What’s Still Missing In Television for The Asian Narrative.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and my brain started dissecting the show “Friends From College”, a new netflix tv show about friends heading into their new life in their 40s.

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THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS POST.

Now the director is Nicholas Stoller, a British American filmmaker. So yes, he is white. But you know what, thanks for putting an Asian American into the mix. I really do appreciate that. Jae Suh Park, Marianne is an actress, artist who owns a rabbit in the tv show. She is a side kick, again not the main protagonist.

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As I was thinking about her role in the show, I started noticing a few things that are true about a few shows that contain Asian actors in. 

They are always a little off, like they are portrayed as sub-human, not human, quirky, has a strange or weird personality or they have to be really short and have an accent (Hans of 2 Broke Girls) and are constantly the butt of the jokes.

Han of 2 Broke Girls.

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Elliot Park (gay and flirty) from Young and Hungry- again he is not the protagonist and I get that because most writers are white….and directors are too, so they are telling their own narrative by making a white guy the protagonist and tell their VIEW and PERSPECTIVE of an Asian person.

Elliott and Josh (1)

These characters seem to have to have some kind of quirk that makes them “not human”, making viewers laugh at them, unable to relate to them. They don’t have personal agency to their own emotions (their fears, hurt, anger, sadness), but instead have their emotions inserted through other peoples’ judgement towards them. 

They are often told by their white protagonists what to do or how to think.

The 2 broke girls often make fun of Han and tell him who to be and how to think. Elliott often makes a mess of things and is reprimanded for his actions and desires (corrected by the white man).

In Friends From College, Marianne is seen as incapable but repressed as you see her act in a play which all her friends doubt to be good. There is one scene in which she acts as the man and rapes a tall white man (who acts as a woman in a dress). This scene is a huge portrayal of the repressed Asian consciousness.

She is the responsible one as she drives the party bus for a “white man” who partakes of wine with the friend group and falls asleep even though it was his job to drive the bus.

For some reason, yet again, she does not seem to have her head on her shoulders, there is something off about her. Yet, the rest of the crew are portrayed as sane and knowledgeable even though they are having affairs with their best friends’ spouses, has drug problems but can somehow get away with it.

And of course she owns a cute rabbit because Asians own cute things like that.

But I notice all these things because I am Asian myself.

I want to see shows that portray who I am, human with real fears, emotions, vulnerabilities…but sane, not subhuman. I want to tell my own narrative and not be told to be a certain way because a white person (or any person) is telling me how to act or feel.

Until then, how can anyone take an person of Asian ethnicity serious if all they see is people who have no agency to their own emotions and personality? 

 

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German Born Taiwanese American

What? Yes, I was born in Germany, but am Taiwanese, and I consider myself Taiwanese American since I’ve been in America for 20 years.

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My best friend next to me and some who knows who the creep that is boy next to me in kindergarten. Hamburg, Germany.

Since we are all talking about race here…I didn’t know I was that different until I came to America. I got made fun of for being “FOB- fresh off the boat” by Asian Americans and some whites. I was a little confused because I thought the term was used for Asians born in Asian countries, but I guess it didn’t really matter. Alas, now the term is a TV show, thanks to the Great America, wrought with “racial freedom”.

Anyhow, when I realized I was different….you see in Taiwan, I fit right in because we were young…and in Germany too, when you are young you don’t see people through racial differences, you see them as playmates, people. 

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Me being solemn in the back. Yes, I’m holding a rose. Taipei, Taiwan.

I started listening to music that talked about degrading women instead of the love songs of Japanese and Taiwanese culture….so like instead of “I love who you are” to “put it up her ass” kind of songs. So there you go, the transition.

I was confused.

I started rejecting a part of myself and assimilated quickly. 

All my best friends were Asian American, but deep down, I was an alien that somehow adopted the idea of being AA. Because I didn’t feel like them. I didn’t care about getting into a good college as much as they did, I was glad I didn’t go to after school, I didn’t want to settle down and live in the same city….I’m not saying all of them cared about the same things, but their parents sure did. 

My mom wanted a good future for me, but I think deep down she knew she was different too. So we moved after I graduated and I went to a fashion school.

Recently, I started realizing all the books I’m reading are by white people, mainly white women since I’m reading self help books. Also the TV shows, the films I watch have mainly white people as protagonists. I got really sick of it and started searching out foreign films. Yesterday I watched a Cantonese film, my heart felt a little warmer. 

You see, the guys I dated were white or mexican, mixed, or white, or ethnically mixed….confused too ethnically. Like me. With Asian Americans I felt different, in Taiwan, I was Americanized, too blunt, I felt comfy with Germans, Europeans, but still I was facially Asian. My ex used to make fun of me for saying a word wrong. But now, I don’t know anyone around me who writes as much as I do.

No one understands the feeling of having hot pot after months of European food like I do. It is pure bliss. My friends and I bring shin ramen on our backpacking trips. I searched out Asian restaurants in Paris. That’s how much my heart longs for Asian food. My blood consists of hot soup.

