Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chan is Missing Response

“I guess I’m not Chinese enough. I can’t accept a mystery without a solution,” comments Jo at the end of the film Chan is Missing (Chan is Missing). Perhaps I am not Chinese enough either, because as the film concluded I found myself extremely frustrated over the fact that 90 minutes later, I still did not know what really happened to Chan. Could it be that Wang purposely does not solve the mystery of the film? Peter Feng writes in “Being Chinese American, Becoming Asian American: Chan is Missing” that “Jo is willing to wait and see what happens next, what kind of film this is ‘becoming’” (Feng 193). By not tying up all the loose ends of the film or neatly concluding Jo’s mystery, Wang suggests to the audience that the Asian American identity is one that is constantly morphing, changing, “becoming.” It cannot be simply created and established, just like Chan cannot easily be located. Both Chan and the Asian American identity are elusive entities, and similar to the complicated and confusing secrets Chan kept from Jo and Steve, establishing what it means to be “Asian American” is surprisingly problematic and convoluted.

The purpose of the film is not to solve the mystery of where Chan went and what he was doing, but instead the film serves as a vehicle to express Wang’s thoughts and opinions on being Chinese American. Although Steve says to Jo, “Fuck the identity shit. That was 10 years ago,” I believe that even in 2007, Asian Americans constantly deal with the crisis of creating and accepting their designated identity (Chan is Missing). Are Asian Americans just like apple pies made from Sun Wah Kuu bakery? Are we American by nature with a surprising Asian twist? Is this the same as chow mein sandwiches? I wonder how individuals can ascertain the best way to assimilate into white American culture without losing their own thousands of years of history and heritage. I don’t think it is easy as pie.

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