Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Issue of Race in Terminal USA

I found Terminal USA very bizarre yet fascinating, although I didn't necessarily understand many things. I wanted to point out the fact that the family does not talk about race unless there is an external force--for example, the father bringing home from work a note with racial slurs on them--that initiates the conversation about the ethnicity of the family. Although there are stereotypical Asian images throughout the movie, like the Asian female in porn and the computer nerd, the issue of race gets buried underneath other non-race specific problems such as drugs and sex , two issues that appear on typical nuclear family sitcoms. Terminal USA, however, takes the issue of drugs and sex to an extreme, releasing all the repressed feelings out of many characters. For example, the repressed homosexuality of Marvin, sex-addiction of Holly, frustration of the father over his ailing father-in-law all come to full manifestation by the end of the movie. The other two members of the family, Kazumi and Ma do not express their frustrations as much because they are constantly in and out of drugs. The issues of typical nuclear families are vastly exaggerated for the effect of emphasis in the movie, and I wonder if this falls under the category of the "exploitation film." 

The strangest part of the film is when Fagtoast, who is wearing priest-like garment, comes into kill Kazumi and Eightball and then starts praying (?). He says, "the pleasure must stop! the pleasure must stop!" Is he repressing his desire to kill? I didn't really understand that part at all (as well as the black liquid that Kazumi drinks then spits out).

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