I just finished Megan McCafferty’s most recent YA book in her series about her heroine Jessica Darling, a series I initially thought was god-awful, but b/c of the romantic cat and mouse ridiculousness and the burgeoning complexity and style of the writing, slowly got hooked. The most recent installment, which isn’t perfect but still is fun, shows the author’s growing concern that we’re all becoming more disconnected due to technology options, her stance on the Iraq War (she’s against it), and a more sophisticated take on love that concluded with an ending that blew me away. I can only HOPE to make someone feel like that with my writing. Anyway, if you’re in the mood to read something light and quick, check her out. Also, FYI, she’s the poor writer who was plagiarized by the Harvard freshwoman, who happens to be Indian-American.
Which brings me to my next topic—these days, I enjoy a story less, at least at first glance, when all the characters are white. I just do. When I saw the preview for “Reservation Road” starring Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix, I leaned over to my friend Jesse and said “White people, they suffer so” and we giggled like evil Asian gnomes. It bothers me in particular when kid movies feature all-white casts like the earlier Harry Potters, like the latest Johnny Depp “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” b/c to me, it’s like a message that’s particularly unfair, that unless you are white, kids are not allowed to participate in magic and chocolate fantasy boo-yeahs.
But then, I remembered when I was a kid, I related to white people. Or rather, I didn’t think or see race. I enjoyed a good story regardless of the characters were Korean or not. (Probably more so if they weren’t, just one of the pleasant side effects of my upbringing.) Only after college and after working as an actress did I become enlightened to see things in colors, and that has been both a blessing and a curse (not a curse like I grow fangs in the moonlight, but you know what I mean). When I’m with the folks I’m close to, I don’t see race, I do not see color. But with strangers or at first glance, I can’t stop my brain from calculating, analyzing, and assessing. For instance, Owen Wilson played a character named “Oscar Choi” in “Armageddon” and he thought it was cool that they didn’t change the name, whereas I’m like, “Thanks jackass, you just robbed an Asian American man from a job.” (Apologies to Owen, due to his current sufferings.) So what can I say. I think race is a social, intellectual, and economic construct, and sometimes, those things lead to actions that tick me off. But race is not something you feel (or not something I feel), so when people volunteer Korean or Asian-related information or stories to me as something I might connect to, I bristle. (Most likely b/c where I grew up, Asian=foreign=discounted, and dude, I am not to be discounted. You will not find me on some 60%-off rack.) Or if someone were to suggest I have friends who are Asian b/c of that common factor, I tense. But then again, there must be some truth to it, but like so many things on my mind these days, my heart is divided, and so…I’ll probably keep talking about this topic.
Incidentally, there are no bacon-eating, New Jersey Koreans in Megan McCafferty’s work. What the.