One aspect of this movie I found the most interesting was the role of females, specifically Stephanie, in terms of her background and her relationship with the other males in the movie. I thought it was an interesting decision by the filmmaker to cast the only Asian American female as being adopted by a white family. It somehow excused her from acting the way the other Asian Americans act in the movie, as they, as Ben says, can get away with anything as long as their grades show otherwise. I felt that her background inherently kept her from getting involved in ways to rebel against the system, as it seemed as if she did not feel the same pressures that the other characters in the movie felt. While all the other male characters in the movie get involved in drugs, cheating, and a “suburban gangster” lifestyle, she remains oblivious to these doings. Her removal from these actions links race to parentage, which raises the issue of the ever-present relationship between child and parent seen in the movie. Although there are no parents present at all, their presence in the movie is overpowering, as it seems to be the impetus behind Ben and his friends’ desires to construct a pristine college application, while at the same time driving them to commit crimes in order to feel a sense of power in their lives.
On a different note, I found the scene in which Han is driving next to actual gangsters while they flash their guns to be very interesting. The fact that it happens right after Derek pulls out a gun at a party serves to emphasize that, as notorious as they are for getting involved in drugs, partying, and having guns, they are still middle-class kids from suburbia. There is obvious tension in the car (except for Virgil) when Han notices the gangsters driving next to them, putting their “gangster” lifestyle into context of the world outside of suburban, gated communities. At the same time, Virgil blinks back tears when he wonders what his dad would do if he found out about Virgil’s actions, further emphasizing that the characters are just high school kids who are indulging in this lifestyle more for fun than for necessity. As Ben says, it isn’t about making money, but is more out of boredom due to living in the suburbs of L.A. Overall, I enjoyed this movie a lot, as it provides a story that takes the “model minority” and spins it around to show a darker side. It draws upon Asian American experience that is more recent and familiar and brings it out into the media.