The Death of the Author 2 — Tiger-mom and Model Minority Myth

Regarding to authenticity of the Fresh of the Boat, I ask myself another question, to what extend do Louis and Jessica represents a common parents?

In the center of the poster, Eddie Huang leans out of the window. The asymmetric posture with the hip-hip gesture catch audience eyes. Viewers of the poster will immediately notice that Eddie is also main character in the story of the family. Most importantly, audience will see how Eddie communicate and interact with his parents.

While the father pays more attention on teaching Eddie to be a social man, the mother places emphasis on Eddie’s (and his brothers’) academic attainments. For example, Louis will ask Eddie to work in the restaurant and get the money for the concert. Jessica will conduct a domestic after school class for Eddie and his brothers.

To portray Jessica as a tiger-mom reflects the fact that most of the Chinese parents are faithful supporters of elitism, as the old saying goes “Nothing could be better compare to being a literary man” (萬般皆下品,唯有讀書高). Even though I do not have a tiger-mom, I do have a tiger-aunt who always asks my younger cousin for better grade. I would not say tiger-mom or wolf-dad is very common, but I have to admit they are not rare case. In fact he image of a high-demanding mother (or father) makes me think about the idea of “model minority” [1].

In my opinion, the idea of model minority is a sweet trap that covers with a false appearance of peace and prosperity (in the words of Hartlep, it is a positive stereotype). When Asian American parents dedicate to improve the social status of their own household by asking the younger generation to pursue higher education degrees and get high-paying jobs, they may lose focus to think about the racial discrimination from the institutional level. Highlighting the success of some (middle class) minority will makes us ignore the fact that the other Asian Americans, who live in the lower class families, may still facing discriminations in all directions.

That is to say, even though Asian Americans should be proud of their academic success and career success, they should never forget that being a “model” would segregate them from “not-a-model”. In short, model minority kind of indirect stereotype. It does not prevent Asian American from being the “perpetual foreigners”.

In order to improve the social impact of Asian American community, we definitely need to show more faces and stories about Asian American in the public domain. Fresh Off the Boat could be the new lead.

[1] http://www.academia.edu/8849515/Model_Minority_Stereotype_Whiz_Kids

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