There is nothing wrong with trying to accommodate for the changes in your life ….but to neglect and ignore, and to push down a part of you means scarring your heart. 

I value family, I value honor and respect. But only to an extent….because what I learned from America is that you must love yourself too, not sacrifice your heart to serve everyone else (more Asian….the concept of Sacrifice). 

So I suppose I am one of a kind. And I don’t need to become more white, in fact, I’d like to stay the way I am, and own the FOB parts of me.

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Another Germany picture.

How To Protect Your Heart When You Have An Asian Mom

You are responsible for the well-being of your heart. Yes, you are.

You are the landlord of your heart and you get to decide who and what resides there (landlord analogy by Christa Black). When I was younger, I’m 28 now, I opened my heart to lots of people because I thought, “well I’m taught to love people right?” but that’s when I realize that THERE IS EVIL out there. Real evil. And then I got frightened and closed my heart up after too many evil encounters. Thank God I’ve been healing from those manipulative encounters and learned to guard my heart.

I learned that it is important to have boundaries in your life. And you have to SPEAK UP for your heart, it’s your responsibility YO.

Which leads me to the whole controlling Asian parent thing again. 

Recently I’ve been blessed with good food and have eaten well. It’s just this season of rest and getting fed. Well, my mom mentions a couple of times that “watch your weight”, your legs are getting fat or your stomach is getting fat.

And as you can see, I’m not an obese person, I’m a pretty skinny Asian woman that happens to have curves. (This just goes to show the impossible culture Asians live in).

I was totally fine the whole day, had no neck aches and for me when I have neck aches it is usually because I am fearing something. 

SO at night I start getting these crazy painful neck aches and I start to do my inner healing, meditation, prayer time with God. I ask Spirit what the hell is going on. I look back on the day. I mean I had really great food, got this amazing dress from Nordstrom, felt so alive and free all day. I felt abundant.

Then it struck me, that moment when my mom….instead of saying “wow I had a great day with my daughter”, she said “your stomach is looking fat, watch yourself”.

Gosh, how encouraging.

So in that moment, subconsciously my self worth was struck down and subconsciously I heard and felt in my spirit “You’re not enough, you’re not good enough”. 

Wow. I love healing sessions with God.

So then I start planning a speech about what I’ll tell my mom, how I’ll speak up for my heart so that I can protect it in the future. Then I have this crazy dream about a childhood friend who I am no longer friends with due to parental conditions (aka controlling Asian parents who basically took control of our friendship and ended it with, well their controlling spirit). 3 times I ask her what’s wrong, no answer.

Finally she tells me “my mom died”, I hug her and we cry and cry. Then my mom comes in and questions what I’m doing. And the light bulb went on. When do Asian kids ever grow up? Some of us, without knowing it, are still being controlled by our parents. We feel out of control, we view God like our parents…unrelenting, angry, controlling.

In Asian culture, there is no such thing as GRIEVING, we are taught to get over it, cover it up, Asian moms don’t really have much capacity to comfort or tend to your emotions (I’m talking about the older generation, now not all moms are like that but I have seen a lot).

So in the grieving, pain process, we are often commanded to ANSWER TO and name WHAT IT IS we are going through. And as you know, grieving is messy, you can’t always name it. People want to KNOW shit because they feel like they are in control if they know what it is you are going through. 

Some Asian adults still feel that they are seriously unable to make their own decisions. They feel powerless in their own lives and a victim of circumstances.

Well, after my dream….I knew I had to just speak up.

“mom, can you not say anything negative about my body? It hurts my heart and honestly if I want to exercise or lose weight I will, but that’s my own decision. This is my body, not yours”. 

And with that, she said okay, as long as you yourself know.

And even if I sometimes feel insecure, I know that this season is actually a blessing.

Why? Because most of the time when I’m traveling I’m losing hella a LOT of weight and I barely have an appetite sometimes, like in Cebu, Philippines, I was shitting out water, or food that turned to water, okay I know Too Much Info.

Which leads me to my point.

I once heard a relative of mine say after I chose DISTANCE from certain people in my life that “people have a right to their opinions about you”. Well I have a right to “who I want in my life and what opinions I want to hear” because most peoples’ opinions ARE NOT truth about who you are in LOVE.

Because LOVE feels good, love FIRST tells you your true identity, then in the encouragement, propels you TO DO GOOD….not the other way…like when people yell at you and tells you “you suck” and think that ‘s going to encourage you to change. LOL.

So guard your heart because out of the heart comes all the goodness and junk of life. You have a right to say NO and TO create healthy boundaries, use your speech, speak up like I did.

PS- I love Asian moms, don’t get me wrong. Not all Asian moms are this way. There are many reasons people become controlling or negative, most of the time they are speaking out of their own insecurities. AKA my mom just bought this weird massage tool that is supposed to massage the fat out of her body. I love my mom- she is REALLY amazing. Sometimes I have to write about her because well, it’s my experience and I believe it can free others.

