While watching this, I desperately wanted to join the outrage over it being categorized a “foreign film.” I wanted to curse the old white guys who see a primarily coloured cast and a subtitle and make the easy decision.
But the truth is, this is a foreign film. Yes, it takes place in America, but it is completely Korean. It is not a white perspective of Koreans, it is a Korean’s perspective of whites. The Koreans aren’t stereotyped and over the top Asian. It is the “hillbilly,” Christian, white people that are over the top.
It is completely a Korean story. It is the stubborn, duty bound father, and the suppressed but loyal mother, the halmoni (grandmother) who plays cards and swears, and the children, who, while stradling two worlds are both defiant, and respectful of their elders.
The film, while possibly underwhelming, is beautiful in that it is a story America never hears. It is a culture that America rarely really sees. This is the story of a Korean family who chase the American Dream. Immigrants who come to America for a better future. And the very real struggles that come with it.
And while its easy to watch the credits roll and remember that this is just a movie, this story was loosly based of the director’s own childhood.
This film might get pushed into the shadows, but for what it is, and what it means to Asian Americans, it will remain timeless.
I grew up in Alaska, where my playground was the seaside. Our beaches were different though. Covered in dark, jagged rocks, protected from the road by thick, evergreen trees. The air smelled of more than simple sea air, it smelled of brine. And the only sounds would be of the eagles, and the wind, and the waves. When tide was low and the brine was at its strongest, small pools of sea would collect in the divits and grooves of the rocks. They would be full of fluffy sea anemones, and scuttling hermit crabs, and sea snails. So many snails. We used to try to take them home with us, ignorant of the fact they’d dry up and die without the sea. Small, soft creatures, protected by a hard shell. A small round disc that fit perfectly over the opening like a front door. I sometimes feel like that. A small sea snail. Soft and vulnerable hiding inside a beautiful shell. Too afraid to come out. And I have been inside my shell with the door closed so long, all that’s left inside is a dry, withered husk..
Cherry Blossoms are a love song to Spring. Not the Cherry Blossoms of Asia, that drift and fall like snow. These are American Cherry Blossoms. Appearing over night. Freckles of pinks and whites on the branches of dead trees. Stubbornly showing up after the first warm day, as if to say, “it’s time for the world to wake back up.”
This film, based on a stage play, was the first feature film directed by Regina King. About a meeting of 4 friends in Miami, in 1964. Boxer Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay), NFL star Jim Brown, Singer Sam Cooke, and Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X.
While simply, it is about them discussing their respective roles and influence in the civil rights movement. It strikes deeper into a conversation/debate/argument about black equality and the idea of staying true to oneself.
Though stated to be “based off true events,” while the meeting in Miami did happen, what happened in the motel room is mostly unknown. They did eat icecream.
In the film, Malcolm pushes all of them to stand up and fight for black equality, that they are the ones the world is watching. Muhammad, Jim, and Sam had all found success in a white world. He pushes the loose and joking Sam the most. Telling him that his voice has the power to move mountains. He prods at him, almost mockingly, that Bob Dylan’s Blowin in the Wind, speaks more to the struggles of African Americans than anything Sam has ever written, causing tempers to flair. Later, Sam concedes that he had always been jealous of the song, wondering why he hadn’t been the one who had written it. It is that song that spurs him to finally write something more than pop songs for white people. His song, A Change is Gonna Come, became an anthem for the civil rights movement.
Whenever I’ve had a hard day, or need to find a way to take some time to shut the world out, I always seem to put on Billie Holiday. Her music is deep, and soulful, and haunting.
And then I watched this film,
I had no idea, whatsoever, how horrible her life was. She was so broken and alone. She turned to singing and self medication. And the actual government dogged her every step until the day she died. And I wish I could say I was being dramatic, but they were there at bedside as she was dying.
Starting from her powerful song Strange Fruit. Admittedly, one I had never heard. A song about the lynching of African Americans. A thing the government wanted people to just quietly, not think about.
I remember at the beginning of the film thinking how up beat her music sounded. Not like the Billie Holiday songs I am used to listening to. By the end of the film, her music sounded much more slow and soulful. The more you get to know her, the deeper her music becomes. I think the film informs the music I had always felt in my heart.
While this film set itself up to be a powerful film about this famous artist’s stand for African American rights in the 40’s-50’s, it didn’t really end up being that in my eyes. True, it was her success and inspiration from performing the song Strange Fruit that brought her to the attention of the government. This film felt more of a look into the life and struggles of a strong, beautiful, black woman of her time.
