (as opposed to hardening me). Ideally, I think a lot of people would want that. But I think it's important for us to acknowledge the realism of life and how sometimes, an ugly childhood is just what it is rather than prettying it up and call it something else. It's nice to move on from that childhood, no doubt, but I think that, even the ugliness of my past has come to define me in a distinct way as part of my identity today. I think that a lot of the ugliness in this world isn't necessarily something one could overcome and "recover" from, and perhaps, maybe such recuperation isn't necessary. It might feel pretentious or mawkish, but I've always liked that quote from the anime, Kino's Journey: "The world is not beautiful, therefore it is." We don't necessarily need to be defined by our past, but there's also beauty to be found in my cynicism that was born out of it, I feel.

I think my past writing was a lot more inconsistent and incoherent, especially those from two decades ago when I just discovered Internet forums for the first time. But I guess all those years of writing out my thoughts paid off, and I had subconsciously improved my writing through this long period of practice. :LOL: Honestly though, I think it's the many video essays on YouTube I've watched that helped me articulate my thoughts more efficiently. The way I write out my posts, they are written out as if I'm speaking those words, so those videos doing the same thing (speaking to a camera about a certain topic they want to express), they've definitely helped me familiarize with how a subject matter could be expressed in a compelling way, containing elements of a hook at the beginning, details in the middle, and some form of closing remarks at the end. Admittedly, this works much better in video form (as I've been told), but I like this structure and how it has helped me channel my thoughts in a clear and engaging way. :)

Thanks again for the kind words. I'll be sure to keep it up and bring you even more excellent content in the future! I actually have an upcoming review of the '90s anime, Revolutionary Girl Utena, that I've been looking forward to. It's a feminist story that deals with misogyny and false narratives against female sexuality constructed by the patriarchy, and with the show airing in the '90s alongside another popular feminist series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you can bet that there's a lot I want to talk about, so be sure to look forward to that. :)
 
JGaulard

JGaulard

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RyderFlynn said:
Ideally, I'd like to think that my childhood has strengthened me as a person (as opposed to hardening me). Ideally, I think a lot of people would want that. But I think it's important for us to acknowledge the realism of life and how sometimes, an ugly childhood is just what it is rather than prettying it up and call it something else. It's nice to move on from that childhood, no doubt, but I think that, even the ugliness of my past has come to define me in a distinct way as part of my identity today. I think that a lot of the ugliness in this world isn't necessarily something one could overcome and "recover" from, and perhaps, maybe such recuperation isn't necessary. It might feel pretentious or mawkish, but I've always liked that quote from the anime, Kino's Journey: "The world is not beautiful, therefore it is." We don't necessarily need to be defined by our past, but there's also beauty to be found in my cynicism that was born out of it, I feel.
Great response. The paragraph I quoted above strikes a chord. I like the comparison between strengthening and hardening. Also, I find a lot of truth in the fact that experiences don't need to prettied up and thought of as something else. Things happened. Like you said, why do we feel as though we need to deny them? Or view them as something they weren't? Human nature, I guess.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever written or thought about writing a story about yourself? Perhaps just a sliver of your childhood. Maybe just one random day. I know you've got the talent to articulate what must have swirled through your mind at that time. Not many people do. Personally, I know nothing of what it's like to grow up in Singapore and to read the perspective of say, a seven year old or a 12 year old boy, would be fascinating. What was it like merely going out to the store with a parent? How did you feel looking at all those strangers? What was it like watching TV and seeing the rest of the world? What were your desires? How did you compare your own life with what you saw on TV? Or in the movies? What made your childhood ugly? I could go on, but I'll stop there. I just think that a story about how, as you put it, the ugliness of your past came to define you, would be fascinating. To get a glimpse into the mind of such a talented writer - now there's a movie in itself.

