Monthly Archives: July 2011

I blogged once about sacrificing a day of your salary in order to relocate it elsewhere for the necessity of another person. I also blogged once about the amazing potential in the community of gamers — especially those that play World of Warcraft. Now I think I’ve dreamed up the beginnings of an entrepreneurial endeavor, one that I hope will be developed by someone.

There has been a ridiculous outcry over the new Netflix subscription plans. The plans go into effect for new subscriptions, but current subscribers will have until September 1 to change to one of the following plans (they are sold separately):

  • $7.99/$11.99 for 1 physical DVD rental per month/2 physical DVD rentals per month
  • $7.99 for unlimited online streaming

Netflix is expecting a decrease in revenue this quarter as they are keenly aware that many of their subscribers are upset over the price hike. Previously, Netflix raised their subscription from $7.99 to $9.99 in November 2010, but they included DVD rentals along with their unlimited online streaming service.

This is what I am thinking. Why don’t consumer subscription-based services, whether built-in and non-negotiable or by user preference, charge an additional $.50 or $1.00? Use that surplus and reallocate it into a non-profit or fund a research program. With “24 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S. alone,” we would be seeing between $12 million and $24 million go into non-profits or research programs a month — and this is only in the United States (Huffington Post).

People are upset over an increase in prices per month, but I am venturing a guess that $.50-$1.00 is a fee that many American Netflix subscribers could incur and still live within their financial limits. We should begin to see that we can start cutting off a little from the bottom line of our pockets, that we don’t need all of the money we are saving up. This is the collective financial power of a monthly subscription.

Let’s take a look at another popular subscription service: World of Warcraft. This massive online entertainment platform has been taking gamers captive since November 2004 with the number of subscriptions seeming to have plateaued at about 12 million in December 2008 (Kotaku). Subscription plans for World of Warcraft come in three fashions (with a separate non-contract option):

  • $14.99 for a month-to-month subscription
  • $13.99 for a 3-month commitment
  • $12.99 for a 6-month commitment
  • $29.99 for a 2-month game card

Now, I must admit that these numbers aren’t quite as staggering as Netflix’s consumer base. In fact, for some odd reason, I was expecting World of Warcraft to possess the larger consumer base, knowing that the game carries a global appeal. Nonetheless, WoW gamers pay either $15, $40, $80, or $30 any given month in order to access this service. At a minimum and with a $.50 or $1.00 surcharge, World of Warcraft would be able to reallocate $12 million to $24 million to non-profits or research programs a year. If all 12 million subscribers paid monthly, resources would amount up to $6 million to $12 million a month, accumulating in $72 million to $144 million a year.

Besides Netflix and World of Warcraft, there are scores of other monthly subscriptions. People have memberships and subscriptions to gyms and clubs, magazines, internet service providers, cell phone providers, and other video games (I hesitate to include subscriptions to pornography solely for the dilemma as to whether people should be subscribing to pornographic content). If each of these monthly subscriptions followed suit and charged subscribers an extra $.50 or $1.00, I’m sure we’d crawl closer to seeing nearly billions of dollars going into humanitarian projects and research a month.

So what is the next step? How can we make this idea a reality? I plan to do some more research to learn whether this idea (or a similar one) has been attempted in the past. If a movement already exists, I plan to join that movement. If one does not exist, we should start to bring this idea out into popular thought. I encourage those interested to do the same and to collaborate with me and others.

Monthly subscribers can change the world.

Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, an unquestionably racist portrayal of Japanese-Americans

I think what I’m trying to say is that I love to celebrate cultural and ethnic identity, but I know that discriminating or holding a prejudice based on cultural and ethnic identity is racism.

However, my greatest dilemma in this is whether I contribute to racism. Let’s explore 3 cases.

  1. An acquaintance once asked me, when we first met, whether I liked Chinese food. She was obviously implying that I like Chinese food because I’m Chinese. This was offensive to me, but I told her, “Yes, I like Chinese food, but I’m actually Lao. Do you know where Laos is?” Of course, she had no idea — probably because she thought all Asians were Chinese.
  2. A friend once asked me whether he was correctly dancing to an Asian song. He proceeded to weave his arms upward. I don’t have much knowledge about how Asians dance (except that we fricking kill on ABDC and that us Lao can fawn like no other) ((Fawn is a traditional style of Lao dance.)) but I could tell that my friend was not interested in learning whether he was actually dancing correctly; he simply felt like doing something that felt Asian. This was offensive to me and I said, “I don’t know. I’m not Chinese.”
  3. I started trying to speak in an Asian accent. My sister is really good at it, and so I ask her to help me practice. I know a lot of Lao people that carry the accent that I try to mimic. I use the accent because I think it’s funny, but I know that all Asians don’t speak like that. Further, that accent isn’t what makes an Asian person Asian. You will not assimilate into our culture if you start speaking in a broken and drawn-out accent.

I don’t think that I directly contribute to racism, although I probably contribute indirectly. If I saw someone who wasn’t Asian speaking in a mock-Asian accent, I would be ticked — even if that person were honestly learning about Asian cultures. That is my dilemma: Why do I feel like it’s okay for me to feign an accent, but I feel like beating up non-Asians that feign the accent? Am I contributing to racism? Is it wrong or racist that I really do think Asian babies tend to be cuter? Where is the line separating a celebration of culture and a discrimination based on culture? Can only people of the same group poke fun at their group? What are your thoughts?

Image from Cult and Paste

“I am sitting in a service at my home church in Missouri. During an announcement for a new outreach to international students, a non-Asian woman dresssed in a kimono (traditional Japanese dress) stepped up to the mike [sic]. She was an elder’s wife. She feigned an accent, in which she spoke in halting English. The congregation roared with laughter. There were two Asians in church that day. One was me. The other was my unchurched friend. He turned to me and said, “This is bullsh__.” He got up, turned around (we were sitting in the front row) and walked past the crowd of 800 laughing and guffawing faces.

“To my knowledge, he has never stpped into a church again. When he (and I) walked out, it stirred a controversy. Some were concerned that the way we walked out was too militant and not a new testament model of reconciliation. Some were concerned that we were hurt, and needed inner healing. Some were concerned that we didn’t get the joke, and did not understand that no harm was intended. Not once was the elder’s wife held accountable. The problem, it seemed, was us. Thicker skin, an improved sense of humor, inner healing, less outrage, and a less serious disposition seemed to be the order of the day.”

Cited from The Next Evangelicalism bySoong-Chan Rah, from a comment to “A Public Apology to Our Asian American Brothers and Sisters