Lemon Butter Lobster, over Risotto, with Roast Lemon Garlic Asparagus
I have always been a klutz. Mutant toe is probably the culprit. But by god, if there is nothing on that floor, I am sure as hell gonna trip over it! Chronic dizziness is now just the excuse. And it is the devil. I can no longer throw my head back and yell, “Whyyyyyyy?!” to the heavens, or do my signature fist punch/leg kick move when I am angry, without a wave of dizziness threatening to topple me over.
It is a crisis.
Who am I if I can’t be dramatic? Is it the next step in drama evolution if I yell, “Whyyyyyyy?!” and then fall to the floor? Or is this life, telling me to hang up my drama queen crown?…
Facebook Memories can bring up some of the best memories. Funny pictures, awesome trips, happy days… But it can also bring up some of the worst times. Times you have shared, to vent, to feel less alone, to let people know. Although, 12 years ago I’m sure I didn’t have half as many “friends” as I do now. Perhaps a handful of mates from college. Most of whom are probably no longer listed as “friend.”
But 12 years ago, at this time, I put down my cat Tootsie. I have no recollection of where the heck I came up with that name. I was very young. I remember them, her and her sister Peanut, living in a large box next to the fireplace. Like true sisters, they hated eachother. I remember peeking over the edge of the box, they were so small.
Peanut was my brothers, a calico who became fat. Tootsie was all mine, a sleek all black angel. She learned to climb the slippery black ladder of my bunk bed to be near me. She would bite at my arm when I was having a teenage meltdown, to make me stop and breathe. She loved potato chips and would bat at my face to get one. She was my most precious angel.
And I remember 12 years ago. I remember her becoming sick. We took her to the vet and afterwards she seemed better. My parents and I had planned a trip over New Years, and they were considering canceling it. But I threw a fit. I wanted to do this trip. I needed to do this trip. Admittedly, I simply wanted the brief opportunity to be with a boy I’d met last time I was there, in the spring. We had begun a long distance relationship and I hadn’t seen him face to face since. My parents didn’t think it was a good idea, to leave Tootsie, but in the end relented.
When we returned I was so excited to see Tootsie. I swept her up in my arms, and I instantly realized she had gotten worse. Much worse. Her eyes barely registered me, and my parents knew that we had to put her down.
My sweetest angel. I had been so selfish in leaving her when she was sick. For a boy. And the guilt and heartbreak has never left me.
I don’t have pictures desplayed in my home of family or friends. I simply never have. Except one. A picture of Tootsie, guarding my pen and notebook.
I don’t want it to seem as though my current cat Thumbs will never compare. I love him just as fiercly. He, with his buck teeth and huge paws. He, with his hatred of all fish except cheddar blasted goldfish. He, with his open and unabashed love for all those who are most important to me.
I was young and selfish 12 years ago. My heart was wounded. But I have grown since. I have developed a sense of priorities, and patience, and an appreciation for the fragility of life. And Facebook helps remind me of that every year.
Pork Chop with (overcooked) Black Eyed Peas!
Bonus: Got to break in my new Crockpot!
It’s been a long and strange year. For everyone.
Here’s a reminder to myself of some of the stuff that happened.
I did my Black and White Food Challenge.
( https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/03/02/february-food-fest/?preview=true )
I got a bug up my butt and did a major rearrangement of my place…
…right before moving…
We created and accomplished The 120 Dumpling Challenge, in 1 hour.
Took the tortoise for a walk… ended up pulling up a chair and drinking a beer…
Mari and Little Mo came into my life.
I managed to pay off all my credit debt!
My beloved chest freezer, Body-Stasher, bit the big one. I had to tearfully throw away so much meat and fish… But a cheritable co-worker donated to the Restock Rose’s Freezer fund.
I finally applied to Grad School!
…and didn’t get accepted…
Stellar essay here: https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/graduate-admission-essay-to-the-school-of-social-work/?preview=true
New (used) car happened!
I survived the One Chip Challenge. Despite it being booby trapped with a stale chip…
I held a wee hummingbird that required rescue. (Actually happened twice. Poor buggers keep getting stuck in my stoop.)
I journeyed around the world in a ship of Spaghetti.
( https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/spaghettis-of-the-world/?preview=true )