Friday, February 1, 2008

Chan is Missing

Although I loved watching cute, little, old, and wise Jo interact with everyone in the movie, Chan is Missing, he didn’t seem to play that big of a role displaying Chinese-American identity because he was so mild-spoken. I really liked the character Steve because although he talked like he knew it all, he said a lot of stupid things. I especially liked it when Steve said adamantly, “That’s a bunch of bullshit man. That identity shit, man-that’s old news, man, that happened ten years ago.” Then he goes on to tell a story about a Vietnamese guy who shot at his own people during the war and Steve accidentally almost refers to the Vietnamese as his own people showing how he does still struggle with his identity even after being in America so long. Peter Feng in his book, Screening Asian Americans, also refers to this part and comments that “Steve’s identity begins to evaporate, as if the increasing indeterminacy of Chan’s identity undermines everyone else’s identity”(201). It seems that the movie dissected Chan’s identity so much to the point that it was saying that there is no such thing as identity. Another way I took the situation with Steve is that even though Steve is the “assimilated” Chinese-American putting down Chan for being too Chinese, it seems that Steve is the one with the identity problem and that Chan knows who he is and that is the reason he is not conforming to other people’s expectation. In the scene where Steve makes fun of Chan for being a FOB and his unwillingness to acculturate himself leads to him not being able to understand a joke and we find out later from Jo that the joke was actually on Steve because Chan played up being a FOB to make Steve mad, we get the impression that Steve is the one being ignorant and unaware of himself. I think that even Wayne Wang, the director of the film, could’ve been saying that Chan knew his identity when he has Presco in the movie say, “look in the puddle to answer your question.” Was he saying that if Jo and Steve knew themselves like Chan knew himself they would understand Chan’s motives?

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