Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chan is Missing...in more than one way...

Throughout the movie, Chan Heng is of course, physically missing. However, beyond that obvious fact, an understanding of Chan is missing throughout the movie as well. As stated by Jo near the end of the movie, every person we met throughout the movie had a different perception of Chan, from the Filipino senior center director who knew Chan as the mariachi music loving "Hiho", to Mr. Li, who saw Chan and his Chinese ilk as people who needed to be reeducated in the ways of America like children. Who is to say that those any of those people were wrong or right? Just like how each of those people would see someone different in the metaphorical puddle, they all saw someone different in Chan. The Filipino director told Jo and Steve about the strange musician who said the only person who could find and fix him, was the person he saw in puddles. To look for Chan, Jo and Steve were told to look in their own puddles, indicating subtly that in finding Chan, they would discover something about themselves as well. Like in Honk if You Love Buddha, the journey, or rather the search for Chan was more important than actually finding him, or as is said at the end of the movie, "This story is appropriately Chinese in that what is not there is as significant as what is there." Ultimately, what is found is a diverse picture of Asian Americans, none of which fit well into any Asian American stereotype. All of the people we met in the movie would be called Asian Americans, but none of them fit perfectly into any stereotype concerning Asian Americans, yet they are among the most genuine portrayals of Asian Americans in the media I've seen. Just as we are unable to find any fixed perception of Chan's character, we are also unable to generalize a picture of an Asian American. In the end, each character can only formulate an individual portrayal of Chan, because they are all unique people, unique Asian Americans, themselves. George at the tutor center said that the apple pie made by the Chinese bakery represents a fusion of the good from both Chinese and American cultures, creating a unique result. I'm sure that if we all made apples pies in this way, they would each taste a little bit different too.

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