Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another view of the Asian American

The two pieces we watched for this week were "weird" to say the least. First, we have a transgendered pop star's pornographic music video in addition to an independent film focused on a Japanese American family scattered with aliens, burning crosses, and cheerleaders.

Further reading informed me that JJ Chinois is actually Lynne Chan, a transgendered woman who uses this persona to convey messages about Asian America. Chan uses the analogy of his transition as a queer individual from the suburbs to New York City with his parents migration to the United states from Hong Kong.

Throughout the video, the parallel clips between JJ Chinois and Bruce Lee often confused and disoriented me. What was Chan trying to convey with these images? Scenes of the female jumping rope seemed almost pornagraphic to me, and the first question the leaped to my mind was, who is the audience of this piece? Does Chan want us to assume the male gaze? However, a better understanding for Chan's alter ego comes from the readings. To know that there is a representation for the spectrum of Asian American male bodies, not just the two extremes, comforts me. However, the fact that it takes a transgendered pop star to make this point, seems a little uneasy to me.

I agree with the idea that Terminal USA was more of a performative piece than a commentary on Asian American families, however, many issues about Asian Americans do arise throughout the movie. For instance, the father gets upset by the fact he is called a chink, when rather he is Japanese. The racial slur does not bother him, rather it seems the confusion of Asian Americans is upsetting to him. There is also the sexualization of the Asian American females. The daughter is a hypersexual cheerleader, submissive to her "lawyer" by performing fellatio. Although the film seemed to engage us visually, it nonetheless provided a satire on the Asian American family, a family who tries to assimilate into the normal American family stereotype. However, it quickly becomes evident that this "perfect American family" mold is nonrealistic and, in actually, dysfunctional.

These pieces are important because they show the diversity of Asian American media. Unfortunately, because of the nature and audiences of these pieces, its message reaches few. How can the images of Asian Americans be changed when the very few are getting the message? Instead, the same Asian American stereotypes are conveyed, restricting us to the "dragon lady" and "Bruce Lee" characters. When is it that we will finally get another view of the Asian American?

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