Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mississippi Masala

The film for this week explored interracial marriage in conjunction with the common, reoccurring theme of the difficulty in growing up as a minority in America and striking a balance between being American and Asian. I did not find too many parallels between Mississippi Masala and the previous two films watched last week. I think that is mainly because Mississippi Masala primarily focused on relationships, while the other two were centered around academics and the model minority status. There was no reference to Mena’s work ethnic or intelligence. All we really get from the film is that she is 24 and seems to be unemployed. However, all three films portray America as a world where everything ultimately comes down to the color of one’s skin. Mena’s father explains this attitude to his daughter in one of his talks with her. The idea of being boxed in to a specific set of stereotypes and being locked into a specific place on the social chain because of racial background links all three movies. This is not simply a one street though from white to the minority groups, however. Mississippi Masala showed the Indian community being obsessed with characterizing Americans as people who are greedy and live in a country where everyone sues one another. Also, while only implied in Better Luck Tomorrow, the theme of a large generation gap between Asian American immigrants and their children comes out in the films. Monkey Dance and Mississippi Masala have the idea Mena's line, "This is America mom...(no one cares)", consistently placed throughout.

I agree with Grace that the film can come off as a little too nice. However, I feel that this could also be due to the lack of a white presence in the film. This may be the primary reason why the black community is not illustrated with typical problems blacks from Mississippi normally encountered in the South. Nevertheless, some other elements of racism unique to the South could have been incorporated to make the film more believable.

In response Han, who questioned the idea of a common bond between all colored people, I think the answer is yes and no. I do not think the majority of Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, etc have the mindset of “All of us people of color must stick together”. All minorities probably recognize they have shared experiences by living in a place dominated by whites. However, I feel that the various cultural values and means of assimilation separate various races/ethnicities across far too wide of a spectrum for any deeper bond to be felt. The fact that it is not unusual for there to be little solidarity between the East Asian races proves that there is most likely a gap even wider between Asian Americans and African Americans.

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