Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Response to films (Whoa, sorry guys I was supposed to post this draft a long time ago!)

I am kind of torn when comparing Better Luck Tomorrow and Monkey Dance with Mississippi Masala. Similar to Paul, the first and foremost connection I made between the films is that Mississippi Masala and Monkey Dance have this on-going conflict of trying to find a balance between tradition and the modern world. Within both films the characters always feel some sort of obligation to the family, (and this value of tradition and family is somewhat regarded as a typical Asian value), and with this debate of familial obligations comes the question of what is "home". This is an interesting concept when one considers the model minority mythology and as Professor Lee mentioned today in class, how it's secret to success revolves around the stereotypes that Asian Americans have a great home-life with a strong relationship amongst family members.

With talks of the pressure of getting good grades and getting into good colleges, this theme of familial pressure was something I was expecting to see in Better Luck Tomorrow. In fact, i was surprised to see that not only are all parents were absent from the film, but the film lacked the presence of any family. Interestingly, the only family somewhat present within the film was Stephanie's white family. Perhaps you could read it as a more modern day critique of working parents or an attempt to disillusion the model minority mythology or even that their gang substituted their "real" family. Either way unlike Mississippi Masala, Monkey Dance, (and even the Wedding Banquet), for whatever reason I felt like Better Luck Tomorrow wasn't necessarily a film about the Asian American identity, but the identity of minorities in modern day white suburbia.

This brings me to the dilemma of representations of marginalized groups. Did Better Luck Tomorrow not read as an Asian film because of the diversity of the Asian American characters depicted? Would it have been "more Asian" if the parents were shown and other tropes of Asianness and the model minority figure were utilized? Is the only way to signify a race is through identifiable stereotypes? (I.e. the Indian family owning a motel, etc). If this is the case, is it worth depicting Asians (and other marginalized minority groups) within the mass media at all?

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