I just finished Megan McCaffertyâ€™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 isnâ€™t perfect but still is fun, shows the authorâ€™s growing concern that weâ€™re all becoming more disconnected due to technology options, her stance on the Iraq War (sheâ€™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 youâ€™re in the mood to read something light and quick, check her out. Also, FYI, sheâ€™s the poor writer who was plagiarized by the Harvard freshwoman, who happens to be Indian-American.
Which brings me to my next topicâ€”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 â€œReservation Roadâ€ starring Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix, I leaned over to my friend Jesse and said â€œWhite people, they suffer soâ€ 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 â€œCharlie and the Chocolate Factory,â€ 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 didnâ€™t think or see race. I enjoyed a good story regardless of the characters were Korean or not. (Probably more so if they werenâ€™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 Iâ€™m with the folks Iâ€™m close to, I donâ€™t see race, I do not see color. But with strangers or at first glance, I canâ€™t stop my brain from calculating, analyzing, and assessing. For instance, Owen Wilson played a character named â€œOscar Choiâ€ in â€œArmageddonâ€ and he thought it was cool that they didnâ€™t change the name, whereas Iâ€™m like, â€œThanks jackass, you just robbed an Asian American man from a job.â€ (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 soâ€¦Iâ€™ll probably keep talking about this topic.
Incidentally, there are no bacon-eating, New Jersey Koreans in Megan McCafferty’s work. What the.