And by the way, I completely understand your feelings of those who seemingly ignore the effort that's put into writing. As you surely already know, most people don't put a lot of hard work into doing things themselves and when it comes time to appreciate the work of others, well, let's just say it's not a common phenomenon. I've written stories where I've poured my heart out to a dead audience. Oh, they were very much alive, but as I waited for all those "oohs" and "aahs," I discovered that people didn't pay attention to a lot that I paid attention to. I suppose that's the way it is. The bright side of that is that all it takes is a few good people to notice talent. That's often good enough for many.

Oh, and I can also empathize with making poor choices of words. I think that's my middle name. Jay "Poor Choice" Gaulard. I'm thankful for the Edit button sometimes.

Great reply and keep up the good work!
 
RyderFlynn

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  • #5
JGaulard said:
Let me ask you something. Have you ever written or thought about writing a story about yourself? Perhaps just a sliver of your childhood. Maybe just one random day. I know you've got the talent to articulate what must have swirled through your mind at that time. Not many people do. Personally, I know nothing of what it's like to grow up in Singapore and to read the perspective of say, a seven year old or a 12 year old boy, would be fascinating. What was it like merely going out to the store with a parent? How did you feel looking at all those strangers? What was it like watching TV and seeing the rest of the world? What were your desires? How did you compare your own life with what you saw on TV? Or in the movies? What made your childhood ugly? I could go on, but I'll stop there. I just think that a story about how, as you put it, the ugliness of your past came to define you, would be fascinating. To get a glimpse into the mind of such a talented writer - now there's a movie in itself.
I wouldn't really have much confidence in such a story.

Here's the thing: I've had a lot of practice writing articles, reviews and blog entries. The act of conveying information in an engaging way is a different ballgame than turning said information into a compelling narrative. It's like a journalist taking up the job of writing a movie. I haven't really written anything close to a narrative fiction for a very long time, so I don't think I would be able to produce any story that won't feel like a joyless tirade whining about my past. And I don't usually like to put in effort for activities that I know I would struggle at. I know that it takes practice to improve your writing, but time is needed for such practice, and right now, rather than waste my time trying to hone my writing to churn out a mediocre story, I would much rather be doing what I do best: reviewing greater stories than mine.

That being said, I wouldn't mind writing an article some time to reflect on my post. The truth is, I had to rewrite the opening post a few times because I did end up writing about my childhood, but it came off as self-loathing and relentlessly embittered. I just wasn't sure if I want to open myself up to that kind of scrutiny through such a negative point of view because I could easily be accused of wallowing in my own misery and self-pity. It doesn't make for very pleasant reading. Whenever I reflect on my past, I have a tendency to look at the worst parts of it, and it all gets excessively grim and melodramatic, like I have the biggest chip on my shoulder since Atlas the Greek Titan.

So if I do happen to write such an article some day - and I just might, depending on my mood - I'll have to be very cautious with how I present it. There's a lot of interesting cultural aspects that I could share about Singaporean students and their struggles in the '90s, how teachers were complicit in bullying the students as well, how corporal punishment was legal, etc. But whenever I touch on that fabric of my past, all the resentment I had comes bubbling up very easily. Doesn't help that I too was no innocent and had been almost arrested for shoplifting before... among other stuff. Like I said, there's a lot of baggage there, and it's not gonna be easy to unwrap it in a tactful way. Some parts of my past are also way too personal for me to share, but they are no less significant in defining my insecurities.

I guess when I think about it that way, there is a lot of material I could use to write an autobiography even, albeit not a very well-written one. I don't know, maybe I'll share. Someday.
 
JGaulard

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I completely understand. What a challenge that would be. I think you offer a perspective that not many people have seen or experienced, so that's why I suggested it. It totally depends on your mood though, like you said.

I also wanted to put something else out there. I set up a Writing Forum a while back. If you ever had the inclination to write about writing, please feel free. You've obviously got the creativity, motivation, and fluidity down, so if you wanted to pass on some of your knowledge, the invite is there. Every writer has a different style and format, so it would be interesting to read about how you move through your process. Just an idea.

https://indyfor.com/forums/13/
 
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