Monday, April 7, 2008

Mississippi Masala - Response

This movie was unique in that it explored an interracial relationship between an African American man and Indian American woman (by way of Uganda). I thought it was an interesting layer of character to have Meena and her parents originate from Uganda, while most of the African Americans portrayed in the movie are “Americanized” and even admit that they have never been to Africa. With Meena and her parents being of affluent status in Uganda, I thought that their immigrant story was interesting in that they did not leave due to poor economy or to seek a better life for Meena, like many other immigrant stories we have watched. Instead, they are forcibly driven out due to their ethnicity, even with the father emphasizing how strongly he feels for Uganda. However, I thought that the tension between Meena and her parents has been seen many times before in movies about generational gaps, and thought that everyone’s reactions when they discovered that Meena was with a man of another race to be expected. It would have been interesting to have an Indian American character that sympathized with Meena. Much like other people mentioned, I also found Demetrius’s family’s negative reaction to his relationship to Meena a little incongruent, as they were originally welcoming when he first

In thinking about this movie in comparison to Better Luck Tomorrow and Dancing Monkeys, I felt that Meena shared some of the characteristics of the kids in Dancing Monkeys, particularly the fact that she decides to hold off on going to college until her father has more money, as seen in the conversation she has with her father in the Chinese restaurant. This reminded me a little bit about one of the subjects in Dancing Monkeys, who decides to go to a cheaper college because he does not want to burden his mother. On the other hand, the characters in Better Luck Tomorrow really do not have the same concept of money, as they make money off of selling drugs and cheatsheets but don’t really need it. Thus, these three movies go to show that class is a huge factor in shaping the lives of Asian American youth, especially in how having less money intertwines Asian American youth more with their family. In Better Luck Tomorrow, there was indeed an unspoken pressure coming from parents, but the characters were able to escape under the pretense of going to extracurricular activities for their college applications. However, in both Dancing Monkeys and Mississippi Masala, I got a greater sense that the Asian American youth are more tied to their families, as jobs were more of a necessity in terms of helping out the family.

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