Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mother and Child

Anyone else seen the ads for this movie? It's been in the theaters since May 7. Here's the synopsis:

Three women's lives share a common core: they have all been profoundly affected by adoption. KAREN (Annette Bening) had a baby at 14, gave her up at birth, and has been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. ELIZABETH (Naomi Watts) grew up as an adopted child; she's a bright and ambitious lawyer, but a flinty loner in her personal life. LUCY (Kerry Washington) is just embarking with her husband on the adoption odyssey, looking for a baby to become their own.

I think it's interesting how this drama has slipped into the "artsy" theaters in my town (Ritz 5) with big stars (in addition to those listed above) Jimmy Smits and Samuel L. Jackson plus screenings at the Toronto Film Festival 2009 and Sundance Film Festival 2010. No promos (save one I saw with Samuel L. Jackson) on Jay Leno or David Letterman. No barrage of TV ads. Interesting.

I applaud Director Rodrigo Garcia for taking on this topic. And it looks like he has done his research: I can already see the separation trauma issues he addresses in the film. But after watching the trailer, I'm not sure if I have the courage to actually go see it. I may have to wait to buy the DVD, so I can stop it and walk away if I have the need.

My walk-aways would not be because of frustration, however. From the trailer, it looks like Garcia has captured these so well that I'm afraid this movie would hit too close to home. It would show me too much of myself or it might stir up emotions and thoughts about what my biological mother might be thinking.

Like I said, courage. I need courage to see this film.

And at the same time, I am curious to see this film. I must see if Garcia does justice to the adoption triad. Or will I see it and say, "Oh, no. Is everybody going to make assumptions about adoption based on this film?"  From the trailer, I have a feeling that it is the former, not the latter because Garcia is allowed to take the feature length film to go deeper that a 1 hour TV drama (see my post on Glee earlier this month).

If any of my readers has seen this movie, I would love to hear your impressions.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before you read my full review on this blog. The curiosity and courage will have to outweigh the fear.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Glee and Adoption

*SPOILER ALERT* If you are a "Glee" fan and have not seen this season's finale...continue reading at your own risk...

I admit it.  I started watching Fox Network's "Glee"...and I'm hooked. I know that the plot lines are so "high school," but, hey, it's set in...a high school! I can overlook the juvenile drama because I love the singing. Anyone who was, is or will be an a cappella/show choir fan will love this show for performances. And the tunes are classics so you can sing-along. What could be better?

Another thing that I applaud the show for is its attempt to address teenage issues, at the risk of leaning into discomfort at times: teenage pregnancy, sexuality (gay/straight), physical limitations (one of the characters is in a wheelchair), fitting in/being comfortable with who you are, etc. One of these issues is the adoption triad: adoptee, birth parent (two fathers - who are never seen) and birth mother.

Now - on to the finale, which aired on Tuesday, June 8. I have to admit, at one point I changed the channel to the NBA Finals because it just got too ridiculous for me. Our teenage pregnant mother (Quinn Fabray) went into labor during the Regional competition. Her whole birthing scene was paralleled by cut-aways to the show choir rival Vocal Adrenaline's performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rapsody," even to the point of her pushing when the lyrics scream "Let him/me go." It was absurd. Later I had to explain to my two sons that: 1) even Mommy's *quick* labor took 8 hours, not 8 minutes. 2) most women in labor take much longer, even up to 36 hours or more (ohhhh, they said).

All that being said, Quinn decided to choose adoption instead of parent her baby. And, as was quite serendipitous, the woman who adopted the baby was the rival show choir's coach, Shelby Corcoran, who chose adoption for her own child many years ago. Quinn, as far as we know, does not know that Shelby has adopted her biological daughter. 

Now, here's my beef: 
After Quinn has given birth (all of 8 minutes), she goes straight back to school and sings with the glee club - as the focus has now shifted to the fact that they lost the Regional Competition, must disband the glee club and say goodbye to Mr. Schue (their teacher). 

Seriously? Again, perhaps my expectations are too high for this show, but this representation of the birth mother was maddening. Especially after they portrayed the adoption reunion between Rachel (lead singer in New Direction) and her birth mother so well, I thought.  The twist in this story line is that Rachel's biological mother is Shelby (see above).

Quinn's birth and relinquishment (sorry, I know it's not the PC language...but it's an accurate descriptor from Quinn's perspective) showed the peachy-peachy side of the adoption process and made it appear that is was "no sweat" to chose adoption for your child. See, girls, you can get pregnant, make an adoption plan, and be right as rain immediately afterwards. Just go sing with your friends - no worries! No post-partum depression. No hormone changes. No regrets. No feelings of loss. All is right with the world.

Glee: if you're going to attack the complex issues of teenage-dom, then do it right. Don't hollywood-glamorize them! I'm willing to wait until next season to see if you address this. But if not, I may have to stop watching you, Glee.

Did anyone else watch this season finale? If not, watch it here on Hulu.

What do you think about this?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gene Luen Yang: why I won't be watching the last airbender movie

OK. Thanks for being patient with my blog silence once again. I've been following my favorite blogs faithfully...just could not find time to write.

Here's an easy AND IMPORTANT post! And something close to my heart.

There's been a buzz in the blogosphere about the upcoming movie: The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Making a long story short, this movie has intentionally cast white actors/actresses in roles that are originally portrayed by Asian/Inuits. If this story is new for you, check out some links about this on Racialicious or Angry Asian Man.

Gene Luen Yang, author of American-Born Chinese, posted a comic on his blog about why he won't be watching this movie, which opens nationwide on July 2, 2010. I'm re-posting it with permission. It's the same reason I will not be watching it either.

(if this graphic is too small, here's the PDF version)