I have a theory. My theory is that it is taboo to show Asians kissing (whether it be Asian/Asian or Asian/non-Asian) in a public medium for mass viewing. Pornos don’t count because usually, the individual will hopefully view those in the privacy of his own room. With the door locked.
Now, this theory is relatively new to me, so I haven’t fully fleshed out the minute details, such as why or how this came to be, but I think there’s a grain of truth to my speculation. Seeing Jin and Sun kiss on Lost was pretty epic. And why should it be? Only if it were taboo …
Maybe it’s because mainstream America is not ready for it. And that is exactly what Broadway actress Fay Ann Lee was told when she presented her script Falling for Grace, written in response to the lack of good roles for Asian Americans. It features Chinese American Grace Tang, an ambitious Wall Street banker, who is mistaken for a Hong Kong heiress. This leads to a series of white lies that land her right into the arms of New York’s most eligible bachelor, Andrew James Barrington, Jr. With this script in hand, Lee placed in prestigious competitions such as the Nicholl Fellowship and the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project, and Holly producers expressed interest. However, they refused to buy the screenplay unless Tang’s ethnicity was changed to either Caucasian or Hispanic. Rather than letting this deter her, Lee went on to raise $3 million, and directed, produced and starred in it herself.
Starring alongside her is Gale Harold from Queer as Folk and Desperate Housewives, Margaret Cho, Lost‘s Ken Leung, and Stephanie March — just a few of the big star names featured in the film, available now on DVD.
With simple and honest dialogue, I found that the film’s strongest point was in the family scenes. It did a superb job capturing the dynamics of an Asian family. As you watch Grace’s mother abruptly shut the door on the delivery service men’s faces in an effort to shoo them away or as Grace argues with her delinquent younger brother, these moments ring true to what many of us Asian Americans may go through. I found such scenes delightful and fun to watch, a break away from the “typical American” family home scene you would normally see in a romantic comedy. It was also interesting to see the plot unfold because Lee had weaved into the conflict the use of sweat shop workers in Chinatown by outside corporate clothing companies. I appreciated the real life issues Lee brought to the screen and the strife it was creating among the characters.
In terms of seeing an Asian American protagonist share a few passionate onscreen kisses with a white co-star, I don’t know how it felt, especially as an Asian American chick myself. It was cool to see someone who looked like me locking lips with a white guy. That’s something I can only dream about or else my mother would tar and feather me. But it definitely made me think about relationships, the complexity of relationships, and all the stigma that surrounds biracial couples … and how confusing that must be. What kind of impact would this have on mainstream America? How do biracial couples feel about this? Is this another example of where the white guy wins and gets the exotic, in this case, Asian girl and Asian guys lose again? Should Asian Americans try to brand their own version of the “classical American romantic comedy” instead of trying to conform to the current standard?
What do you think?