Friday, February 17, 2006

Asian parenting tips from "Without a Trace," or Jerry Bruckheimer's guide to raising fratricidal self-haters

So CBS ran an episode of "Without a Trace" last night called "Honor Bound." Apparently it was a rerun of a show that premiered in October, but since The Pumpkin was born, my 10 p.m. television viewing habits are not what they were (10 p.m.? Hell, make that 9 p.m. Thank god for TiVo!) But anyway, the missing-person-of-the-night was a Korean American woman named Sun "Wendy" Kim (played by transracial adoptee Nicole Bilderback, the only actual Korean playing any of the Korean characters, as far as I could tell), who apparently was rebelling against her strict Korean immigrant grocer parents by dating white men she met on the internet.

Basically, while suspicion falls briefly on various white "boyfriends" and her Korean ex-fiance (who turns out to be gay), it turns out that the brother did it. While the episode's title and lots of trite references to family honor and shame would imply that big brother Jin [Jin and Sun? Aren't those the names of the married Koreans on "Lost"? What, Hollywood can't come up with more than one Korean name for each gender?] killed his sis because she brought shame and dishonor on the family by being a slut, it seems that he really did it 'cause he was mad that, as dutiful number one son, he was stuck running the family deli while Wendy got her groove on.

Um, excuse me? I usually like "Without a Trace," and that episode they did a couple seaons ago where the Arab American guy dies because of Arab=terrorist racism actually did a pretty good job with a touchy topic. But this crap? Stock characters in a stock, stereotyped storyline: crying non-English-speaking mom (poor Jodi Long, I guess she got typecast after "All American Girl"?), stoic dad, gay dude looking for a beard so he doesn't have to come out to his parents, daughter who tries to escape by finding a nice white guy but is instead assumed to be a kinky slut and ends up dead because of it, and dutiful son who runs the family store like a good boy and enforces the family code but really hates it and ends up snapping. Crap.

So let's see, what are the lessons for Asian American parents in this? Don't force your kids to follow your culture/rules/family business/fill-in-the-blank or else they'll rebel by sleeping around and killing their sisters? Huh?

So, fellow Asian daddies and Asian mommies, what are your favorite tips for not raising self-hating psycho kids who will end up either missing or hitting their sister over the head with a two-by-four?


la doctora said...

Yeah, I think the moral of that story was "Don't be a FOB" haha just trying to spice it up!

narasaki9 said...

How about writing to CBS and tell them to start casting more Asians in roles that have nothing to do with "honor", " shame", and Asian-induced craziness? I think their VP of Diversity's name is Josie Thomas and her email address is:

Sizwe_X said...

Making sure my kids don't watch and aren't subjected to this racist Hollywood claptrap. Thanks again, Hollywood, for your sensitive portrayals of APIAs.

AQdoc said...

Funny how real life CAN mirror primetime TV. Anyone familiar with Esmie Tseng?

The 16-year old Taiwanese American who murdered her mother because she was too strict?

You can learn more here:

Try reading some entries from HER blog (