Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chan Is Missing

While this film can be construed more of as a drama than Renee Tajima-Pena's documentary from last week, both movies provided support for the arguments that there is not a lone category in which all Asian-Americans belong. I found it interesting that the movie was able to achieve this, despite having the whole movie set in Chinatown. In a way it helped add another dimension on what we saw from last week, because there is no regional influence to lean on this time. At first I was confused and disappointed with the ending because there was no final climactic scene that tied everything together and solved the mystery. However, I then began to understand that by ending the film in that manner, it forced the viewer to think about the movie and characters as a whole. It could have followed the formulaic plot line of a mystery with all the twists and turns, and then it could have unveiled the reasoning behind all the convoluted stories at the end. If this was the case, it would have negated a lot of its social commentary. By learning all the different perspectives on the character Chan Hung, we catch a glimpse of the different ways all the characters have evolved being an Asian living in America. Almost all the characters give off the vibe of feeling that they will always have the burden of being a foreigner. I agreed with Feng's analysis of the scene involving Steve with Jenny and her friend. Most people can probably relate to having Steve's problem of such a malleable personality in the search for an appropriate identity.

In conjunction with the readings, the film exemplifies the desire not to be typecast into one stereotypical image, but also shows the longing to belong. The chapter in Feng's book highlighted the conflict seen in the Asian-American community (as opposed to the African-American community), which arises from all the different cultural backgrounds. I found this interesting because I have never thought about how this impacted the label Asian-American. This was noted in class when the point was made that the Japanese will refer to everyone else as Asian, but not themselves. I thought the story on the Filipino nurses in Screaming Monkeys related to the fear some people have of being clumped together in the census group 'Asian-American'. While the reading did not continue into this discussion, Asian-Americans feel bitter about always being called "Chinese" and want to be recognized as separate. This definitely applies when an Asian American is associated with criminal activity. Rather than banding together, I think this leads to a need to distance one's self from the Asian-American community (especially if your specific ethnicity was not responsible).

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