Asian-American issues: where do I start? As of the past 3 months, I have not had any major Asian-American issues with the exception of one ignorant nurse who remarked that “Asians should not drink” when I was brought to Bellvue for alcohol poisoning during one wild night out. I honestly do not believe her remarks were out of pure racism but out of ignorance based on stereotypes from the media.
I can spend hours writing about how I was offended and mad, but it really does nothing to change the situation. There are Asian-American pressure groups that work to prevent and correct such nonsense but they are mostly based in California and possibly Hawaii even though the problems are all over America. At the same time, these groups are severely fragmented and some of the leading groups are led by individuals who seem to be disconnected with the rest of Asian-Americans.
At this point the only Asian-American involvement from me consists of joining social groups to mingle and meet new people who happen to be Asian or watching the occasional foreign film.
Enough militant Asian-Americans have called on people to support Asian-American media, musicians, and artists, yet few have stepped up. Is it because these individuals are not up to snuff? Or is it because people have moved on once the hype ended? I think it is a bit of both. Many Asian-American personalities tend to become overdependent on using their ethnicity to build up their core support instead of working as individuals to cultivate their craft. Some exceptions to this are George Takei, Don Ho, Kal Penn, and John Cho.
Asian-American support is only as good as the product itself. We can have a “Shanghai Kiss” which is a watered-down version of “The Lover”, but generated massive hype from the filmmakers outreach to Asian-Americans and due to Hayden from “Heroes” as a lead character. To be honest, the movie was not that great, but all the massive hype due to its Asian-American nature made it seem like it was on par with “Citizen Kane”.
On the other hand, the television movie “Farewell to Manzanar” with its ensemble cast of Japanese-American and Asian-American characters were able to tell a dramatic tale of WW2 Japanese internment and how it effected a family. I recommend people to read the novel that the movie is based on.
In her autobiographical novel Farewell to Manzanar (1973), Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston writes about her family’s experiences at Manzanar, a internment camp in California‘s Owens Valley where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II. The novel was adapted in to a television movie in 1976, starring Nobu McCarthy, who portrayed both Houston as well as her mother in the film.
In an effort to educate Californians about the experiences of Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II, the book and the movie were distributed in 2002 as a part of kit to approximately 8,500 public elementary and secondary schools and 1,500 public libraries in California. The kit also included study guides tailored to the book, and a video teaching guide.
Asian-Americans should be supporting movies or literature like the above instead of playing the race card in promoting relatively generic works. I don’t understand why there has been a lack of proper adaptations to such films despite the body of work from Asian-American writers. I was disappointed when people did not support Jin but I was glad that people were giving support to actors like John Cho and Kal Penn in whatever films they were in.
On a totally unrelated note, I hate people who mislead me and benefit themselves at my own expense whether they realise it or not.