Brilliant short film piece from 2004 by Los Angeles-based writer Daniel Hsia.
The details I love:
- Mom’s teary eyes at the “tragic” news of her son’s desire to pursue a filmmaking career;
- Mom’s slap on Dad’s arm as if to say, “I TOLD you so! It’s all your fault for telling your son to go to that liberal arts college!”;
- The tall, slender woman with the aloof expression, encapsulating every Asian parent’s fear that a white daughter- or son-in-law will be disrespectful of their authority in the family;
- Dad’s repeated demands for his son to tell him who exactly he thinks will support him in a career like filmmaking.
It’s so hilarious because it so truthfully captures – in only slight exaggeration – the deep-seated and histrionically expressed fears of Asian parents, and the despair of every son or daughter’s attempts to share their vulnerability in the oft-absent, yet so-longed-for safety of the family home.
The implication? Only a Bad Asian Son would consider a career in something as risky as filmmaking, out of personal spite for his parents. Even if he’s got legitimate skill in the field. Next thing you know, he’ll be down the slippery slope of doing other Bad Asian Son things, like marrying a white woman!
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” – Mary Oliver, from the poem “Wild Geese”
“You do not have to be good.”
Ever hear that one from your parents? HA! Ever hear that from a teacher, or a boss, or a mentor?
If the answer is yes, count yourself lucky (and cherish that relationship). If you actually believe that you don’t have to be good, then consider yourself enlightened.
But if you’re like me, and still wake up sometimes to face parts of yourself you’ve been conditioned to believe are “bad”, welcome. Come and sit for awhile. Read. Cry. Share. Smile. Learn.
I’m inspired to start this blog because I’m tired of believing I’m actually B.A.D. I’m tired of living with shame, guilt, and a nagging sense of dishonoring ancestors (a vague term for the ashes of dead people whose names are inscribed on a family shrine in a mountaintop cemetery somewhere in Asia). Read the rest of this entry