Thursday, February 7, 2008

We have Wonton backwards....Not Now!!

I just really like that line.

'Chan is Missing' is described as an iconic film and America's first 'Asian American' feature film. I think it works well to portray Asian America for a variety of reasons. I think a significant reason is that fact that it almost entirely takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown. Chinatowns along with various other (--insert asian ethnicity--)towns are the epicenters of Asian American culture. They are concentrated areas of imported Asian culture, where significant amount of people are exposed to a wide array of sensory experiences of 'authentic' asian culture. 'Chan is Missing' serves as a portrayal of Chinatown, from a sort of behind the scenes look. It seeks to give viewers an inside look into the people, politics, and problems, surrounding this Chinatown and especially the people living in the bubble. In trying to accomplish this feat, Wayne Wang is also simultaneously trying to unravel the Asian American identity, by putting the protagonist on a quest to find out who Chan is.

Another interesting choice Wayne Wang made, was to exclude the subtitles in the film, when the actors were speaking in various languages. It is hard to say why exactly he made this choice, since according to speakers in our class, the dialogue that is spoken in a different language, is by no means unnecessary, but would have actually added to the film watching experience. Whether it was an added inside bonus to those who could understand or a comment on language abilities as part of identity, will remain a mystery.......sigh.

One other part of the movie that bothered me, was when the man who was discussing the Chinese apple pie was saying that a model Asian American, should combine the best part of Chinese culture with the best part of American culture to create a new mix, much like the apple pie made with the best Chinese baking techniques. I thought this was problematic, because who goes to say which parts of a culture are better or not. I think this certainly has to do with assimilation and when he says best, he really means, better for assimilating as an American with Western ideals. I think this is very valid, since it is probably how a lot of immigrants think, but I don't think it is always the best way to see things. If this idea is taken too seriously, then a person will end up losing many aspects of his/her culture, that didn't need to be left behind. And one aspect of culture may be more important to one person, while another aspect to someone else.

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