Monday, August 1, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 takes on adoption

OK. I admit it. I am a full-length-feature-animated-film lover. I've seen every Disney animation (although Disney and I have a "love-hate" relationship...which another story altogether), Dreamworks and Pixar film.

So when I saw the trailers for the first "Kung Fu Panda" by Dreamworks, I was a bit skeptical. "Oh, man. Here we go. An animated movie that is going to take all of the Asian stereotypes and blow them out of proportion. Another cartoon where the main character is voiced by a white person, and the Asian people are in supporting roles." I did not see this one in the movie theaters. But when I watched it on DVD later, I was nicely surprised. It was thoroughly entertaining and not as packed with offensive stereotypes as I thought! There was one pressing question on my mind: how come the Panda hero has a Goose for a father? How come Po the Panda feels like he doesn't fit into the noodle-making family?

Enter Kung-Fu Panda 2. They should have subtitled it: "The search for self" or "The journey for inner peace." Po the Panda finds out that he was "abandoned" as a child and discovered by his noodle-making father, Ping the Goose. During the movie, the underlying theme is that Po must find himself. In order to have inner peace, he must know who he is. And, through the course of the movie, he does indeed find out his true story, which has painful roots that tie directly to the new arch-enemy he faces.

I loved how Dreamworks took on this challenging topic and, I confess, I did shed a few tears when Po realizes that "it is not where you come from that matters, but where you are going." As an adoptee, this is something I truly believe. Do I want to know where I am from? Yes. Have I tried searching for my birth parents? Yes. Do I want to continue searching until they are matter what the end result is? Yes, although my actions and my courage wane from time to time. I do not discount my past - especially when it comes to my birth parents - but knowing I am adopted gives me firm roots in who I am and also gives me the freedom for where I want to go.

It's a complex life, as you well know, my readers. But for all the joys and pains, it's my life...and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

For another opinion: read this article.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

We took our three-year-old and six-year-old to see it (both are adopted). I thought maybe it would be good for our six-year-old to see the adoption themes, but it totally went over her head. At the end of the movie, all she had to say was, "why did the panda have a goose for a father?"

JBH said...

@oneinchofgrace: That makes me smile. Even children know that a panda CAN'T have a goose for a father! (*wink* lol)

Every adoptee has their own journey about when adoption becomes an important part of their identity - so maybe someday in the future, she'll look back and remember when her mom took her to Kung Fu Panda 2...and understand how supportive her mom is about adoption. I know that helps me when I feel less than courageous about searching for my birth parents and other emotionally tricky issues.

You sound like a great mom! Keep up the good work:-)