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Growing up in China, The Ballard of Mulan (木兰辞) is a poem that everyone would learn and recite in my middle school. The legendary story of Hua Mulan is so popular that I’ve heard many different types of adaptations.

What really impressed me was Disney’s 1998 animated film, Mulan. I’ve seen lots of Asia-themed western films as a child. Most of them were plagued by orientalism and cultural appropriation. They simply put on some exotic dragons and stereotypical kung-fu stunts to fool the audience with a poorly-concocted Asian world. But Mulan was not one of them.

I’m sure there were still some historical and cultural inaccuracies I could be critical of in that movie. But it was the depiction of how gender roles were constructed in ancient China made it really stand out. With a consistent connection with its culture, Mulan’s queer and feminist message was very inspiring to me all through that movie. …

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, social distancing has become one of the main strategies that public health experts recommend in order to contain the disease.

However, at the beginning of the outbreak, it was very concerning that spring breakers ignored the public health advice and congregated on the Florida beach. While the confirmed cases in the US continue to surge, it’s still constantly reported that people failed to comply with the social distancing guidelines and gathered in the parks, even in the epicenter of the outbreak, New York City.

This made me think about why people fail to follow the guideline to stay 6-feet apart. Are there any public health guidelines that socially influence people’s behaviors? How can design help with the current situation? …

As you might have read on the news, a novel coronavirus outbreak is currently hitting China, causing more than 34,000 people infected all across the nation, as of February 8th. In order to contain the disease, cities are locked down. Hotels, restaurants, parks, shopping malls are mostly closed. People are advised to stay at home and are even faced with restricted access to public areas.

As the end of the lunar new year holiday drew near, companies were in fear that asking their employees to go back to work would only worsen the pandemic.

Thankfully, online technology came to mitigate the situation. Although it was not a common practice in China, companies started to allow their employees to work remotely with virtual meetings and online messaging apps. From February 3rd, thousands of businesses started to explore ways to stay operational in a virtual world. …

On August 19th, Disney’s latest live-action remake, the Lion King, hit the theater in the United States. Since the original 1994 film is one of the most influential animated films that Disney has ever produced, no wonder this new live-action reimagination grossed $191.8 million over its opening weekend.

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Although the photorealistic African safari generated by CGI might bring nostalgia to the audience who grew up with this iconic film, it has trouble satisfying film critics. …

On December 28th, Netflix released its first interactive film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. It sounds groundbreaking and ambitious since this is the first online streaming service which makes attempt to utilize the advantage of a web-based medium to produce an interactive experience. Although they did something a live TV program can never do, does it fully exploit the interactivity digital media has? Is it truly a revolutionary new genre which can define the next generation of entertainment?

My answer is: NO. It’s a good attempt but they could have done it better.

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History of Interactive Narrative

In order to explain it, I think we should step back to look at the history of interactive narrative. …

This Friday, China’s biggest social media & instant messaging app, WeChat, released its 7.0.0 version for IOS users. It is said to be the biggest update WeChat has ever made this year. It completely changed the visual style of the user interface, added a new entrance to view the photos users posted throughout the year, and created a new way to find the articles that your friends recommend.

What really draws my attention is WeChat’s big leap to incorporate short video stories. …


Ricky Yu

I write about media, culture, and technology

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