I have forever forfeited the right to make fun of women for changing their minds. That's a pretty bold statement and I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with all of this new free time I will have. Maybe I just discovered how I'm going to handle the fall semester class load I signed up for. I guess what I am getting at is that I just lost one of my all-time favourite activities to engage in. Why can I no longer do that? Because I'm totally going against what I believe in and I'm honestly not sure why I'm doing it. Is this how Republicans feel these days? If so, I can finally understand your pain. Man, it's not a good boat to be in.
So for years I've been railing at the invisibility of Asians, especially Asian men in media. I mean not just railing against it, but bitterly castigating blame to all areas -- blame to Western media, blame to an indifferent society, blame on my own ethnic group for being such shitty examples of what's cool, blame on other POCs for hogging up the limelight, etc. I have spent almost my entire adult life trying to be the destroyer of stereotypes. I would say, "If only there were more representation on the big screen and television for people that aren't cast to be made fun of and characterized." Now a film comes out that not only has the word Asian in the title, but the whole damn film is chock a block full of them. This movie probably has more Asians in it than a molecular engineering class at Cal Poly. Ok, maybe not that many. I should be totally psyched about this, right? Finally, progress!
I don't want to see this movie. I have no real good reason why. Don't get me wrong, I was very excited when I heard about this project. I think I said something pessimistic like "It will never ever get green-lit" which then changed to "It will never be produced for US distribution" which then changed to "No one is going to watch it". This is the first Asian led major Hollywood film in TWENTY FIVE FUCKING YEARS since The Joy Luck Club. And let's face it, that movie was to Asia what Oprah is to black people. Technically, it's true, but Oprah stopped being black when she started raving about Greenberg smoked turkeys. Now she belongs to all of us. The list of things I would rather do less than watch The Joy Luck Club is remarkably short. You want to know what is on the list? Here it is:
Derek's Things He Would Rather Do Less Than Watch The Joy Luck Club:
2. Permanent physical injury
That's the total list. I wasn't kidding. And this is the guy that watches Hallmark Christmas movies. The fact that the second movie in TWENTY FIVE FUCKING YEARS isn't The Joy Luck Club 2: Tiger Moms should have me doing cartwheels. And it absolutely does. I think it is terrific that Crazy Rich Asians was thought up of, made, and distributed to US theaters. There is a lot of buzz in the groups I belong to about this movie. Almost all of it is positive. Almost everyone is super excited. Finally, we get some representation! Finally, Asians get the limelight. So why don't I want to see this movie? And the answer is: I don't know.
I want to. I want to be super excited. And yet, I'm ambivalent. It's been occupying quite a bit of my mental space as to why this is. I feel like the dog that's been barking at the mailman through the window for years and then when given the opportunity to finally go outside and go all Cujo on them decides to just sit there in silence and not leave the office. That's a terrible analogy, because anyone who has dogs knows that if given the opportunity, they absolutely will tear straight outside and go for the pant legs of the postal carrier. They have courage of their convictions and would take the opportunity when given to them. I guess if pushed for an answer of why I don't want to see this movie, it all goes back to how white people perceive me. Sigh. I still haven't been able to shake this and I'm pretty sure I never will. I don't want to go to a movie theatre and have white people look at me and think "of course he would be watching this movie."
I have been begging for acceptance from white people almost my entire life. I've just wanted to be one of you. For so long, even if my words weren't congruent with conformity, my actions most definitely were. And in the moment where I can cast the self-imposed chains of that expectation off, I find the missing weight to be strangely uncomfortable. This year has been one of massive self discovery. Not much of it has been very good. Many people who don't know me very well think I'm this super confident guy. But the people who do know me realized that I'm probably one of the most conflicted and insecure people they know. The biggest insecurity is that I have never graduated from high school. Yes, fucker, I graduated from high school physically, but in my mind, I'm still the guy that just wanted to fit in and was never really allowed into the cool kids' circle. While the rest of you went on to realize that high school was just 4 years of a larger portion of life and probably spend very little time thinking about how to get Tara Thompson to go out with you, I think I still haven't been able to let it go. Crazy Rich Asians. Hell, at least I have the Crazy and the Asian down pat. Maybe I'll go wait until they make that move. Hell, I can wait another 25 years, can't I?
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