Monday, April 28, 2008

The Model Family - Terminal USA

At first I thought that the film was too strange and stretched time in areas that did not fit. But Terminal USA interestingly looks at stereotypes through exaggeration. The film attempts to ridicule preconceived notions of Asian-American identity, but this can be taken the wrong way by the audience. The focus of the film could be misunderstood as illustrating the deceitfulness of Asians. Holy, the over-sexualized Asian female outside of school and the model student at school, represents the polarity of Asian identity. The film does not isolate her from either of her identities, but demonstrates how both are equally important to her. She tries to protect both identities through lying and she even says, “I am good at lying.” Instead of feeling that the film debunked the stereotypes surrounding the Asian female identity, I felt disappointed that the film did not give Holy a bit more development. I don’t know much about Holy except that she has a high GPA, on the Pep Squad, and sleeps around. In addition, Marvin and Kazumi are played by one actor. Kazumi is addicted to drugs. Marvin is a computer nerd that secretly fantasizes about men in uniforms. Marvin is deemed “The pervert in the back bedroom”.
The boys are very different even though they are twins. I am not sure if this is supposed to illustrate the polar identity of the Asian male. In the end, Marvin succumbs to his brother’s drugs. This could be understood by the audience to mean the submission of a good identity to one that is bad.

Should there be two extremes to the identity for both males and females? At times, I am not sure if the film is making fun of this question or emphasizing the question. But when I see Fagtoast, I am reminded that the film is making fun of everything, including religion.

I am confused about Kazumi’s girlfriend – Eightball. Did Eightball’s alien identity represent issues surrounding Japanese-American citizenship? The drug hustlers’ decision to “have their own Pearl Harbor” was quite inappropriate. The filmmakers were unsuccessful in delivering their negative opinions about war and violence in general.

All in all, I liked this film, but I wished that this film was a bit more thought provoking and did not rely so heavily on visual effects.

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