This article doesn’t just apply to Asians or moms, or women, this applies to ALL HUMANKIND. Maybe even animals. I pray this article may help free you to LIVE IN FREEDOM!

How To Protect Your Heart When You Have An Asian Mom

3 Reasons Why It’s Important To Become An Adult

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It’s important to separate yourself from your parents. This seems obvious, but for some families, especially Asian ones, it is not always easy to do so because you are expected to act like babies your whole life, or to heed the advice of your parents until you become an adult – and this adult phase only happens because you’re married.

It’s important to become intellectual adults that make decisions for yourself at one point in your life, like now….would be great.

It is amazing that even after being self-employed and pretty much fully supported yourself for years, people still have so many opinions about how you should live your life. Don’t cave in, remember stay true to your vision. At one point, you need to cut the ties. It might seem cruel at first, because of course I have no idea how it is to be a parent…however, I know that control is control, there is no way of putting it nicely.

Here are 3 reason why it is important to become an adult:

Whatever your definition of adult is, here’s mine – someone who is capable of making their own decisions and who takes full responsibility for their own lives.

Reason #1: You can fully function in the world, choose what you want in life, and live the life you have always dreamed of. Remember those dreams you had about becoming a world class pilot? Remember those dreams you had about becoming an actress? Oh remember those dreams you had about helping people in need?

Oh right, it all got squashed because your parents wanted you to go to the school they attended, become the person they never became, work the job they never succeeded in. Okay, wow, that sucks.

Yah, don’t give in. Love comes from freedom, not control. Love frees us, it does not suffocate. And just because some relative lived a shit life, it doesn’t mean you will too. Learn from people who became successful, not people who failed at life because they didn’t take ownership of their life….how about all the entrepreneurs who failed miserably, but became great successes because they didn’t give UP? 

Reason #2: No one likes a mama’s boy. 

I’m sorry, no one likes a mama’s boy. No woman. And for woman, well, no one likes a spoiled lady either. It’s all nice and dandy when you’re 16, but when you are 36 and still calls your mom to ask how to use the washer, um, yah, not going to work for many. If you are looking to partner up and settle down, become an adult first.

Reason #3: Freedom 

Freedom. If you are able to fend for yourself, without parents, without a partner, you can do anything in life. You can climb mountains in the jungles, hike up trails forbidden to mankind, and backpack in Europe for 4 months, why not? No one can say anything because well, you forgot to bring your phone and you actually don’t answer to anyone. And guess what, when you have reached the heights of goddesses, you have become like God, you are unique and an individual who doesn’t care about what people think.

This, is true greatness. And then you become attractive, you attract and inspire others who will in turn inspire you as well. 

And I say all this, the day before I go off to Europe….do I have it all together, no…but I’ve made it to step 65 of 100, I think I’ve gone a far ways from 2 months ago. Life can be incredible if we make enough space for our dreams.

Live on my friend!

If you haven’t bought this ebook, buy it now! Learn how YOU can make money doing what you love, because I sure have….as I share with you exactly HOW you can monetize ALL of your talents and skills 🙂 http://www.Rebekkalien.com/LoveMoneyWork

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You wonder why I want to work overseas

Because the talent and creative work…seems much more attractive

The clean and sharp lines of Yohji Yamamoto

Issey Miyake, the eccentric colors that define fashion, expression of the mind, art, and body

(http://biginjapan.com.au)

So moving onto my current job search….I must say that it is, in 3 words, difficult, exciting, and scary. As I’m listening to French radio, I think of all the memories that fill my mind. Though it is scary leaving everything I know, I know that God is going to take care of my mom and brother here in Los Angeles. I mean, just watch Finding Nemo- kids are supposed to carve their own sculpture and leave their nest. I can’t wait to meet expatriates that think worldly thoughts, regarding travel, culture, and language. As I share my desire to go overseas, I find that many of my friends also have the same dream….but which of those will actually act upon their dreams. I hope and pray that they will also get to fulfill their dream of traveling and realize that traveling is bigger than just experiencing new cultures. Traveling means loving people that are different from yourself. That is what traveling is really about.

BY THE WAY. I have to express my anger at peoples’ ignorance of fashion. I bumped into this dude that expressed his concern over my un-matching clothes. He asked why in the world I would match the colors I did. His face twitched in dismay that I was a fashion designer and DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO MATCH, because “isn’t fashion about fitting in?” I shook my head in more dismay. The ignorance of mankind. I said, “Fashion is about expressing yourself”. I didn’t say this….but just look at the runway- look at couture, it is the SHOCK value that fashion expresses itself best. He said, “why would you match leopard print with checkered pants with purple and pink and a green watch?” I said, “because I felt like it this morning”. Even when I left, he kept calling me “Taiwan”. Wow, I’m so sad for people that have no cultural understanding.

Fashion to me is:

  • An art form, an expression of humanity and self
  • Reflection of the times, reflection of societal norms and societal disparities
  • History
  • Emotions, feelings
  • Architecture
  • Culture
  • Everything basically (rebellion, conformity, explosion of colors, everything you can possibly fathom)